Best of luck to you @Mee4 for dating! You have gone through a lot and I hope you get to see the sunnier side of life for now onHi Everyone,
Sorry for the long winded first post.
I just found this forum, and while I’m not a crier, I cried a little because I’m so glad this exists. I’ve been dealing with a lot of frustration over the fact that almost all therapists, and psychiatrists list PTSD as a specialty amongst a hodgepodge of other things, when it turns out they’ve not sought specialized education or training with PTSD. A primary care physician can’t claim to specialize in cardiology, so why can mental health professionals claim to specialize in something they don’t actually specialize in? It feels dangerous/negligent.
Anyway, I have PTSD and a complex trauma history as a result of extreme child abuse, and neglect. As I’m sure many survivors here know, it doesn’t end just because you become an adult. When I was 22 my 16 yr old sister died very traumatically, which is something I’m not ready to work on yet. In the summer of 2018, I ended an abusive relationship which resulted in me briefly being homeless. I was homeless almost all of my childhood and have worked extremely hard to provide for myself as an adult. I feel a lot of shame for my moms behaviors, and have spent my adulthood trying to compensate for the havoc she wrecked, despite it not being my fault. Homelessness has been one of my greatest fears as an adult, so fleeing the relationship and living in an air bnb while I looked for a place did a lot of damage to my mental health. I got my feet on the ground, found a place that I loved, was becoming very successful, and financially comfortable in a new job, and then in the summer of 2019, my older brother on my dads side died in a head on collision with a semi. I flew home (clear across the US), and landed for his funeral 1 mo to the day later. Within only hours my aunt on my moms side called to tell me that my mom had just been found dead. I had to get rid of everything I owned, drive across country alone, and take custody of my teenage brother because I wanted to give him the care no one ever gave me. Once again I was homeless. Our mom left us nothing. I had no job in California and was not licensed for what I did in Massachusetts. I felt like my mom stole my chance to grieve for my brother. I missed his funeral because I had to plan hers, and help clean up the mess she left behind. I also now had to navigate raising a severely neglected, and traumatized grieving teenager, when I hadn’t even sorted myself out. I thought my life was over.
I moved my younger brother and I back to Massachusetts in 2020 (best decision I ever made), and in the summer of 2022 I was preparing to open my own business, and had accepted an offer for extremely high paying work as a private contractor. I couldn’t believe life was not only going to be ok, but be GOOD. I had this horrible feeling that it was going to get ripped out from under me. I kept telling myself that it was a trauma response. To stop waiting for the other shoe to drop, and that I’ve been hurt so much because my mom allowed it, not because I’m cursed. As horrible as it is, I thought my mom being dead meant I was finally safe. Clearly summer is not my time of year (knock on wood because this one has been good), because one week before I was to open my business, and a few days before I was to start training for the private contract work, a complete stranger followed me, and waited outside of my car for 45 min before committing a sex offense against me. It was non violent but extremely predatory. In this instance I am grateful for my PTSD. I’m always hyper aware of my surroundings, and the people within them. When he backed in next to me my gut said “he’s mimicking me,” but all the behaviors that made me think that were so minor I knew no one else would have even noticed them. I was ashamed of myself. I felt arrogant, paranoid, and like I was a creepy weirdo. When I returned and saw he was still there, I decided to trust my gut. I was able to get a lot of evidence and successfully have him arrested. It turns out he was only 26, and lived next door to a high school. I thought “of course this would happen to me.” I felt suffocated. I began having severe panic attacks and called poison control because I kept thinking I was double taking my meds. I put them in a daily decider but would lose or forget it. I was extremely confused because I kept thinking “why am I so upset when the offense didn’t even effect me?” I was desensitized to sex acts, and could only identify anger. I was furious because it was so detailed, and premeditated and it was so brazen. Where did his self confidence come from? I think it came from experience with women fleeing in terror instead of staying and calling the police. It broke my heart and made me furious to think of how many times he may have stolen a women or girls sense of safety. However, I was ashamed to be called the victim, and ashamed that it had impacted me. I kept asking “why am I so convinced it isn’t a big deal when it happens to me, if I’m so terrified of it happening to other people?” This began a serious year long mental breakdown. It’s horrible the kinds of things friends, and family say out of ignorance. My psychiatrist told me she didn’t understand why I was scared when I’m safe now, and very condescendingly told me that I was “conflating issues.” She said I was just slee deprived, and doubled my sleeping pills. She said it was “my choice to stop being a victim and drop charges at anytime,” if I was so upset. When I said I didn’t have the legal power to drop charges and that it was no the prosecutors decision, she kept cutting me off and saying “yes you do,@ before silencing me by telling me that she wasn’t going to “talk semantics” or “have a legal argument,” with me. She has no law degree, or professional experience with criminal or legal cases. No idea why she saw it appropriate to tell me what my rights were, tell me I was wrong, but then accuse me of arguing with her. I still can’t wrap my mind around a psychiatrist telling someone with PTSD that they’re “conflating issues.” Isn’t that the foundation of the disorder?!!!! She treated me like I was irrational when I told her I was having anxiety about someone breaking in and hurting my brother in our sleep. She said “has that even happened before?!” in a tone of voice that made me feel like an irrational idiot. It was horrible. I was reaching out to her in a crisis. I had, had a great relationship with her. She’d always told me I was the easiest patient because I’m so self aware. The moment I lost my grip she turned on me. I was further stressed by the economy crashing and taking my business with it at the same time as all of this. Supporting a child on my own was hard enough without worrying if I could even pay myself. I get overwhelmed when I think of how many years I might have left and how much time there may be for more bad things to happen.
That all said, I’ve been doing SO WELL. I kicked ass with my victim impact statment and the judge made two major amendments to the plea deal and specifically said “after hearing what the victim had to say.” He didn’t silence me and actually let me speak a second time because I could answer questions neither attorney could. The DA’s office, and the police repeatedly told me that my word was enough and the supervising advocate and supervising ADA took case specifically stating it was to show the judge they were taking this very seriously. I am so lucky they, and the judge cared for me so much, but I feel guilty and ashamed/embarrassed by it because I still feel like what happened to me wasn’t that bad, and that it’s shameful that I received so much help from the justice system when victims of worse offenses receive little to none. I fortunately have an AMAZING trauma therapist that I’ve been seeing for a few yrs, and an amazing PCP that loves me and that I’ve been seeing for about 10 yrs. Unfortunately my therapist stopped taking my insurance in the midst of this all (womp womp) so I had to temporarily cut my sessions back at the worst time, because I felt trying to find someone new and catch them up on pst trauma in the middle of a breakdown, and while I already needed a new psychiatrist would be more dangerous than cutting back on therapy sessions. My bro was transitioned out of therapy and is such a happy, healthy, responsible young man. He was transitioned out of sped and into standard classes, and he graduated high school this um year with straight A’s and two awards. My business is still scary but doing better, and I’m feeling optimistic. I still need to find a new psychiatrist, and am scared. I don’t want to be belittled or misunderstood again. I’ve come to realize with the help of my therapist that I’m not just “spacey,” or an over imaginative day dreamer. I dissociate very badly, and don’t know how to identify it yet. I recently found a new boyfriend and he’s so sweet and supportive but extremely sheltered. I ask him not to give me advice, or try to relate because he may say something extremely upsetting. Unfortunately he still does it. It’s well intended but I’m starting to resent him. I’m also starting to resent him because I have so little free time for myselfC and now he takes up what little free time I do have. I’ve been misplacing thing to an extremely concerning extent. I’ve been so frustrated and mad at myself. I found my purse in the fridge recentlty. I thought it was my adhd, but my therapist said it’s more likely dissociation. I’m wondering if losing personal time to my relationship is making it worse. I do 100% feel I’m ready to date and my therapist agrees. This will be a hard transition for me no matter when I begin. I really am in a good headspace but that’s a complicated statement when you have PTSD, as I’m sure people know. I need to find a new psychiatrist, and get help with the dissociation, but I’m scared to find one who doesn’t understand me, and who belittles me, and silences me. Does anyone have suggestions on how to sort through them all, or is it trial and error? My therapist referred me to a practice but I’m still scared.
Thanks for reading I know it was long. I appreciate this forum, and am so grateful it exists.