Before you read further, please take a look at the content warning. This blog post discusses potentially triggering issues.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health struggles affect a huge percentage of people. Yet still mental health struggles come with a great deal of shame and stigma. As you may know, I am dedicated to helping to end stigmas where ever possible. Regarding as many things as possible. Today I want to talk to you about mental health, specifically about PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I don’t have tips to share this time, but I want to share my story with you. This entry will talk about my recent PTSD diagnosis, and how I got there. Next Monday I’ll share with you how things are slowly getting better.
A couple of weeks ago, for the second time in my life, I was officially diagnosed with PTSD. This was not a surprise as we’d been moving toward the diagnosis for a while in therapy. It feels validating but doesn’t change much else in my world. I was diagnosed with PTSD as a young adult, 20-something years ago. But as I think I may have mentioned in a previous post, what has been going on with me has been new. I have dealt with depression and anxiety as long as I can remember. But not like this.
Between 2018 and mid-2020 I (along with most of my coworkers) dealt with an increasingly hostile work environment that culminated in the loss of our jobs. There are layers of trauma that occurred during that time frame. In March 2020 the world-wide pandemic hit, and then in June 2020 we lost our jobs in a big ugly way. It was traumatic for many of us. Between then and the end of 2020, I had two other personally traumatic events happen to me that left me reeling. The end of 2020 and early parts of 2021 were spent in a deep depression.
Then in the summer of 2021 I felt like maybe I could breathe again. There was a summer full of PRIDE events and community work. And while I was no where near healed, I felt like I could breathe. And then in the end of 2021 my world once again was messed up. I think that each trauma had hit hard and I wasn’t able to fully heal before the next one hit. So the next one hit harder than the one before, and so on. I spent much of both years in a depression. And the depression and anxiety were getting worse. And mostly, I just shut down completely.
Between December ’21 and February ’22 I was at one of the lowest points of my life. As I said before, I’ve dealt with depression as long as I can remember, but I always *wanted* to not be depressed. This time, I didn’t even care. I kept going to therapy, and talking, but not only could I not see a light at the end of the tunnel – I was tired of looking for it. My general thought towards most anything was “why bother?” I knew things that I could try to make me feel better, but I just couldn’t see why I should bother. I mostly slept, and cried, and laid on the bed thinking, “I just can’t take any more pain.” My partners pointed out that they couldn’t get me interested in anything – not going anywhere, not even watching a new television show. I wasn’t suicidal. But I also didn’t care if I lived or died.
On top of the depression, my ever-present anxieties went into overdrive any time I wasn’t too depressed to care. Social anxiety that I had made huge progress with is back stronger than over. Anxiety about going out anywhere. Anxiety about germs. Anxiety about people. Especially the people who traumatized me and the people who were silent when it happened. Anxiety about looking for work. Anxiety about driving. I am still thankful that most appointments are online. My therapist pointed out that some of what I am dealing with is PTSD, and the social anxiety is a symptom of the PTSD. Social anxiety isn’t the primary diagnosis, PTSD is. And thus, the new PTSD diagnosis. On top of my depression and anxiety disorder.
So that is the start of this story. Please know while I have a long way to go in dealing with this – I am doing better. I am starting to feel stronger. Please come back next week for part two of this story.
Be kind, my friends.
CONTENT WARNING – this blog post discusses issues related to trauma, PTSD, depression, suicidal ideation, etc.