Thrive on Campus//

Life as a Graduate Student with PTSD: Part 3

“Having PTSD does not define me, it is merely a piece of my story!”

Welcome to our new section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus.) We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.


Looking back, I think one of the hardest parts for me in all of this was losing one of my best friends. He was someone I admired, and someone I looked up to, but I was so stubborn and so afraid of what he might think of me, I ended up pushing him right out of my life. To this day, I still miss him, but I will be forever grateful for the two years of friendship that we had. Forever grateful for all the things he taught me in life. He was such an inspiration, and despite everything going on in his life, he always made time for me.

One lesson I’ve learned through all of this: people come and go, and that’s okay. At first I was angry, but then I realized maybe they were only meant to be in my life for a short time. Maybe they were meant to be there long enough, to let me know it was all going to be okay. And those that were meant to be in my life, stayed. Yes, there are some who cross our paths who hurt us and make us feel as though we are not enough. They are the ones who remind us life is full of surprises. Regardless of how many friendships or relationships we had, we have, or might have along the way, all we can do is dust ourselves off and learn from our mistakes.

As I sit here and reflect on everything that has happened in my life, I know everything is going to be okay! I know that regardless of how many episodes or triggers I may have along the way, I can get through it. Yes, it going to be tough and there are going to be roadblocks along the way, but I know having PTSD does not define me, it is merely a piece of my story. I’ve accepted the fact that I have a mental illness and I own it; I am proud of the woman I’m becoming. Sure, there are days when I just want to stay in bed all day and cry. Where I want to sit there and feel sorry for myself and do nothing. Where I want to forget that I have a 20-page paper due for class. But I know deep down in my heart, I cannot allow my PTSD to consume me. What do I do?

Some of the ways I deal with my PTSD

  • Having an amazing support system. It's something that is so important when dealing with any type of mental illness.
  • Self-care! Once a week, I take a day for myself. Whether it’s binge-watching one of my favorite TV shows or watching a movie. Unless it’s during football season, then every time the Arizona Cardinals play, my phone is in my room and I’m watching the game.
  • Sharing your feelings! Some might say this is silly. But talking to my support system and family about what I’m going through has played a huge role in my recovery. And it helps them understand what I am going through.
  • Be kind to yourself! Having a mental illness can be difficult for anyone, but it’s important to love yourself and know you’re an amazing individual.
  • Journal! This is something I started last year. Every day, I journal what I’m feeling. It helps me learn more about myself and my PTSD. I am still learning something new about myself every single day. Whether it’s triggers or flashbacks or just living life to the fullest. But the most important thing for me is not to give up.

It’s been one year since I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Every day, I wake up and I’m so thankful for my family and friends who have stuck by me. They are all superheroes, in my eyes! And to everyone who struggles with PTSD, know that you are not alone. There are so many people out there, ready and wanting to help; myself is included in that list. Together, we can rise against the stigmas and the stereotypes that surround mental health.

If you or a loved one are struggling with a mental illness and need support, please call the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health) helpline, 800-950-6264. Or, in a crisis? Text NAMI TO 741741.

 

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