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A Letter to Who I Was After My PTSD Diagnosis

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It’s been a while since I’ve written for The Mighty, but I had gone through old drafts to work on and I found this letter I wrote to myself a year after my diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It was an extraordinary experience reading this now almost two years later.

• What is PTSD?

Dear Emily,

With the holidays here, I can’t help but think about what was happening with you at this time last year. How many days were being spent in the darkness, feeling stranded. How much you avoided family and friends. Being terrified of being with others on Thanksgiving and Christmas in case questions were asked. The paranoia and anxiety. The feeling of not being in your own body. Most importantly, I’m glad you’re here to write this. You may not feel that way right now, but I want you to know how much you will overcome this year. You will find help. It will be a lonely road, but you will learn so much about yourself.

You will pour your soul into your artwork, graduate college with a BFA, move two times, end up in Philly where you have always wanted to move and get into graduate school.

You will have three different jobs before landing a full-time position in your field.

You will have a new best friend with four legs who will never leave your side. He will love you unconditionally. He will keep you safe.

You may not feel safe right now, but I promise some day you will.

Your nightmares will go away, you won’t have panic attacks every time you go out on the weekends or are touched.

You won’t be believed by everyone, but you will be believed by many.

Focus on them. Stand by your boundaries and learn what your needs are.

You will experience more heartache, but you will move on.

You will reclaim your body. You may feel like you don’t own it anymore, but I promise you it’s yours. Be patient with yourself. You will share you story and help others.

This year won’t be easy, but you will find stability, friendship and yourself. You will accept the bad days, cope with triggers and learn how to communicate through the hardest of symptoms.

I am proud of you.

PTSD will never give back the old you, but it will create a new you — and she is worth meeting.

With all my love,

Future You

Getty image via Galina Zhigalova

Originally published: August 25, 2020
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