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I Live With PTSD, and I Am 'Normal’

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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.

• What is PTSD?

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.

Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: January 20, 2017
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