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Quick: what’s the first thing that pops into your head when you think of PTSD?

Is it domestic violence? Substance abuse? Probably not. You probably thought of soldiers, which isn’t wrong, but it’s far from the complete picture. Survivors of any type of trauma may exhibit symptoms of PTSD, and it’s super important that we recognize all of them. Because if we don’t, as Elizabeth will tell you shortly, sufferers will find their own ways to cope. It may be strange to read Betty’s quote, “heroin saved my life,” but as you’ll see, substance abuse was her way of coping with the domestic violence and trauma that slipped through the cracks. She couldn’t get help, so she found her own. But she doesn’t want you to do it the same way.

Mental Health Monday is all about helping people in their twenties learn how to take care of themselves. Every week, I feature someone else’s story that I think will inspire readers to eliminate stigma, be proactive in staving off their own potential mental illness, or give hope to someone who is suffering. Elizabeth’s story today, in my opinion, does all three.

Related: Getting Sober In Your Twenties When Everyone Is Drinking 

Heroin Saved My Life is about how Elizabeth’s trauma went unnoticed by the people in her life, which led to her substance abuse.

As you’ll read, her loved ones and other trusted adults didn’t seem to want to touch her mental illness with a ten-foot pole. That’s because of the stigma, or shame attached to mental illness. And this happens all. the. damn. time. But stigma comes from fear of the unknown, and I’ve gotten to know Elizabeth a bit through our conversations and her beautiful writing on her blog. She is intelligent and caring and endlessly brave, and you’ll see it all shine through in this piece. I swear, you’ll physically feel stigma about people with substance abuse issues melting away as you read.

I hope that Heroin Saved My Life will also help others stay out of similar situations. Betty writes about many of the points where things could have gone differently; where there was potential for her to get help. If your story looks anything like Betty’s, I hope you’ll pick out those points where you can break the cycle of your addiction, and/or your PTSD by getting help.

Finally, I hope that if Betty’s story doesn’t resonate with you personally, that you’ll share it with someone who might be struggling with trauma or substance abuse, or both. This is how we give others hope. If someone had reached out to Betty even just with a simple message of hope, things may have turned out very differently.

Without further ado, here’s Elizabeth.

"Heroin saved my life" might sound crazy initially, but for many PTSD sufferers, substance abuse is an all-too-common way to cope with trauma.

Bonus!

Mental Health Monday posts are meant to inspire you and motivate you to get help, but it can be really overwhelming to figure out where to turn. That’s why I compiled this list of mental health resources that I’m offering you for free. It’s full of hotlines for lots of different situations including substance abuse and trauma, as well as online counseling options through BetterHelp. BetterHelp is a great option for people who are struggling but don’t have enough time or money to visit a therapist’s office. Check it out and get a free 7-day trial with this link. And don’t forget to claim your list below!

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“Heroin Saved My Life When I Was Diagnosed With PTSD (But It Also Almost Killed Me)

Elizabeth Brico

When I was a new mom, heroin saved my life.

The year after I sent my abuser to prison was one of the loneliest of my life. I missed him. I know how strange that must sound to someone on the outside: How could I miss the man who near-fatally strangled me on more than one occasion, beat me up, raped me, called me names, estranged me from friends and family, and forced me to become a mother midway through college? How could I miss a man I hated?

The human heart is disastrously complex. It somehow holds hate and nostalgic regret together in a painful, malignant balance that neither our sciences nor poetics have yet been able to fully comprehend. My abuser was my abuser, the man who caused me to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but he was also my fiance, the father of my first child, the man to whom I lost my virginity, and my friend. Once he was gone, his loss consumed my life. And with it came all the trauma responses I’d been repressing as a means of saving myself while it was still happening.

Nightmares dominated my sleep, and loneliness excavated all joy from my days. Even when I was with friends, or lovers, I felt alone and unloved. My PTSD worsened each day. My son spent more and more time with family. Then I met heroin.

It doesn’t matter how I started or who was involved. Once I was fully immersed in my addiction, nothing else mattered. There was no beginning, and no end in sight. Each day was the same, dark, unblinking copy of the last; saturated with sweat and cravings, long shivering walks to the cash machine. Or, as things got worse, the pawn shop, the street corner. They were idle hours waiting for the dealer, then the irresponsible, demonic joy of having a bag in hand, the long search for an injection site on the ever-shrinking map of my veins. The stick, the pull of blood, the push of drugs, the rush. The incomparable oblivion.

PTSD and substance abuse are intimately connected.

It’s hard to know exactly how many people with PTSD struggle with a substance abuse disorder, but one study of Vietnam veterans estimates the number between 60% and 80%. Anyone who has walked down a city street has undoubtedly seen the bearded man in worn, stained fatigues, nodding out from dope or reeking of alcohol while he holds a dingy cardboard sign asking for change. I am not alone in my addiction.

“Downers” like heroin, opiate pills, benzodiazepines, and alcohol help temporarily reverse some of the brain changes caused by trauma, such as hyper-arousal. Unfortunately, they also exacerbate other issues, like emotional reactivity, and violent behavior. In my case, it provided me an avenue to escape an unbearable reality without committing suicide, but it also ravaged my life and nearly killed me on it’s own. I’ve overdosed nine times that I can recall. Twice while in recovery. A few times on purpose. Once alone– I still don’t know how I survived.

I am still recovering from my trauma and addiction to heroin. Crawling out of the hole of poverty, shame, and depression that it carved into my life has been almost as daunting as recovering from domestic violence. My son lives with my mom- when he was two years old, I placed him in the care of my family because I knew that my PTSD and addiction issues were so out of control that it would be impossible to keep them away from him otherwise. Our relationship is strained; far from the close, loving bond we shared during his infancy. I expect that is an ache that will never ebb.

When I say that heroin saved my life, I mean only to be honest, not to offer a positive or glorified perspective of chemical dependency.

Heroin addiction is a harsh, grueling existence. One that guts you right down to the soul. I would never recommend it to anyone, and I wish I hadn’t needed it. There are healthier interventions that could have helped me. Should have helped me. I was a kid, in college. I wrote about the abuse, and talked openly about the ex-boyfriend in jail. No one stepped up. No professor referred me anywhere, or expressed an interest in my well-being. As I showed up on campus increasingly thin and wan, no one said a thing. When my grades dropped from As to Cs, and I began showing up late or skipping class altogether, teachers labeled me a bad student. No one offered support. No one suggested care.

My family took in my son, but abandoned me. My friends slowly dropped contact with me. I became a pariah. Those friends who remained either didn’t notice my pain, or ignored it because they didn’t know what to do with it. I tried a couple therapists, but because my son was still in my legal custody, I feared intervention from child services. Eventually, I just stopped seeing them, and none of them pursued the matter beyond a single phone call.

Heroin was available for me when nothing else was. It eased my pain when no one else would even look at it. Heroin saved my life because nobody would help me save myself. I don’t blame all the people who could have done something, not entirely. It’s easy for someone like me to slip through the cracks. By the time I developed PTSD, I was estranged from friends and family because I’d been with a controlling, abusive man for four years. But I do believe, strongly, that it should not be so easy for someone to slip through. It should not take a serious addiction for domestic violence survivors to be noticed; we should not be offered treatment only after being labeled a burden to society.

PTSD is correlated with substance use disorders.

This is a known fact. As such, we as a society need to do more to support those diagnosed with PTSD, so survivors like me don’t have to turn to heroin and other dangerous alternatives to keep from committing suicide. So many policymakers are looking at strengthening the regulations around opiate prescriptions, and “cracking down” on doctors. Almost nobody is looking at strengthening the community supports and screenings for trauma survivors. Heroin saved my life, and unfortunately, this is the case for many others out there. Maybe if we start basing our interventions on loving support rather than laws and fear mongering, we would effect some actual change in this big, scary, opioid crisis.

Bio: Elizabeth Brico is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She holds an MFA in Writing & Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University. Her blog, Betty’s Battleground, was recently ranked #26 on Feedspot’s list of top 75 PTSD blogs. She is also a regular contributing writer for the trauma blog on HealthyPlace. Her writing has appeared on VICE, Vox, Stat News, The Fix, and Racked, among others. You can also find her on her Facebook page, or her website, e.b. writes. During her rare moments of free time she can usually be found reading, writing, or watching speculative fiction.”

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Today’s Mental Health Monday post will teach you how to get yourself an emotional support animal.

Our blogger today is Anna from Thawing Out. She writes about “trauma, spirituality, and other light topics.” However, she’s also a lover of animals. She’s here today to share exactly how healing an emotional support animal can be, and show you how to reap the benefits they offer!

At Uninspired, we cover a lot of topics. They range from mental health to dating to products to recipes. But there’s one part of this blog that’s near and dear to my heart: the mental health section.

I host Mental Health Monday because our twenties are a giant shit storm. We’re expected to build our entire future. Asking for help seems like weakness (even though it’s not!) and the pressure to look like we have it all together can lead to some pretty dark places. I want to make sure you guys know how to take care of yourself in the midst of all that. Since I can’t relate to each of you personally, I’ve called upon others to help me. Each story featured on MHM strives to help someone else find hope. Hope that they’ll find the strength to ask for help, that they can battle depression, or even that they’ll just get through their next job interview.

I’ll let Anna tell the bulk of the story, but I just love how her story is both personal and universal. It’s personal in that she shares a bit of the reason her emotional support animal is so near and dear to her. But it’s universal in that you don’t have to have PTSD to get an emotional support animal of your own. See what I mean below!

Anna is visiting Uninspired today to talk to us about all the benefits she's been privy to since getting an emotional support animal!

Bonus!

An emotional support animal can be a great help for many people, but it is no substitute for good therapy. That’s why I compiled this list of mental health resources that I’m offering you for free. It’s full of hotlines for lots of different situations, as well as online counseling options through BetterHelp. BetterHelp is a great option for people who are struggling but don’t have enough time or money to visit a therapist’s office. Check it out and get a free 7-day trial with this link. And don’t forget to claim your list below!

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Need Emotional Support? Try an Animal!

“If you rewound my life 20 years to a dry summer day on my childhood Texas ranch, you’d probably find me in the chicken house. My (then) narrow bottom would be balanced on one of the 2-inch wide boards that made up “the chicken roost.”

If you sat down beside me, I’d shyly smile and wonder if you were going to fall through the roost into the less-than-pleasant “chicken duty” below. (Does anyone else refer to chicken poop by that term, by the way?)

If you listened, I’d tell you about the nesting boxes to our left. I’d tell you where my hens laid their eggs and took a much-needed break from the horny roosters. I’d point to a certain hen with a pale complexion and explain that she’s “setting” on her eggs because she wants a family. I would know exactly how many days until the hatchings began. I celebrated every egg that became a chick and grieved every egg that became only a 3-week old, rotten egg. If you noticed a sparkle in my eye, it was because time with my beloved farm animals was a safe and calming refuge for me. Especially when people did not understand, or didn’t know there was something they were missing.

Fast-forward to the present, and you’d notice my life has changed a bit.

I now live smack-dab in the middle of Boston, MA. I drive my little green Toyota all over, visiting hospice patients and their families. As idyllic as my childhood was at times, it also involved the deep, deep pain of abuse. So over the last few years, I’ve struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And once again, animals have played a role in daily life.

Well, one animal in particular. I have a soft, black, dwarf bunny named Nadia. Nadia is originally a Slavic name meaning “hope.” And believe me, I’ve needed all the hope I can get!

How does Nadia help me cope with PTSD? Sometimes my days are far from easy, so when I come home and fall on my bed, there’s someone else there. Depending on her mood, Nadia sniffs me, jumps all over me, hides from me, snuggles with me (rare), and yes — occasionally bites me!

Don’t tell Nadia this, but sometimes I do wish she was capable of reading and sensing my emotions and responding more…sensitively, shall I say? Maybe she’s more in tune with my emotional state than I give her credit for, but so far the results have been inconclusive.

emotional support animal

But despite Nadia existing in her own bunny world, she’s still been of help in my worst moments.

Even a clueless rabbit is going to accidentally do something right now and then. One of Nadia’s moments to shine came one evening when I was laid out on my bed. I was experiencing PTSD symptoms of dissociation and emotional flooding. My kind and concerned housemate sat on the bed next to me, trying in vain to help me out of my dark hole. Then Nadia, in a dubious attempt to involve herself in the crisis, decided to climb my face.

You see, Nadia never got the memo about not touching, much less climbing on top of, trauma survivors when they are in their trauma-zone. So my housemate looked on anxiously as I flinched. And then. Well, how can you not laugh, trauma or not? This bunny of mine clawed and scooted her furry body across my cheek and forehead and chin, defining “clumsy” all over for me again. And once I chuckled, my housemate couldn’t help herself, either, so we lost it and that was the official end of my episode. Nadia scored big time that day!

The story of Nadia’s arrival in my life began three years ago, when I met and fell in love with a different bunny placed for adoption at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA). This bunny was a favorite at the adoption center due to her easy-going, affectionate, even cuddly personality.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

I lived in an apartment complex at the time and my no-nonsense landlords would not hear of it. Shockingly, even offering them money didn’t work!

The next time I went after a bunny, though, I was well-armed with information about “Emotional Support Animals” (ESAs). My new landlord wasn’t particularly excited about my potential furry roommate, but when I said something about the law, he listened up!

Getting an emotional support animal is not very difficult, so as part II of this article, I’d like to breakdown the process into three steps you can take.

Step 1. Learn about the three categories of people-helping animals to make sure an emotional support animal fits your needs best.

  • Service Animal — These are formally-trained animals who’ve been taught how to care for their human’s specific emotional or physical needs. Classically, this is the dog who guides his blind owner safely across the road. Service animals, however, can be a help to people with a variety of needs. Service dogs paw gently at their humans who disassociate or self-harm. For example:
    • Psychiatric Service Dogs — The name pretty much says it all!
  • Therapy Animal — These pets don’t usually have special training. But they do have to be evaluated and registered as truly therapeutic and safe. Your mom’s cuddly cat who wouldn’t hurt a spider would qualify. Your Uncle Bob’s elderly, ear-biting parrot would not.
  • Emotional Support Animal (ESAs) — These are the easiest animals to qualify! All that’s necessary is that you, the pet owner, have a diagnosable mental illness and that you find them supportive to your emotional health. So if your Uncle Bob is clinically depressed and enjoys his ear-biting parrot, he would be set! The two perks of an emotional support animal are 1) landlords have to allow you to keep your emotional support animal — unless you rent a one-unit apartment or house — and 2) ESAs can fly the airlines with you for free!

Step 2: Once you’ve decided on an ESA, there are two things you’ll need to do.

First, find an animal that will actually provide you with emotional support! Try not to make an uninformed or impulsive decision based on the cuteness factor of the first pet you see. Dogs and cats are popular choices for good reasons due to their intelligence and (sometimes) affectionate and loyal personalities. However, if you can’t afford someone to walk your dog while you work 9-5pm, or your housemates are allergic to cats, you may have to get creative! Just don’t expect a bunny to cuddle all evening while you watch TV or a parakeet to be potty-trainable. That won’t bode well for either of you!

Second, have your therapist “prescribe” this animal to you. Your therapist will write a letter stating that she is treating you for a mental illness, and is recommending an emotional support animal as a necessary part of your treatment plan. Read the details for the letter here (i.e. it needs to be printed on professional letter head). If you don’t have a willing therapist, contact Chilhowee Psychological Services for an online or phone-based disability assessment and prescription letter.

Step 3: Enjoy and take advantage of the benefits of having an emotional support animal!

If you already own the qualifying pet, then all’s well! If not, once your landlord has received the prescription letter, go adopt or buy that pet of your dreams! My landlord requested the letter in a sealed envelope, so prepare for a similar request! And make sure your pet won’t tear up your landlord’s home. Like any other privilege granted by law, there are a few reasonable limits placed on what your pet is NOT allowed to do.

Before flying with your emotional support animal, make sure you’ve got a copy of your letter to show airport personnel! Also, most or all airlines will require you fax or send a less-than-one-year-old prescription letter at least 48 hours before your flight leaves so it can be verified. Rules like this one are a bit cumbersome, but don’t be like me — gambling on my innocent look, the cuteness level of my bunny, and the compassion of airline staff members. Lastly, prepare for a security staff member to ask you to demonstrate that your animal is under control. For this simple procedure, I was taken to a private room and asked to remove my bunny from her carrier and hold her for a moment while two airport personnel looked on. It was awkward, but harmless enough!

In closing, I encourage you to do your own research on ESAs as well!

My advice and guidelines aren’t fool-proof and regulations inevitably change over time. My favorite website, and the one I used and linked to throughout this article, is the National Service Animal Registry. This site is user-friendly and provides a detailed breakdown of each of the steps I’ve discussed above.

If at any point in the process you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to voice your questions and concerns to someone you trust! After all, those of us pursuing an emotional support animal are doing so for a reason, right? Be gentle and patient with yourself in this adventure.

Finally, Nadia and I wish you and your furry — or feathery or scaled — friend much comfort, fun, and healing together!”


About the Blogger

I am a Texan-born Bostonian trying to understand how we get through hard things in life (aka trauma) using spirituality, meaningful work, life-giving hobbies, and connection with other humans and animals. I’m also a hospice social worker (LCSW).

Social Media:

Facebook blog page: https://www.facebook.com/soulwarmth/
Instagram: @annajeanharris (https://www.instagram.com/annajeanharris/?hl=en)
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thawingoutblog
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/annajeanharris/

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It’s Mental Health Monday again, friends!

Today we have Molly of The Firebrand Witch here to teach us about depersonalization disorder. I’m so excited, because this series has quickly become one of my favorite parts of Uninspired. Mental health in general is super important for us to talk about as twenty-somethings, but the lesser-known afflictions like depersonalization disorder can affect anyone, and no one talks about them. As you know, all the pressure on you in your life (becoming financially independent, finding love, getting stable jobs, etc) can manifest as mental illness. We’re all aware of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, but depersonalization disorder gets way less attention. Mental Health Monday gives it voice, which is super cool. It’s also super cool because it’s one of the ways I get to interact with you, you perfect things <3

If you’re wondering why I’m a therapist and I don’t just write this series myself, it’s because I don’t want to preach at you.

If you guys wanted to learn all the symptoms and signs of mental illness, you would buy a textbook. This series is about more than psychoeducation. It’s an important part, but it’s not going to make you feel better on it’s own.By publishing stories from readers who have actually been through the things that matter to us, I’m publishing hope. I’m giving you proof that things do get better, and relevant, helpful advice to help you get there.

As I said, today’s host is Molly from Bitchy and Witchy. Her blog is equal parts fascinating and hilarious, an I highly suggest checking it out! She posts about things like spirituality, mental health, and feminism, so if any of that is of interest to you, she’s your girl! In this post, she really gave me chills. As someone who loves language, the comparison in the beginning really gave me a deeper understanding of what depersonalization disorder is, even though I’ve never experienced it myself. Read on! I’m so excited for you all to learn more.

This Mental Health Monday, Molly is hosting so she can tell us about a lesser known disorder called depersonalization disorder. It is a common trauma response, and yet hardly anyone talks about it.

Bonus!

If you’re struggling, or know someone who is struggling not just with depersonalization disorder, but any mental illness, I’ve come up with a resource for you. This mental health resource list printable is chock full of numbers you can call and websites you can go to when you need help. It’s got hotlines for lots of different situations like suicidal ideation, sexual assault, substance abuse, and eating disorders. It’s also got non-emergency help too, like links to BetterHelp.

BetterHelp is an online counseling service I partnered with that’ll match you up with a real, licensed counselor you can speak with online. That’s a great option for anyone who has social anxiety, travels a lot, or just has a really busy schedule. You can print this list and keep it somewhere safe, or give it to a friend in need. Claim yours here:

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Depersonalization Disorder: A Little-Known Mental Illness

Imagine: semantic satiation…

You are a young child, laughing and running around the playground with your friends at recess. As your game of tag winds down, you collapse into the wood chips, catching your breath. To keep the fun going, your friend suggests repeating a word over and over again. She has discovered that when you do that, it feels funny.

“Carrot, carrot, carrot, carrot, carrot,” you all repeat over and over–until suddenly, it does feel funny to say the word.

You all burst out laughing, wide-eyed and bewildered.

Somehow, the word that represents an orange root vegetable, crunchy and sweet and loud to chew, stops meaning anything at all.

“Carrot.”

The word becomes two unrelated sounds, floating in the air that you and your friends are breathing. It’s creepy. Completely unfamiliar, and yet far too familiar to comprehend. It doesn’t feel real anymore.

This weird repeating words feeling is referred to as semantic satiation.

…but for your entire identity.

Now, imagine instead of carrot, the word that has stopped making sense is your own name.

Imagine that somehow, your reflection in the mirror stops feeling like you. You, yourself: completely unfamiliar, and yet far too familiar to comprehend. You don’t feel real.

And instead of laughing among friends at this discomfort, you are struck down alone filled with pure horror and anguish, afraid that you have completely lost your identity–or your mind, or your hold on reality.

This is called depersonalization.

It is the experience of feeling entirely alien to yourself; of feeling like your self–your soul even–has floated away temporarily. And whatever “you” currently are, is suddenly in the driver’s seat of this human body that you’ve forgotten how to comfortably control. With depersonalization, you look in the mirror and feel panic surge through you: Who is that? I mean, it’s me…but why doesn’t it feel like me?

And then there is depersonalization’s equally insidious counterpart: derealization. This makes a person feel like the environment is somehow changed. Like it has lost meaning, it looks foreign, or that the size of things somehow feels wrong. With derealization, the world loses its color and its dimension–often, people express that the world looks like it is in 2D. Like they’re watching TV rather than witnessing reality first hand.

Together, the two make up DPDR.

What causes DPDR?

Depersonalization/derealization is a type of dissociation, which is a way that our brain disconnects from the present moment to protect us from danger or pain. It’s like an innate survival mechanism. DPDR is how our brain copes with trauma and abuse.

But it’s actually a pretty common experience. 50-70% of people have experienced DPDR at some point in their lives (Feziroglu 2010). And everyone has experienced getting lost in a daydream, or “going on autopilot” when you’re driving. This is a mild form of dissociation, too.

For some people, though, this feeling of unreality comes on and stays permanently–and causes immense distress. Sometimes DPDR is so disabling that people quit their jobs, alienate themselves from relationships, and drop out of school. People who suffer express being plagued with existential ruminations. They’re concerned they will never feel real again, and are sometimes unable to feel fully connected to who they were before the DPDR hit.

For people who experience DPDR permanently, there is often a trauma link. Perhaps they suffered interpersonal emotional abuse in childhood, or as an adult. Or they lived through a natural disaster, war, or simply a long period of stress.

Interestingly, drugs can also onset it. Some say marijuana is the reason for developing DPDR in 10-15% of cases (Simeon 2009). As marijuana legalization slowly normalizes throughout the US, scientists will hopefully research this link further.

No silver bullet, but there is hope for healing

So far there is no drug that cures DPDR. Some psychiatric medication may prove beneficial, but it usually requires a lot of trial and error (Simeon 2009).

Psychotherapy looks more promising, however. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy are cited as beneficial interventions for DPDR (Neziroglu 2010).

How can I learn more?!

I am endlessly passionate about spreading awareness for this occasionally-disabling condition. It is just as common as better-known anxiety disorders (though those still are heavily stigmatized), yet some people suffer for decades and still don’t have answers.

But there is hope. DPDR sufferers deserve to heal. DPDR sufferers deserve to feel real again.

To learn more about my experience with DPDR and suggestions for healing, you can travel over to my YouTube channel. Two spiritually harrowing experiences with cannabis triggered my chronic DPDR. Right now, I am healing, and committed to helping others heal too. I also invite you to follow my blog, where I discuss my journey to healing and other various musings.

Books referenced:

Neziroglu, Fugen. 2010. Overcoming Depersonalization Disorder. New Harbinger Publications.

Simeon, Daphne. 2009. Feeling Unreal. Oxford University Press.

Last week, I introduced a new series called Mental Health Mondays.

This week, our guest post is by Camelyn, who has bravely chosen to share her story about life with PTSD first. But before we get started, I do want to explain the series for thoes who weren’t with us last week.

Each week, I’ll be featuring a different guest blogger who has something to say on the topic of, you guessed it, mental health. As you guys might know from my About page, or if you’ve been here a while, Uninspired is all about helping women in their twenties build their futures without sacrificing their sanity. This means we definitely need to talk about mental health. I’m sure I don’t need o tell you how stressful this stage of life can be. There’s pressure from all angles to be successful. And if we don’t take care of ourselves properly, or if we don’t have hope things can get better, our stress can manifest as mental illness. You know, things like anxiety, depression, or even PTSD or dissociation.

I don’t want any of that stuff to happen to you.

That’s why I stared this series. When I first thought it up, I wanted to write it myself. Who better to talk about mental health than a graduate student in counseling, right? Well, no. I only have one personal experience, and it’s faaaaar from all-encompassing. If I’m going to instill hope in you that you can get through this stressful or even deeply traumatic time, I need to show you real success stories. Stories from people like Camelyn, our host today. She had an incredibly traumatic experience in her twenties that left her living life with PTSD, but she bounced the heck back. And she wants to show you how she did it, so you can do it, too. She’s so brave to share what she’s been through for us, and I hope you all soak up all the tips she has for you!

You can find Camelyn on her personal Instagram, and her business account where she offers social media marketing services.

Bonus!

Because this post could potentially be triggering to some readers, and also just because I want to see you be your best self, I’m offering you guys this free mental health resource list printable. It’s got hotlines you can call for many types of emergencies, and links to online counseling services like at BetterHelp. If you’re going through life with PTSD like Camelyn, or even something else entirely, I want you to have the resources you need. Please, claim your list right here:

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~ Life with PTSD ~

Life with PTSD may seem impossible. But today at Uninspired, Camelyn is here to tell us the exact steps she took to move on from her trauma, so you can do it too.

“On February the 8th 2016, I arrived home in the early morning after dropping off children at school (my morning routine shuttle). Everything seemed normal. The dogs greeted me and escorted me o the front door. I walked in, locked the gate behind me, dumped my purse on the couch, and started my day. The washing was still in the machine, and needed to be hung up. I grabbed the keys and strolled over to the back door. I slid the key into the lock and opened the door.

Everything happened so fast.

A thick, glass beer bottle was smashed over the right side of my head. I lost my balance, and they took the opportunity to grab me and shove me back into the house. I was cable tied to my bed while they cut gashes into my flesh and raped me.

Due to this event, I’m now living life with PTSD.

I have also suffered from panic attacks, agoraphobia, extreme paranoia, and a very deep depression. Living life with PTSD– surviving through all the pain and mental problems– has been harder than fighting back and surviving my attach. But it’s time for me to speak out about my mental illness and help other people fight back against it like I have.

I know that life with PTSD is extremely debilitating. It sucks the life out of you and can take away even your will to live. I know that it is so irritating when people tell you to be strong, hold your head up high, or that you will get through this. It is hard to see that you will ever get better. Right now, you might not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel at all, but I am here to tell you that what you are feeling…

it’s all okay.

You are normal for feeling this way. Life with PTSD is not easy. Life with depression is not easy. I want to share with you the things I have learned are most important.

1. Get help!

You might not feel like you need it right now, but when you do, reach out. Tell someone what you are going through. Tell someone you need help dealing with it. Personally, I needed medical help more than psychological help, but there are loads of psychologists who specialize in exactly this. Some may even see you for free if your financial situation doesn’t allow for one. If you don’t have anyone you feel comfortable talking to, go on the internet and find a pen pal, or email pal you can get to know. Sometimes it is easier to talk to a stranger, plus you can make a new friend.

2. Allow people to care for you.

I know just as well as anyone that all you want is to be alone. You want to curl up in a ball in a dark room and hibernate. You can’t do this– you cannot let your illness take over your life. I’m not saying you must go out and take over the world, but let your mom come over for tea. Let your best friend bring you some pizza. Take it slow, baby steps. But let the people you love take care of you.

3. Get out of bed for a half hour today.

Wash your hair. Walk in the garden, or just down the street if you can handle it. Cook something. Bake something. Write something. Draw something. Just half an hour- that’s all it takes for you to start moving your life forward again. If you can’t handle half an hour, take it five minutes at a time. Build up to it.

This is how you get the ball rolling again.”

Life with PTSD