The Mixed Feelings That Come With a PTSD Diagnosis
I remember exactly where I was when my previous therapist sent me information about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I was at a train station and read the information immediately. After that, I started crying.
For the first time in nine years, I thought, “So I do have it?”
Although things suddenly made a lot of sense, which was nice, I did feel a kind of heaviness coming over me. My biggest coping mechanism is denial and minimization. For years I told myself, “I may have some symptoms related to PTSD or depression, but not enough. I’m making a big deal out of nothing.“ Letting go of this thought pattern isn’t easy, but now that I have been officially diagnosed with both, I do feel acknowledged and this gives me some peace.
It took a while before I was diagnosed, especially considering I’ve had quite some therapy in the last nine years. I think my first therapist mostly agreed with what I told myself; I was just overreacting. Because of that bad experience, I decided to look for an alternative therapist. The next therapist I found had been very helpful, but she wasn’t allowed to diagnose me. In the years of therapy I had with her, I’ve learned a lot, but we have never been able to really dive into my trauma. This was mostly my fault, because at some point I figured I should be over it. Because of that, I tried to not bring it up that often anymore. So it was more like putting on a Band-Aid, while the wound underneath wouldn’t heal. It helped, but wasn’t enough. Going back to a regular mental health organization was a big step for me. But because I did decide to do it, I can finally start dealing with everything now.
This isn’t easy. Healing from trauma is intense and takes a lot of energy. We just started with EMDR. But this means I need to dive into the feelings of a certain memory, which brings things like anxiety, nausea, sadness, desperation, helplessness and guilt to the surface. The idea is also when I’ve healed from my traumas, my depression might be resolved to a certain extent as well, killing two birds with one stone. This would be amazing, because I’ve dealt with depressive episodes three times now, and I’d like for there not to be a fourth time. Luckily, I’ll have enough time with this therapist to develop more emotional stability, even after we’re done with the healing part.
I’m noticing a lot of different feelings regarding sharing my diagnoses. I mostly think about the person who gave me the traumas. I’m imagining him reading this blog and thinking I’m making a big deal out of nothing. That it wasn’t all that severe and that there’s something wrong with me, not with him or the situation I was in. Back then, everything was trivialized (by me and him). A little voice in my head keeps telling me: ‘Stop whining. Nothing bad even happened. Everyone goes through this and others don’t develop mental illnesses because of it.’
Like I’m this fragile person who’s too weak to function. But regardless if this is true or not, it is the way it is. Maybe this voice keeps coming to the surface because I’m so used to minimizing everything. Acknowledging the impact it has had on me is quite scary. I’ll get better, I hope. At least no one can say I haven’t tried.
This piece originally appeared on The Unspoken Spoken.
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