I’ve never really liked the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD. It makes it sound like something’s wrong with me – as though I’m ‘disordered.’ When, really, some horrific ‘disordered’ things happened to me and I had a perfectly normal reaction to them.
Had. Past tense. Well, truthfully, this year has been a rough one for me. More terrifying flashbacks, more time spent doing things to numb away the fear and pain (this year my ‘painkiller’ of choice was relatively harmless - an overdose of mindnumbing games on my cell phone), more tiredness, more body pain that somehow took more than 30 years to finally feel.
Should I be ashamed to share all this? After all, don’t I want to convince people I’m well and healed so that they might listen to what I have to say?
News Flash: just because I’ve had PTSD since childhood doesn’t mean I’m not also capable, reliable, hardworking, and intelligent. In fact, I’ve had to fight and work hard for things many people take for granted. I’m used to working hard.
And there are also times when ‘working hard,’ might look like ‘hardly working’ because healing trauma is itself hard work.
I work in a position where I’m blessed to be able to be honest about what’s up for me, and ask for time off when I need it. This is a privilege that not every trauma survivor has, and I have not always had. More often we are left hiding in shame – unable to say what’s really going on for us for fear of losing respect or even losing our jobs. Here’s what IS shameful: A culture where trauma survivors have to hide for fear of discrimination.
I took a risk in sharing – and did it in a big way, working with the amazing Ross Taylor, an award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker, on a short film of my story. For me, the film is a jump forward in losing the shame around my PTSD. My hope is I can contribute to making it easier for others too.
With kindness and care,