The Fight for Freedom

I am currently working with a counselor to help in my recovery from PTSD.

Before now, it was as though I wasn’t able to see my situation for what it was…
…other than overwhelmingly all-consuming. I had difficulty even identifying as a survivor until now. My demons would have liked me to believe that I’ve been making things up and that there is nothing wrong with me…other than absolutely everything, with only me to blame.

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Credit: Shawn Coss

For me, this represents:

The constant awareness of my traumatic past.
The memories appearing “in front” of me; taking me – against me will – back into the hell I thought I’d escaped.
The paralysis that accompanies the fear.
The forcefulness with which your attention is robbed from anything but the presence of perceived threat.

I chose to share this photo and my description – as grim and horrifying as they are – because of how it captures the essence of the experience many survivors endure.

It is also my goal to bring awareness to those who may not know much about the disorder. It is always my hope that my experience will help someone else suffering similarly, or someone wanting to help a loved one who suffers so.

Here is a comprehensive description of PTSD according to Mayo Clinic.

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Read on for some positivity…it’s coming, I promise!

It seems to me that there is a tendency to believe that PTSD only occurs in soldiers who have returned from war, but as a survivor of childhood abuse (of every variety) I can confidently and exasperatedly confirm that this is most definitely a myth. I was fighting a war, alright…one of a different nature, but a war nonetheless.

While my mind has strategically blocked out many grisly details, my body remembers. And it likes to remind me – sometimes when I least expect it. It is difficult to deal with when it creeps in seemingly out of nowhere…when, in reality, it is regurgitated from the bowels of your subconscious.

I have managed to identify certain triggers, which makes them easier to manage and ultimately overcome. Many others still grip me in a way that causes me to shut down externally and lose touch with the present. Sometimes this looks like on the outside is my eyes dropping their gaze and “glazing over”. Sometimes it looks like me lashing out against an insult, judgement, situation, threat etc. that no one perceives but me.

This is why mindfulness is key in recovering, and why I am a huge advocate of yoga (even though I do not practice it nearly often enough…but you know what? Every little bit counts). On a side note: this is also why cannabis can be helpful. It has this innate ability to bring you into the present moment (assuming the strain you are using works for you and that you are already feeling loved and supported).

Regardless, the good news is that:

RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE

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It’s not easy; it’s not cute; it’s not quick. It’s possible.

It requires hard work, perseverance, determination and all the support you can get, but: it can be done.

I’m only just getting started on this healing journey, but I want to say that despite my hellish past I can finally see a bright future ahead. This took twenty-nine years. It might not take you as long, or it might take you longer but the important thing to remember is that wellness is not a destination. It is not a fixed point in time or a quantifiable achievement…but you will know it when you feel it.

Please…coming from someone who nearly gave up several times…

Don’t give up.

Forever fighting,

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P.S.: I honestly have no idea how I would have gotten this far without support…many thanks to my mother, among other family members and friends who have stood by me even when they had no idea how to help or what was wrong.

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