How a tornado saved my life.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Two months before our wedding, on March 28th 2010, an EF3 tornado ripped down our street. Luckily we made it out alright, but I would never know that in the fifteen seconds it took for this storm to condemn our home my life would change forever.

Sunday, March 28th 2010 started out like any normal day. At this time in my life I only checked the weather when we were going to be outside for the day or I would catch it while Robert was getting ready for work. While we were eating dinner that night, a fierce thunderstorm came up. We had employed a new Sunday tradition where we would eat dinner at the table without television, and because I didn't think to look at the weather forecast we had absolutely no warning what-so-ever...

After dinner, while the storm was still raging outside I went upstairs to set up a family card game and the power went out. Immediately I heard what sounded like a train and starting yelling: "TORNADO.. GET IN THE BATHROOM, GET IN THE BATHROOM". My family made it to the bathroom under the stairs just in the nick of time and for at-least 15 seconds while the tornado was coming down our street directly towards our home we heard the loudest noise I've ever heard in my entire life.

The scariest part about the entire tornado was the unexpected. Once the violent noise ceased we didn't know what we would find when we opened the bathroom door. Because the uproar was so loud it literally sounded like part of our house was being ripped off.

We did come out of it alive, and to our surprise the tornado that was headed towards our home like a magnet made a b-line around our home and continued through our backyard. In the video below, which I found online a few months after the tornado, at 1:05 you see transformers blow, those were in our neighborhood.

You cannot tell by looking at the "tornado damage" photo but every single glass pane was broken, the back side of our garage was blown off, my mothers car (sitting in the top photo on the left side with the blue tarp over it) had been picked up by the tornado and spun around. The trees on the roof fell directly into our teenaged sons room and water immediately began seeping into the walls of our home (which eventually led to black mold).
click photo to enlarge

We moved from this home into a hotel room that our home owners insurance paid for and because the contractors moved so slowly we ended up living in that hotel for two months (up until the week before our wedding).

Little did I know the worst was yet to come. While the tornado only lasted for 15 seconds my life would continue to be in turmoil.

I didn't realize that tornadoes could form inside of any super-cell thunderstorm if the conditions were right and I had also never heard of a tornado in North Carolina, I thought tornadoes only happened in tornado alley...

I thought that it was my fault, because I didn't check the weather channel that morning, and every one we spoke to about it said "your area was under a tornado watch all day, didn't you realize"?

So, I found a weather radar app on my phone and quickly became obsessed with checking it everyday. This obsession turned ugly very quickly and to make a long story short within the next year I came to a point where I was checking the radar on my phone every 5
seconds when there was even a tiny speck of precipitation on the map.

This radar image was from the night of 3/28/10
We moved from the big house to a teeny tiny apartment, and when there was a 10% chance of precipitation I began planning my escape route. I would get my things ready and head out to the hospital to sit out the storm in the waiting room in-case I had a panic attack. My psychiatrist diagnosed me with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and started me on several anti-psychotic medications that were going to help me get over my fears.

I should probably back up, and give you a little bit of back-story.

When I was fourteen and after months of trying the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with me (I was having severe attacks in my upper stomach) my doctor said: "she is just depressed, and wants to get out of going to school.. let's get her started on some anti-depressants".

I started the medication, and months later found out that I had gallstones... I continued taking the medication and was still on it when the storm hit.

So.. back to the present, I've now been on anti-depressants for eight years and was displaying signs of bi-polar disorder, and now the doctors are giving me extremely high doses of anti-anxiety medications that made me fall asleep behind the wheel and created a zombie version of myself. They treated me like a guinea pig and tried every possible medication prescribed for PTSD. 

When the medicine didn't help, and my husband was at his wits end with me (because of the PTSD and OCD about any type of precipitation) we had a long talk and decided that I should try living without the medications. My doctor was infuriated at this choice that I made for myself, he said if I quit taking the pills he would refuse to see me.

I was on medication that I had to be weaned off of, I had family members who tried to quit taking the same medication (Effexor) cold turkey and had mini-strokes so I knew if I was going to come off of the meds it would have to be done properly. I told the doctor if he didn't help me wean off of the meds, I would sue him when I had a stroke.. so he helped me.

It took almost a year to completely wean off of the medications and even after I had taken my last pill it took months for the fog to wear off. Today I have been anti-psychotic medication free for over two years and I display no signs of depression, bi-polar, or PTSD. (Yes this is the short version of the story) ;) I can also dance in the rain again without worrying that a tornado would pick me up and carry me to Oz...

This tornado helped me learn that not every problem can be fixed with a pill and I also learned that when we make plans of our own mother nature has a way of putting our plans in perspective.

This tornado saved my life because like a great skin cleanser it brought my true problems to the surface and I had to deal with them. It brought my husband and myself closer together than we ever imagined two people could be because we had to work through our problem, even when his family tried to convince him to divorce me, and we learned that if we could make it through this storm... our relationship could survive anything.

If you have read this far I want to say thanks for bearing with me, this was a really long post but I wanted to share this part of my story.

Thanks for reading & remember to trust yourself. Your intuition is stronger than you think!

**Update 02/18/2018: I have now been anti-psychotic medication free for six years. While the medication did not work for me, because I misdiagnosed with depression, that does not mean you should stop taking your prescriptions. Learn to listen to your body and if you believe that your depression stems from a physical condition seek help.NEVER try to come off of anti-psychotic medications without doctors supervision. This is a personal recounting of my story. This is what worked for me. Period.***

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