Note: I am not a professional psychologist nor counselor. I share my journey in recovery in hopes of inspiring/encouraging & challenging others who may be going through it or have been putting it off. Your journey may look different from mine, but nonetheless, it’s just as important. I also write this as a way to help people understand and detect PTSD symptoms.
This is something that I’ve debated writing about for a while because it means I have to be RAW; it means I have to be vulnerable. Who likes doing that? I don’t think anyone does, but there are always a few brave souls who are willing to do it… so I’ll try to be one of those… for now.
Here’s my story:
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a slimy little demon that can go undetected for months, even years, without the help of trained professionals, balanced and biblically based teachings on it, or helpful resources. But you know what’s worse than not knowing you have PTSD? It is knowing you have it but don’t have a clue what symptoms to look out for.
This…. has been my case.
A sexual assault took place. Last year. With someone I had been working with because of an agency I was associated with. I developed PTSD…. wait, let me rephrase that: I’ve battled with PTSD and it worsened after the sexual assault.
You hear a counselor tell you that this incident will change you but you don’t know exactly HOW it will. Suddenly, you’re in therapy, going to support groups, and staying busy to keep sane… but you don’t know how exactly you’re supposed to get better, especially when you don’t know what specific changes/red flags you have to look out for.
The assault changed my views about myself, my body, and the people around me. Not right away… but it gradually started to show. I became easily irritated, impatient, depressed, and paranoid. I stopped enjoying certain activities. I became difficult to please. I developed behaviors that I never dreamed of having. I acted out based on the lies and trauma that had been planted in my mind.
Another huge problem was that I didn’t realize how my behavior was changing. I reasoned that this was just how I was because of stress and other frustrations, which included people. I later discovered that people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder don’t understand their brain’s natural reaction to trauma, and take certain behaviors as their own rather than triggers stemming from their trauma.
I entered a stage of denial; I didn’t want to believe the assault had happened. Then I blamed myself; I should have been stronger, braver, or maybe wiser. “The assault,” I thought, “is my fault.” I was going to live with the consequences of someone else’s actions. But not just me… but my husband and others in my inner circle as well.
You go from planning your belated dream wedding to canceling it & making appointments to see advocates and counselors instead of catering companies & wedding planners.
The pressure and trauma increase and you quit your job without giving your bosses a two weeks notice. You get so overwhelmed with the trauma that you take the family car and run away when you’re supposed to be heading to work. You contemplate running the car off the freeway or slamming into an Optimus Prime (semi truck if you don’t get it) to end your misery. You then change your plans and you decide to sleep on the side of the road for a night in a different town, crying & screaming. You’re paralyzed with fear; terrified of abandonment & of being pursued by your oppressor even though you know you’re safe.
Yes, this was MY reality
I didn’t want to live.
I didn’t want people to find me.
I didn’t want anyone to touch me.
I didn’t want to be told what to do.
I just wanted to be at peace.
I wanted to be loved & cared for from a safe distance. I wanted to be treated gently and patiently. But most importantly, I wanted someone to tell me that everything was going to be okay. Not a pathetic or vain ‘okay’ that stems from pity, but a REAL, SINCERE ‘okay.’ An ‘okay’ that would tell me that regardless of what had happened to me and my body, my loved ones and I would make it through this dark time.
I wanted to have the absolute assurance that not only would I, my husband, & my other loved ones survive this, but that we would THRIVE & experience victory.
In spite of how tired, angry, scared, and unsure I was… I sought help.
“I should be having my wedding, not planning appointments. I should be planning vacations, not looking through a list of counselors/psychologists to select the one I think will be best for me. I should be enjoying my husband, not avoiding or running away from his affections.”
Nevertheless, I knew there was no avoiding the damage that had been inflicted. I pressed charges. I went on a mission to find other women who were working with the lunatic who assaulted me and told them to get the hell away from him. I made phone calls. I emailed the agency who’d gotten my oppressor and I in touch and told them what happened (they proceeded to ban him from future projects). I faithfully attended a support group. I found a psychologist and attended my weekly sessions. I held onto God and begged Him to pave the way for me out of this hell-hole.
“It’s not your fault.” I sensed God telling my confused, anxious, and troubled heart.
“But God, why?! Why then? Or how could this happen?”
“You couldn’t discern the red flags. The trauma from your childhood abuse has lingered around, causing you to be afraid and mistrust your discernment about people.”
And people say that trauma from childhood should simply be forgiven and forgotten… those people are wrong; I’d even dare say stupid. Childhood trauma always comes back to bite you in the butt when it’s not addressed.
So am I saying that I wasn’t addressing the trauma from my childhood?
Shortly before the assault took place, I had started attending a recovery program as recommended by a pastor I know. I was only a few months in, but I had been faithfully attending the program, eager to get to the bottom/root causes of some of my character defects & anger issues.
Guess Satan wanted to disrupt the progress…
After the assault, I was tempted to give up on my recovery. I was tempted to crawl into a hole and hide. This is where my support system- aka church family- did something I will forever be grateful for- they didn’t allow me to give up; They lovingly but firmly told me I needed to stay in recovery. (Praise God, Hallelujah!)
The journey has been HELL! Please don’t misunderstand and believe that it’s been an easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy recovery, because I am STILL facing a lot of the repercussions from last year’s events. My PTSD wasn’t dealt with aggressively only until a short time ago once I understood the symptoms I was dealing with.
As I’ve mentioned before, I developed habits and a change of character as a result of everything; It’s hurt the people I love the most; It’s caused me to isolate myself many times; It’s made me question whether or not it would be better to die so I wouldn’t continue feeling like a burden/inconvenience to others & to escape the torment from the nightmares and flashbacks I’ve experienced from time to time.
You see yourself deteriorating little by little. Your husband sees you falling apart. You try keeping it together. You try looking strong. You try to smile through the hurt, the anger, and the depression. You find it difficult to sleep at night or to even enjoy the things you used to look forward to. And then, just when you think it can’t get worse, you lose yours, and your husband’s, first child several months after the assault.
Yeah… it’s been an UGL- no, HIDEOUS & MESSY journey.
[ if you’d like to read more about my daughter, click ➡️ #ForKairi ]
I’ll admit, losing my daughter made me want to lose hope. It made me want to curse God and give up. I wanted to die because now I wasn’t just dealing with the shame, disgust, and guilt as a result of the violation of my body… I now was dealing with shame and guilt because I felt like my body- the one that had been violated- had failed my child… my husband’s child.
An extra layer of torment. Hurray!
But giving up wasn’t an option. I didn’t want to give Satan nor my oppressor a moment of triumph even if I’d turned into a huge mess without realizing it.
Hence why I decided to stay committed to my recovery program and challenge the lies that were attempting to steal my joy and my future. I decided to stay so I can come out of this stronger than ever before.
“So how’s that going?” you may ask.
Every day, the light at the end of the tunnel shines a little brighter. I ask God for His help, wisdom, and healing. I sense His Spirit guiding me to where I need to go. It’s not easy; I fight with God often, but He never loses his patience nor does He disown me. His Love & support has kept me strong and He’s given me the grace I’ve needed throughout all the messiness.
I’d be lying if I were telling you [the reader] that I’ve gotten through this by my own strength. I didn’t want to give up once, twice, or thrice… but multiple times.
I had multiple opportunities & reasons (in my mind) to give up on life. I wanted to die after the assault took place, I nearly died because of the ectopic pregnancy, I wanted to die after I lost my daughter, and I almost took my own life after dealing with addictive medications that had been prescribed to me for my depression and anxiety… all of this in the course of one year… But God didn’t let me go. He held me tight and provided the support & the strength I needed through my church family, my advocates, counselors, & close friends, as well as my Beloved husband.
My daughter- Kairi- was also a wonderful blessing and inspiration, as she gave me a reason to keep going in spite of how heartbreaking it was to lose her.
My life still has purpose. My body may have been violated but i have not lost my worth. I may have fallen apart but I’m not staying that way. The trauma may have affected my mental health, but I’m slowly beginning to heal and love life again.
However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t need prayers. So can YOU pray for me? Pray for my recovery, my healing, and my loved ones? I’d GREATLY appreciate that! Thank you for taking the time to read my story. ❤️
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Do you know anyone who is currently struggling with PTSD stemming from a traumatic event? Or are you someone who is struggling with it?
Here’s a list of symptoms to help you identify PTSD:
God bless 💙