One of the greatest lessons I learned about living with PTSD was that I have a mental disorder. What I mean by this is that I am NORMAL. I spent years feeling like I was less than, broken, or inadequate because of the struggles in my mind. Because I am always exhausted from silencing irrational thoughts, from corralling my train of thought and keeping it on the path. Always afraid that someone will see through the face I show to the world and see the swirling pain and terror I hide.
I judged myself for struggling to get up in the morning. I judged myself for not responding to people the way I should. I judged myself when, in a moment of exhaustion, I would let down my guard and the pain would get away from me, pulling me swiftly down the rabbit hole. I judged myself for not being normal, and grieved the fact that I never would be.
It was once I started to write my feelings, to talk to others, that I realized a freeing truth. I AM normal. Women all around me struggle with many of the same feelings of inadequacy, of exhaustion. There are so many around me also living with anxiety, PTSD, depression. I still will often judge myself, but those thoughts are now interspersed with praise. Being able to say to myself, “Look how quickly I got through that trigger!” and how I would see a trigger coming hours in advance and preparing a safe place for myself to work through it, and recognizing after only 30 minutes, “A year ago, that panic attack would have lasted for hours…”
So, I hope I can start to be that voice for you. You ARE normal. You are wonderful. You are a warrior. You are Alice in Wonderland. So when you fall down the rabbit hole, know you have friends here and are never alone.