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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is something that most survivors struggle with. This page gives some technical background on PTSD and includes testimonials from survivors about their experiences with PTSD. If you would like to share your experience, please use the form at the bottom of the page.

According to Internet Mental Health, PTSD occurs when "The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present: the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others" and "the person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror."

There are a variety of different symptoms of PTSD that a survivor may experience. Flashbacks are one of these symptoms. Flashbacks are "acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur on awakening or when intoxicated)."

Survivors also experience intrusive thoughts and nightmares and distress when reminded of the assault. Another symptom of PTSD is an attempt to avoid dealing with the assault at all. Internet Mental Health defines this avoidance as:
  1. efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma
  2. efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma
  3. inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma

PTSD also manifests itself as increased awareness and hypersensitivity. For example:

  1. difficulty falling or staying asleep
  2. irritability or outbursts of anger
  3. difficulty concentrating
  4. hypervigilance
  5. exaggerated startle response

PTSD is usually treated with a combination of drug therapy and psychotherapy. This includes Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which involves exploring thoughts and feelings about the trauma in order to deal with the symptoms of PTSD. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is another form of therapy that works well for some survivors. This therapy involves talking about the trauma while doing body movements, such as moving your eyes or tapping with your hand.


For me, the worst symptoms of PTSD have been the panic attacks, the nightmares and the startle response. My panic attacks have been somewhat taken care of with Xanax, which is taken right when you feel the first symptoms of panic. The nightmares come and go. When I am stressed or upset, they get worse. They have gotten much better as I have worked on healing. The startle response, however, I am still having problems with.

A startle response is the reaction you have when someone startles you. For example: jumping, a quick intake of breath, an adrenaline rush, etc. I am currently having problems with this. I jump when anyone makes a loud noise, when someone comes up behind me or makes a quick movement. I scare very easily. Some survivors say that antidepressants help with this.

-Lis


It's been about 10 years since I last experienced any of the abuse but I still suffer with PTSD every day. It will always be with me I just hope to get it at a more controlled level some day. My main problems are with nightmares... And then I avoid sleep because I have the nightmares everytime I close my eyes. Also I have some severe outbursts of anger, majoy hypervigilance... the slightest little noise or any sense of movement or anything scares me.. I keep a light on in my house at all times. I have a hard time concentrating sometimes. Especially in therapy and like Lis, my startle response gives me trouble. I jump at the slightest thing. Most of my friends have learned not to unexpectedly come up behind me, but I dont want it to have to be that way.

-Linda

How wonderful it was to find out some 12 years ago that there was a name for the symptoms I was experiencing. One of the worst aspects is depression and panic attacks. I intensely dilike the sense of impending madness and loss of control that goes with panic. But what has helped is to reming myself is that they are normal responses to an abnormal situation; in other words "feeling crazy" does not mean I am, it's only a symptom. For me, the symptoms have lessened in severity over the years as I have integrated the terrors of my life. Now, the trigger has to be a really big one to set off PTSD symptoms. I think it's important to use whatever resources help, as long as they are not harmful coping strategies like too much alcohol. One of the more dreadful aspects of PTSD is the sense that nobody else could possibly understand how revolting it feels;that awful sense of depersonalization is so isolating. Yet just reaching out to can help allay it.

But the very worst Trauma Symptom for me has been what is listed in the DSM as "foreshortened sense of a future". I have found very little material on it, and my counsellor said she had never seen it to such a degree of severity.

What this means is that I spent the best part of 20 tyears since being raped as a child, expecting to die. It became very much worse after a violent relationship; I understand why now. Until two years ago, I interpreted every physical symptom I had as a terminal illness, and lived every happy moment as if it would be my last. I was aleays tense, and never took anyhting good for granted--"worry-wart", people called me, and I laughed with them, but nobody could ever see how truly frightened I was. It was difficult to make plans as I was ceratin they would never materialize, and every time they did, it felt like a reprieve. Having babies exacerbated it; I would cry every time I looked at them and think, "I'm not going to be around to raise you". This terrible symptom contained both anxiety and depression, the best I could hope for was that it would lie dormant for a little while, but it always came back. It sapped the joy from so much. Many times,, I almost suicided because I was so sure I was dying anyway. My family sustained me.

I thought I would never overcome it. But I have. I decided that whatever happened, I would no longer allow my life to be ruled by terror. Honestly, this futureless fear at it's worst, dominated even simple decisions like whether to have my hair done--the dying shouldn't waste money on hairdo's. One by one, I began to confront fears in my life. I began to defy the fear, for example I would have my hair done or sign up for a dance class, and tell the terror to go to hell when it started it's terrible murmurings on how I was going to die anyway, and nothing was worth putting energy into. Next, I started telling people how frightened I was--a carryover from the child-rape was the sense that if I told of the fear, the feared event would happen. I recognized and conquered this "magical thinking". My counsellor advised trying something "scary" like bungee jumping. So I did the mental equivalent, and confronted an abuser. I don't want to advocate this as a necessity for overcoming fear, but I know it K. O'D this terror.

It does not tyrannize me anymore.

The second and most important healing strategy, which must be in place anyway for conquering fear, was building an inner representation of safety. My external world was very safe, but my internal world was convinced utterly that doom was on it's way. This involved seeking and finding the terrified parts of me; a little girl of 10 years old had sat inside me for more than two decades waiting for her abuser to come back. Waiting for his threats to come true.

I gave her respect, affection, acceptance and protection. This began to supplant the expectation of doom.

I think this translates to anxiety attacks in general--I recommend asking yourself which part of you is scared, and setting about building it an inner representation of safety.

These days, the "no future" fears still return, but they are a much paler shade of their former self, and I instantly recognize them as not statements of truth, but indicators of fear. I can then set about rectifying it. Their power is broken. Three years ago, my husband was planting flowers, and I sat and cried, because I was sure I would never be around to see them bloom. Well, I am, and I have seen my little boy turn three and I have had another baby. I could go under a bus tomorrow, sure, but this doom-laden mindset is no longer a given. Life is beautiful. I wonder if anybody else experiences occasional very vivid reliving of a trauma in hypnagogic stages of sleep--that is in the twilight zone, where you're not asleep but not awake either. It's almost like self-hypnosis, and is very unpleasant. It is not dreaming, but is like dreaming. Certain forms of deep meditation should be avoided because of this, unless under the guidance of a therapist.

Anyhow, people, I hope I've helped someone. It may soumd a little bit cushy, but I believe the greatest healer is love. I really do. Get lots of it!

-Rachel


I was raped in March of 2001 during my school break. I am 16 years old and was living with a friend since December. After I had repeorted the rape I went into denial and suffered major giult from that night. I convinced myself that it was my fault and that I would never trust anyone again. I felt anger and cried for hours in my room alone with the lights off. I began to cut myself and hit myself with my own fist or anythiing that would leave a bruise. I was put in Penetang for self-injurious actions. There I went through stages of denial, giult, anger, hurt, lose of trust and I would not let anyone touch me, male or female.

Once I was out of Penetang and diagnosed with PTSD I started to get flashbacks and nightmares of the rape. Anything could trigger these. The smell of something or a sound or even a reminder. They would hit whenever they wanted to and I would put into shock becuase of how real they were. I stopped eating, barely drank, except water, and I could not sleep. I stopped socializing and talking and just wrote peotry all day. The panic attackes were the worst part of everything. Everytime I closed my eyes I pictured the whole night in an instant. I began getting anxiety attackes and sharp pains in my chest.

I have my trial this coming September and the symptoms are still surrounding my everyday life. I have loosened up a bit and I am handlling things much better. I plan on healling 100% and I am gunna do my best to make it there. With out the love and support of friends and family I would not be here right now so you have to count on the people you trust because you can't dp it on your own.

-Steff


I never thought that my lack of sleep or my inability to concentrate in class was a real problem. It wasn't until the sleep decresed to 1-2 hours a night, I was shaking non-stop, my panick attacks made me feel like I was dying, I couldn't be alone in a room with anyone and I couldn't sit through a 45 minute class for even 5 minutes without leaving that I finally took my therapists advice and went to the health center at my school. After talking with me for 5 minutes he diagnosed me with PTSD and depression.

He put me on Celexa which made me throw up and shake uncontrollably, we played with the doseage and then switched to Elavil; that was no better. Serzone was next: made me more depressed than I was before. Finally I found Prozac..that knot that had been in my chest for the previous 2 years since the rape was finally gone, the room stopped spinning out of control, i stopped crying all the time, I could actually sit through a test without leaving and along with the Sonata I was sleeping more than an hour a night!!

My therapist helped me through the dark spots and the meds helped me control my life. I'm off the meds and out of therapy now and I seem to be in control for right now. My best advice is to ignore the stigma of medications and if you need them take them and get a good therapist that understands you...i couldnt have made it through without those 2 things.

-Kristen

Ok, I guess this is supposed to be uplifting. I don't know if I'm there yet. I left an abusive relationship 3 years ago. My courageousness was met with rejection by my entire family and all of my friends. My ex had made up stories about me, and no one bothered to even ask me about them. I was alone and scared. He had threatened to kill me. I moved to another state with someone I knew a little bit. I started to not trust him or anyone else. I was freaked out from everything, a door slam would get me shaking.

I still get flashes of memories - it's like: I am suddenly transported into an old scene in my life and it is happening right at the moment. I see the room, I feel the sensations, I feel the terror. It happens each time I start to relax. It seems to have a cycle. I feel anxious, I get real stressed, then angry at my circumstance, then angry with myself. The anxiety escalates until I explode or shut down. At that point I start to relax, and then the flashes. If I fight the flashes (it is real hard - I scream and wave them away, hum some comforting tune, jump up and down), I get a headache that floors me, and continues to pound until I look at the flashes and say them outloud.

I have tried homeopathy and aromatherapy, but each time I start to relax, I can't breathe; and then the flashes come. My concentration is shot. I do nothing all day but try to uncover some more of this stuff in as much a non-intrusive way as possible to try to avoid the flashes. Two years and it hasn't worked yet.

I too have a little girl who is scared to death of being attacked again. Nothing I've done so far has helped her, maybe its worse because when the flashes come I am being raped all over again, and again. I have been attacked many times. I am so tired. Now my sleep is affected, and I never had trouble sleeping before. The 'always on guard' is exhausting. I get times when I can't breathe, and I must lay down and shut down to get some air.

I felt suicidal for awhile. I couldn't take this pain anylonger. But that has passed. I found great sorrow and grief. I think I was afraid of feeling that, and that is what the suicide thoughts were about. I am extremely depressed, I am afraid of people, sometimes terribly afraid of being touched. I've actually been in an all out panic, and run away from someone I know screaming at the top of my lungs "get away!!", when he was going to hug me. But I forgot who he was, and where I was. I feel terrorized in a place I do not feel safe or comfortable in; and I am terrorized inside myself from all the fighting going on in my head. I was just informed that my personality cracked under the trauma of abuse, and has split into parts that aren't assimilated. I realize that there is probably no where that I will feel safe. And I wonder if I will ever feel safe again.

-Ramona

I unfortunatley had the experience of having PTSD rediagnosed in May of this year. I was brutely raped & almost killed on May 13, 1999. My rapist felt the need to cut me internally with a knife or crochet hook. I was drugged & only have partial memory of the night. When my 2 year anniversary came around & had no support system. I lost it. I am also a bipolar patient with a suicidal history. My counselor was really good. He tried helping me in areas no one had ever helped with. When i told him that because I had no support system & suicide was definitely becoming an option again we agreed for the 1st time in 3 years for me to go back on a "mental heath" drug. The put me on Klonopin to help with the added anxiety for a month. But i started binge drinking again.

Fortunately the rape crisis hotlines are available 24 hours because several women kept me from killing my self. I have to say though I should have been on meds again in June when I saw my rapist Jack again. I finally called the police & said help. But as a lot of you know, the police never care. I know they have no physical evidence but they still make you feel like you are guilty all over again. So now it is almost September the case has been closed, never to be opened again.

I still suffer in varing degress of PTSD whether anyone wants to admit it. I still can't have anyone be near me. My fist boyfriend broke up with me after 8 months because he could not deal with my bipolar, suicidial, & rape history. I know I will never find anyone to love me because of that. So i sit in my apartment where i was almost kiled 2 years ago. I still see the blood stains. I still see his face everywhere. I know that no matter what I do I will always be "damaged goods" to everyone around me. I will never be safe, healthy, loved. or happy.

-Adrienne

It is really uplifting to hear what other people have been through, because I have been suffering with this for years and years. In flashbacks I am there, and there is nothing that I can do to get me back to reality. My mum keeps shouting at me because I jump when she comes into the room, she says that I should "be aware that there are other people in the world" or something crap like that. I can't help it, I don't want to be scared anymore but I don't know if there is anything I can do about it. I am in therapy, and it seems to be helping, but there are days between sessions that are like hell on earth. Even in therapy I get scared sometimes, I feel so pathetic and useless that I can't stop these feelings. I wish they would just disappear and never come back, and that I could feel just like everyone else, happy. I really sympatheis with the people who have written their experiences, and I hope that we all find a way out of this devastating condition, though sometimes that seems impossible.

-Name Withheld

I have been experiencing PTSD for some time now but didn't know it. I was sexually abused by my brother from a very young age until I was 11. Since then I have been very fearful of any kind of relationships (male or female). I am in a manogamous relationship now and the nightmares have started to increase. Almost every night I have a nightmare, it is always the same storyline. My wonderful sweet boyfriend is cheating on me. Some people would think that this was no big deal but when I wake up I actually feel like he has. It really takes a toll on our relationship. Since I just started dealing with my sexual abuse about 3 weeks ago I have only had one flashback but that was enough for me. I am scared of everything and everyone, I have no trust for anyone. It is horable to live like this. I feel so trapped, trapped in the past, in a world that only has pain and suffering. I have no religion so that doesn't help, I feel so alone and so afraid. I have just started counceling and my counselor says that it does get better and more managable. I guess that it just takes time and a whole lot of energy. Well, that is it for now. If anyone wants to talk or something my e mail address is charrield@hotmail.com

-Princess

It's been almost 16 years since "it" happened I can't even say it...never have...hoping I will be able to someday...My father was a chess player...therefore I don't have anything to do with chess or men who do...My father liked motorcycles...agian motorcycles and people who ride them are off limits to me. The panic attacks are so horrible...I feel like I'm going to have a heart attack...I cried in the middle of class today...I had to leave...went to the bathroom the floor began swiveling beneath me...he was there with me all over agian...I never thought about PTSD until I came here...it makes sense...maybe I'm just a loon...

-FragileFlight

The Fear of My Denial

His breathe his voice
Empowering my every step
His touch his emotions
Showing no sympathy
Wandering through the emotions
Trying to find a light
Burdens upon me
The light flashed through my eyes...

Scarcely reflecting reality
Seemingly knowing emotions
Thinking of nightmares...

Sees the light
Burdens came upon me
The light flashed through my eyes
The fear of my denial...

-Robin

I am 16 years old. I was raped when I was 14 on June 13, 1999. I have PTSD. After the first rape things just got worse. Everything was great until then or at least I made it out to be. I fell into a bad cycle of abusive men. I started dating older men and eventually got engaged at 15. He was 20 and I thought I was in love. I was kind of in denial about the previous rape involving my best friend. It started bothering me the more physical I got with my fiance and I told him about the rape. He got furious and started to hit me. He was upset that I had sex with this guy but I would not with him. He pushed me into sex. A few days later I called and said we should slow down. He dumped me for someone who would have sex with him and the engagement was off. Then things really got bad. I started dating much much older men. I was sexually assaulted and abused a lot. I was suicidal. I began to cut myself. I hated everything. Then I tried to get help. I am so glad now that I had ! some good friends. I got back into church. And one day I was delivered. I started to work through it. And things were getting better. Then while dealing with that the memories from my early childhood of being molested came back up. I had to deal with that. I am still continuing to deal with all of these things. Jesus has helped me so much and He is doing great things in my life. I still have PTSD and I have to deal with it. A lot of the time it is very hard. I don't understand why I have to deal with it and why Jesus has not healed me of it yet. But I am still moving forward.

The worst part of PTSD to me is having it. lol. The panic attacks have to be one of the worst things about it. They are embarassing. I have them at school and sometimes I have to leave. My school knows some of what happened because I told them. I go to school with that friend who raped me. It is hard. But I try to deal. And probably the other really bad part is nightmares and flashbacks. I stay awake so I won't have nightmares and it is really hard. But then Jesus gives me peace. Somehow I let it back in. But I am learning and working on it.

-Amanda Lee


There is so very much, down here in the dark where the rats live and where I move around, tethered to the lies and fear and anger, so much that I wonder if it is possible to form it into a cohesive whole.

But I don't need to. These bones are bare and whitened, shining in the Son.

PTSD. O happy label, on thee I fall, spike of Juliet in a lonely heart, please be true and do not leave me confused and searching for another diagnosis. Don't leave me, I need your embracing arms of loose parameters, your spidery network of shadows.

There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel something that I ought not to feel today, some thing that I ought to have felt many years ago. There is not a day I do not receive the added value of a memory, a fear or a terror, a thousand tears for the price of one.

My body is wracked and spine is twisted. Fear will find a way. Strange how every cliche can become a sarcastic and wretchedly ironic barb in the right context.

Full Frontal Assault: when the mining starts, when desperation drives me to the nice office with the comfortable chairs. Before, during and after, thought life out of control, barely holding on, a well to draw from for nightmares to come.

Intrusive - scenes, smells, ideas, sounds and songs. People and places and things that just won't have the good grace to lie down and be quietly remembered. Clamouring, shaking their bars. The peculiar way a song, having been heard repetitively, then once more much later, can evoke the ethos of an entire summer.

I remember (thank God for a memory with no doubt attached!) the First Time I Told Someone. I was hanging out at my friend's house on the stairs with his sister and blurted out how I was - molested was the word I think I used. How many times I have told people since then! How many have listened to me, how many read my complaints on the Internet, how many more I hope to reach one day, breaking the silence, speaking up front, publishing, something for you to identify with.

I want to stand on the wall, on the front line defending and protecting. The self evident fact is that I am meant to be here, because I am here. And you are here, if you are reading this, because you are meant to be so don't you ever give up the fight. The sun shall rise, even if obscured by clouds. God loves you and so do I.

-Michael, Non Illegitimata Carborundum


For me its like i have split personalities.i was diagnosed with PTSD 2 years ago but have probly had it for 16 years (since i was 4) some days i am scared of everyone and cannot stop shaking, i feel like they all think im crazy.sometimes i have horrible nightmares,he visits my sleep at least everyother night.i am afraid to be alone with any man even ones i know even my own grandpa.sometimes when i have sex with my husband i cry and get really scared and think if i asked him to stop will he. and many other things from PTSD affect my life even getting a job.

-Kendra


First rape at 3 years, many between, and raped and asaulted, beaten 2 years ago. I am now 49 and never leave my house. Live alone, never answer the phone and only sneak out after dark 2 times a week to check mailbox. Can't bare light or noise and can't live with this. My own body betrays me. When I am most panicked, my female parts act like I want it. I want to cut them out with a razor and wish I was invisible or never existed. I am a self abuser..I burn myself continually. I am so sorry that I was born female though I guess that no person is immune. No way out!

-Katy


This is for those who are in crisis. It has been 15 years since I got away from my rapist (my father). I used to have a really hard time with a lot of PTSD symptoms, particularly flashbacks. I also used to have panic attacks when I saw anybody who looked like my father. I promise, it gets easier and better with time. I still have a bit of that "hypervigilance" and the "exaggerated startle response" but I can turn those to my good. My hypervigilance makes me a better mother, I think, because I am very careful about who I allow to be near my daughter, and the exaggerated startle response has taught more than a few people not to touch me without being invited. I screamed in a friend's ear in high school because he tickled me and then bent to see what would happen; I elbowed a co-worker in the ribs hard enough to knock the wind out of him for a similar behavior; I almost slapped another co-worker for coming up behind me unannounced and putting his arms around my waist. I turned around with my hand in the air aiming for his face but stopped before I actually hit him so I wouldn't get fired for striking a co-worker. It made the point, though. He never touched me again (except for incidentally, like how you brush hands with someone when you hand them something). You can get through it and you can turn some of these symptoms from problematic to productive. Good luck and stay safe!!

-DesertRose


I suffered with thoughts and feelings of helplessness and low self worth, I denied that I was raped as a child. I have been in therapy for litle over 4 years and I am working through the trauma of being raped. I am recovering here I am acknowledgng this happened to me.

I am learning to see how people try to abuse me in small ways, since the rape. It left me open to psycholoical abuse, having no self esteem made it diffcult for me to realise abusive relationships. Perhaps you know what I mean.

I am recovering slowly and I practise yoga regularly. I have learnt to nourish my whole self through exploring my body. You dont have to do intense strong practices and if you are afraid to go out you can buy a video from the net. The fear is in going within since once you start the journey of recover you reduce the chance of being a victim.

We all need to dosomething brave and ler to love and cherish our broken selves.

Good luck on yur joruney.

-Claire


I am 36. I've had PTSD since I was 2, but still have almost no memory of why. I was a habitual runaway starting from the time I was first able to get out of the crib. I only remember the fierce effort to get out, and get away, and stay away. I don't remember why. I have always been compelled to run away.

Survivor of father's physical abuse, emotional and mental abuse, and mother's ignorance and neglect. Survivor of three older brothers' sexual and verbal and physical abuse. Survivor of the deaths of father, brother, and all six grandparents, plus a stepfather I adored beyond words. Survivor of two lost babies. Survivor of a random gang assault, and sexual abuse by my psychiatrist. Survivor of attempted rape, multiple episodes of self-injury, spousal abuse, spousal neglect, spousal rape, marriage to not one but two paraphiliacs, survivor (so far) of the criminal justice system -- which is as violent an offender as any abuser.

I have survived the destruction of my home in a fire, two divorces, the disintegration of my family, death threats, two stalkers, two major motor vehicle accidents, hit square-on by a car ... twice, and a VERY near drowning. One of my brothers hasn't spoken to me in a decade. It hurts every day.

I have also survived the extreme long-term abuse of my daughter. Biting, burning, beating. Sexual abuse. Ritual abuse. Things so sick, I still cannot face them.

I am a survivor, but I wonder why. To what purpose? WHY SO MUCH PAIN? A little might have been a good lesson, more might have made me a good example, but DANG! What is all this for? I haven't had a chance my whole life. It's not a baby's fault that she is abused. It's not a child's fault that she is raised to know abuse and nothing else. It isn't my fault that somehow, I still saw that there was something else in the world, and I wanted that for myself.

I am the product of nearly every kind of abuse and tragedy one can suffer in a lifetime. I have completely lost my faith -- a faith that was once very strong. I cannot believe any loving God would create a human life just to suffer again and again and again -- to become a product of my experiences. WHY??

I have good things. I have children I love. A husband I love. A job I love. A home I love. I am VERY lucky that way, but I am empty. I feel so little. Here I am at 36. I made no plans to livethis long. I truly never expected to live past 21, and have been in a constant state of bludgeoned shock ever since.

I sound victimy, which I hate more than ANYTHING. I am NOT a victim. These people that have harmed me do not get to have that kind of power over me. I'll flight to the bleeding death on that. It is what I have.

I am trying not to die. I am trying to keep filling my lungs with air and letting it out. I am trying not to eat myself into a large blubbery mass, knowing then I will REALLY feel awful about myself, and unable to move to help myself feel better.

I never feel understood. I never feel anyone COULD understand, or would want to. I am insignificant. I have no right to inflict myself on others. I should be quiet and not make a fuss and bother people.

Nighmares are SO BAD right now. So very bad. I can't sleep for more than ten minutes at a time. I awake constantly startled and worried and alarmed. I always think I'm late or in trouble. I dream horrible nightmares so real, I am still trapped in them when I awaken.

There are flashbacks. I shudder. I wince. I smell things. I feel things. My body convulses in memory. I am there, and I HATE it. Like slime getting all over me, and not coming off. Like slime trapping me.

I get angry. Loud noises. I hate surprises. I hate not having a plan for EVERY contingency. It's how I feel in control. I am sick of feeling like my existence is a burden when I am what I was MADE to be.

I hope there are other lives. I'd hate to think this is really it, and when I was picking out adventures, I picked all the CRAP.

Still in pain. It comes and goes, and I DO have great joy sometimes. GREAT joy. But the pain never ever receeds too far. I can be sitting in a theater, and all the sudden, I am crying, and I don't know why.

Sometimes I feel like a waste of space. Sometimes I feel defiant, like I have as much right as anyone else to be in the world and breathe the air. Of all the things I wish I was, and all the things I wish I could be or do or experience, the one thing I am coming to recognize and accept is that I will never be healed. I will never be "well".

-Rebecca


Because I'm feeling ok today, I want to write. Because the one awesome guy who has been there for me, given me the safest place I know since the day he knew is about to give up on me,. . .I need to write.

I was, simply, horribly, assaulted by my sisters boyfriend, now husband for seven years. My family lives in the sweet world of denial. They put a lid on what my 14 year old mind knew to be assault, by saying and acting as if nothing happened. . .and my PTSD began to develop.

The panic attacks, the lack of sleep, all seemed normal to me after a while. The feeling that I wouldn't make it past 24 (my current age) was unshakeable. Other symptoms began to pop up, and the one that gets to me is that I dissassociate to a severe degree. Something reminds me of the trauma, and I flee to a safe dark place inside myself and my body goes on in auto pilot. The numbing is horrible as well. I'm a passionate person, and suddenly feeling nothing, because something triggers a traumatic response has been too much for me, so I began to cut my wrists.

I'm in therapy now. That was a hard thing to do, but I'm finally finding hope. I am being treated with a process called EMDR, and I'd really recomend checking it out to anyone with PTSD. It helps your mind process the trauma. In the end, I will still react with fear to my bro-in-law, but that's healthy. The panic attacks will go away. The dissassociation is worse now, as I'm in the midst of therapy (and why it must get worse before getting better I'll never know), but should also go away I'm told.

I finally have some hope for learning how to express love physically (and I'm starting at bare basics here,. . . hoping that someday I can kiss and keep myself in the present moment). I get frustrated a lot, even with therapy and the EMDR, but I keep trying because someday I want to be whole. I want that awesome guy to quit feeling frustrated, to not have to fear losing me.

-Angela


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Links

Internet Mental Health's PTSD page - Includes both the American and European Description of PTSD.

National Center for PTSD - Includes Facts on, Research about and Treatment for PTSD.