I live with the impact of post traumatic experiences, which has produced daily struggles in my ability to function. Depending on where I am on the ‘Mental Health Measurement’ scale (see appendix A) I am able to understand and determine where I am mentally and what is going on with me in the moment. I had no frame of reference on how to interpret my thoughts when I received messages from my body. It was speaking another language and there was no coordination. It was awkward and frightening. This internal situation went on for some time.
It was confusing to me. I was afraid. It was as if I had forgot how to ride my bike. My internal search for answers found no explanation for what was happening to me. This sent me into a panic state. I went into a deep, deep depression. Not able to get out of bed. I could not lift my head off my pillow and open my eyes. I was not eating, bathing, all I wanted was to be left along. Just let me die.
At this point, I still could not relate to the notion that I was mentally ill. As I look back. I was in shock. I went from a functionable career oriented professional substance abuse therapist to a disabled veteran struggling to live off VA disability benefits (which I had to fight to receive) and civil service retirement pay. As a result of my PTSD diagnosis, I can no longer able to work as a substance abuse therapist. The work environment is too stressful and toxic for me and not good for my mental illness.
In 2018, I co-authored a book with 11 members of the ‘International Association of Professional Life Coaches’. The book is ‘Create the Life You Want and How a Coach can Help’, complied by Jeannette Koczela. My article was on ‘Bridging the Gaps with Mantra, a Spiritual Celebration.’ That article supported me during a period of acceptance toward my mental illness and what it signified to me. I would not be able to return to the person I once was, post PTSD and the internal acknowledgement of the incidents. In addition, the article forced me to see my strength and ability of not giving up on rebuilding a life afterward.