The Sunflower Conversations

PTSD with Danielle Allen

November 14, 2021 Hidden Disabilities Sunflower
PTSD with Danielle Allen
The Sunflower Conversations
More Info
The Sunflower Conversations
PTSD with Danielle Allen
Nov 14, 2021
Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

Suddenly hit by PTSD with Danielle Allen
Danielle Allen is a mum to three children. Her eldest son Louis was born with a congenital heart condition called Coarctation of the aorta.

Suddenly six years later, and following the traumatic experience of Louis undergoing heart surgery  at 10 days old, Danielle experienced what she describes as a big black cloud which came from nowhere. 
 
She describes the profound impact that had her and the subsequent diagnosis of Obsessive Anxiety Disorder and PTSD. 

 

For support
Charity:
 PTSD 

The NHS advise that if you or your child are experiencing problems after a traumatic experience, or if the symptoms are particularly troublesome you should contact your GP.

 

 Hosted by Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.
 
 Want to share your story? email conversations@hiddendisabilitiesstore.com
 
 Visit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.

Show Notes Transcript

Suddenly hit by PTSD with Danielle Allen
Danielle Allen is a mum to three children. Her eldest son Louis was born with a congenital heart condition called Coarctation of the aorta.

Suddenly six years later, and following the traumatic experience of Louis undergoing heart surgery  at 10 days old, Danielle experienced what she describes as a big black cloud which came from nowhere. 
 
She describes the profound impact that had her and the subsequent diagnosis of Obsessive Anxiety Disorder and PTSD. 

 

For support
Charity:
 PTSD 

The NHS advise that if you or your child are experiencing problems after a traumatic experience, or if the symptoms are particularly troublesome you should contact your GP.

 

 Hosted by Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.
 
 Want to share your story? email conversations@hiddendisabilitiesstore.com
 
 Visit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.

Chantal Boyle:
Joining me today on The Sunflower Stories is Danielle Allen. Danielle, thank you for joining me, today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Danielle Allen:
Yeah.

Danielle Allen:
I'm obviously Danielle Allen. I am a mom to three great children. One is nearly 18. Another one is 14, next month. And my youngest is actually 8 years old today. So, busy. And I work full time. I'm an event manager, so I don't have too much spare time for hobbies. But when I do, I like to have friends around and cook lots of lovely food and drink lots of nice wine.

Chantal Boyle:
That sounds incredibly appealing. So, what is your experience with nonvisible disabilities?

Danielle Allen:
I was diagnosed with obsessive anxiety disorder when my son was born. He was really poorly.

Chantal Boyle:
What was it called? Did it have a name?

Danielle Allen:
Yeah.

Danielle Allen:
It was called coaptation of the aorta. So, it's basically, the main aorta going into the heart was narrowed, so it was cutting off his blood supply. And it was quite a significant narrowing, so they had to do an operation, which was called the subclavian flap. They took another piece of heart and made a flap, cut the narrowing out and then made a flap to pull it back together again. So, he was in intensive care for a couple of days. But he did recover quickly and really well. The team at Southampton were absolutely amazing.

Danielle Allen:
So then, after that, I went back to work when he was about 16 weeks old, because I thought, "I can't be at home just thinking about this the whole time." So I thought if he was, he was being checked and looked after a bit... He was at home with us, and I had a very close family friend who was a child minder. So, she said she would look after him for me. So, I went back to work full time.

Danielle Allen:
And then literally about six years later, I just sat in my lounge one day, not really thinking about anything, and it was just almost like this lie from nowhere just came into me. "Don't believe what they've told you. You need to go and check his results. You you need to go through all this paperwork. They could be lying to you. He could not be very well. Could have something else that they haven't told you?" And a lie just... I just do not know where it came from. Yeah. For about a year after that, I think I was just Googling every day, what he'd had done. Could it affect his life expectancy? Could things go wrong in the future? And it was so draining, literally. And I couldn't focus at work properly.

Danielle Allen:
Went to the doctors and they said, "I think this is post traumatic stress." They wanted me to see a counselor, but for me that... I know everyone's different. For me, counseling didn't work. For, I had to train my brain and I had to teach myself a lot to deal with it in my head. People can tell you, and they can advise you. But I think, because a lot of it came from me as well, just trying to turn it around. And over a long period of time.

Chantal Boyle:
Yes.

Danielle Allen:
Trying to turn it around and just think more positively, in general.

Chantal Boyle:
When you reflect, did any of your friends and family say, "You were displaying some signs between that operation and the six years, or did it literally come out of nowhere?

Danielle Allen:
It literally came out of nowhere. As a child, I think I've always gone on the side of a slight worrier. I've also tried to keep the worry to myself rather than-

Chantal Boyle:
Yeah. So that's actually you being incredibly brave, because your instinct is to surround him, protect him, never let go of him. It's something we have to fight against, isn't it? Let them fly. Let them live. And be there to support them. And, and thankfully, Louis was sent to the hospital on that 10th day.

Danielle Allen:
Obviously, he's turning 18 in May, next year. So, he's now at the stage where, alcohol and other things can come into the equation. Just making sure he understands he's got to keep looking after his heart.

Chantal Boyle:
With you PTSD, and obsessive anxiety disorder, did that take on a physical effect on you?

Danielle Allen:
Yeah.

Danielle Allen:
I lost a lot of weight. I did stop... not stop eating, totally, but when I... it made me sick when I was thinking about it And thinking about eating food, I just... Yeah. I didn't want to do that. And I was also so tired because my mind was constantly, 24, well not 24/7, but a lot of the time, just had all these different thoughts going around in my head. It's definitely made me a stronger person.

Chantal Boyle:
What do you think about the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower?

Danielle Allen:
I think it's great, especially for people that have hidden disability, whatever that might be. Try and be kind, and think, everyone is different, and everyone has things going on that other people aren't aware of. So, I think the Hidden Disabilities scheme really promotes what we should be doing to just bear that in mind.

Chantal Boyle:
Would you have any advice to some... a parent who maybe has experienced a similar journey to what you have, in the midst of the anxiety and the PTSD at the moment?

Danielle Allen:
I do think it is really good to speak to people, and especially if you've got good friends and family that will listen to you. And just be open to try different techniques, as well. As I said, the CBT worked quite well for me. And if you do feel you're struggling, go to your doctor and speak to them, and see what they can recommend for you.

Chantal Boyle:
I just want to thank Danielle, so much, for sharing her personal journey and story with her own hidden disabilities, and also her son Louis, and we wish Danielle and Louis lots of positive, great, good health, going forward.

Chantal Boyle:
And thank you, so much.