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When the First Step of Healing From PTSD Is Telling Your Story

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My father was diagnosed with cancer when I was 10, and died when I was 15. His sickness plagued so much of my youth, and my clearest memories of that time are of hospital rooms, ambulances and fear.

• What is PTSD?

What made that time so much more traumatic was that my father was suicidal, due to the pain the cancer caused him. Before he died, he had come to me and on multiple occasions asked me to help him end his life. He said if I did not help him, he would ask my mother or sister instead. I was never going to help him, but I agreed because I wanted to protect my family. I lived in constant fear that he would end his life, or come up with a plan that involved me helping him.

When my father finally died I was plagued with guilt. I often wondered if he had done something to end his life, and thought that it was my fault because I hadn’t told anyone what he had asked of me. Even if he had died of natural causes I felt guilt that I couldn’t help alleviate his pain. Either way an autopsy was not done after his death, due to his cancer being terminal, so no one except me suspected that my father could have died from anything other than the cancer.

Due to these experiences I have developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and over four years since my father’s death I still live with the consequences of his sickness.

I have not written this to demonize my father. I understand that he was very sick, and would not have made the same choices had he been well. I am starting the healing process of trying to forgive him, as well as trying to forgive myself.

There are many experiences which can cause someone to develop PTSD and I believe that the more we can tell our stories, the less power they will hold over us.

So this is the story of one trauma survivor, who finally wishes to tell the world what she went through.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 9, 2017
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