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Sufferer You Are Not Your Past

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Hi my name is Lionel I'm twenty-five years old, from Toronto, and I suffer from PTSD.

I had many traumatic experiences throughout my childhood that have greatly impacted my progression through life and in many ways still do. I've spent around five years seeing a brilliant esteemed and sometimes hillarious Trauma Therapist. I suffered virtually in silence until I was twenty-one and decided to speak up about it with my friends. The following recounting of my experiences is my no means complete as it is highly likely that I will unearth more details as I continue to delve within. Please be forewarned I implicitly expressed some opinions near the end of it. They are just my opinions, and a recounting of what worked for me personally.

My earliest memories are of eating jello and playing with toy cars while in "Sick Kids Hospital" where I was staying and recovering from massive head trauma (split/cracked in three locations) resulting from having my head repeatedly bashed against the side of a kitchen counter by my babysitter.

When I was five years old and playing 'tag' with my class on the four story school jungle gym. My best friend and I ascended the fourth level of the giant wooden and metal structure, he climbed up first, and I second. When I reached the top I saw my friend climbing over the wooden railing to take the long 'pole' down to the bottom. Just as he got over it he stepped on black ice, slipped and fell to his death. I still remember watching him fall being tossed about, his body like a ragdoll as he collided with parts of the various levels.

When I was six years old, school bully Duncan, an attention seeking 9 year old with a speech impediment, kicked me in the stomach, knocking me to the ground. He then dragged me to the nearest entrance of the school, opened the door, pushed me into the doorway as I was standing up and slammed it on my head four times (I think). It caused my two front teeth to be knocked clean out of their sockets and my nose to break.

When I was six years old my father shot our sharpei dog point blank in between his eyes while I was at school. He informed me of this as he was driving me home and had me assist him in butchering the limbs and head from its carcass, and placing them into individual garbage bags. It was then left in front of our fireplace to rot for eight days until my mother had the authorities forcibly remove and incarcerate my father. He was sent to and remained in a psychiatric prison for around a year and a half. This was mostly due to the massive amounts of cocaine, firearms, and homemade explosives they confiscated from the house. He is a racist womanizing imperialist South African Nazi sympathizer, born in 1936 on a farm in an area that is now part of a vast nature preserve. The rationale he provided for the shooting and dismemberment was: "to teach me about death"; "because the dog was going to be put down by the courts anyways"; "because the dog fell off the roof of the garage and needed to be put out of its misery".

When I was seven years old I became very ill with the common cold and was out of school for a week and a half. It was a Monday and photo day at my school when my mother decided that I wasn't sick any longer ("I know you're just faking it"), and made me go in to school. I remember feeling very dizzy as my class was led to the gymnasium for the photo shoot. I don't remember having my picture taken, but I do remember falling off the bench I was standing on with my class to have the group photo take. I woke up that evening to a flickering humming fluorescent hospital light. Apparently I had developed fairly severe pneumonia and was in desperate need of treatment.

When I was eight years old I was sexually abused by my friend's parents and uncle on three separate occasions. This is one series of events that I shall not go into further detail about as it is far too difficult for me t accurately remember the details as they are for the most part trapped within the shadow of my memories. All I can really remember is being stripped naked and having my wrist tied to a doorknob with a nylon or plastic rope of some sort.

When I was nine years old (or eight can't quite recall) I was eating a carrot and managed to chip a piece of a left mouler in the process. The pain was very intense as I recall screaming crying and telling my mother what happened. She didn't believe me. In retrospect, although I'm not justifying her choices by any means, it does seem a little strange to chip a tooth eating a carrot. For about two months I pleaded with her to take me to the dentist while chewing only on the right side of my mouth. I can't remember if she gave in or if I was simply due for a checkup but I did finally make it to the dentist and it was discovered I had literally removed a third of the surface tooth and that it had since become infected and required immediate removal.

While my father was in prison he would write me letters nearly daily. He talked about many things, but mostly, how he had been wrongly done by, how my mother and my psychiatrist were brainwashing me into hating him. I never got a chance to read the letters until I was in my teens. One such letter contained a vividly drawn picture of my uncle in his sailboat taking his dead best friend back to shore the deck covered in blood. They had been fishing and had accidentally caught a large ray which upon being brought to surface flung its stinger back and stabbed his friend in a major artery. My uncle lives in Australia by the way. I don't believe there are any sting rays in the great lakes (but who knows eh? :P)

Growing up I always found it very hard to maintain or even form friendships. I was bullied a lot until I reached the age of twelve, had a growth spurt, started taking martial arts (Goju) and systematically beat up every single bully who was causing myself or any other kid problems. I was considered "the white knight" to all of my newfound, considerably nerdy friends. However at this age my father managed to secure a apartment about a block away from my mother's place. I would spend nights there often, during those nights my father would let me drink wine and have me do lines of coke with him. I stopped accepting the drinks and South American stimulant by the time I was thirteen however. By the time I got to high school at fourteen I was a very depressed and anxious teenager. It didn't help that the school I was sent to by proximity was the worst one in Etobicoke (west Toronto). It was where all the troubled kids that had been ousted from other schools were sent. I didn't have many issues with bullying there however I was very unhappy and started skipping class a lot more often. My mother decided the next year to send me to a very expensive prep school. I went from being the 'rich kid' because I lived in a house to the 'poor kid' because I didn't have any housekeepers and couldn't afford the school bus service. I made no friends there whatsoever, and became a lot more quiet (and shy) then I already was. It was then that I finally decided that I wanted to at least have some chance to grow up and develop into an adult so I cut off all contact with my father. He still resided very near to my home and would knock at the door everyday several times a day, call from payphones, and go through our trash.

I ended up dropping out of that private school before the year was up. I was tossed about in the quick-fix magic-pill psychiatric industry being given many types of antidepressants antipsychotics and benzodiazepines. Needless to say none of them helped me heal in any way whatsoever. Luckily I had made an older friend, a Newfoundlander, who just happened to smoke copious amounts of marijuana with his girlfriend's father. At first it made me feel very giddy and relaxed. But soon after it simply made me feel relaxed, a feeling I had never truly known. He also facilitated my first mushroom trip which was one of the most enhancing experiences of my twenty-five years on this earth. Thanks to that experience and my new green friend. I was able to return to school. There I made a couple new friends but was still very shy. It was a small less expensive private school with a student base of about 80 kids, very few of them I could relate to at all. And then out of divine luck or sheer dumb luck it was shut down due to lack of enrollment after I completed my grade ten year. I chose to attend instead an alternative high school called "The School of Experiential Education" and it was then that my life finally took a real positive turn. I saw it as a fresh chance to be happy, to make friends, and to be who I was on the inside. The school itself had about one hundred students, about half of whom were for lack of a better term 'hippies'. Everyone was so friendly, warm, open, and connected with one another. It was like I had died and gone to heaven, I could finally be me, finally be free to be my weird and playful self. The kids there introduced me to their friends, invited me to their parties, and brought me to the downtown weekly 'drum circle' which I ended up attending nearly every week on season for five years until it was shut down by the city/police. I joined the music program as I had been taking drum lessons since I was fifteen and had played the trumpet in the school band from age eleven through fifteen. It was essentially a group of about six musicians who were left unsupervised to go about their own devices, as long as they taught themselves how to record the music they were playing. It was essentially a two hour jam session 3 days a week, with "hey! wanna smoke a joint?" breaks in between. The next year I moved on to another alternative school "Inglenook Community HS" which was where I discovered other psychedelic drugs such as LSD and ketamine. The kids there were even nicer and by that time I had already expanded and grown greatly as an individual; And was very receptive and positive towards others. I became THE popular guy at the school, everyone seemed to adore me.

Through my introspective use of psychoactive aka mind-altering drugs I gained a vivid awareness of my disorder and started seeking alternative, non-pharmaceutical based forms of treatment. It was as a result of this that I located my current therapist who has helped me in innumerable ways. I stopped tripping around the time I graduated high school (88% av. yayy) at the age of twenty (I took an extra year + the time I was out of it). Also around this time I formed a relationship with a girl whom I had met at school that ended up lasting for nearly four years, and that ended up becoming rather emotionally abusive due to lack of traumatic awareness. She did try hard though and so did I, ultimately I don't have many regrets about it.

I've experienced many symptoms typical of a trauma sufferer, and still do (but not at all like before). The manifestation that I struggle with currently is moderate agoraphobia and lots of dissociative episodes wherein the outside world becomes far away and my body goes into "auto-pilot" essentially. My ex was particularly unable to understand or sympathize with the latter which I feel was traumatic in and of itself. We broke up about nine months ago, she moved out, and I've been trying to figure my future out ever since. I didn't go on to any post secondary education following as I didn't feel emotionally or psychologically capable of handling it. I was barely able to hold part time jobs. Now I've decided that I want to pursue a career in social work, possibly become a councillor of some sort or even one day a therapist myself. I'm lucky to have the familial financial backing to be able to pursue this aspiration of mine.

If you read this entire thing: thank you and congratulations! - here, have a cookie! :P

p.s. I am also very passionate about making music despite having not recorded much in the last couple years. I play the trumpet, drums, low and pennywhistle, guitar, bass, and sing.
I read it all and am going to eat two cookies!!! LOL!

I have to say I found lots of your story very funny and fascinating and am pretty impressed that you have been able to maintain such a wonderful outlook on life. It is pretty inspiring! However, I am very sorry that you have endured the trauma you have! Sending loads of good vibes for continued recovery!!
Thank you all very much for the warm responses. That was the first time in my life I attempted to write out the details of my experiences; I'm glad it was so well recieved. It makes me feel the same way as I did when I finally told my best friend about my past and resulting PTSD and he just gave me a hug and said 'thank you!'.

Even the horrid experiences of our pasts can enhance us in some ways, after time and patient effort of course. I'm happy to have finally decided to reach out to others. After reading a few threads on here it's quite apparent that it was a good decision.
Wow seems exceptionally inadequate for how I felt reading your story, but......WOW!

It would take me days and days of thought, and days and days of keyboarding, to share all that I have experienced. Let's just say that I have walked a mile in your shoes, my friend; in one way or another. The only thing I haven't experienced that you have is heartbreaking loss of childhood best friend; I am so, so sorry for that, by the way.

Just want to say that you have found a great place here.....I'm glad you made it......and WELCOME!
Thank you so much for the welcome circe it warms my heart and it's instantly apparent that you have. A few words can say a lot. I thought of a bunch of other things to include after posting this but it was very hard to share all that I did. In this case alone I knew the only way I could do it was by diving right in, no testing the water first. Quite a rarity in the PTSD world. :laugh:
Your welcome:)

I know all about having a second, a third, a million more things to say after I hit the send key too; but

I'm practicing the opposite of diving right in.......my usual Modus Operandi. Impulsivity hasn't always worked out so well for me in the past; but paradoxically, it has also provided few, rare blessings as well. I believe I've found a happy medium with optimistic caution.;)

Using the words rarity, world, and PTSD in the same sentence confuses me. This is because I believe the whole world is on PTSD, or CRACK....:D

P.S. I think being a wounded healer is the most wonderful thing you can do. People who are previously wounded are the best healers because they have the greatest capacity for being empathic and compassionate. My best T's have shared similar experiences and have me feel TONS better than one's that clearly haven't a clue about pain and suffering. Gifted healers are up there with firemen as far as being a hero goes......good luck in your endeavor!
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