I’ve been diagnosed with Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). When I was little, my mother hit and kicked me all the time. My step-dad abused me. I’ve been raped multiple times. The last time was in 2005. I’ve dealt with all of this mostly by smoking weed and staying in my house.
I want to get treatment and live life. But going to counseling and speaking to others about what I’ve held in for so long is scary. In the past when I tried to get help, I sometimes shut down or I would blurt out all my traumas at once and end up confused and overwhelmed. Then I’d start to have nightmares and sweats and stay inside even more.
Taking a Chance
In December, I went to see a therapist for the first time in 10 years, just to interview her about how to find and cope with treatment. Her name is Roni Avinadav, and she is a psychologist with the Safe Mothers, Safe Children project of the NYU Child Study Center. Roni runs a therapy program for parents who have been diagnosed with PTSD.
Even speaking with Roni was very hard for me. When I explained why I wanted to interview her, I was afraid I would be judged. And when I read over the notes from the meeting after the interview, I felt scrambled up from the way I was jumping from one topic to another.
Eventually, though, I made a list of the things Roni said that stuck out to me.
She said: “You were traumatized and re-traumatized and you had no one to go through it with you.” She also said: “You deserve better. You’re an adult now and you can turn yourself around. You can take certain steps to care about yourself because you deserve better.”
Roni advised me to shop for a therapist who feels right. It surprised me that she said that therapy shouldn’t start with opening up wounds. When people have gone through so much trauma, the first thing should be how to manage negative emotions to calm down and feel in control.
One Step Closer
What I remember most, though, is her telling me that I am not alone.
It’s important for me to know that I don’t have to keep myself so isolated, but it’s also scary. Mainly I’m afraid that if I go to therapy and give the world another try, I will be raped again.
After the meeting with Roni, I felt worse for a while. I shut down, stayed in my room, didn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. I had nightmares and sweats. If I heard police sirens or people arguing outside, it made my body shake. Still, I feel like I’m one step closer to getting help. I want to learn ways to let go of the memories of my past and draw new ones in my mind.