The road to recovery from my physical injuries following the assault by my ex-boyfriend was rough. He brutally assaulted me as a result of my ending our relationship. But I was grateful to know that physically I would be okay.
I received constant reminders of how it could have been much worse. There are so many women who don’t make it out of violent situations with a clean bill of health or their life for that matter.
My intention from day one was to not just survive but thrive!
But in order to move past survival, I had to make sure that my mind was right.
When I got home from my week long hospital stay, I with and got tons of visits from my friends. I received several recommendations that I move from my apartment. As far as I was concerned I didn’t need to go anywhere.
I wasn’t going to allow this coward to disrupt my life any further. But as I sat in my living room, I began to have flashbacks of that day.
Reoccurring thoughts about what I remembered and what may have happened that I didn’t. It soon became clear to me that I had post traumatic stress disorder.
I had trouble sleeping and couldn’t keep any food in my body. Being alone in my apartment or in the presence of strange men made me feel paranoid. In addition to post traumatic stress disorder, I also had generalized anxiety disorder. Public transportation was out of the question. Like the song said I took Uber everywhere!
I was cool with none of these things and was having none of it. The plan to restore my mental health and sanity began. My anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder were on 1000. When I went to see my primary care doctor, she recommended I see the in-house social worker.That was when Sharon came into my life.
Sharon for me was like having a cool as hell Jewish mom. I am so grateful for having met her, but most of all her role in my journey to healing. I saw Sharon weekly. She also made herself available to me by phone whenever I needed her. She recognized my intelligence and my resilience. Sharon always challenged me to do more than I thought I was ready for. And I always did it.
When I was in the hospital, their social worker came to see me. She told me they had a support group and I was welcome to attend. Once I got home, she called to remind me. That’s when I got to know Rosie and other beautiful souls I met in the DV support group. I went to the support group weekly as well.
Being in the presence of women who could empathize and relate to my experience was so important.
Hearing stories and the lives of women that were 100 times worse than mine was truly humbling. Many domestic violence survivors deal with anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder in addition to severe depression, homelessness, financial hardship and more severe mental disorders. It really helped me to keep things in perspective.
At the time of this ordeal, I was in one of my last semesters toward obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
Yes, I know the irony. But I truly believe nothing is by accident. That semester I happened to be taking a course called Stress and Coping. As a coach, it was important for me to understand stress, anxiety and how to support my clients in their wellness journeys.
Throughout my coaching and psychological studies, I always applied the learning and exercises to my own life. This time was no different, but boy was it tough. Imagine teaching yourself to cope with anxiety while suffering from severe anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. But like everything else I’ve applied myself to I did it. I fought for me through every step of it. Worked my way from moments of darkness back to the light. I now have first-hand experience so that I can help other women do the same.
Once I had my mental health support system in place it was time to relocate. It only took me a few weeks to come to terms with the fact that I needed to move. As much as I loved my apartment, I was going to find one I loved more that did not carry the trauma that my old one did. My mom told me about the building one of my friends lived in that I hadn’t even visited yet.
I looked at the building online and spoke to my friend about it. She provided me with the application and building manager’s contact information. I reached out to her immediately. She told me someone was scheduled to move out of a 2 bedroom unit in the next week. The application paperwork and background check were completed within a week. She called me the following week to set up a time to view the apartment. I saw the building, the neighborhood the apartment and liked them all very much.
Then I saw the view outside of my windows and from the balcony and completely fell in love. There was no place else for me. Understand that I live in New York City. The process to find a great apartment and move in the city is not the easiest. The process from start to finish could not have been easier. It was seamless. There was no doubt in my mind that God and the universe aligned everything in my favor. From the day I decided to move until the day I did was approximately five weeks. A major trigger for my stress, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder was now gone.
Therapy, the DV support group and my Stress and Coping class were literal life savers. I moved into my new beautiful apartment. I am also a very spiritual person. Through a couple of my psychology courses I became familiar with Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
MBSR is generally an 8 week course that combines various forms of meditation with lessons and group discussion. It was originally created for people living with chronic illness. The results were deemed highly effective. Therefore, it has been expanded within the medical field to treat so many more people. Individuals dealing with anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, depression and every day life stresses can all benefit from MBSR.
My MBSR class was amazing. The people in my group were diverse in many ways. Our reasons for attending varied and culturally we were different. The ages in our class ranged from 20’s into the 80’s. MBSR taught me how to be a better listener and to be still.
It also taught me self-reflection and to be present. MBSR showed me that there’s no one right way to meditate, it’s a personal experience. I learned how to savor everything in life all the way down to a single raisin.
My healing journey allowed me to acknowledge what happened, accept who I was and embrace who I’d become. My commitment is to apply the same level of healing, self-love and learning to every day for the rest of my life.
Originally published at www.karimamiller.com