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I spent three years in therapy without telling the most painful parts of my story.

Survivors of trauma often deal with pain by sending some memories to the subconscious. I have a padlocked box in my brain’s attic, from which nothing escapes. I willed myself to believe that some events had never happened. I believed that this is how my mind protected me. So I’d carefully steer conversation away from the proximity of those thoughts.

For a year after I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD), I fought the diagnosis. “I haven’t been through anything traumatic,” I insisted. Today, I still find myself struggling to explain the nightmares, the flashbacks, the avoidance, the aversion to physical human contact, and the fear of crossing roads at night. I have only begun to acknowledge that healing needs to be a priority for me.

Why has it been so difficult for me to accept my PTSD?

Here‘s what I’ve deduced. Perhaps my realizations can help you heal.

PTSD can develop from any intense painful or stressful experience. These include war, natural disasters, sexual assault, and childhood abuse, but can be many other things. The majority of the publicly-available information on PTSD is associated with war veterans and the psychological scars they receive. The lack of awareness about the myriad possible causes of PTSD is an impediment towards successful diagnosis and treatment. If memories or reminders elicit unwarranted fear, apprehension, or despair for a significant time after the event, you are dealing with post-traumatic stress.

There is inherent stigma to overcome before “coming out” about any mental health issues. In addition, you may feel that the experience which triggered your PTSD was not “traumatic enough.” There are a zillion reasons which will deter you from getting the help you need. The event was something which you should have had the strength to forget. Well-wishers tell you that “you could have had it so much worse.” Your friends say that you’re making it up. Other people with similar stories have gotten over it faster.

If it makes you feel uncomfortable to jump into certain thoughts or activities, don’t do them. Trauma does not come with a blueprint or a recovery-timeline. Only you can judge when you’re ready.

Talking about personal trauma can force you to revisit painful memories.

Forming coherent thoughts about traumatic experiences can trigger flashbacks, nightmares, and panic. Talking about it has got to be so much worse.

You can heal from PTSD. But, forced exposure to these thoughts might cause more harm than good. Don’t be afraid to seek help from a mental health professional.

Are you ready to tell your story? Make sure that you put your needs before anyone else’s.

Most importantly, trust your instincts. They are probably right.


  • Jokelia

    Jokelia Jokelia

    Reply Author

    This article is true there’s a lot I don’t not to visit because I’m scared of abandonment by my therapist(she said she’s not going to abound on me) she’s my ninth therapist but I had plenty more all of them had to leave except one I decided not to see that one cause she was too far from me but I choose not to talk about the mental illness, the rape years ago, or me not forgiving myself for something that happened I’m just bottling everything up and I know it’s not good my psychiatrist and therapist(LCSW) are both good just having trust problems with some people. I love the article even though now I’m having anxiety and flashbacks about everything after I read the article

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  • kristi

    kristi kristi

    Reply Author

    Everything causes me to flashback , I’m so sick of living like this ! PTSD is just one of the things I’m dealing with. My hell started when I was only 3 years old. But I didn’t remember the darkest , scariest parts of it all until the last two years . My mother hated me ! I’m 40 years old and half of the time , no most of the time I’m stuck in a prison locked inside my mind , a fantasy nightmare! The other part of the time I’m overreacting , blowing up for no reason at people that don’t deserve it due to flashbacks ,PTSD , Anxiety, its never ending the the worst part is because of all this I don’t have a job , a home to feel safe in , a family member or friend to confide in ! I have nothing but an overwhelming want to not feel anymore ! I need help and nobody around me cares or has ever cared. Sorry

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    • You Matter

      You are struggling with some tough emotions and feeling lonely, don’t hesitate to call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). We are here to listen!

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