This summer I was diagnosed with PTSD. Having always suffered from anxiety and occasional depression this came as sort of a surprise. I thought PTSD was only diagnosed for war veterans so I was almost in a state of denial when I was told that my unexplainable physiological response to an event that didn’t directly affect me was in fact a form of PTSD response.
I sat in the pouring rain half naked cradling my body back and forth as I cried uncontrollably for going on 12+ hours on my exes back door stoop. I was hiding. Afraid. I had no idea how to stop crying. I felt guilty. I felt ashamed. Worthless, debased, confused. Angry. The night before, I began uncontrollably hyperventilating, feeling unsafe, wanting to go home, crying uncontrollably which made my then grieving “boyfriend” infuriated.
This psychosomatic response happened after 2 weeks of missed work, sleepless nights and myriad of draining emotions as a result of trauma.
You see, for four years, this man has come in and out of my life and this year he came back begging to try again; promising that he’s a changed man and that he wanted to show me the way I deserve to be treated. Hesitant at first, I proceeded with caution only to fall hopelessly in love with him again. He took me to Tennessee to introduce me to his mother where things just felt right. Everything was great, until it wasn’t. Unexpectedly, he witnessed his father die via nest cam. I had never felt heart ache like this. Witnessing the “love of my life’s” heartbreak shattered me. And that was just the beginning. As I held his hand while I drove us back to Florida in the middle of the night, I self prophesied our end. I knew, I just knew, this loss was going to send him spiraling back to his old ways, possibly even worse. And it did.
For two weeks, I gathered strength I didn’t know I had. The experience alone ripped open all of my repressed childhood wounds and brought me right back to the memories I’ve tried to hide from all my adult life. For 23 years I have avoided every single funeral of family and friends. Any time someone I knew died, I would go into this dark gloomy place of denial and avoidance of reality. It took this experience to finally face my deepest fear: death (next to love). When I was 7 years old my father died of cancer, and my foreign mother wasn’t the best at rearing first generation Americans in his absence. Being the first born, I received the brunt end of abuse no child should ever be exposed to in all forms physical, mental and emotional.
Grief affects everyone differently at different times, I’ve read and learned. I was afraid knowing that my person’s default emotion by nature was anger, the grief only exacerbated it. Again, I received the brunt end of this emotion. Triggered two fold, for months after the experience I was paralyzed in a state of anxiety and depression over the whole experience. I was stuck. The one person I needed just couldn’t be there and I had to accept that reality real fast. For months we danced in an unhealthy pattern of pointing fingers, lashing out, making up, walking on egg shells. I lost over 20 lbs (sending me below 100 lbs and bmi dangerously low) and isolated my self from friends and the activities that brought me joy and health. Hurt people, hurt people his mother explained. That was the truest thing I had heard in a long time.
Now almost 5 months removed from the incident, I am almost to a mental equilibrium. Today I started with a new therapist who specializes in PTSD/Trauma therapy with significant experience in grief/loss/change and I am so hopeful. While I’ve been able to nearly “feel myself” most days I still experience triggers that bring me back to those traumatic memories both recent and distant. Sometimes I’m resilient enough to let it roll off my back, sometimes I go back into a “stuck” feeling that thankfully only last a few hours at most. I resumed therapy as soon as my first incident happened this summer but I decided I needed a different approach to fully heal.
I am hopeful that I will learn new coping mechanisms and strengthen my resiliency against that “stuck” state. PTSD is not curable, but it is manageable and while this experience broke me to my core, it woke me up out of this state of “auto-pilot” I’ve been living in all my life. It’s given me an opportunity to address these issues that affected all of my relationships, both platonic and romantic. So I hope that these scabs will eventually turn into scars so that I can stop hemorrhaging over the slightest or toughest experiences.
In writing this I make myself vulnerable to pity, criticism and judgement — but writing gives me release, a form of therapy. In writing this, my hope is that it helps others living or dealing with a state of “being stuck” by way of inspiring a sense of hope to become unstuck. De-stigmatization of mental health issues and awareness to human behaviors are my greatest hopes. But if you are stuck, know that you are not alone and that working with a licensed therapist can save or improve your life. Working with a trained professional makes me feel understood and gives me the tools and education I need to pulse check my self-sabotaging thinking patterns.
There was a lot I lost this summer: time, friends, love, sense of self, work, experiences. However a lot was gained in the search for my own glow: strength, passion, creativity, resiliency, life lessons, self-love and acceptance.
Mental Health Resources
- NHS mental health helplines page:
- Mental health and work:
- NHS 5 steps to mental wellbeing:
- Mental Health Foundation Campaigns:
- Mind mental health awareness course: