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The Secret Battle of a Person With PTSD

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If you look at me, I look like an average 27-year-old. I’m engaged. I do things you would expect. If you look at me closely, you will see me fidget, my eyes flicker and my skin sweat. I look nervous. If you could look through my eyes, you would see I don’t feel like an average 27-year-old. I feel like I don’t belong in my own body. I feel life has thrown me a huge curve ball and I can’t ditch it.

• What is PTSD?

You see, I live with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and I was recently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I also have an underactive thyroid, acid reflex, borderline personality disorder (BPD) and insomnia. That is a lot under the belt of one young woman. I haven’t been able to work in six years due to my mental illnesses. I’ve dealt with panic attacks and depression since I was little but went undiagnosed until 2010. In May of this year, my city, Fort McMurray, burned down. I lost my home. I lost everything. I was diagnosed with PTSD in July.

Many people don’t see me as I feel. They don’t understand. I try and explain, but most times I get confused looks or an apologetic smile. There are people I thought I could count on who have now abandoned me. They think my mental illness is nothing but “in my head,” and I should be able to live a normal life. If you look at me, you don’t see an illness. You just see me. You see someone who can keep a conversation. You see a person who go places if my day is OK. You see someone who is always there for people and tries to help people as much as I can.

You don’t see the amount of pills I have to take every day just to get through. You don’t see my mind turning a million miles a minute when you ask me to do something as simple as to go to the mall. You don’t see my mind running through scenarios because I’m scared my anxiety and panic attacks will show up. If you look at me, really look at me and get to know me, you know easy decisions are big decisions for me to make. I can’t just get up and go to a market or go out for a walk.

My mental illness keeps me prisoner of most things. With a lot of help in the past six years, I can go to small stores now. This is a big achievement and while most people think nothing of going to your local drugstore, it is sometimes still is a huge thing for me.

If you look at me, then you won’t see all of this. You’ll see me and how I appear on the outside. If you know me and look at me, you will see I’m trying to battle my mental illnesses. I do it every day, multiple times throughout the day. I am not just my illness. I am a fighter.

Originally published: August 18, 2016
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