Thursday, July 31, 2014

Knowing I'll Be Okay: Lessons From PTSD Sessions

Today was my last session for my PTSD and it was bittersweet. I'm going to miss my therapist because she was so encouraging and positive but I also know that I no longer need the sessions. If it hadn't been for her, I wouldn't have known that I have (had?) PTSD. Up until I started the sessions this past Spring, we didn't have an official diagnosis beyond having an anxiety/panic disorder. It took 13 years to really tackle this problem with the right treatment... but I finally did and it feels great to have completed the program.

To say that I had a rough childhood and adolescence would be an understatement. I witnessed so much violence that it made me afraid to leave the house at times. I still get occasionally nervous when I see guns for this reason. I was bullied to the point where they had to pull me out of school... and even then, the main bully still found ways to tell me to kill myself after I left. I had an unfortunate incident in which I was assaulted (though, thankfully, unharmed). I still think my guardian angel helped me. I was able to push the young man (I was 15, he was 18) away with strength I didn't know I had despite being pinned against a desk in an empty office. I was bombarded with negative comments of never being good enough, never being smart enough, never being pretty enough, never being capable of doing anything for myself, etc for as long as I can remember. I had a lot to work through... and I think I've finally made peace with everything, to the point where I can look back at it and not allow it to hurt me in any way. In fact, in a weird way, I'm grateful for all I endured.

I think a lot of my compassion and empathy comes from the fact that I've had to go through a lot. It's made me the person who I am today... and I really like who I've grown up to be (despite my occasional bratty moments). It took 14 sessions of PTSD therapy to realize that I'm stronger and capable of handling anything because I've been able to build up the tools I need to cope with difficult situations. My faith is my biggest blessing. Though we didn't bring up faith a lot in my sessions as I believe they're not allowed to really get into the topic, it was quickly identified as the best "tool" I possess in my arsenal. No matter what is going on, no matter how angry or hopeless I may feel about being in certain circumstances, I always have my faith.

Last week was the hardest week I've had in several years. My mom was hurt so badly that I was afraid that she wouldn't recover anytime soon. She could barely walk and couldn't even sit without being in excruciating pain. Seeing a parent in that kind of pain hurts you. My mom, who is so active and has this inability of sitting still, couldn't do anything because of the pain. I took over everything while she tried to recuperate. That led to dealing with a financial crisis (that had been looming for a while) which seemed impossible to get out of. Couple that with a couple of other things I was dealing with (such as studying for finals) left me in a really tight spot. I felt myself stretched beyond all limits... but I was able to get through it all without a single panic attack. Yes, I cried. Who wouldn't cry when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders? Still, I knew that I wasn't going to let it beat me and keep me down so I powered through it all. I was able to keep the house running, to figure out ways to get us out of the financial hole due to unforeseen expenses that drained savings, and I managed to finish two courses (and final exams) two weeks early. I'll repeat it again... without a single panic attack.

I'll admit that I had a point where I broke down and I asked God to help me understand things because I was overwhelmed. I started the Sacred Heart novena when I felt the most overwhelmed and it's brought a lot of peace. I'm sure that God is preparing me for something greater. I may not like what I've had to go through but there has to be a reason for it all and I have to be patient. It's a lot easier said than done but I know I'll be okay... and that's what I realized in today's therapy session.

I could've easily given up or wallowed in pity for myself... but I didn't. Yes, the situations sucked and it felt like almost everything went downhill at the same time, but I didn't let stop me from moving forward. I no longer have those "I'm not capable of..." or "I'm not good enough/smart enough..." thoughts holding me back. I'm no longer afraid of the unknown.

Julie (who I'm incredibly blessed to call a friend) reminded me that fear is not from God. That got me through some of my hardest moments this past week. While it's hard not to worry about the outcome of something or feel like everything's going down the hole from time to time, we need to remind ourselves to trust God. His plans for us are bigger and better than what we can imagine for ourselves. Just knowing this -- knowing that I'll be okay because He loves me despite my flawed nature and that His love will keep me going -- is a comfort.

I can look back at my experiences and be grateful for how unjaded I am. I still believe the best of people. I still believe that everything will work out for the best. I still believe that we all go through crud because God is preparing us for something incredible in the future. My glass is still half-full and I'm still all smiles even though I still get tested from time to time. My therapist helped me see that last part; even when I had so much crud going on, I would always walk into her office and I would still be all smiles.

I'll be okay. Mom and I are going to be okay. God has my back (as well as everyone else's back) so we'll all be okay. We may not understand why we go through hardships but I firmly believe (cue broken record comments) that everything we go through prepares us for something wonderful in the future.

Anyway, I'm sure I repeated myself a number of times but I just typed whatever thoughts and feelings popped up while I reflected on my PTSD sessions. :)

I should really get back to studying for my Anatomy final. It's not until next week but I need to get 100% on it (ha, yeah... no pressure or anything) so I started studying a week early. :)

I hope y'all are well. OH! and, friendly reminder, today is the last day in which 100% of the money earned from my debut novel will be donated to cancer research. I know I initially said that only a portion of it would be donated but I ended up deciding that everything from the month of July would be donated. :)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless. :D

P.S. for more super awesome motivational cat doodles, go here.

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