A child left alone. An adult who has been assaulted. The survivor of a school shooting. A veteran who just returned from active duty. Everyone of these can develop PTSD. Everyone’s PTSD can look different. There are so many symptoms of PTSD and sometimes the person can look “ok”. I love when people say that or they are fine. He/She will get over it. They are a strong person. PTSD does not care if someone is a strong person. Once an individual lives through trauma, they cannot undo what they went through. They cannot just shove the memories to the side and go on. Well, maybe they can for a while, yet it catches up. The flashbacks, panic attacks and nightmares begin. Then the hypervigilence creeps in and maybe that person no longer wants to leave the house.
My trauma has left me with internal scars that seem to open up whenever I see or hear certain people or noises. A smell can easily trigger a flashback. Often, I lose time and cannot get back what I lost. PTSD does not just go away. Sure, I have learned how to breath, mindfulness, and other coping skills while inpatient. They work so well while in the hospital. I wished that they worked that well for me in day to day life. I have had many traumas throughout my life. Each one has shaped me into who I am and the way that I react to the world around me. It has taken over ten years just to be able to go out of the house for even a small bit of time or not have flashbacks with certain triggers because I am prepared and not startled by my surroundings.
Recently, there was someone who exclaimed that everyone should keep their personal stories to themselves. That they should not speak about personal information. I am sorry, I do not agree with that at all. I have been through some tough times and I want others to know that they can get through those tough times as well. I know of support groups and resources because of my illness and being active in some groups. If someone told me that there was no hope of getting better, I completely understand what that feels like and I have been there all to often. In fact, before I went to therapy I was just there the other week. I tend to be a black and white thinker sometimes.
I hope to see in more shades of gray and help others to get to the point where they can do the same. Not everyone is ready or wants help. I know when I was first in treatment I did not want anyone to ask me questions and I was not willing to share anything with people. I would just sit in a session for 45 minutes. Not to be rude, but because I was truly scared that somehow my abuser would know if I told what happened. Even today, I have to remind myself, like so many other trauma survivors that I am not in that situation anymore. Trauma is a word. What happened is my experience and has shaped my life. As far as I am concerned, others can name it whatever they want. I know what I live with and what I have experienced.
Unlike that person, who believes in not sharing, I will politely disagree. What I have been through has shaped me and is part of who I am. It will always be with me.