I started this blog about PTSD. Then very few blogs existed for PTSD other than military. Now, many blogs share their journey and what they learned. Then I was planning to write a book, now there are many books to choose from all ready written. Making time to read them all is a bit of a challenge. Then PTSD was considered a military problem, now experts acknowledge more than 50% are child abuse survivors. Then there was no such thing as C-PTSD, now the debate is on with frustration with the medical and psychological fields slow to recognize or sometime even acknowledge the challenges many people face every day.
How did I know any thing was wrong?
I noticed in junior high that my friends were interested in things that didn’t hold my interest. In high school, I noticed even more differences in my response verses how they responded to life experiences. I felt isolated from my friends. I felt confused as to who I was and why did I behave the way I did. I was told it was nothing more than teenage angst, only when I talked to my friends, what I felt seemed so different than what they felt. I was 15 years old when I took a class called “Search for Identity.” We used literature to discuss how we see ourselves and how others see us. I finished the class feeling more confused. I kept forging forward. I didn’t know what else to do but to put one foot in front of the other. I knew when I talked to most people what I thought about, worried about and felt, had little or nothing to do with their lives. I focused intensely on school. It was a talking point. Something I could discuss without talking about myself. By the time I was in high school I was in awe of people that remembered names and their childhood. At age 15 I started passing out. At first only occasionally, then more and more often until in my 30’s I could be up for 20 minutes a day. Yes, you read that right. Out of entire day, I could be up for 20 minutes. I sought medical help. First I was told I passed out because I was a growing teenager, then after I married and started having children they blamed nursing and pregnancy. When I stopped having children I came to my doctor and told him that I was not growing, pregnant or nursing, I had no physical illness, why was I passing out? They ran battery of every test they could think of. I had my first brain scan 30 years ago. They declared there was nothing physically wrong with me, the doctor recommended counseling. I was furious. I glared and demanded, “If it is all in my head, why does my body hurt so much?” No answers then. I can tell my younger self why now.
Here’s my perspective. As a teenager I recognized something was very wrong. The information I was given by the adults in my life was faulty, misinformed and ignorant. I kept plugging away reading any book I could find that made some sort of sense. I read more bad advice, misinformation and ignorant thinking. I kept trying. Being religious, I also prayed for answers. Nothing. I felt faithless and useless and tumbling further and further into a darkening abyss. My prayers were a desperate plea and no one saw anything wrong but I knew I was in a terrible place and didn’t know how to get out. I remember kneeling in desperate prayer pleading to let me die because I was so useless and worthless. I got an answer, “NO.” I pleaded, “I can’t go on like this any more.” Another answer, “What are you going to do about it?” Wait – What – I can do something about this? That night over 25 years ago was my turning point. I stopped passively letting life tear me apart, I decided to find answers. I was going to fight back. I prayed often and bread crumbs and nudges and bits and pieces came across my way and I struggled and inched forward 5 minutes at a time. Someone once told me to take one day at a time, I told them, I would die thinking about a whole day. However, I survived 5 minutes at a time. Progress looked more zigzagged than linear. I measured improvement over years rather than days or months that seemed to blend into each other into one big nightmare. Cancer hit 18 years ago another pivotal change. Six months after having cancer is when I finally started counseling. The next step in my life long odyssey.
Counseling takes courage and money. It is hard and expensive. I believe it is worth the investment. However, counselors are not created equal, sadly some spread more bad advice, misinformation, and ignorant thinking. I was blessed with a counselor with years of experience and clear understanding of trauma. I will tell anyone honestly, my life got much worse before I started to get better. That is why counseling takes courage. There were many sessions over 10 years that is why it takes money. I wish I had a different answer. However, I did plenty of work before the counseling began. I don’t believe having the odds against you means that you give up. It means, keep looking, researching, studying, trying, and working towards healthier living. You are worth it. I am worth it. I am amazed at where I am compared to where I was 4, 10, 15, 30, 50 years ago. I’m thankful Heavenly Father’s answer was NO. I lived, I love living. The journey is worth the struggle. I am cheering for every person that wakes up each morning saying, “I will try again today.”