Have you ever been diagnosed with an illness? You wake up feeling puny, make an appointment to see your doctor and $35 and a few prescriptions later, you know what you have and if you don’t feel better in 7-10 days, come back for a recheck.
Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental illness? You probably have many more hoops to jump through and a much higher deductible for your out of network psychiatrist (are there any in-network ones??). Medication may or may not be able to help you deal and it takes much longer than 7-10 days to see how your medication might help you or months of counseling before you even start to pick away at the issues your face daily.
I have a diagnosis I feel unworthy of, I do not even like to claim it for fear of the stigma attached.
I have PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Did I serve in the military?
Did I help pull people out of the Twin Towers on 9/11?
Have I ever seen anyone killed?
The answer to all of these questions is no. That is why I feel unworthy. I have never done anything heroic or saved anyone’s life. I have never served on a battlefield and seen my friends blown to pieces. I have never pointed a gun at the enemy.
August 2011-June 2012 was a rough year for us because not only did we welcomed AK into our lives, a week later experienced a house fire, and in June a man assaulted me in broad daylight. You can read a long post about that year here.
So in the last 4 years it had been a recovery adventure that I do not think will ever end…and that is okay. It is even a source of guilt for me; you are okay and your family is okay, JUST GET OVER IT ALREADY! I have to remind myself of those days that it is so much deeper than that.
Not all wounds are visible.
For example, today I decided to walk down to get my lunch instead of driving. I get about half way to my destination when I pass a runner, a girl I am totally jealous of for having the time to go on a nice run in the middle of a beautiful spring day. Almost to the restaurant I pass a homeless shelter, I feel comfortable passing it because there are lots of cars and people out and about. I make eye contact with a man sitting at the bus stop. I am the person who tries to make eye contact with people who might make me nervous, make sure they know that see them and I have cataloged what they are wearing, height, weight, build into my mind. About 45 seconds after passing the bus stop, I hear footsteps running behind me. I turn around quickly almost knocking the poor girl out. It is the same girl running from before, she must be doing an out and back loop or maybe just trying to get that extra tenth of a mile so her GPS says an even 4.0 miles (doesn’t everyone do that?). Either way, we both apologize to each other and she keeps on going. Me on the other hand, I have to stop and take some deep breaths and get my heart rate back down.
A few weeks ago we had some friends over and we had a little fire scare. It was silly and irresponsible and totally avoidable but it happened (tip: don’t put mail near the stove and get plenty of sleep). Instead of worrying about the problem, I was more concerned about having a panic attack in front of these people. Just when I start to become a little more relaxed in my fire prevention, something happens.
My heart rate is up just thinking about it…thanks fitbit for keeping me aware of my
anxieties fitness! This is in no way a feel sorry for me and my family post, it is to bring awareness to PTSD and mental illness.