Accepting a PTSD Diagnosis I Don't Feel Like I 'Deserve'

Despite the fact that I’d been struggling my entire life with multiple forms of anxiety (and later on problems with my mood and varying forms of self-harm), my mental health journey started at age 19 after a breakdown my freshman year of college. It wasn’t until this summer, while I was being treated for my obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) through ERP (exposure and response prevention) therapy, that I learned I also have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I was hit by a car at the age of 16, something that caused heightened anxiety and an episode of depression. This happened to occur two months before my 17th birthday, the age you get a license in the state of New Jersey. My relationship with driving already was one full of anxiety. However, after the accident, I found that although I was able to drive, I had many moments when I felt paralyzed behind the wheel, especially when it came to pedestrians.

I had many moments when I was in the car, as either the driver or a passenger, and I didn’t feel safe. I had even more moments when I was crossing the street and my heart raced, even when few cars were around. I found that even in my everyday life, while OCD and generalized anxiety already plagued me, a heightened sense of not feeling safe was added to the mix.

Soon other events, things that hadn’t even happened to me but to those close to me, began to affect me more dramatically. I experienced intrusive memories and ruminating about the past. I experienced guilt and mild dissociation. I still experience some of these things.

I almost feel like I don’t “deserve the label.” I feel like because I hadn’t gone to war nor did all the traumas affecting me even happen to me that I shouldn’t struggle with this. I shouldn’t see a therapist for it.

However, I do. I’m learning to accept that just as with my other disorders, I deserve help and care. I now know there are certain situations I should avoid or things I shouldn’t read to reduce my anxiety. I also have done exposures in order to get better at crossing the street with reduced fear.

I’ve accepted my recovery, and I hope someone can read this and find they deserve to recover too.

Image via Thinkstock.

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