Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while, but they don’t have PTSD — with time and good self-care, they usually get better. But if the symptoms get worse or last for months or even years and interfere with your functioning, you may have PTSD.
Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve function.
At the age of 15 I had a regular babysitting job with a family that had 2 little children and a 13 year old boy. They didn’t want to tie their teen boy down to babysitting every Friday and Saturday. For a while the job was great, but then one night the boy came home with a friend and they had been drinking and decided to try and rape me. I managed to get away and lock myself and the 2 little ones in the bathroom til they left. I never told anyone and to this day I can’t even remember if I went back.
At the age of 16 I had a 22 year old boyfriend. Bad news and my parents weren’t happy with it, but they knew that forbidding it would just lead to me sneaking out instead. Well they were right, he was bad news. He took me to a party, tried to get me drunk, he was drunk and tried to rape me. I managed to get away again. He was too drunk to hold on to me. I found another ride home, but that was even closer than the 2 young boys.
At the age of 17 I had another boyfriend and you would think I would have learned something, but this was slightly different. He didn’t physically try to rape me, he emotionally raped me. He told me that if I didn’t have sex with him that we would break up and we had just gotten back together. I couldn’t handle the rejection and gave in. I hated him and myself. He ruined our relationship at that point because that was worse than the 2 other attempts. I was not ready to lose my virginity, but felt I had no choice. Blackmail is an ugly thing. I didn’t want to be touched by that point. It disgusted me.
September 11, 2001 – The Twin Towers Tragedy. To this day I am still terrified every time I see and hear a plane and since I live near an airport and the planes are constantly flying over I cringe and wait for the explosion. I didn’t know how it was going to be when we flew to Florida a few years ago. I managed though. It just seems to be watching them and hearing them fly over that does it.
Advocate for mental health and invisible illnesses, also a devout Christian