My Traumatic Stress - A New All Trauma Community If you're having a difficult time with a minor or major traumatic event, not PTSD specific, we now support all trauma types at My Traumatic Stress community. No diagnosis required. Today is my one year anniversary of being on the forum. I was lurking on here and reading for about a month prior, I remember the first day I came here to read was on my birthday (October 2) , but I didn't join the forum as a member until October 30th. I consider being on the forum for a whole year a major accomplishment as I've been angry and upset on here so many times, had so many hissy fits over things people have done or said to me in the last year that I really am surprised to still be here! I used to give up on things so very easily, something would go wrong and I would quit, so I feel proud for not having given up on the forum, I stuck with it even when it was hard. There are many, many things that have changed for me in the last year. I was going to list them all but there really are too many!!! My year has been very productive. Here are the really big changes (still long!!): Reunited with my family after 5 years of total silence. I now live with them and I'm closer to them than I've ever been in my life. Able to communicate with my family in a normal way. When I first reunited with them, I mostly only communicated to them through notes, hand gestures and the computer, even though we lived in the same house. I was near to being an elective mute for the first few months. However now we communicate face to face like "normal" people, I am even able to initiate hugs, which is huge because I could never do that before. My relationship with Dad (Jim) has improved dramatically... we used to be at each other's throats, fighting constantly and now we are very close and hardly ever fight. He still does things that annoy me but I have become very accepting of him and he of me too, and we are very comfortable with each other now. I forgave Dad #1 (Eric) for shooting me, and I visited his grave. I've worked through the shock of my older brother's death 6 and a half months ago, without going totally insane. At first I was quite ill over it but I am able to grieve normally now. No more horrible rages and outbursts or fits, though part of that was brain related rather than PTSD related, but still, that is over with, and no more self-destructive behaviours or risk taking behaviours either. Fewer nightmares and flashbacks. I was having bad dreams every night, now I have them 3-4 times a week. I used to have flashbacks almost daily. I still have them but they are a lot less frequent as well. I have a lot of "free" days now, with no nightmares or flashbacks. I no longer think about death constantly. A year ago, death was constantly on my mind. I was obsessed with horror films and books, cemeteries, zombies, etc. I dressed goth, all in black and white make up and never went without my makeup or black clothes. I wasn't even able to draw anything except images of death for a really long time. Now I am no longer goth, I dress "normal", I can draw anything, and I have lost all my interest in macabre subjects. No longer suicidal, haven't been suicidal since April now... so almost 7 months! Not depressed either really, at least not for long periods of time. Moreso I just get down for a couple of days, but then I am okay again. Been free of medication for PTSD since early January, almost 10 months. I have no more military triggers. I used to not even be able to see someone in uniform without freaking out. Now I have visited bases more than once, rode in military vehicles and been around my family members in the military, seen them in uniform and so on without getting upset or triggered. I'm not angry about my family being military anymore either, instead I am proud. I am planning on attending the Remembrance Day (November 11) ceremonies with my family this year too. Additionally, peace protesters used to bother me a lot (I even physically assaulted one once), but now I just laugh at them and think they are uninformed and ignorant. Overcame several major fears, biggest one being driving! Also spoke on the phone to 2 people on the forum here (Veiled and Anthony) though I am still working on my phone phobia. But it's a start. Have a sense of humour again, even able to laugh at myself a lot of the time now, and sometimes I can laugh at other people too when they are being jerks, rather than getting angry about it. I am learning to be assertive (rather than passive or aggressive) and I'm doing a good job of it, both online and to the people around me. I go to church now. Not because I'm religious, I don't even believe in God, but I go to get out of the house, I go with Mum and Dad. A year ago I hated the Catholic Church so much that I couldn't even walk by a church without getting upset. I even vandalized a church once, about 4 years ago! Spray painted a statue of the Virgin Mary that was outside the church, and kicked over pieces of a large nativity scene. But now I feel fine going to church, I don't agree with the policies of the Church, but it is an outing, the people at church are good people just doing their best in life, and I am making Mum and Dad happy by going. I want to do something nice for them considering all that they have done for me. I no longer have an internet addiction. I used to be so addicted to the forum and to the internet in general that I would spend hours every day on the computer, and I was constantly checking for messages, emails, etc. Now I have other interests. I can actually go without being on the computer for a few days now with no withdrawal symptoms. I've accepted being physically ill with cancer. I don't like it, but I have accepted it and I'm at peace with it. Even if it eventually takes my life, I am okay with that now and not afraid. Of course I want to live and I am fighting, but I am at peace with whatever is going to happen. I am dealing with the pain a lot better now too, and I am not so upset to go to the hospital anymore. I am used to it. I even talk to the staff now and try to make jokes. I don't freak out at the medical procedures anymore. I cry if they are very painful, but that's about it. The staff always tells me I'm very brave. I've gotten much more used to my physical appearance, though I'm still not crazy for it. Though I had to quit due to physical illness, I had a job as a comic book inker, where I was respected and admired, and my boss says I can have a job back again whenever I like. It was the first job I ever had where I was not fired or quit because of my PTSD, so it was a major accomplishment for me. Due partially to my job and partially from encouragement of others here, I have much more confidence in my art and illustration, and have been able share some of it with others without fear. I finally admitted to everyone here that I have autism, in my diary, just the other day. I am finally starting to accept too that it is okay to have autism and not be neurotypical. After the initial depression of a couple of days ago I am feeling happy with myself, like another weight is lifted and I can finally accept my autism totally and be who I am, and not worry about what other people think about me. I am no longer judging myself so harshly as I was. I still get into the habit of judging myself at times but nothing like before. Before I wouldn't let myself do anything without feeling guilty. For example, I love to play video games, but I always used to view myself as lazy and wasting time when playing them. Now though I see it as a way for me to relax, and that it's actually good for me to play them as it keeps me calm. I also beat myself up a lot previously for not being able to do much in the day in the way of activities and cleaning, because of my physical illness. I would make myself do all the boring or hard things first... like cleaning, doing things for other people, etc, before I would allow myself anything I enjoyed. So I was practicing delayed gratification, but in an extreme way. Often I wouldn't even let myself have a shower or eat until I did my "duties". As a result I often would not have enough time or energy to do anything fun by the end of the day. But now I accept that I can't do as much as I used to, I concentrate on the things I can do. And I usually do the things I enjoy first now. Like, driving my car or going for a walk with my puppy. I allow myself to have comfort and fun. I am taking care of myself better in that sense. I feel is the biggest and best change is that I am able to deal with bad days now. I still have them, but now I can step back from them a bit, even while they're happening. I know that basically I just need to rest, talk to my family or be by myself for a day or two and the bad feelings or illness will pass. I don't feel badly or guilty about it anymore. I don't despair of getting better or try to bring myself out of a mood, I just sort of accept it as part of who I am. I know it will pass, and I am patient. That has been a huge revelation to me. I wanted to thank everyone on the forum here for reading all my posts over the last year, responding and giving me advice, supporting me and being my friends. Even the times people have upset me in the past year have been important to me. There were times when getting upset was very good for me, and other times where it taught me tolerance, how to control my anger, how to be assertive. So thank you all, this forum has been so awesome. I never thought an online forum could change someone's life so much, but it definitely has done so with mine. I truly hope that all of you reading this can get as much out of the forum as I have. Thanks again to all for the past year!