I’m ready to tell you my two secrets because the words are flowing much easier now. The past few weeks my emotions have gone from panic stricken grief to hopeful happiness. The fact that my emotions have experienced that range is nothing less than proof. I would say it was a miracle, but usually miracles just happen without a clear explanation. This has an explanation.
A person with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) lives in fear at all times. Fear of the past. Fear of the present. Fear of the future. Fear of what’s been lost. Fear that the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) might not ever go away. Fear that the flashbacks won’t quit. Fear of rejection. Fear of pain. Fear of self. Fear of others. Fear of accusation. Fear of job loss. Fear of failing. Fear that there will be more horror to come. Fear of the phobias that the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) brings with it. Fear. Fear. Fear. It is a lonely world filled with fear and pain.
For a person afflicted with PTSD, it is a very dark, misunderstood and lonely world. No matter how hard the sufferer tries to pull people into the world to help save them, it is still lonely. For the most part, those who understand the pain associated with PTSD because they’ve experienced it or are experiencing it usually can’t help anyone else or don’t want to admit they have PTSD. Those who never experienced PTSD cannot imagine what the sufferer is going through, so they react in several ways:
- It aggravates them to discuss the problem constantly because they think the person should just “get over” it and “stop dwelling” on it.
- They simply want to ignore that it ever happened to the person because it is painful and/or uncomfortable to see the change in the PTSD sufferer.
- They don’t believe PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) exists.
- They are oblivious to anything about PTSD and don’t really care to learn about it.
- When they talk to the sufferer, they associate PTSD with their own unrelated problems to minimize the seriousness of the PTSD Hell.
- They get mad at the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) sufferer because they want the “old” person back.
I guess all the reactions are just human nature because PTSD makes people uncomfortable – not only those who have it, but also those who don’t.
My world of “thinking and being” before PTSD was the same way my whole life. I had never known anyone with PTSD or really been close to anyone with any type of mental illness. Yes, PTSD is a mental illness. My world was small before PTSD and in many ways got even smaller after falling prey to the PTSD beast. My knowledge of these types of things was practically nothing especially compared with how much there is to learn about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
When that horrible experience happened to me and my family, we all suffered in our own way. Because no one else ended up with PTSD, I felt like the weakest person and “less than” the rest of my family. Looking back now I realize that I was not only fragile, but in many ways I met the criteria of someone who was insane. My thoughts were irrational OFTEN. I could not move past the moment of pain, grief and panic.
No one in my family knew how to help me or understood what I was going through and some didn’t even care to reach out. That fact alone added to my turmoil and trauma. I turned to the only source I could think of to cure my brain…psychological therapy. There is no shame in seeing a doctor for the mind just like there is no shame in going to the dentist for your teeth, a cardiologist for your heart or a optometrist for your eyes.
I had already been blogging for a few months and found that by writing, I was able to express things that I couldn’t speak. When I typed, I quieted the PTSD demons within me. I also turned to my blog to give myself a voice because most real life people didn’t want to listen to me talk for hours and hours as I struggled with my sanity. Even if no one left a comment about the post I had published on my blog, I still felt like I was speaking. I found that my social media activity offered comfort and relief for my brain as it focused on the letters, words, pictures and people. Since I only slept two hours a night for about 1.5 years, I was able to accomplish much online.
Other people with PTSD also connected with my story and it helped me feel like I wasn’t so alone and that I had not done something wrong to cause PTSD. Everyone kept telling me to continue therapy even though they had been PTSD sufferers for many years. Some had been “uncured” for thirty years! I listened because even during my PTSD flashback insanity I wasn’t stupid. However, since so many people were still suffering, I felt hopeless that I would ever be whole again.
I went to my job everyday and people could not tell that I was slowly, but surely losing my mind or that I was having flashbacks CONSTANTLY that first 1.5 years. Every minute the SAME moment of horror replayed before my eyes and was the scene I saw between me and anything else in the world. It was a total nightmare of an existence.
Over the past 3.5 years while I have diligently worked to relieve myself of the trauma within, other terrible things have happened to me. Those things just added to the stress of trying to recover and take back my brain from the dark abyss that it had been swirling around. I felt very unsupported except for a few people who I knew did not understand my pain. No one really “got” that it has been the fight for my life.
I have to interject something right here in the telling of the story and you will understand why in just a moment.
I will be laid off from my job soon. Yes, I am losing my job because the company is downsizing. Since I am a “single mother,” you have to know that I felt grief and panic all the way to my core. For three days after hearing the news, I was shocked and traumatized. On the fourth day, Alyssa and I spent the day together in the beautiful mountains of Virginia. When I awoke on the fifth day, I was happy. What? Yes, I was happy.
The happiness baffled me, but I truly felt and feel happy. Thankfully, I had a therapy appointment that day. I walked into the office and said, “Please explain why I’m happy. Am I going insane? I should still be crying and panic stricken.”
My initial panic, anger and grief were “normal” and the happiness is the reaction of the strong woman that I have become – the woman that believes she can conquer anything because she beat the savage demons of PTSD.
Yes, you read that right.
Until I went through “another” traumatic event, nothing tested my “wellness,” so I didn’t know how far I had come in my PTSD recovery.
The bad news is that I’m losing my job. The good news, in the words of the uncompassionate and self-centered people in this harsh world we live in, is that I am “cured” and have finally “got over” my PTSD. To those same people let me say that I won’t EVER stop talking about it. I have SO MUCH to tell because so many people suffer just as I did and they need help and hope that their nightmare can end.
I am a PTSD survivor.
Those five words are so beautiful.
I am a PTSD survivor.
I have the intelligence of the old Sherry and the emotional/mental health of the new Sherry. I am the best of both. I am a fantastically whole Sherry who is healthy and happy. If I can conquer PTSD, surely I can find a new job!
I am a PTSD survivor.
If you want to heal your PTSD, I am proof that it can be done. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to remain in the dark Hell of terror and pain. You can heal and become a PTSD survivor too.
I’ve reached the end of this part of my journey. I hit the wall, climbed over it because my PTSD is over and I’m starting a new life. First adventure on my horizon is the need to find a new job!
Even more importantly is that I am living healthy and happy.
Yes, I am a PTSD survivor.