by P.K. Philips

It is a continuous challenge living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I've suffered from it for most of my life. I can look back now and gently laugh at all the people who thought I had the perfect life. I was young, beautiful, and talented, but unbeknownst to them, I was terrorized by an undiagnosed debilitating mental illness.

Having been properly diagnosed with PTSD at age 35, I know that there is not one aspect of my life that has gone untouched by this mental illness. My PTSD was triggered by several traumas, including a childhood laced with physical, mental, and sexual abuse, as well as an attack at knifepoint that left me thinking I would die. I would never be the same after that attack. For me there was no safe place in the world, not even my home. I went to the police and filed a report. Rape counselors came to see me while I was in the hospital, but I declined their help, convinced that I didn't need it. This would be the most damaging decision of my life.

For months after the attack, I couldn't close my eyes without envisioning the face of my attacker. I suffered horrific flashbacks and nightmares. For four years after the attack I was unable to sleep alone in my house. I obsessively checked windows, doors, and locks. By age 17, I'd suffered my first panic attack. Soon I became unable to leave my apartment for weeks at a time, ending my modeling career abruptly. This just became a way of life. Years passed when I had few or no symptoms at all, and I led what I thought was a fairly normal life, just thinking I had a "panic problem."

Then another traumatic event re-triggered the PTSD. It was as if the past had evaporated, and I was back in the place of my attack, only now I had uncontrollable thoughts of someone entering my house and harming my daughter. I saw violent images every time I closed my eyes. I lost all ability to concentrate or even complete simple tasks. Normally social, I stopped trying to make friends or get involved in my community. I often felt disoriented, forgetting where, or who, I was. I would panic on the freeway and became unable to drive, again ending a career. I felt as if I had completely lost my mind. For a time, I managed to keep it together on the outside, but then I became unable to leave my house again.

Around this time I was diagnosed with PTSD. I cannot express to you the enormous relief I felt when I discovered my condition was real and treatable. I felt safe for the first time in 32 years. Taking medication and undergoing behavioral therapy marked the turning point in my regaining control of my lifeI'm rebuilding a satisfying career as an artist, and  I am enjoying my life. The world is new to me and not limited by the restrictive vision of anxiety. It amazes me to think back to what my life was like only a year ago, and just how far I've come.

For me there is no cure, no final healing. But there are things I can do to ensure that I never have to suffer as I did before being diagnosed with PTSD. I'm no longer at the mercy of my disorder and I would not be here today had I not had the proper diagnosis and treatment. The most important thing to know is that it's never too late to seek help.

Read PK's Story in a MyAJC article

"I'm no longer at the mercy of my PTSD, and I would not be here today had I not had the proper diagnosis and treatment. It's never too late to seek help."

Comments

I suffer from a complex version of PTSD and as of late my symptoms have been getting worse and more extreme than ever. I have been to my doctors and the only solution they can offer me is an increase in benzos and sleeping pills. In my opinion both are not something that l want since l already have a drinking problem and an addiction to benzo.

I was hoping to get some feedback, knowledge, information or insight into anyone that suffers from PTSD and if the use of cannabis https://www.bonzaseeds.com/blog/flo/ has been theraputic on helping lesson the symptoms?

I have attempted to find articles on the subject but the studies that l seem to have found are inconclusive to if cannabis is helpful to those that suffer from symptoms. I am at my wits end trying to find an option that will help me be able to cope day-to-day with my symptoms as they are impacting my life in a very negative way.

So please any knowledge or personal experience anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and hopefully someone will be able to steer me in the right direction so that l can better manage my health and hopefully start to live my life.

Cameron,
I found your comment while looking for ways to manage my depression, anxiety, and ptsd. I too drink too much. I went to therapy for 7 mo. To a great therapist, and that's when I learned I had ptsd. The therapy was great because I understand what's happening better. I smoked weed for 25 yrs, I'm 42 now. And for a long time I think it helped. But I have a sensitive mind and body, and it eventually turned on me. Basically it increased my anxiety suddenly. After yrs of anti depressants and off and on benzos.. I have come to the conclusion that there is no cure, only management. I believe that if I didn't drink, things could be better, but I'm sure you know how that goes. I've resigned to the idea of maintaining my dose of Effexor while using benzos when I have the most difficult times. If you've ever gotten off of them..you know they are horrible to withdrawal from. I guess what I'm saying, is that you are not alone. And it makes me feel better to know the same. I wish you the best, only you can know what is best for you. Take care, and keep fighting the good fight!