1. Flashbacks and nightmares
  2. Avoidance and numbing
  3. Being ‘on guard’

Many people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. It can go on for far too long and can interfere completely with your everyday life. The symptoms vary and it is very common for victims of assault and abuse. Especially for those who suffer as children, the symptoms can be confusing. You may think that you lose the issue and yet when you gain a greater understanding of events, you relive everything. I experienced the effects of trauma, sometimes directly after the event and sometimes not until later.

I suffer still with not being able to sleep. I am afraid often. Small things make me panic. I have been told I have an irregular heartbeat caused by stress. I never tell them the stress is trauma. It makes sense though, my body is always on edge. I hurt for the strangest reasons, without knowing why. There are always triggers to the pain. One small thing that someone says and you are set off. Life throws you a whole load of other issues and through adulthood, you have to relive.

As I grew I ended up drinking. I had refused to touch alcohol for most of my life. The next time I was hurt, I was seventeen. I was too old and I could not take it. I ended up drinking too much. I used drugs. I self harmed. I attempted suicide. I may have depression. There are all sorts of physical manifestations of the damage.

I struggle to get rid of the worry. I am tense. I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I suffer. It is only natural, the feelings and sensations feel brand new. I never had the understanding and experience before.

Self-awareness is important. Things have begun to change for me. I suffer less recently. Unfortunately, my chaos has continued. I am no longer that child who was scared and did not understand. I have gained so much. I can think about it, all of it, without becoming distressed (at least most of the time). I do not feel constantly under threat. Sometimes, I can relax. I can enjoy. Not everything is a huge and major struggle. I am learning to trust. I reserve my thoughts and feelings for the right time. I sit here and I write. I try not to think about my experiences at inappropriate times.

Maybe this means I am healing. I am still not entirely there, that is true. I still struggle. I still avoid. I have to protect myself. I remember no dreams and therefore, no nightmares. I aim to trust. Sometimes, it is easy. I remain careful in many ways. Some things, experiences and aspects in life can be massive triggers and warning signals. I try to remain strong and positive. I am a survivor, not a victim. I am coming to terms with everything and am learning acceptance. Maybe, this is something you need to be aware of. I apologise that I kick off sometimes and that I cannot deal.

These are all parts of the reality of me.


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