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My Struggle With PTSD Is Like Carrying Bags of Trash Around With Me

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When I left Philadelphia to move down south, I took my children and whatever we could carry in a few trash bags. Life was falling apart around us, so as a mother, I did what I felt was best for my babies at the time. In addition to those trash bags that held what was left of our worldly possessions, I carried the bulk of my emotional baggage out of sight. Fear, regret and grief were among its contents.

• What is PTSD?

In the years that passed, I experienced things I wouldn’t wish for anyone. I learned a great deal about myself in the process. Still, I carried bags unnoticed, steadily filling them with more shit. Pain, heartache, anger and shame made room for despair. It took me so long to leave the south because I felt like I hadn’t learned everything I should about the world, myself and my limitations.

After 12 years, with my mind, body and soul virtually emptied of their reserves, it was time to leave. I just didn’t want to die, whether it was by my own hands or another’s. I needed respite, safety and compassion. I was so grateful for a second chance on what I thought was the last of my nine lives.

In my happiness, I forgot I still had those fucking bags. I guess I put them down briefly, but they would not be ignored. I crammed so much into those trash bags that I didn’t know what they even held anymore. It’s secrets were spilling out, one by one, until I eventually lost my footing. So much so that I couldn’t see the bright future ahead of me.

It got dark. I was falling. I was scared and then the pain set in. As fast as I put that trash in it’s hiding place, more would replace it. Exhausted and unable to do it alone anymore, I asked for help.

Slowly things are looking brighter and I started sorting that terrible trash. I’m currently dividing it into smaller bags, which are easier to carry and dispose of. I acknowledge them, I learn from them, and now I’m leaving them. Behind.

I hope I’ll feel lighter, having some of that oppressive weight gone from me.

I have desperately clung to this garbage the majority of my life, thinking it is what defines me. Now I’m surely learning my hardest, most important lesson. I’ll still be Megan, only stronger, as long as I continue to take out the trash.

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 741-741.

Thinkstock photo via JackF

Originally published: November 8, 2017
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