“There is a common misconception in our culture about who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and what it looks like. A quick Google image search will lead you to believe that the majority of those living with PTSD are men in uniform, when the reality is that women are twice as likely to develop it as men, and it can be acquired in a number of ways. Not all wars take place on the battle field.” – Dawn Daum
This is me and today I’m joining other survivors in changing the face of PTSD. You would never know by looking at me that I’m a survivor of sexual abuse or that I have fought my own personal war against PTSD. I spent years feeling ashamed of the way I reacted to certain situations, by how seemingly minor events would trigger painful flashbacks or memories and by my inability to control my physical reactions. By learning how PTSD affects me, I now understand why:
I sometimes feel like I’m in danger when my heart rate increases, even if it’s caused by something as innocuous as exercise.
I feel trapped and panicked when my kids jump on top of me while playing or when they try to hold onto me in the swimming pool.
While I no longer suffer from debilitating night terrors, I can become easily enraged from lack of sleep.
Yoga can feel like torture because it forces me to be aware of my body.
If all anyone sees when they research PTSD is soldiers and people affected by war, they may not recognize themselves and seek help. By sharing our stories we can heal each other. By sharing our faces, we give other survivors someone to relate to. By using our voices, we can offer hope.