It's her birthday she wakes up and excitedly wakes all her teddies up that lined the length of her bed, she reaches into the cupboard and pulls out a small parcel wrapped in sheets of a magazine tied in a ribbon from a rag doll, excitedly she unwraps the gift to reveal one of her favourite Moomin toys. She grabs Mousey tightly and thanks her for the gift, the only gift she would receive that day.
A gift she had wrapped herself some days before her birthday anticipating a repeat of previous birthdays.
It's not until the evening the reality of being ignored on her birthday kicks in.
That's when she lays in bed sobbing into Mousey’s ears, birthday cards piled up next to her from relatives all opened but not by her, she's not even read them, opened by her parents who have taken any money that might have been in them.
After all they only kept her for the "benefits", a fact she is reminded of daily.
Is that an experience anyone would choose to relive? A moment in time you're taken back to if you haven't ensured your birthday is going to be 100% how you want it to be, through fear of ever feeling like that little girl did, each and every birthday shadowed by the uncontrollable need for it to be exactly how you want it?
If plans aren’t followed exactly how you feel they must, then nothing else will compare – your birthday is a disaster, the obsession with not wanting to feel like that little girl consuming you and ruining what should be a joyous celebration of life.
Adding pressure onto loved ones who ultimately will want you to feel special and loved and unknowingly will be doing the opposite should they plan anything not pre-authorised by you.
That's what PTSD does, it forces you to relive traumatic memories over and over and why?
Because something slightly reminded you of that event – the slightest sound, smell or feeling, and you’re back there. Without the treatments and coping skills, PTSD can become a debilitating and often life threatening condition, so please next time you hear about someone having this diagnosis, remember it’s not a choice, it’s the result of trauma, something nobody chooses and is more often than not inflicted upon the sufferer through no fault of their own.
I was one of the lucky ones. My diagnosis was picked up during treatment for borderline personality disorder so EMDR therapy was offered and available very quickly.
More often than not, PTSD is undiagnosed for many years and often isn't diagnosed until the sufferer has done something that sees them arrested or in the back of an ambulance.
There is a myth attached to PTSD which often sees the symptoms overlooked by the person experiencing it and brushed off has a mere memory – that it’s something only faced by ex-military personnel. I know that’s what I thought, the disbelief at being diagnosed and questioning “how can I have that, I’ve not encountered anything as bad as soldiers at war do?” But trauma comes in many forms and often we don't realise what we have experienced is trauma until we get the diagnosis and, well for me at least, it finally all made sense.