I Live With PTSD, and I Am 'Normal’

One of the greatest lessons I learned about living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was that I have a mental disorder.

What I mean by this is I am normal.

I spent years feeling like I was less than, broken or inadequate because of the struggles in my mind. I felt this way because I am always exhausted from silencing irrational thoughts and from corralling my train of thought to keep it on the path. I’m always afraid someone will see through the face I show to the world and see the swirling pain and terror I hide.

I judged myself for struggling to get up in the morning. I judged myself for not responding to people the way I should. I judged myself when, in a moment of exhaustion, I would let down my guard and the pain would get away from me, pulling me swiftly down the rabbit hole. I judged myself for not being normal and grieved the fact that I never would be.

It was once I started to write my feelings and to talk to others that I realized a freeing truth: I am normal. Women all around me struggle with many of the same feelings of inadequacy and exhaustion. There are so many around me also living with anxiety, PTSD and depression.

I often still judge myself, but those thoughts are now interspersed with praise. Being able to say to myself, “Look how quickly I got through that trigger!” The ability to see a trigger coming hours in advance and preparing a safe place for myself to work through it. Recognizing after only 30 minutes, “A year ago, that panic attack would have lasted for hours…”

So, I hope I can start to be that voice for you. You are normal. You are wonderful. You are a warrior. You are “Alice in Wonderland.” So when you fall down the rabbit hole, know you have friends here. Know you are never alone.

Follow this journey on Alyce’s blog.

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