PTSD, Trust, and the Importance of Being Honest

I realize it has been a while since I have written anything, and there is truly no other reason except I just haven’t. I haven’t written because I haven’t been trying to take care of myself. I haven’t been trying to take care of myself because when I get overwhelmed with everyone else’s life stuff, my life stuff gets put on the back burner. instead of working harder to make sure I don’t shut down, I preemptively shut down all things “me”. I begin to fall farther and farther into my fantasy land of gaming and movies, pulling any plugs from their outlets of healing and light and attempt to rest in the darkness and ignore the ache.

I have not done a good job of speaking up for myself. I have not been good at it, but neither have I practiced it. When your spouse tells you over and over to be honest about how you feel-“even if it is going to hurt me”-and you still find yourself holding back, you are only hurting yourself. I have no one to blame but myself for where I am.

So, where am I? I had a very severe panic attack this week. One of those that attacks like a vicious wolf- bringing along spasms and flashbacks and darkness. There were many moments, when I was brought back to those woods again, that I wanted to scream out-but I was mute, as usual. Only able to utter small groans and sighs.

I learned something about myself this week: I am still angry. I am not entirely thrilled to be on this journey-to be who I am; who God is shaping me to be. I am not saying I am angry with Him, but I am angry that things are not how I expected them to be. It is hard to look in the mirror and still be able to see the scars in the back of my mind. I know how deeply I have been wounded, but I long to be scarless and have all things forgotten. I know this will never be so, as how can the pain and scarring be used for His glory if they are not visible? This is where the trust comes into play. I know He has allowed the pain for my good and His glory. I know that my story is not for me alone, and I have already seen Him use it to encourage others. I am blessed to be a part of His kingdom building. That doesn’t mean that it is easy. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have rough days, or weeks, or months. But I must always remember to trust my heavenly Father to carry me through it all.

I am incredibly thankful for the brothers and sisters I have walking alongside me on this journey. They have been there to, quite literally, lift me up when I could walk no further. They remind me that I am not alone and urge me forward instead of letting me fall by the wayside. The body of Christ at work is amazing to watch. I am so blessed to be a small part of it.

The hard part about living with PTSD, for me, is being fully honest. With myself, with my husband, and with those who I am accountable to. I have always, always been one who downplays my struggles and tries to focus on other’s needs before my own. But as the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Self-care is vital. Paying attention to my emotional and mental health isĀ vital. I have to be honest with myself and those around me if I need help-when I need help dealing with things. Life isn’t going to be easy. We have to work hard at being better, doing better, and living better.

Advertisements

Reflections on St. Patrick’s Day

Two days ago was St. Patrick’s day. I usually just let the holiday go by like any other over-commercialized, not sure why we celebrate it, just another day to have a party and don’t forget about the parade, holiday. But two days ago also marked 15 years.

Fifteen years ago, on St. Patrick’s Day, I tried to kill myself. I was a senior in high school and I was tired. I was physically tired, mentally tired, and emotionally tired. I was done with no one understanding, no one seemingly being on my side. I couldn’t handle the unexplainable nightmares, the panic attacks, the exhaustion and I just didn’t care anymore. Looking back, I probably didn’t truly want to die or I probably would have made a better attempt than a bottle of ibuprofen. But in the moment, I just knew I needed to do something drastic, something that would make sure someone knew I needed more help than I was getting. My parents knew something was going on with me because they had started sending me to a therapist. But I didn’t like her. I felt like she was a bit patronizing and I never felt comfortable talking to her. I remember my mom being super mad at her for not alerting her to how bad off I was. But it really wasn’t her fault; I never really opened up too much to her.

Turns out, I was a pretty messed up teenager. Really, I was just wrestling with things I was not emotionally prepared to deal with. I had been assaulted by a boy at school earlier that year and it affected me very deeply. I hadn’t been able to talk about it and I had reached the breaking point. Finally talking about it opened up a mental and emotional can of worms that I still use as fishing bait to this day. I spent five weeks attending an outpatient day program for adolescents who were struggling with all kinds of things, from drug abuse to mental health issues. One of those weeks I spent on the impatient unit because sometimes, things get worse before they get better. I began to uncover a lot of things about myself, some good, most terrifying and awful. With the help of the therapists, I began to try and decipher the flashbacks I had been having. Turns out, I had been assaulted before-and much worse. I still can’t put together all of the pieces and most days I’d rather not try. I still grieve for my ten year old self, even though I don’t really have a lot of memory of my childhood. I feel sad for the pain and burden she was asked to carry so young.

Looking back, 15 years later, there are still a lot of things I am dealing with. But I am no longer an angry, emotional teenager, and I have a much deeper and more trusting relationship with my Heavenly Father. I have very dear and trustworthy friends who listen to me to be able to help me instead of using my pain against me. I am strong in my fight against depression and anxiety, even though they plague me more often than not. I go months between panic attacks rather than days. But most of all, I know that God has a plan for my story. He has set my life on the path it is on for His greater purpose and glory. I know that my story may be unique, but my trials and tragedies are not. There are other voices in the world who cannot speak because of fear or shame and I have been called to awaken in their spirit a confidence and knowledge that they are not alone in their fight. Childhood sexual assault is an ugly reality for many. Too many. Depression and anxiety afflict more and more every day. Flashbacks, PTSD, childhood trauma and abuse, being a Christian who struggles with homosexuality, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, cutting and self-harm; all of these things are things I have and do fight with. But healing can be obtained. Hang around and I’ll share with you my story.