PTSD and me

* Today is August 11th. The best and worst date of my life. August 11th 1194, I overdosed and had cardiac arrest. Thus beginning my battle. August 11th 2011 I was once again suicidal and hospitilized for 10 days. And finally, one year ago today, August 11th 2013, I finished a two year PTSD treatment.

  I wrote this piece almost two years ago when I was in the midst of my struggles. If you are going through this now or plan to, please know that I am on the other side and things have never been better.

 I have started and stopped this post so many times. I guess it is because am not sure how to properly parlay my thoughts on it. It's probably also due to the fact that I am so immersed in it weekly that I don't want to particularly spend any more time thinking about it than I have to. But people keep asking and so I will try. But the past few days have been rough. If you are unfamiliar w/what I am talking about then you can check out these two posts my battle w/mental illness and my infertility struggles

After I wrote those I received over a numerous texts and emails. Some from friends and some from strangers. People kept referring to me as brave and strong. But really, I am not. I'm not that strong. My facade is. Yes. For the most part I am very good at putting that on. But inside I am weak and fearful. and this illness is ugly. Yes, I've suffered mightily but so have a lot of other people. and unfortunately  I have been the cause of their pain.


 For people I care deeply about.

 This illness conceals itself and comes out at the most inopportune time. I have come so far since I started this process, but oh...I have so much farther to go and I am not sure I have left what it takes to do it. I don't want to give up...but am I made of what it takes? I just don't know.

A majority of the emails were from people who knew me and were shocked. "but you are always happy!" or "I know people who have really bad bipolar, you seem normal"  So, I think these were meant complimentary but, for starters, and excuse me,  what in hades  is "normal?" Clue me in.  and secondly, I mean, I hope people don't meet me and think "Duham, this girl got her some problems" .  I do...but seriously, who wants to hang out w/someone who cries all the time, who brings their depression every where they go .I know I don't want an invite to a pity party so I don't hand them out to mine either.  So I hide it and tuck it away. Which is also the seed of my problem.


Anyways. PTSD treatment, to be honest, sucks a big one.  I want to be real. Today I hurt and I'm angry. It's taken forever for me to get angry and I am embracing it this week. I was diagnosed with ptsd on three points. having been sexually abused by the son of a babysitter, being brutally raped at 14 and then being in an abusive relationship that finally ended with a cigarette being put out on my left arm. The scar is the constant reminder. But for this therapy, we concentrate mainly on the abuse as a toddler. So throughout today, that will be what I am referencing. 


I was three. I had the most pale blonde hair and blue eyes and from every picture I have ever seen...I was always smiling this mischievous smile. and then, for almost every picture after for years...I wasn't. I scowled. 


He took my innocence. He took so many things from me, from my future that I can't properly grieve for them b/c I have no idea what the me who was...might ever have accomplished. He has made me incapable of accepting the love my husband offers. he has made me second guess everything. He set me up to be taken advantage of as a teenager b/c I never thought I deserved better. and made me feel so dirty. I don't know If I will ever be clean...

I am not going to delve into specific details...but I am going to be blunt. These things are ugly. It murdered my spirit and left my body as a an empty vessel who was a great actress for years. He told me to keep it a secret b/c "that's what big girls do" and from then on...I kept a secret like nobodies business and that almost destroyed my life. 


11 hospitalizations  Horrible places. Things you can't imagine. and never being fixed. years of different drugs trying to stabilize me. So many failures. I failed so many times. I gave up so many times. and now...at 34, I am on my way to being "fixed" but the road is so bumpy, full of pot holes that keep trying to throw me off course. but I am using four wheel drive this time.


Every week I have therapy. it entails talking about the traumas in depth. They are recorded  and every day I have to listen to them. Full immersion. The point behind it is so that it no longer serves a flashback but as memories, albeit horrific ones...but they won't stop you in your tracks any more. Supposedly. I'm not there yet.


 The nightmares that this has triggered are ones I can't explain. I wake up terrified and am sometimes so afraid to sleep for fear what will visit me. when the Penn State scandal happened...it wasn't just a terrible story. It completely turned my world upside down, for weeks it was that bastards face that found me in my dreams. I would throw up after seeing interviews. and finally my therapist and husband banned me from reading or watching anything to do with it. Yes...I was banned from ESPN for two weeks. if you know my love of sports...you know that was traumatic in and of itself;) 

It is often times strange listening to the sessions. I have tendencies to dissociate myself from the situation. I refuse to believe that little girl is me and this is actually not good. It's avoidance and it is the cornerstone of PTSD. It's how I survived the last 31 years. but this last week.. listening to it, I cried for the first time and I got angry. I embraced that little girl and I finally cried for her and in turn...myself. it's weird  sometimes when I listen, I learn new things...each week there are new details that emerge and sometimes when I am talking...my voice and mannerisms sound like a little girl. I am actually back in the moment. I have to tell the story four or five times each session...back to back to back.


and then each night, I have to listen to the recordings. and it is hell. But the possibility of being able to let this go, pushes me on. For what life could hold for me when I am done...is the hope that has evaded me for always. 

My goal is that one day  I can forgive him...b/c until I do, he will always have a hold of me and I can never really let go and live. I will just keep on existing.


So those are my Tuesdays. I hate them. but I value them so much. I am so grateful for them. I am so lucky and so blessed, as strange as that may sound. I have a husband who loves me, who fought for me on the days I couldn't muster the strength to fight for myself.  I have parents who have bent over backwards to see me get well. I have siblings and sis in laws who are in my corner. I have in laws that love me as if I was theirs.  So many people do not. If I was in any other situation...I'd never have survived.


I have questioned many times over the year what exactly God's plans are. I have often times not understood His ways. But I will tell you with absolutely zero doubt that I believe He has one, that He loves me immensely  And one day(hopefully soon, I mean...let's be real;) I will grasp the meaning. 

editors note. August 11th 2014. 
While being healed has come to mean something different than what I originally pictured, I am accepting being ok with what it looks like. When I used to look in the mirror, shame, disgust and fear always seemed to stare back.  Lately, though, more and more , a woman who forged through what scared her the most and that continued on when her mind beckoned her to quit...that is the face I spy most often when I catch a glimpse of myself.

There is still a place I am working to get to, I still sometimes struggle with the memories and the belief I have about myself in the aftermath, but that is the beautiful process of choosing life...the actual process. I am finally to a point where my life has become one worth living. 

I no longer just exist...I am alive and kicking. 


if you are struggling and looking for answers. If life is so much more than you bargained for, I cannot tell you enough that no matter how bad it is...please seek help and know that while it may not be easy, I promise you it will be worth it.

5 comments on "PTSD and me"
  1. This post has me bawling...my heart is breaking for you. I disagree with you when you say you aren't Brave or strong. YOU are SO BRAVE....for sharing your story. It will help others. YOU are SO STRONG for going to your therapy each week to work through everything. So admirable. Praying for you!!!!

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  2. Oh my gosh....I just want to hug you. I have a tiny sense of what that is like but nothing compared to what you have suffered. I'm so sorry. You are an incredible woman.

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  3. Mike Cruse from PapaDoesPreach.comAugust 11, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    Thank you for sharing your story. I can relate so much. I am grateful for your story!

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  4. You. are. a. survivor. I can't imagine the amount of strength it takes to endure your weekly therapy sessions; you are amazing. Thank you for sharing your story!

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