When I started my mental health nurse training I didn't expect to be in need of services myself; although I had experienced the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder for a while I had never recognised it as that. I had always played down the domestic violence I experienced so playing down my mental health issues just followed on. Two years after I ended the abusive relationship the flash backs started. I constantly felt that knot of anxiety in my stomach followed by swings to low numbing detachment to protect myself from what I couldn’t control. The nightmares started to get progressively worse.
Within 10 months I felt as though I was losing control and circling a big black hole. I was only getting 3-4 hours sleep a night because of the anxiety and nightmares at one point. I was deep in a detached fog and could feel little. I was going through the motions and trying to seem engaged. My confidence had gone and I sat through seminars riding the edge of panic silently.
I am lucky that I have two very good friends whom I reached out to when I was feeling at my worst. I arrived at their house not remembering the drive there. I don’t know what I looked like but I felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights. I had memories of being there in vivid clarity every time I closed my eyes. I would have cried if I could have felt anything but taught anxiety. I don’t remember all of the conversation but I remember standing in their kitchen and one of my understanding friends pointing out to me that I was not well, I was not sleeping and should see a doctor. Finally I began to see what I was experiencing for what it was and began the process of getting some proper help.
Since then I’ve told a few more of my friends and close family. It was hard because I felt the need be ‘uber’ single mum; do it all, cope, juggle study and home life with grace and ease. In reality that pressure only comes from my-self, after all no one is that good. Although it is often a hard emotional conversation to start with people it’s getting easier and every time I have found support that I wouldn’t have found if I’d kept quiet. Talking helps but being listened to helps even more.
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