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When You Have No 'Before' With PTSD and Depression

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A lot of people can pinpoint a time when they lost their mental health. When depression or anxiety began. I’ve heard people wish their life could go back to the way it was before, the way it used to be.

• What is PTSD?

Each time I’ve seen a new psychologist, psychiatrist, occupational therapist etc., they have asked when it all began. How old was I? What was I doing at the time? How did I know something was wrong? I’ve never been able to answer those questions, not to the practitioners satisfaction anyway.

You see, there was no “before.” My earliest memories are of abuse, which resulted in hypervigilence, anxiety, depression and self-harm. That was my life. And I hated it. I wasn’t a happy child. I wasn’t a confident child. I didn’t do well at school. I didn’t have friends. I wasn’t capable of socializing. I was different. I didn’t fit in. I was a very serious child. I was overly concerned about cancer, the war in Iraq and the end of the world. Most of these issues were largely the result of trauma and the resulting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As I got older, my depression gradually became worse. There came a point when the PTSD combined with the depression left me unable to function. I dropped out of school in year 11 to sleep all day on the couch. That was my existence for several years. That was the extent to which I could function. My mental health continued to deteriorate for many years, despite medication and therapy (more trauma was added by “professionals” trying to “help” me, so obviously that didn’t help). Sometimes, if I was lucky, it would plateau for a bit.

I can’t pinpoint a time when it all happened. I can pinpoint a time when it became worse, but I feel that for the most part, I was born this way because I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t this way. I’m nearly 40 years old now and there is no before and there has been no after. I have no “before” to hold on to and no “after” to keep my hope alive. So while some people wish they could go back to “before,” all I can do is wish that I had a “before.” I wish I had a “normal” part of my life or at least a part where I felt normal. I like to imagine that maybe I’ll have an “after,” but as the years continue to pass, I lose hope.

Originally published: March 1, 2022
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