REAL TALK- Living with PTSD
Ciao lovelies. Today’s post is a matter very serious to me, and I ask that you all treat this with respect. This is something I’ve been struggling with, and while I debated putting it on my blog, I decided that I wanted to open up as much as I can about it in the hopes that I can extend a ray of hope to others suffering from this as well. This may be triggering to some, though I don’t go into detail of my traumas.
I don’t want to go into details about my traumas, and I ask for your respect on that matter. Opening up about this is extremely hard and I only tell the people I truly trust about my experiences. I have started to accept what happened to me and that I don’t need to be ashamed or scared to talk about it, but only recently, and I still would rather not have to relive those events in details.
Basically, I’ve had a lot of traumatic experiences over the years, but the one that myself and my therapist believe stemmed the PTSD was the abusive relationship I was in. I suffered both physical and sexual abuse, and that’s all I feel comfortable saying to the general public. Today’s post is more focusing on the PTSD and after effects, not the events themselves.
I was diagnosed with PTSD a few years ago by my trusted psychiatrist. I had been seeing her for a while and she explained to me that the symptoms I was experiencing were PTSD symptoms, most likely stemming from the recent trauma.
I’ll admit. Like many people, I was skeptical when I received the diagnosis. I had that stereotype in my mind that only war heros got PTSD, that someone “normal” like myself couldn’t get this disorder. But she kindly explained to me that it’s a lot more common than most people realize, and stems from all kinds of trauma, not just war.
Of course, I knew it wasn’t “normal” to have flashbacks to those events, that it wasn’t “normal” to have panic attacks at seemingly regular things, but I didn’t at all suspect the cause.
After the diagnosis, I was shaken up, naturally. I’ve been diagnosed already with Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, and Bipolar Disorder, but this blindsided me.
At first, I wanted to ignore it all. I told myself that I could condition myself out of it, and repress the memories so that I wouldn’t have to suffer anymore. But the more I repressed, the worse my symptoms became. I got into Maladaptive Daydreaming, making up whole worlds where my pain didn’t exist. But I couldn’t escape the truth forever, and I would still have panic attacks and breakdowns in my current SO’s arms.
I couldn’t go on that way forever. I realized the only way to lessen my symptoms was to stop repressing the trauma. It was horrible to accept the things that had happened to me, but I forced myself to accept them as fact and to accept that I was safe now, I had survived, and I wasn’t going to let the chains of memories lock me up forever.
Wanting to recover, I joined a support group in my first weeks of college. It helped some, but it mainly just made me realize that I shouldn’t feel ashamed of my experiences because they weren’t my fault, and I certainly wasn’t alone.
Living with PTSD is hard. I still have nightmares almost nightly. If I fall asleep before my roommate, she can hear me hitting the wall with my fists in my sleep. I still wake up in cold sweats and panics. I still have panic attacks if my SO hugs me too quickly and I didn’t know he was there. I still have flashbacks to those moments. I still have times where I’m reduced to tears and screams, yelling at things that aren’t happening anymore. My recovery has been a bumpy road. Nobody’s path to recovering from/coping with mental illness is ever a straight line. Mine is still shaky. I still instinctively shrink away from loud noise, get nervous around men, and hide behind my SO when he talks to his friends. But I am working very hard to learn and understand my symptoms. Understanding what you’re dealing with is half the battle in cases of mental illness. The scariest part was not knowing what I was facing. Once the monster had a name, I could converse with it as though it were human, or some metaphor of the sort.
I like to think of coping with mental illness as taming a dragon. Some people have many dragons, some have only a few but large dragons, some have no dragons.
(Picture from How to Train Your Dragon)
Thank you all so much for reading. I'm sorry for getting so personal. My main point here is to show you all if you are dealing with trauma recovery, PTSD, or other mental illness, that you are not alone. We can do this together.