Thursday, August 6, 2009

Now and Then

A few weeks ago, I admitted that I’m fighting personal demons. The truth is, for the last few months, my life has more or less come to a halt. It’s almost as if my mind refused to hide the truth anymore. Why? I think it’s because for the first time in my life I have a solid support system. I’m not alone, and I know I’m loved.

I’ve been thinking about sharing some of the journey with the world, but it’s been a hard decision to make. The thing that finally was the deciding factor is the knowledge that I’m far from the only person to have suffered long term effects of child abuse. For those others, and for the people who love them, I offer my story. My diagnosis is major depression and PTSD, both a result of trauma from abuse suffered over the years of my childhood.

Post traumatic stress disorder. I hear the words and think of soldiers in ghastly battle conditions; I think of victims of horrible crimes. But PTSD can also result from childhood abuse. There are hundreds of thousands of us scattered across the world, suffering all kids of symptoms, all kinds of feelings that keep us from fully living our lives. All because of things that happened years ago.

For me, a big part of the abuse was at the hands of medical personnel. As a result of a congenital heart defect, I spent a lot of time in the hospital. And because it was a rare condition, that hospital wasn’t a local one. Every six months to a year, a few members of my family and I took a two day road trip. This journey began when I was three years old, too young to understand what was happening. My earliest memories are tied to these trips, to that hospital. The hospital was a research facility, and the patients there were treated like the lab rats that we were. I sincerely hope things have changed over the years, but at the time I was there, parents weren’t allowed, or at least that’s what I was told. I was all alone in this lonely, terrifying place. The things they did to me were necessary, if not to save my life, at least for the research they were doing at the time. There were no soothing words, no gentle touches. There is very little I remember from all the years I went to that place that isn’t filled with terror, agony, and revulsion. I went through hell, and nobody seemed to understand. My family didn’t, the members of the small town where I lived didn’t. I not only dealt with what was being done to me on a regular basis, but with the confusion brought on by the comments about how lucky I was to be alive and to go to that “wonderful place.”

In typical childish fashion, I decided that I’d been sent to that hellhole because I’d done something wrong. For basically my entire life, I’ve held deep inside me the belief that I was such a bad person that I was tortured because of it. The thing is, I didn’t realize that’s what I felt. What was more apparent was lack of belief in myself, and a propensity for subconsciously sabotaging myself. It’s only been in the last few weeks that I’ve begun to reach those long denied parts of myself. And it hasn’t been pretty.

I don’t know how often I’ll be posting, but I’ll do my best to keep everyone informed. And thank you, all of you, for being part of my support system. I’m very grateful.