Twelve months ago I was signed off, having experienced another setback with my CPTSD. Things were dreadful and everything I'd worked towards in getting better had slipped away, leaving me broken once more. Depression is truly awful, but so difficult to explain to others how debilitating it can be. But when you throw in a sprinkling of traumatic responses, flashbacks, immense feelings of shame and worthlessness, you have the perfect storm for the dark thoughts of not wanting to be around anymore. This of course wasn't the first time this had happened to me, so I'd become accustom to these spirals in to hopelessness.
However there was a difference this time around.
I'd gone back in to therapy, having realised there were still underlying issues that had kept hidden for so many years, covered up by complex layers of traumatic events and a lack of understanding as to what was going on in my head. The breakthrough was the discovery of "shame".
Whilst I knew the term, I'd never considered the connection or the regular triggers and repercussions I experienced during a normal day....
I didn't cook dinner quite right ..... immense shame
The document I wrote at work had a mistake in it ..... immense shame
I didn't get to that car parking space in time .... immense shame
You get the idea!!
Victims of trauma who experience shame don't just feel bad about themselves. They have a truly believed self-hatred and utter sense of worthlessness, morphing in to the mindset of a child, feeling completely incapable of doing anything and being of use to anyone.
Now imagine you've spent your entire adult life that way but never realised?
There were flickers of light along the way where I'd start to see elements of the new me coming through. A hint of self belief and a sense of confidence would randomly appear. When I'd talk to my peers at work, I began to feel I deserved to be there and that voice in my head that would continuously berate me had quietened down, to the point where I'd experience positive affirmation without the need for someone else to tell me directly.
In February earlier this year I completed my final therapy session and began to see the world through new eyes. It was like I'd spent my entire life seeing grey and one day being given a pair of glasses that showed life around me in 4K colour. Words cannot express the true feelings experienced, but I developed a sense to pay forward, helping others escape their own challenges whilst bettering myself.
And so began a new journey!
I'm now a qualified mental health first aider and an NLP Practitioner. I had a go at running a coaching business, but soon realised my own limitations around having a full-time job whilst trying to start a new venture on the side. However in the short time of doing it I'd managed to help several people overcome fears and anxieties. I got promoted a few months back and now have the role I'd been working towards for several years. I'm also studying for additional security qualifications and continuing to write the mystical book about my mental health journey (its proving a little challenging).
It hasn't all been sunshine and rainbows, as we've had our fair share of personal stresses. But there's a huge shift in the way I deal with things now. I now feel worthy to be here, to be in my job and to be a good husband. I'm still keeping an eye on burnout as I'm an expert at going 100 miles an hour on personal challenges, but that's just part of the recovery journey.
It's nice to feel excited about life and have optimism things are going to be ok now.