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Not all wounds are visible
National PTSD awareness day June 27th
When I first plucked up enough courage to share with a friend how bad I felt she replied; “No, you can’t feel like that” My mental health struggle had been my shameful secret for so long. I had now shared but had been invalidated. I was stunned into silence. It was many more months before I dared tell anyone else.
Mental health and especially PTSD is so misunderstood. I didn’t know I had PTSD. At the time. I thought PTSD was a condition that only affected the military or frontline emergency services. Here’s an infographic I feel explains PTSD well.
It was 7 years after that dismissive comment that I received a diagnosis. A training event at work involved a role-play of an inquest. I experienced flashback and in a room full of colleagues I begun to shake and cry. Thankfully my NHS employer arranged psychological support for me.
I received EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing) therapy. EMDR therapy was so hard. It was horrible but brilliant. I have been so much better since receiving it 2 years ago.
For the last couple of months I’ve been working on a book about my journey to wellness. This week I’ve been creating an outline for a chapter called Forgiveness. This has caused me to question what is wellness. As I have been digging in, I’ve been taken back. I’ve had distressing pictures in my mind, felt nausea sensations and had bad dreams. This re experiencing of trauma is often referred to as being ‘triggered’.
Whilst unpleasant I’m glad I’ve had this reaction. It tells me 2 things. One, I’ve allowed myself to go there. In my desire to write a book that will help others, I have not avoided getting triggered. This is huge for me I left my 30-year NHS career 2 years ago to avoid triggers. Now here I am knowingly going back to my trauma. The second is that my trigger response was not all-consuming. Previously when triggered it was as though my brain would melt. I could not retain information or think to make simple decisions. This time I could still function.
I am writing this blog to bring hope. I want my words and illustrations to encourage you. If you think you or someone you love may have PTSD I recommend you visit PTSD UK for information and support. A poem I wrote and illustrated is published in Broken Crayons Still Colour available on their website.
It isn’t easy but let’s keep walking on the path to wellness. Here’s a great quote from Susan David to spur you on.
Courage my friends!