Rebecca's Story: Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
"I am now living with a mental illness. That is so hard to write and it conjures up horrendous false images portrayed by the media. That's not true, people with a mental illness are unique and have so much value. It can strike anyone at anytime so why is it so shameful to admit to anyone that you have a mental illness? No one would think twice admitting they've broken a leg would they?
I find it hard to value myself but I am trying so hard. I have chronic post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of being stalked by an ex-work colleague. I was threatened with death and rape by my stalker. I was graphically told how I was going to die on a daily basis. I would get "good" gifts and "bad" gifts from him - depending on how well I "behaved". The Criminal Psychologist told me that he had created a "fantasy relationship" of us in his head. This meant that he thought I loved him as much as he loved me and I would die for him.
I begged the likelihood of him carrying out his threats. He could not tell me but he said it would be more likely ifÂ I "betrayed" him. He didn't tell me what a betrayal could be - basically it meant anything.
I went through a highly publicised court case - and won. That was horrendous too. My ex-employer was of no support at all and the court found against them too - they did not protect me.
I now live with nightmares and have flashbacks. I have one particular flashback of him putting his hand in the shape of a gun and saying "bang". I also have flashbacks where he would say to me, "death is not discriminatory." Another one is where he said to me that he "would take me around the back and have sex with me before we die together because I'd want to have sex with him before I died." I can remember what he wore, I can remember every single detail. I re-live this over and over again. I cannot escape from him.
I had police panic alarms put in my house, taught what to do if taken hostage, I was also given a password if he did hold me hostage. I had to change my whole life. I moved several times and it got to the point whereÂ I became agoraphobic. I get horrendous panic attacks, I've self-harmed and attempted suicide once. I felt that was the only control I had the ultimate control - to end my own life. He could not longer control me.
To me, PTSD is a game of snakes of ladders - you can take four rolls of the dice to get to 100 (Although there are some huge ladders on the way). You can also fall down the snakes back to square 4 extremely quickly. To me, square 1 was the suicide attempt and square 2 the self-harm. I have the anxiety - but to me that is about square 20. Although I am nowhere near square 100, I am far enough off square 1 to say that I am a survivor of PTSD."
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