Experience of a PTSD Flare Up


These past few months have been hard. Did you know you could have PTSD flare-ups? Neither did I. I had an experience at work similar to some psychologically abusive things my ex-husband used to do. I immediately started having panic attacks, even in my sleep, and I could no longer work. My doctor and therapist agreed that I’ve healed so much that I’m mentally present and awake but not healed enough to withstand the same kind of abuse as what I experienced through my marriage.

That’s why this time, the PTSD feels so raw.


My kids have always been my top priority so I put all my emotional energy into them and keeping it mentally together and “normal” so we could still play and do the things they wanted to do. However, when they weren’t around, I would be crying. I recently got a significant other, and I probably seem like the absolute craziest person, especially since throughout this budding relationship, I have been going through a lot and he already asked me for a break because he is emotionally exhausted.

I feel completely broken and messed up, like I am never going to get better despite all the thousands of dollars and millions of hours of therapy and countless medications I’ve tried so I could get better. I’ve put on 30 pounds of muscle from working out so much to try and get some free dopamine. I’ve been vigilant about doing everything within my power to be my best so I can be the best mom for my kids and, hopefully, a good future life partner to someone, if that’s somehow in the cards.

I have a “cheerleader” part of me on my shoulder, saying, “You’re a survivor! You’re doing great and there’s no reason to doubt. You have been through so much, even things so much more painful like rape or physical and psychological abuse. PTSD makes you stronger and acknowledging it and taking responsibility for your healing and behavior speaks volumes about you as a person and a mom. This is courage. If your new man doesn’t see it, maybe he is not a good fit. That has nothing to do with you. You can move on from any problem you come across.”

I wrote the word “leadership” all over the inside of my house and my car.

My therapist wanted it to signify to me how I am strong enough to lead my little family as a single mom. I can make the best decisions, and I am a true servant leader. My ex flooded me with constant self-doubt that I needed to constantly remind myself that I am not anything like he said I was.

It’s so easy to live in the mire of mental health stigma, having a “disability” that is not ok to talk about, especially when it’s due to domestic violence. Somehow PTSD seems ok if it’s a veteran coming back from war or a person in a car accident. But 10 years of domestic abuse? “You should get over that and I’m tired of hearing about it. What do you even mean? That doesn’t sound bad and it sounds like you made it all up.” If I made it up, why is it evoking such all-consuming pain?

I need my heart to lean into owning my experience. It’s mine and it has made me the loving, trauma-informed mom and professional that I am. I will soon move into a headspace where I have zero tolerance for ANYONE (even myself) who dares to discount me or invalidate me. Or say I’m “too much to handle” because of what I have been through. Even if it means I am destined to handle it alone in this life. It doesn’t mean it’s because I’m “damaged goods,” just maybe I need to focus on myself and not have to worry about whether my past is too much for a love partner.

The love my family and close friends show me encourages me.

They say they know I’m having a hard time and they don’t know what they can do to help me, but they will still be here, no matter how emotional, bitchy, angry, mean, or yelly I get. They forgive me.

I get so depressed and helpless, sometimes feeling like I did something to deserve this or I should be able to handle it better. I would do anything to make the pain go away. I’ve had thoughts of how everyone would be happier if I wasn’t here anymore. That’s the worst because I know I am desperately needed.

I know when I pray that God had this planned before I was born so I could somehow glorify Him with my story and my experience. I don’t understand and I may never see the impact I have on anyone else.

He is the One who is going to heal me and bring every part of me back to life if I can give up my need for control and fully surrender to His will. If this was part of a divine plan, then every tear is sacred, every gray hair that crops up is blessed. My heart is for love, made by love and will, someday, be giving back in love many times over what I have held in pain. If I can stay the course for one more moment, I will see the richness of a harvest.


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