This a brief history of how I battled with PTSD and came to understanding so much more about myself, my family, as well as just life in general.
When I was 14 years old I was a very rotten kid. I was into drugs, smoking and drinking a lot. It was to the point of where I was grabbing anything and everything to feel different from how I was feeling normally. If I wasn’t drunk or high on something, I wasn’t happy. I had begun smoking and experimenting with pills and pot at the age of 14 and I’m not talking about just some casual usage; there were more hard things involved that no one should see a kid using.
At around the age of 16 or 17 (can’t quite remember) my body started to suddenly fail me. Something just kinda clicked over and I had to go to the emergency room, my heart rate was up, my blood pressure was up and; I felt so sick to my stomach and basically I had panicked. Something was not right. From that night I couldn’t handle doing drugs very much. I would try and smoke or drink or do things but it all made the pain just so much worse. After that night that pain never stopped.
For close to two years after that night I struggled daily, to eat, to sleep, to get out of bed. I couldn’t go to school. I felt sick all the time and there was nothing I could do to make me feel better it seemed. I lost about 50 pounds I think about going through that period. I was not healthy and I did not look healthy either. There were lots of tests and doctors I had seen, nothing conclusive ever, which is the most frustrating thing to have a camera at one point shoved down your throat to find nothing. I had nothing to explain why i felt the way i did and a box full of prescriptions. I had been so beaten, so depressed and suicidal feeling to take my pain away. It was my own personal hell that I was stuck in. I could only do one thing and that was to look inside to my mind, and to face these demons.
I started to make baby steps one by one. I started with getting a routine down in my daily life,
I would eat the same exact thing every day. Do the same activities every day. I monotonized my life to a single routine every day. It relaxed the brain and my emotions in a way. I knew what to expect every day. Once I got used to that, over months of doing this routine, I started to branch out and introduce different things like going out and seeing my friends, trying to eat other foods. Often meeting a lot of pain and anxiety. It was from there I started to look more and more inside at these demons that would come to surface. I realized finally something may be wrong mentally. I set out to find help through therapy and psychology. During this time I had basically made a complete 180 on what kind of person I was. I became compassionate and empathetic towards my family and other people (remind you I was a terrible person before who cared about nothing haha). I did chores, I got back into school and I finished my high school diploma, ON TIME. This was while working two jobs paying for my own summer school to catch up, and helping my mother with bills and what not to keep a roof over us.
After some weeks of therapy i was then diagnosed with C-PTSD, Acute Anxiety Disorder, severe depression, and OCD tendencies. It felt like I finally had an explanation. It was liberating so to say. Growing up as a child my family had this constant arguing and fighting with violence. So many bad memories that my mind to this day is hard to handle. Basically I had this learned behavior to always be looking for danger, always be on this constant edge of aggression and stress. I never realized all of those memories was what was making me sick. I call these my demons because that’s how I envision it. Me fighting those demons.
So I went on with therapy. I learned to calm my mind in times of being triggered. I learned how to recognize my emotions as they happened. I finally started to heal once I moved out into something of my own. For me it was an environmental problem being around my family would cause so much stress for me. I couldn’t heal unless I put myself at a distance I realized.
They say it takes 5 years for your neural network to reprogram itself essentially. It was tough for me to heal. A lot of sleepless nights and anxiety and more pain. But every year I would look back at how my progress was and there was progress. For example at times I could never lay on my stomach. One day I realized I could and it was a strange elating experience, I know simple, but it was a blissful feeling to be able to lay on my stomach as I had not been able to for years.
So that’s kinda the story in a shortened and kinda minced up way… What I want to relay to people struggling with this problem is that NEVER give up. Never let your emotions take you those dark places and if you do, forgive yourself and don’t be embarrassed. You had been beaten down at one point in your life by whatever situation you were in and now you need to heal. People should respect that. They are the wounds you’re healing. You are stronger than you realize, you can take more pain than you can imagine, you can face those demons. Know this that if you feel weak facing them, they are simply the past and not the future or the present and therefore can do no extra harm. Take care of your mind and body. If you need a day, take a day to heal. This illness or condition is not very much different from having say a broken leg or being ill. Its simply something that takes much longer to heal and therefore should be looked at as an illness or injury not as if you're being lazy or dramatic or emotional. Your brain is literally malfunctioning and needs this time to heal!
My advice is go to therapy or get help in some way if you think or even suspect your mental state is not okay in some way and really make the effort to heal. I made that decision to get help and heal years ago and now I am living my life finally. I have a wife, I own my own home. I can eat food! I enjoy things and almost best of all what was a huge milestone for me: I don’t take any medicine anymore as of only a few months ago from writing this. I went from having a box filled with medications to taking nothing now. You can heal, you can make it. Just keep looking forward and keep fighting.
Do you have a personal story about recovery you would like to share? Would you like to help #EndStigma and encourage others to reach out for help?
Are you ready to reach out for support? Call CRMH’s Access Dept at 360-993-3003 Mon-Fri 8am-5pm to start on your journey to better mental health.
Just need to talk? Here are some resources:
Clark County Crisis Line: 1-800-626-8137 (24 hours a day/7 days a week)
Veteran’s Crisis Line: 800-273-8255
Teen Talk Line: 360-397-2428