Sometimes just be. Do not think or worry, do not get angry under stress. Keep patience and see how well things will work out for you. – Sancta Pandey
Some of the content discussed in this blog post or article may be uncomfortable for certain readers and might possibly trigger people living with complex PTSD and PTSD.
When I first got diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Panic Disorder, I was well in my second year of college studying Aeronautical Engineering. Truth be told I wasn’t copying with my studies (I was on the edge of being placed on academic probation).I was extremely overwhelmed and unable to focus. Let alone, I was sexually assaulted that year and failed to report this at the college I was studying at. They later found out when I registered my CPTSD and other disorders at their disability unit (disability services and accommodations at the university). I was later called in and advised to take a leave of absence from my university because i wasn’t doing well as I mentioned.
A lot of students struggle to share how mental health impacts their studies.Lack of concentration is a symptom for so many mental health illnesses and chronic illnesses. Today, I wanted to share my struggles of living with complex PTSD in college. Whenever I studied I could barely read a page and recall all the information I had studied. My short term memory wasn’t capturing new information because of my overwhelmed brain due to my trauma. I couldn’t study in groups and attend lectures because crowds and sounds overwhelmed me. I was extremely hypervigilant and hyper-aware of everything in my surroundings, sounds and any movement(s) overwhelmed me. My body was trying to protect me from what had happened of course, because it’s what our brain does if we are in danger.But the problem is our bodies do not know how to get rid of all the chemicals in our bodies after trauma; so we continue to react even when we are in safe zones or in places where we should feel safe. This set my whole academic career on hold for 6 months. I stayed home and tried to get help for my complex PTSD. My voice was gone and I couldn’t communicate in class, do orals or have casual conversation with strangers and friends. Everyone was a danger to me. No one was to be trusted at all, even my family members. I lived in fear of being violated again. The truth is, this stopped me from living and enjoying life, I was surviving everyday. I was constantly crying everyday because I was physically and emotionally in pain.
When I went back to college after 6 months I expected everything to be smooth sailing. But things didn’t go as well as I expected. I went from being a straight A student to being average and that didn’t sit well with me. I was still very paranoid and living in fear of what could happen next. I honestly never attended classes because lectures consisted of chatter and crowds and that would set me on edge – with the possibility of me having a panic attack. Just more reasons for me not to attend. Therapy is not as smooth sailing as everyone ought to think it is. Sometimes it works, other times its takes more time to work and it can be frustrating. I am currently on my way to doing my Master’s degree in Mechano-biology or a Master’s in Artificial Intelligence. All because I chose not to give up. It wasn’t easy, I fought with my psychologist and sometimes with my psychiatrist because I didn’t believe in being medicated. Meds did help me with sleep and with my studies. Having my Professors as my mentors, made the academic pressure more manageable. What made things worse was that I was constantly triggered when I had to take finals, because all my traumas happened before my finals or after my finals. It took me years to speak up. PTSD and CPTSD takes away one’s voice and one’s ability to project or portray their opinions through any medium of expression. That hindered my healing process a whole lot!
I chose not to give up. My marks did eventually improve and I managed not only to finish one associates degree but two. One in mechanical and mechatronics engineering and another in computer science and computer engineering. I was 19 when I got diagnosed. I am only 23 years old. It was a whole lot of work but it was worth is. I never missed my psychiatrist appointments and therapy appointments because I wanted to heal. I took my meds everyday, changed my diet because of bowel issues I ended up having because of CPTSD and I did yoga and meditated often. Be proud of yourself for all the progress you make during your healing journey, you deserve it!
Please learn to say no whenever your intuition tells you to. Learn to trust your own gut, its never wrong. Self care is very important especially when one has a mental health condition or chronic illness. Learn to forgive yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself you’re human at the end of the day.
You are allowed to cry and to crawl when you can’t run. You are allowed to breakdown. You are allowed to doubt yourself. But you aren’t allowed to give up. – Francesca Seopa
Thank you for being with me. I look forward to seeing you here again. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.