PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression is something that has been forced into hiding in the shadows of society for a long time. There has even been times where I have listened to conversations of people expressing their beliefs that it has become more of an easy diagnosis, or trend. Something for people to place blame on for their everyday hurdles that seem too large to overcome.
I can personally say, this is not true. Everyone has a story, and learning to hear their story is what matters. Humans are emotional beings, we experience emotions in different ways, and our bodies regulate them differently. Some, better than others.
I was clinically diagnosed with PTSD, Anxiety and Depression, where if you don’t already know, allow me to inform you: some of the time the three come hand in hand. They can be complimentary additions to one another. Only, it’s not complimentary at all. It comes at a large cost, one that affects you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Over the last couple months, I’ve been asked how my book is coming, how my journey from healing after my court cases has been, and how I’ve been doing overall. Each time I give a vague answer, and say I’m doing good. I put on a happy face, and show people what I believe they want to see.
A couple weeks ago, I came to the realization that I had lost track of what I had set out to do three years ago during my court cases. I had stopped speaking out, and gone back into shame and hiding. I realized this was the most dangerous thing I could have done. Not only for myself, but also for others out there, who have one less reason to come forward and now may feel like the right thing to do is “keep quiet”. That eventually “it’ll all go away”.
For people who don’t know what PTSD is or how it works, allow me to let you in a little, and keep in mind everyone is different. People experience things in different ways.
However for myself, it has meant years of little sleep, or when you do finally sleep through the night, it is filled with nightmares, waking up drenched in your own sweat and needing to shower again after you had already showered before going to sleep that night. It means sleeping a full 9 hours, but because of the demons you face in your sleep, you wake up more drained and exhausted than before you went to sleep.
It’s standing in the kitchen with your loved one, and frying mushrooms to top the beautiful steak you have prepared. Something as little as that food triggering you, and you’re now living a live movie inside your head. You have no idea why this has triggered you, and no idea how to stop it. You’re now seeing yourself in a different environment, with a different person, at a different time. You can smell the environment again, you can hear the voice of your offender and picture every wrinkle on their face, and you freeze. You forget where you are, and forget how old you are. Until something snaps you back. In reality you were only seeing this for 10 seconds, but it feels like an hour. That feeling you get when a soccer ball is kicked at your stomach and it knocks the wind out of you, is the exact replica of the feeling you get when the live movie theatre inside your head starts.
There are so many survivors of War, Child Abuse, or traumatic accidents, that experience these flashback symptoms and don’t get a chance to talk about it. They have either been silenced by the shame and guilt society has placed on them, or they have attempted suicide because they weren’t aware there was not something wrong with them. There is something wrong with society.
Now being a Full-Time student Athlete and returning back to the very sport that is where all my diagnosis’ started, I have learnt a new step in my journey of healing. One that I think is extremely important for other survivors out there.
Don’t rush yourself into healing.
I had to learn this the hard way. Being a competitive athlete, I treated my hurt like a sport. I was going to beat it and beat it fast just like anything else I do in my life. Always trying to come first or win the race. I had it set in my mind that I wasn’t going to let this one thing keep me down.
Clinicians sometimes give the impression that with a prescription or a diagnosis, it means something needs to be fixed. However in my experience, through the multiple medications and doctor visits, I’ve learnt there is one thing that is ultimately more successful than a prescription.
No matter what you are going through in life, or what you have gone through; embrace it and accept it as a part of who you are. Don’t let anyone shame you for that.
It is not embarrassing to have a diagnosis, but people have been shamed into believing it is in this society.
If you play on a sports team, would you open up to a room full of your teammates whom you spend everyday with and tell them you have a diagnosis? Where you work, would you be comfortable telling the people you see everyday what your diagnosis might be? Why not? Is it because you are afraid you might be judged, or seen differently?
I encourage you to speak out, and to not feel ashamed. Never feel ashamed or embarrassed, because the true hero is in you, and it comes out when you are able to speak out about what struggles you face. There is zero shame in what you are going through. You are only human.
It’s not easy, and I know that. I still have to push myself to be open about my diagnosis’. However in the end, the more you can say it out-loud, the more you embrace it and the less power it holds over you. When it stops having power over you it starts becoming a part of you. You start accepting it, and this is when it becomes easier to live with.
People suffering from PTSD, Depression, or Anxiety might not be willing to share what they are going through. What many people don’t know, is that it’s very common. Be kind in your words to people, be patient for their struggles, and be understanding about their actions.
As cliche the saying is, it is extremely true: You never know what someone may be going through.
One eye roll, wrong look, or rude tone, can make someones bad day, the worst day. Quite literally, it could feel like the end of the world for people suffering from Anxiety or Depression.
For people who are experiencing Anxiety or Depression, we are unable to shake off the small things. Instead, we fixate on something that may go unnoticed by someone else. If people aren’t willing to speak out about their diagnosis? How can you tell if you’ve just made a persons day a lot worse? You can’t. Set a goal for ourselves to treat everyone with respect, and make them feel worthy. Worthy of appreciation, and kindness; because that person may not think they are worthy of these simple expressions.
If you know someone who may be going through PTSD, Anxiety, or Depression, be mindful. Ask questions because you care. Above all listen with the intent to understand, not to reply.
If someone is trying to accept themselves, help them by showing them you accept who they are and what they’re going through.
You can tell a person with Anxiety or Depression that they look pretty, and compliment them a thousand times in a day, but they will still only hear the one negative word you might say to them, or the one negative look you might give them.
This is how Anxiety and Depression works. It makes you feel worthless, and exhausted from over thinking every little thing. You only hear the negatives.
I can promise you, any negative thought or feeling you might be having about someone suffering from Anxiety or Depression, they already think or have said it to themselves. So you don’t need too.
Constant reassurance is needed. To some it’s seen as an annoyance, but to the people who suffer from the Anxiety or Depression, its day changing. I use the word “day” because with these diagnosis’ that’s what it is. A day to day life, because you literally have to take one day at a time to get through it.
Last but not least; be patient. Be patient with one another, and with yourselves.
We are all human, and no matter what our differences might be, we all face our own struggles and insecurities.
Compassion is what being human is all about. Show compassion to those you are around. It’s healthy for you and them.
You never know who’s day you can make bearable by saying a few kind words.-