Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition that I have lived with all of my adult life. For many years, although I had the symptoms, I went undiagnosed and therefore I didn’t receive treatment. Since the day I arrived into this world, I’ve been under a tremendous amount of stress and am always dealing with what sometime seem to be insurmountable obstacles. I assumed that this was the way most people functioned. If not, it was the way I functioned and the way my life had always been. What I didn’t realize is that I had an abnormal fear of several things, didn’t trust myself or others and was anxious about most issues even when it didn’t appear I should be.
PTSD occurs in people that have experienced a traumatic situation. As a result, we don’t feel safe. We live a life of fear and think we are in constant danger. People, unknown situations and change often represent stress and danger. So we spend our lives trying to protect ourselves. There have been many times this has led me to isolate myself and try to deal with life alone. I realize now that this is a huge mistake. I thought if I was alone and in my own world that I had a better chance of surviving. Little did I know that I need people to survive – that is healthy people that truly care about me.
So recently I have set out to learn more about how my condition affects my life and what I can do to feel safe, to feel peace and to feel relaxed and confident to manage my life. As I mentioned earlier, one of the first things I had to do was to admit that I needed to be around healthy people and that I needed to let go of toxic relationships. Next I had to really admit to my fears and the impact fear has had and is having in my life. Fear paralyzes me. When I am scared I usually shut down and withdraw. I also avoid people and situations. My biggest fear is the fear of rejection. I am a naturally sensitive person with a big heart and I care about people. But I do avoid getting too close or even developing new relationships because I don’t want other people to reject me or hurt me again. Next, I have a fear of failure, a fear of success and a fear of sharing my heart and soul only to be mocked or humiliated. I know that we all have fears but as a person with PTSD I often find it difficult to manage my fears and to put things in perspective. As a result I procrastinate, hold myself back, hold things in or hold on to my fears to the point where I get stuck and am unable to move forward. The only way I can even begin to do anything in my life is to trust that God will protect me from things that I think will hurt me. Without faith I would live in a prison of fear.
My life is full of stress. As a single mother of 3 children I am constantly multi tasking and juggling so many things at once I find it difficult to think clearly. I have to admit that my stress is high but there is a way to manage stress. I have three keys to dealing with stress. First, I use music as therapy and a way to relax. I listen to all types of music. For example, the moment I listen to a Chris Botti song I feel relaxed and at peace. I also like to listen to sounds of nature videos posted on Youtube. The sound of the ocean is particularly relaxing to me. I pray and meditate on scripture when I am really stressed and weak. One of my favorite scriptures about peace is Philippians 4:6-7. Exercise also helps me to deal with stress.
All in all I am sharing my story because I know that I am not the only Survivor dealing with PTSD. Some days are better than others. Some nights I cry myself to sleep because it feels like hundreds of questions flood my mind. I wish I could say that I have it all under control – but I don’t. What I can say is that I made a commitment to take my health more seriously. I try really hard not to feel ashamed that I am overwhelmed by stress and fear and at times I feel like my life is a total mess. But I can tell you this, my faith in God is the absolute only thing that gets me through.
Please consider viewing this resource on PTSD which can give you an idea if this condition may be affecting your life: http://www.ptsd.ne.gov/pdfs/ptsd.pdf