Before you read further, please take a look at the content warning. This blog post discusses potentially triggering issues.
Last week, in an attempt to help end stigmas regarding mental health, I shared with you my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosis. That was Part One of PTSD & Me and you can read it HERE if you haven’t already. Today I want to share with you how it is slowly getting better. There is hope.
When I left off of my last post, I had just received my second diagnosis of (complex) PTSD in my lifetime. Knowing that there was really something going on was a relief. I have persistent depressive disorder plus generalized anxiety disorder – so sometimes when there is something NEW, it takes a while to figure out. I didn’t realize I’d been feeling guilty, like I was doing something wrong, and when the therapist said, “you have PTSD” I felt that weight lift just a tiny bit.
While I originally didn’t particularly care if I got better, I did continue to attend Zoom therapy sessions every few weeks. I kept taking my medications and meeting with my my provider. Eventually, I had a few breakthroughs that were as helpful as they were painful. I was able to start recognizing why certain things impacted me so hard. The therapy was (and is still sometimes) so painful that I didn’t want to keep going – for a while I felt like I just felt crappier after every session. But I kept going anyway.
I’d been diagnosed with PTSD in my 20s. But this was different so I didn’t recognize it. Going to therapy I started to realize how much of my most recent trauma was related to my OA job. Then losing several other things that were important to me and to my identity right in a row had sent me into a downward spiral. And then I was assaulted during this time as well.
Many of my recent traumas triggered original traumas from childhood. In 2020/20 I lost almost all of my community. I lost a great deal of friends. The isolation was a relief and a torment. Being removed from groups and communities I had given so much to, with so little regard, during a world-wide pandemic, was an especially exquisite type of raw pain. Knowing that it wasn’t just me, that I wasn’t “worse” for “no reason” but an actual diagnosis – helped make me want to get better. Or at least want to want to get better. I saw a glimmer of hope. It helped that I was reminded several times that I am a fighter, a warrior, and a force of nature.
So I kept going to therapy – I KEEP going to therapy. Little by little I am healing. It’s a very slow process. It has taken me a long time to even be able to say that I have been truly traumatized. I tend to minimize things that happen to me because there is so much worse in the world. Or because I empathize with a person who hurt me. Whatever the reason, I minimize my trauma. I make myself smaller to accommodate other people and their feelings. It makes me feel guilty to say I have PTSD – because I wasn’t in a war. Or whatever. I’m learning to undo that line of thinking. I’m learning to hold my own space.
I’m slowly getting better. My depression level seems to be getting somewhat better overall – persistent depressive disorder never really allows you to be free from depression – but – I’m slowly returning to my baseline levels. I continue to do therapy, and I have agreed to join a trauma group. My anxiety isn’t much improved. My anxiety level remains pretty high – especially in some areas. One of my partners recently mentioned that they feel bad for me because they think I am unable to ever really fully enjoy anything because of my anxiety. That’s true. It’s exhausting.
Healing from multiple traumas is complex and complicated. It’s messy. Sorting out old and new trauma. Figuring out what feelings are my baseline depression/anxiety and what is new or worse. I lost a job, a community, friends, my reputation, and a social outlet. I even lost my identity for a while. I realized recently that my laugh is coming back. I hadn’t even noticed it was gone. Mental health struggles steal things from a person before they even notice.
Just like any mental health issue, PTSD comes with a lot of preconceived notions and misconceptions. It comes with unfair stigma. Many people think of PTSD as being only something that those who were in war face. But you can have PTSD from any major trauma. It doesn’t just impact me. My friends and family have to understand that I’m dealing with a lot of struggles. I may be flaky. I am sometimes physically ill from my anxieties. I sometimes have brain fog. I can get startled easily. I have weird fears and patterns. I try not to be, but I can be easily irritated some times. There are so many ways that trauma and healing from trauma can affect a person. I’m lucky to have a small group of loved ones that I know I can count on and that means a great deal to me.
So – this is my PTSD story so far. It’s not over. I’m in the early stages of healing. I hope that my friends and loved ones continue to be patient and know that I love them endlessly. Please – if anyone has any questions just drop me a comment or an email. If you are reading this, and think you may have PTSD or any other mental health issue – please reach out to someone you trust. And know that you are not alone.
Be kind, my friends.
CONTENT WARNING – this blog post discusses issues related to trauma, PTSD, depression, suicidal ideation, etc.