At the age of seven, I survived an armed robbery, but witnessed the murder of my mother, her partner, and my godmother, in Harlem, New York City. Although I suffered from a gunshot wound, it was the mental scars that resulted in the most significant damage. Several years after this tragic event, I was clinically diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. (PTSD)
As a child, witnessing multiple traumatic events, to include being verbally, physically, and sexually abused by my mother's boyfriend, I experienced a lot of moments crying due to sadness and hurt. As an adult, I cried from those painful childhood memories which can reappear in the form of flashbacks and nightmares.
I would attend counseling sessions every now and then, but for the most part, I never felt comfortable sharing my life story with anyone, especially during group settings. When I was referred to psychologists, I never followed through because I didn't want to be prescribed medicines that I felt would make things worse. Also, I felt more comfortable blaming my hardships on LIFE in general and the "shit happens" logic.
Basically, I was living my life in circles and would get angry whenever counselors suggested changes in the direction of my life. Deep down inside, I knew they were correct, but as a child, I never felt in control of anything so often times as an adult, I took full charge of personal matters, even if it meant suffering from the consequences.
Finally, in late 2013, I decided that it was time to fight back. I began utilizing all available mental heath resources. This was a defining moment for me because ultimately this decision saved my life.
Although I finally decided to fight back, the time wasted living my life in a circular motion can never be recaptured. Generally speaking, suppressing emotions does more harm than good.
If you're battling PTSD or any form of mental illness fight back by utilizing all available mental health resources and don't be satisfied living your life in circles. Let this be your defining moment.
Also, if you feel the need to talk to someone, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor.
Current and former service members, use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.