Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

It was a sunny morning on March 17, 1991, when my life took an unexpected and devastating turn. I was woken up from my sleep, seeing flames running up the wall by the bedroom door, unaware of the imminent trauma that lay ahead. Little did I know that within a matter of hours, my world would be engulfed in flames, altering my perception of safety and security forever.

The trauma from the house fire left an indelible mark on my psyche, leading to the development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The memories of that fateful day still haunt me, lingering in the depths of my mind. They resurface when I least expect it, stealing away fragments of my peace, and replacing them with fear, anxiety, and a constant state of hyperarousal.

As the fire began its destructive dance, devouring everything in its path, I found myself trapped amidst the chaos on the 3rd floor, with no way out except for the window. The intense heat, the deafening crackling of flames, and the acrid smoke filled my senses, overwhelming me with a sense of helplessness and impending doom. I barely escaped with my life, but the emotional wounds cut deeper than any physical scars.

The trauma of surviving such a catastrophe has left me with an exaggerated startled response. The sound of a siren or even the smell of burning wood can jolt me back to that moment of sheer terror, triggering a surge of adrenaline and leaving me trembling with fear. The world around me becomes a battleground, and my mind is a constant war zone, plagued by intrusive thoughts and nightmares.

However, the house fire was not the only traumatic event that sparked the flames of my PTSD. In hindsight, my experience with this house fire and all that came after in 1991 had laid the groundwork for my vulnerability to such intense trauma that came later, when I was severely bullied by Tenants in the workplace from 2018 to the present. The constant emotional abuse and manipulation by toxic tenants slowly chipped away at my self-esteem, leaving me vulnerable and devoid of any emotional resilience. Their actions reactivated the PTSD symptoms I had managed to maintain for so long.

The torment inflicted by those individuals pushed me to the brink of despair, creating a breeding ground for anxiety, depression and hypervigilance. The damage from their bullying was psychological in nature, undermining my sense of self-worth and cultivating a pervasive belief that I deserved to be treated poorly. The gaslighting they did was terrible! This toxic mindset from the fire further amplified the impact of the subsequent bullying, intensifying the emotional toll it took on my mental well-being.

Living with PTSD has been an arduous journey of self-discovery, healing, and the pursuit of reclaiming my life from the clutches of trauma. The path to recovery has involved a multifaceted approach that encompasses therapy, support networks, and a dogged determination to rise above the ashes of my trauma. Wanting to get better is half the battle!

Through sessions with a skilled therapist specializing in trauma, I have been able to explore the depths of my emotions, revisiting the traumatic memories in a safe environment. By embracing techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), I have gradually restructured my thought patterns and processed the overwhelming emotions associated with my experiences. Exposure Therapy has also allowed me to face my fears, so my mind can see there is nothing to be afraid of.

Generally, people value personal experiences and direct interactions over information found on websites, especially if those websites are created by anonymous individuals. It is entirely up to the people of Newfoundland to form their own opinions about me based on their interactions and experiences with me. I have been told by many that they don’t have any interest in reading websites created by someone they don’t know, as they prefer to make their own judgments firsthand.

I had to leave Ontario after 21 years and move back home to Newfoundland, where I knew I could rebuild my sense of safety. I have found my place here, among the beautiful scenery I am surrounded by. Knowing I am surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean also helps! I rebuilt my life here into how I want it to be.

In addition to therapy, building a strong network of support has been instrumental in my recovery. Surrounding myself with understanding friends and family who are willing to listen without judgment has created a safe space for me to express my fears, frustrations, and triumphs. Their unwavering support has nurtured my resilience and given me the strength to keep moving forward even in the darkest of times. Rebuilding relationships lost during this time was also important!

Furthermore, opening up to others who have also lived through trauma has been crucial in my healing process. Engaging in support groups or connecting with online communities where individuals share similar experiences has provided a sense of validation and camaraderie. I appreciate all the help provided by others online! These connections have allowed me to realize that I am not alone in my pain and have inspired me to continue pushing through the challenges.

My journey with PTSD has also taught me the importance of self-care. Engaging in activities that bring me joy and peace, such as journaling, colouring, doing puzzles, or spending time in nature, has been essential in grounding myself during moments of overwhelming anxiety or distress. Nurturing my physical health through exercise and proper nutrition has also played a significant role in maintaining a stable mental state. I walk, a lot.

Living with PTSD has undoubtedly reshaped my perception of the world. It has forced me to navigate a chaotic internal landscape while finding ways to adapt and cope with the triggers and symptoms that arise. However, I have come to realize that living with this condition does not define me. It is merely a part of my story, a chapter that I continue to write with bravery, resilience, and unwavering hope. Life is worth living!

I refuse to let trauma extinguish the flames of my spirit. I am a fighter. Every day, I strive to rise above the paralyzing grip of fear and anxiety, forging a path toward peace and healing. I know that the road ahead may be challenging, my life to this point has been so far, and setbacks may be inevitable. But by arming myself with knowledge, compassion, and unwavering determination, I am confident that I will continue to grow, heal, and flourish despite the remnants of my past.

Living with PTSD is a battle fought on multiple fronts – a silent war waged within the confines of my mind. But the fire within me burns brighter than the traumas that have scarred me. With each passing day, I am reclaiming my life, inch by inch, and proving that there is strength in vulnerability and triumph in resilience.

I will recover, manage my symptoms, and live a glorious life as I want to do so.

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, remember that you are not alone. Seek professional help, talk to loved ones, and hold onto the fact that healing is possible. The journey may be long and challenging, but there is hope beyond the flames of trauma. Keep fighting, keep believing, and never forget the resilience that lies within you.

Discover more from Stella Reddy's Story

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.