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10 Lessons I Have Learned Approaching My 30s With PTSD

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

This year, I turn 30 years old. I have learned a lot in the past 12 years about what it means to be human and humane. I have learned that family is what you create it to be, especially after the ones who were supposed to be called family hurt you so deeply. I was lucky in that I found a great adoptive family early on in my foster care journey. I spent 14 years with my foster family before they made the adoption official. I fought my way through high school – experiencing an extreme sense of loneliness and depression during my senior year of high school. I earned multiple scholarships for college and was in the top 10 percent of my graduating class. I struggled emotionally through college and graduate school in the midst of full-blown, severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), one suicide attempt, multiple psychiatric hospitalizations and three stalkers.

• What is PTSD?

I have learned a lot that I will carry with me into my 30s. My 20s was plagued by the darkness of my illness, my suicide attempt and three stalkers, but yet I have a strong survival instinct. I know that I do not want PTSD to have me. I do not want my stalkers to win. From my 20s, I take these lessons:

1. Your family is what you create.

In my family, I live with my adoptive mother, a foster brother and my biological brother. I would move mountains for them and they would move mountains for me. We fought hard for each other. I love them, I am a fierce protector of them and provider for them.

2. My past does not define me.

I am not defined by my foster care status. I am intelligent, lovable, honest, enthusiastic, genuine and hard-working – the latter is what defines me.

3. My mental illness does not define me.

My mental illness almost cost me my life through one suicide attempt and multiple hospitalizations for suicidal ideation. My PTSD does not deserve to have my life. My life is valuable and it is something I will fight for every single day. I will fight my demons and work hard to heal and recover. No more suicide attempts as I approach 30 and I will reach out for help if I feel myself slipping into a severe depressive episode.

4. Going to therapy and psychiatrist appointments are absolutely part of my healing process.

These are essential components of my healing process. It took me years to finally find the right therapist and the right psychiatrist, but I found them and now can finally really truly begin to heal from my trauma. I am being honest, real and vulnerable with both of them. I am on medication that is right for me. I will also state that being psychiatrically hospitalized helped tremendously in my healing process as well. I started on the right medication while in the hospital and I learned how to fight my demons with positive coping skills.

5. Sometimes the people who offer the best advice are your friends.

My friends have helped tremendously in that they have given me advice on how I can personally heal from all of my traumas. My friends are there when I need them.

6. Education helps.

Whether it is formal or informal, the education I have received is something I treasure and do not take for granted. My education allows me to live my dreams and is making me realize, especially with mental health education, that I am not alone.

7. Art helps me heal.

I created several works of art that I have saved and use to cheer me up when I am down. Also I am a huge fan of adult coloring books as stress relievers.

8. Writing is therapeutic.

I am a writer by training and I know that writing all my true feelings on paper is helpful for me. I can write, leave it all on the page and feel well.

9. My faith keeps me grounded.

After I turned 29 years old, I decided to reach out to various houses of worship and I found a house of worship that is right for me. I seek to deepen my faith in my 30s.

10. Finally, appreciate all you have in life.

For me, I appreciate my family, my friends, my home, my career and my faith.

I am filled with hope for my 30s and I am ready to conquer any challenges that arise. My 30s will be the best years of my life. I am feeling inspired and motivated to reach my goals both with my mental and physical health. I am working hard to reach my occupational goals. My hope for those who are reading this is that they will see where I have struggled and will take hope in that I survived my challenges and they can too. Thank you to all my readers – I appreciate all of you in the Mighty Community.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Photo by Sergei Solo on Unsplash

Originally published: April 14, 2018
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