My Story and My Plan to Get Better and Help Others Get Better

I am a survivor of abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence.

Over a year ago I left my ex-husband who was emotionally and physically abusive. I understand now that I got into the relationship because of the abuse I experienced growing up. I understand why I stayed in it. When I was in college I was raped and received three responses from friends and family:

1) I was ignored

2) I was told to shut up and get over it

3) I was told it was my fault and I should have prevented it from happening

As a result, I learned not to tell people things like this and never thought to tell anyone about how my ex-husband was treating me.

This past year I have come quite a long way, but I realize I still have a lot of unlearning to do.

A month ago, I started therapy again and ordered a workbook, the Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence: a Workbook for Women. Around the same time I was reading the book Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, which is about how games can be used to solve problems and make the world better. In the book she talks about an upcoming game that’s going to be released online March 9th called SuperBetter. Jane made the game to help her recover from a head injury back in 2009. The game involves your friends and family in the process to help you get better.

Starting the therapy was really hard that I started to wonder if like Jane I could initiate the help of my friends to get me through it. Some of the things I need help with is stopping negative self talk, expressing and doing what I want and think rather than getting stuck obsessing over whether or not I should say or do something for fear of being judged, told to shut up or being told no.

I realize that I am very lucky to have made new groups of friends since last year. Everyone I knew before I have lost contact with because I do not know who I can trust and do not want to risk my safety. Not everyone who has been abused or is a domestic violence victim may have a support group. And I know I am taking a huge leap by asking friends for help. But, I also know one of my strongest attributes is my knack for problem solving and I think that is how I have survived all of these years.

I have the following classic post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

1. “Reliving” the event

  • Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
  • Repeated upsetting memories of the event
  • Repeated nightmares of the event
  • Strong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of the event

2. Avoidance

  • Emotional “numbing,” or feeling as though you don’t care about anything
  • Feeling detached
  • Being unable to remember important aspects of the trauma
  • Having a lack of interest in normal activities
  • Showing less of your moods
  • Avoiding places, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event
  • Feeling like you have no future

3. Arousal

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Startling easily
  • Having an exaggerated response to things that startle you
  • Feeling more aware (hypervigilance)
  • Feeling irritable or having outbursts of anger
  • Having trouble falling or staying asleep

You might feel guilt about the event (including “survivor guilt”). You might also have some of the following symptoms, which are typical of anxiety, stress, and tension:

  • Agitation or excitability
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Feeling your heart beat in your chest
  • Headache

– From U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Health website.

I want to stop feeling this way and stop doing these things. I want to get better so it only seems natural to me to put my problem solving to use and do something about it. Over the next year or so I plan to share my journey with my experiences, goals, and the tools that I am using to get better via SuperBetter, blog and twitter. I hope that documenting this can help others with PTSD get better also.

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