“Remember,
a diamond is merely a lump of coal
that did well under pressure” – Henry Kissinger

As a disclaimer, I want to begin this post by stating that although Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) consists of numerous symptoms that are experienced by a majority of sufferers, this account is, in no way, meant to mirror the experience of anyone but myself. Whatever the situation, whatever the diagnosis, we all live very unique lives and I would never attest to an ability to explain everyone’s’ exact experience. This is my account, and mine alone…

Having only recently realized that I suffer from PTSD I am constantly reminded of how much it affects my everyday life. To this day, I have no idea how I missed it. I know I generally downplay what has happened to me, throughout my life, but to have completely missed a diagnosis which I have an extensive level of understanding of is beyond me.

It did cross my mind, every once in a while, but I always disregarded the idea. I never thought I had been through something that merited such a diagnosis. As a result, I ended up blaming myself for not being able to let things go. Flashbacks would occur at any time and I never seemed to be able to ignore them. It felt like my own memories refused to let me go… Like we would never go our separate ways, no matter how painful and shameful the memories were….

Being unable to put difficulties behind me, which I was constantly urged to do and which those around me seemed to do so easily, was incredibly frustrating and painful to me and the only method of coping that I was aware of was to beat myself up over it. It may not have been the best of coping mechanisms but it provided me with a sense of control that I so desperately lacked at the time. It allowed me to take responsibility for my own faults, even where there were none.

I really wish I would have realized it all sooner… I always wonder how my self-image would have developed if there had been no reason to feel inadequate, no pain to push away or beat myself up for…

So… what is most commonly mentioned when someone is discussing PTSD? Flashbacks seem to be the poster symptom of the disorder, to which I have only one thing to say; PTSD is SO much more.

Yes, I have flashbacks…. Sometimes they are relatively minor, feeling more like a distant memory than anything else, sometimes they occur as nightmares to which I wake up in tears and fear ever falling asleep again and sometimes they are so powerful and intrusive that I can lie in my bed for hours not daring to move…

It is, furthermore, a diagnosis which often co-occurs with depression, which might not be too surprising since it relates to traumatic experiences which continues to affect the individual for, sometimes, as long as several years after the fact. In my case, this is perfectly illustrated by my feelings of never being able to escape what I have been through. Feelings which I can still experience today, every once in a while.

For me, however, the worst thing about suffering from PTSD is the constant anxiety and hypervigilance that is, only now after confronting it in therapy, slowly subsiding. To spend my days constantly distrusting those around me and waiting for the worst to happen, when all I truly want to do is to enjoy this life that I have been given, can be so draining and depressing. It really makes it difficult to continue fighting for health sometimes…

I will get through this though. Regardless of the struggles I have mentioned, regardless of the traumas I have been through, I will get through this. I have no idea how long it will take but I know it will happen. Someday…

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