There was a time when I just thought that people could see. That by looking at me, they could tell that I had PTSD or depression. I dreaded going into someplace new because of the thoughts that others would just know by looking at me how messed up my life had been.

The reality is that those around me cannot see. Maybe that is a blessing in some ways. In other ways it is a curse. Hearing people talk about parents with mental illness should not be allowed to have their kids, people who self-harm are weak, and the worst is that my mental health diagnosis does not exist.

If that is case then why do I visit with my kids on a regular basis, how can I be sitting in class and they not know, and how do they know what is happening in my head. Most classes I actually forget. My memory was affected by the ECT and has not fully recovered.  I can have a flashback sitting in the middle of class. Topics such as molestation and physical abuse trigger memories that I would rather forget, yet seem to be etched into my memory.

What if what I saw in my mind could be projected onto a screen. A mother yelling at her daughter that she wished that she were dead, a mother who broke one curtain rod while administering a beating going to get another curtain rod, a small child going as far as possible into the corner of her bed so that the beating only hurts in certain places, a child being molested by a family member, a father holding his child by the neck, a mother putting a pillow over her daughters face…. I could continue, yet I won’t. By this point many people would have walked out of the room. Either they feel uncomfortable, they cannot believe abuse exists like that shown to them, or they have experienced the abuse and cannot bear to see what is up on the screen.

Instead, I sit in class. Another student. Another number on another day. People are not aware of my past or the reason why I want to be a social worker. They do not see the struggles that I go through just to make it to class and look “normal.” Sometimes I want to say something, to be able to let it go, yet I have been told to keep most of it inside.

People like it better that way. To pretend that the world is ok and good. All have their reasons. Maybe, I would like people to be honest. Hurt sometimes strengthens us. Those who are going through it need to know that there is hope and a future on the other side of the nightmares. That sometimes for a few hours a week, they could have the opportunity to focus on something else.

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