It will be two years ago this November...
It will be two years ago this November when my boyfriend, the person that I loved, grabbed me from my bed while I was asleep, beat me, choked me, and broke the bones in my face. It was then that I not only became part of the statistic of 1 in 4 women being abused by an intimate partner in their lifetime, but also one of nearly 43.8 million people living with a mental illness in America.
But I'm not just a statistic. I am a human being that happens to have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. While PTSD doesn't define me, it sure does make life a hell of a lot different for me.
Between my mood swings, severe depression, and paralyzing anxiety, I've become hard for the people who knew me "before" to relate to. I've lost most of my friends because they weren't sure how to help me cope. They didn't understand why I couldn't just "move on" with my life. My mother, whom I love with all my heart, told me she "misses the way I was before". My way of coping was to talk about domestic assault and specifically the way it happened to me because I wanted people to know it can happen to anyone at anytime. I wanted to talk about it to help people understand how prevalent intimate partner abuse is in our society and that PTSD doesn't only affect veterans of war.
But here are the things I don't talk about. I jump at the noise a gas pump nozzle makes when my tank is full. My handwriting isn't messy because I don't care to try, it's messy because my hands shake constantly. The tattoo on my wrist covers the scars I cut into myself when I was so angry at the world I just wanted to bleed. I don't enjoy going to the dentist anymore because I can't stand when people touch my face. I can't share a bed with anyone, not even with my own sister on vacation, because the last person I shared a bed with tried to squeeze the breath out of me with his hands while I slept.
What people also don't know is that I don't only have bad days. I continue to try to see the good in everyone and the best in the world. I've learned so much more about myself living with PTSD than I think I would have learned if I didn't.
I've also learned that I am not alone. I am strong. I am flawed but I am not broken or "damaged goods". I have the opportunity to create a new ME.
Thank you for listening.