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The Physical Symptom I Didn't Know PTSD Could Cause

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Not every day, but most days, I have this pull in the back right side of my head.

This “pull” I feel often just serves as a small reminder of what I’ve been through. At least it starts as a pull and usually ends as an excruciating migraine.

• What is PTSD?

I didn’t realize it was connected to my Complex PTSD until I did some research into it. I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD back in March 2017. It took be a few months to realize what this even meant and actually believe it was true. It’s also taken some time to understand all of my symptoms and how they connect to the sexual abuse I endured by my youth director for seven years.

• What is PTSD?

The realization of my disability didn’t happen overnight, but I slowly came to terms with it. Shockingly for me, the more research I do into my experiences and disability, the more I start to feel better. Not that it makes it any better, but it feels better to know I’m not alone.

Looking back at my abuse, I can see all the events and moments the sexual abuse actually caused physical trauma to my head. So when my head starts to hurt, the most traumatic part is that it feels like I’m physically experiencing the abuse all over again. But as I’ve searched more and more for a reason behind my migraines, I’ve found out that migraines are a common side effect of PTSD in general.

I struggle every day living with what I’ve been through. It seems that finding a new normal is a thing you have to rediscover every day sometimes. No matter how badly I want to live a “normal” life, or I guess what I used to have, these headaches are a physical, painful reminder that my old “normal” won’t be part of my story anytime soon.

I’ve held onto something my counselor has said quite a bit, two small words: “For now.” When I’m upset over the way something has turned out, a failed relationship, an attempt to start school finally, frustration over my body’s physical and emotional limits with my Complex PTSD, or yet another job that hasn’t worked out, I remember that’s my life for now. Not forever.

My migraines may make for several sleepless nights, or countless hours of sleep, no focus, a lot of pain and a lot of added anxiety. But that’s my life. For now… the best is yet to come.

Getty image via nadia_bormotova

Originally published: August 13, 2019
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