Everyone has a story to tell and memories that trigger how each of our stories evolve. Some of us stroll through life every day in “guard” mode… always looking over our shoulders. We all process trauma in different ways. Based on my personal experiences, I made the choice to go into seclusion. My mental illness is treated through music, art and literary therapies. Seeking out professional services is the smartest way to deal with PTSD… my brain hasn’t hit that point yet. So, here’s a stroll through my PTSD lifestyle - while trying to maintain some sanity.
The first thing I did was begin self-medicating… horrible idea. Every day when I picked up that bottle, my soul was already empty. Mixing liquor with the emptiness inside myself led to nothing but violent reactions… accompanied by hate and anger. That bottle was thrown into the trash on December 5, 2020 - my 48th birthday. Tossing it was an emotional struggle… my brain thought it was needed while also admitting it wasn’t. After losing so much of my life to Vodka, I was determined to make a change… for the better… for my family. It was now time to tackle my trauma head on. That’s its own level of fear… of the unknown.
My addiction to the bottle was self-destructive. It made my husband fall victim to the pain I carried in life. He didn’t deserve that… it wasn’t fair to him. A change needed to happen in our household. It was difficult for me to admit that I turned the tables. I realized that my selfishness stripped the title of victim away from me… I turned my husband into a victim. That was a hard pill to swallow. We’ve both been through so much in life - we shouldn’t be bringing pain to each other. Through victimizing my husband, he carried my burdens as his own… he struggled to seek closure and acceptance on my behalf… after all, he’s a protector. Accepting the trauma as my own again, he was provided the freedom to be his own man… the man I fell in love with.
I still live in seclusion, it’s difficult to leave the house most days. Fear is real with PTSD and it manifests rapidly. One thing I’ve encountered is how the public reacts to that diagnosis. An invisible illness that destroys lives and families more than they already are - it’s something that most of society doesn’t take seriously. My goal is to change that perception… to make a difference. Sharing my story is challenging, but if it saves the life of another person… it’s worth telling. So, buckle up and hang on for the ride.
June 9, 2019 is the day I cheated death and won. Ironic that I’m choosing the word “won” - survived is probably a better way to say it. Guess my brain is just hardwired differently. I WON… my lungs were still breathing the next day and every day after. The medications to save my life worked, the 15 puncture wounds physically healed, the brain injury… not so much. To simply say I survived seems trivial considering everything that happened. What did I win - it’s simple… I won another day of being alive… of spending life with my husband and making memories… not just surviving. I also won the dreaded diagnosis of PTSD - a silent killer to many.
Once my injuries healed, I ran. I ran as far and as fast as I could. The mistake I made was stopping at the liquor store during that journey. During my recovery, a man appeared out of nowhere. That man is now my husband… my best friend. He witnessed my inability to walk most days, he showed compassion when I couldn’t remember the simplest of things… and he looked out for my well-being when I was unable to do so for myself. That man saved my life while I was also saving his. Together, we found a connection. For the first time, I could talk about it to someone who understood… without judgement.
It hasn’t been easy adjusting to life this way. I’ve always been an independent and strong person. That’s part of the process when dealing with PTSD - it strips your strength away at the core. Between the flashbacks and nightmares, it’s difficult to keep a firm grasp on reality. What gets me through everything the most is finally having a support system… a positive one. I open up a little more each day and it’s therapeutic. I have the best friends a lady could ever ask for… the most amazing husband in the world… and I’m alive. There’s still a ton of fear in my soul, but it no longer defines me. I’m more than my injuries… I’m more than my trauma. I am now determined to provide a voice for women who lost their own - others who are currently on the path I once walked. My mental illness doesn’t define me - how I choose to deal with it does. Maybe my trauma will help heal another struggling soul… possibly even save a life.
My journey came with a price that I’m willing to pay.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence, reach out to one of the many resources available… reach out to me… just reach out. If I didn’t give up on my survival, I won’t let you give up on yours. Just promise me that you won’t pick up a bottle like I did… don’t make my mistakes - learn from them.