Fear was my initial reaction to being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Surely I was doomed to be angry, hyper-alert and subject to triggers my whole life.  As if what happened to me wasn’t enough to deal with, I now felt helpless, depressed and hopeless about being Diagnosed.  Labeled.  A.b.n.o.r.m.a.l.

PTSD is a disorder that can result from witnessing or experiencing one or more traumatic events such as violent assault or rape, chronic abuse, a natural disaster, serious vehicular accident and living in a war zone.

Slowly, when I began to understand it was actually treatable, I became more hopeful.  It made it easier when I thought of PTSD as a coping mechanism instead of a permanent verdict.

My symptoms were actually present most of my life, but began affecting me more noticeably as an adult.  I mainly struggled with anger, panic attacks, triggers and nightmares.

Trauma was haunting me around the clock.  For several years, I was chronically exhausted from lack of rest.   At night, I would have terrifying nightmares.  During the day, I would sometimes experience triggers or flashbacks.  My anger was totally out of control.  Although I was no longer in danger, I was still living in survival mode.  This was a shocking revelation I really wasn’t fully aware of until later, while in treatment.  (Think: taking the red pill in “The Matrix“.)

Because of the depth of trauma I had experienced, my recovery was very intense and focused.  At one point I began what I call the ‘shedding phase’ of my recovery.  This was when I began seeing just how dysfunctional and destructive most of my relationships were.  I reluctantly realized in order to move forward in my recovery, I had to change my relationships.

In an agonizing process, I estranged myself from my parents, broke off unhealthy friendships, and changed jobs.  Unfortunately, I hurt some people who I truly cared for during this time.  They weren’t bad people, but they were bad for me.  The dysfunction in my marriage was becoming more evident also, and our relationship was very strained.  This was an excruciating time for me; I was very lonely and depressed.

(Now for the hopeful part…)

As much as it hurt, when I moved out of those relationships, I became stronger emotionally.  That enabled me to work even harder at processing my outbursts, triggers and nightmares in therapy.  The more I processed, the less control the trauma had over me.  Inch by inch I clawed my way out of the black hole.

Pushing through the shame and fear of talking about the abuse was hard, but it was also Liberating!  Because of treatment, I am reclaiming the lost areas of my life.  The freedom, relief and joy I have at escaping the chains of abuse and depression is Unbelievable!

I am developing healthy relationships with my husband and kids.  New friendships are in various stages of bloom and I created my own business.  Recovery is not easy, but the rewards far outweigh the heartache.

How about you?  Do you have a story about PTSD?