Being aware of mental illness is something more and more people are doing. For the first time in forever, Mental illness is not the dirty little word in the room anymore….. or is it? The stigma may not be in mental Illness itself but in what type of mental illness you have. Why is depression less of a diagnosis than say being bipolar or why do we feel the need not to say we suffer from PTSD? What are we doing, are we making Mental Illness something accepted as a whole, or are we just making certain mental illnesses accepted?
For so many days, and months, I struggled with announcing that I have been diagnosed with PTSD. I already knew the stigma. I already knew that people would look at me and roll their eyes. After all, PTSD is for major trauma like war, acts of terrorism, and the list goes on. I thought myself PTSD was a special title that belonged to those that have been in war, 9/11-type situations. How could I, plain simple me just dealing with nightmares, trouble functioning, memories overwhelming me, fear so much fear? Like how did I get to be 40 years old before someone diagnosed me with PTSD if that is in fact what was wrong with me? I was so weary thinking that this was just another mistake the mental health system was making.
However, since that fateful day of being told that I was not bipolar nor did they believe that was ever an appropriate diagnosis ever, my life has changed. The trauma has ruled my life. The trauma that I relive and relive over and over through the last 20-plus years. The nightmares of events that I should have never had to live through in the first place. Fear – so much damn fear that my world wraps up tightly around me and when I try to unwrap it, nothing but fear meets me. The panic, the anger, the pain. Since I began therapy for PTSD and started going through Group therapy where I learned techniques to counter the reactions to my past trauma my life has changed.
Change is a funny word that can mean so many things. Change for the good, change for the bad, big changes, little changes – it all matters. Technically you can be a yo-yo regarding change at the beginning. I am not a fixed human. My trauma began as one thing and continued for many years. My trauma was not all put there by one person or one moment but there were absolutely moments that stand out. The strange thing is that before PTSD came into my life, I felt to blame for my depression, my sadness, and my lack of ambition. It was all my fault before. PTSD is something that I could not have changed. It happened to me, not because of my actions but because of the sickness and cruelty of others. Even getting that to stick into my mind took months.
I remember feeling sorry for my therapist. She was trying so hard to work through my trauma with me. We went through these worksheets and nothing she could do would get me to the point I needed to be because I could not believe it was not my fault. I could not stop blaming myself. Till one day it clicked. One day I didn’t know what the words were or what the topic was but one day I left her office feeling like a load had lifted. Does that feeling come back from time to time? Yes. At that point though, I had to make myself admit that but sometimes things happen in everyday life that will send you back to blaming yourself and thinking that you deserve what is happening.
PTSD day of awareness is for me a day that I want to promote because it has changed my life. The diagnosis of PTSD allowed me to finally find the help I needed. It helped me to adjust parts of myself that needed to be adjusted. It has helped me face the fear and through all of those things, I have fewer nightmares, flashbacks, and less anger & pain.
So today I’d love to draw attention to PTSD and tell you to wipe your minds of everything you think PTSD is. Don’t judge others when they say they have PTSD and don’t use PTSD as an excuse for your actions. Because chances are you are in the company of someone that actually does have PTSD. XOXO, Evie
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