“Looking back to 3 years ago, I didn’t know my life would have turned out this way. Back then I was wanting to plan a wedding, wanted to try for a baby and be with the person I thought was the love of my life. Sadly, life gets in the way and people change and I had to give it all up.
I moved away in July 2016 to a new town with no job, a tiny studio apartment, no car and not knowing anyone in this new town. I felt the happiest I had in years, smiling as I fell asleep every night. I was able to get a job very quickly; made friends and I was happy to walk everywhere I needed to go.
In my teens, I was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety. I was first diagnosed in 2008 and in 2011, I experienced a yearlong psychosis. My battle with mental illness was a hard one but in this new town, I had felt like I had pushed through it all and I was doing well. Those around me thought I was thriving in my new life and I honestly thought I was.
Being as insightful as I am, I knew what goes up, must come down. The trauma I had just gone through with my ex hadn’t mentally caught up to me yet and I knew it was coming.
In September 2016, I was on a bus to work when the voices in my head first came back, ‘You should just cut yourself’, It startled me, and I knew my psychosis symptoms were coming back. I had voices for the next few days telling me to do horrible things to myself because I was worthless. I didn’t listen to them and simply tried to ignore the voices the best I could but then the nightmares started, and I became jumpy at every little noise, I knew my mental illness was back and I was relapsing.
I researched every doctor clinic in this new town to find someone trained in mental health and got myself an appointment as soon as I could. I was put on medications straight away, tests booked in to make sure nothing physical was wrong with me and I was referred to a psychologist. My happiness I felt was disappearing daily and I was struggling again like I had as a teenager.
A few weeks went by and I met my psychologist, a male. In our first appointment, like most of my previous first meetings with new psychologists, we went through the timeline of my life. Pretty much I explain where I came from, my family, their history, how school was, I answer lots of questions about my previous battles with mental illness etc. So, for the 30th something time, yes, I have seen over 30 psychologists by this point, I told him my story.
I recounted the times I was at my lowest and feared for my safety. I told him about all the times I’d lock myself in my bathroom from people I trusted as they screamed and threatened me. I told him about how I was neglected by people I thought would always be there and support me during my life but instead forgot about me. I cried to him about the times I was scared as a person I knew would touch me in ways they weren’t allowed to, and I didn’t willingly consent to and had to listen to others that thought they had a say in what happened to my body.
I explained the times in which I watch the door be broken or the wall have a hole put in it and I knew it was going to be my turn if I didn’t run. Explaining when I didn’t know if I would have a roof over my head for Christmas that one year. I told him how I watched my friend attempt suicide many times in front of me and saw death coming for her. I watched myself deteriorate and lose who I was as a person because of all the emotional and psychological abuse that had been thrown at me for years by many people I trusted. I told him about the stalking I encountered, and all the sexual harassments and assaults directed at me just because I was a female. I opened up about all the abuse I remembered and could handle telling that day, because opening that side of my story to someone is so hard and scary because I don’t trust anybody. But this day, I truly opened up as much as I could, and I was listened to.
‘K, I think we need to stop, it is clear you have so much trauma. I can’t believe you’re still here after all the trauma you have gone through!’, he said when we had only gotten to 2013, I still had 3 more years of my story left and he was shocked by what I had encountered so far. He didn’t let me continue then because he was worried of my mental state and recommended, I see a psychiatrist for a diagnosis. He suspected I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and had gone undiagnosed for years.
Sure enough, I was later diagnosed with PTSD and it changed my whole life. As I learnt more about my illness, the more everything made sense. I understood why I was having constant nightmares, what a panic attack really was and why I was fainting a lot, I learnt what a flashback was and why I felt like I was always reliving my traumatic experiences. I realized how avoidant I was to situations that reminded me of my trauma, I was constantly paranoid of something, anything happening, I never felt safe. I became so exhausted from the lack of sleep and being so tense all the time, my eating patterns changed, I stopped walking everywhere and would wait for someone to come with me to do my shopping. Always looking over my back, I was terrified constantly.
The psychologist left not long later, and I was given a female psychologist who realized one of my biggest triggers was actually males and I was told not to work with any until I was ready. It was like someone finally picked up on all the things I was in constant fear of but felt so ashamed in myself that I just pushed through it until she said ‘K, it is okay to be afraid of these things, it is okay’. I finally started to accept my mental illness, its symptoms and the triggers, I was finally able to start my recovery.
It is now 2019 and I am still battling every single day with C-PTSD (I was eventually diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to my long and complex traumas), Depression, Anxiety, traits of Borderline Personality Disorder, severe Psychotic symptoms and also developed Agoraphobia and became dyslexic. I am in psychology 2 times a week, I have multiple support workers who come to visit me and get me outside of my house, I have amazing doctors, I am on a lot of medication to keep me going, I have a car now, I had to leave my job but I am doing the best I can.
I still struggle every day, but I am able to manage things better now, I have a great support system and my best friend who has been my rock through it all. I still can’t leave my house unless someone is with me or I am going to my familiar places and do a lot of preparation for it, but I am working through it. I know I have a long road ahead of me to recover but I am determined to get better.
I think the hardest part of it all was accepting that what I grew up thinking was normal was actually not, what I went through was horrible and traumatic. I have had to learn all over again about what is the right way to be treated and that it’s okay to have emotions, I even had to learn what some emotions were because I didn’t know. I have had over 10 traumatic experiences in my life that have affected my brain so severely that I now have C-PTSD and other illnesses/struggles. I don’t function like I once did, and every single day is a struggle compared to what I once was like.
I want to raise awareness for C-PTSD and mental health in general because it is so important to talk about and to help those who experience it and also educate those who don’t know or understand it. We need to be there for each other, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of others, it is super important to have people around you. I now help raise awareness on my Instagram and have created a safe place for everyone to share their stories and keep the conversation around mental illness open.”
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