Climbing Out of a Deep, Dark, Hole

Hi everyone!

I am very excited to join Lauren in this adventure. It has been my dream for some time to help bring awareness, healing, and hope to real live people, and I am happy to say that I am finally ready!

In my initial post, I talked a lot about how I’ve struggled, and how my life was ruined and changed for the worse. That was true, and still is in some ways. But it was a bit gloomy. I didn’t highlight some of the good things that have happened since then, or how I crawled out of the deep, dark hole that is surviving a near-death experience and battling PTSD.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) it is something that happens to a lot of victims of violence, but it is rarely talked about outside of the military, and more recently first responders. I am so glad these issues are beginning to see the light of day, because I have a lot of respect for both first responders and those who serve in the military. They risk their lives every day for people just like us, and we need to show them & their families some support!

I suffered from PTSD and panic attacks for almost 2 years. I still have panic attacks from time to time, but very rarely now and I can usually control them pretty quickly.

At first, I was shell shocked. I lost all sense of time. I was terrified, all of the time. My resting heartrate was 90-120bpm for over a year. Loud noises and sudden movements would frighten me to tears – the boys at work thought this was hilarious. My reality was most people’s extreme adrenaline rush. Other people have to jump out of airplanes to feel the same way I felt waking up every morning.tunnel

Here is how I slowly started to recover.

  1. Distraction
    Distraction is the only thing that worked for me in acute panic attacks and during flashbacks.
    In between pokes and prods in the hospital, my friend was allowed in the room with me. We watched this video countless times and it was all we could to do keep my mind off what was happening.
    My boss once gave me a tennis ball when I was panicking. I started tossing it from one hand to the other, and soon I was able to just focus on that instead of my racing heart, the fear, or the trembling.
    During another panic attack, my brother calmed me down by asking me to count all of the doors in our parents’ house – there are 18.
    Yet again, a co-worker helped me read the small text at the bottom of a poster across the room. I can still remember – it was about administering oxygen.
    I couldn’t do it by myself at first, and I am so grateful I had these people to help me figure these tricks out. I am now very, very good at distracting myself.
    As soon as I was ready, bigger picture distractions like taking on a ‘little’ with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, going back to university, throwing myself into my new job, hunting down new music, and playing housewife for my roommate were able to provide some forward momentum. But believe me, it took a lot of quality time on the couch to get to that point.
  2. Talking, Taking, Talking
    Lauren posted a TedX talk on our Facebook page about how healing thrives in conversation. Look it up! Talking through thoughts and feelings and the way your brain gets hung up on weird details is so important.
    Don’t get me wrong – there are some things I am still not ready or willing to talk about. But for now I have talked enough to get through day to day life with no major crises. It takes time, but when you’re ready, there are people to talk to. These people come in places you may not expect – I was able to confide in some people I was not very close with, and just absolutely could not find the words to tell some of the most important people in my life. Choosing who you share these details with is such a personal choice and there is no right or wrong way to do it. I also had a LOT of therapy. More on that later!
  3. Moving on.
    I moved, got a new job, changed my license plate number and my hairstyle. I stayed in the same city but got rid of everything that reminded me of what happened. This may not have been the brave and honourable way out, but if I didn’t change things, I could have easily been a suicide statistic.
  4. Time Heals Some
    Time doesn’t heal all, but it can take the edge off, and soften the horribly painful memories. Some days the only thing I felt grateful for was that each day that passed was one day farther away from the worst night of my life. A great friend once told me that eventually, a day would come where this horrible thing would not be the first thing I thought about in the morning, or the last thing I thought about when I went to sleep. She said that a day will come where I don’t even think of it. I’m pretty sure I called her a liar. But, she was right! I don’t think I’ve had a full day free of it yet, but the intrusive memories are SO MUCH fewer and farther between, and I very, very rarely think of it in the morning. You know those few moments when you first wake up, and you forget – forget the embarrassing thing you did yesterday, or the trouble you’re in at work, or that your grandfather just passed away? But then you remember and it feels like you’re crashing through ice?  3 years later, I am happy to report that doesn’t happen to me anymore… at least about the attack. I still have plenty of embarrassing moments.

If you are struggling with Acute Stress Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or just need someone to talk to, please reach out! You don’t have to do this alone.

Keep talking, Keep Sharing

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Hi! I'm Elizabeth, a blogger on When You're I spent 2 years struggling with PTSD and panic attacks following a violent attack. I want to use my experience and my voice to raise support for others. I desperately want to make the world a safer place for girls and women, especially my two little sisters. Keep talking, Keep sharing. When You're Ready, I'll be here.



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