Sitara's story: living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

When I was younger I heard of PTSD for the first time in a History classroom where the teacher described it as shell shock. I remember seeing a picture of a gaunt figure lying in bed. I wondered at the time what he had been through in the trenches that make him feel like that. I never thought I would have experienced something like that in my wildest dreams.

My name is Sitara and I am 22, I am currently living in Bristol. I drink tea, sing, knit and am training to be a secondary school teacher. I also suffer from PTSD, depression and anxiety. I am recovering but recovery is never meant to be easy.

When I was 16, I got on a train. I remember the newspapers around me explaining the elation we as London felt in the Olympics. I remember feeling happy, but that train was to change my life. I was on one of the trains that was attacked in 7.7. I survived but had no scratches. I went home covered in Soot and tried to forget about it.

I started to suffer from nightmares and panic attacks. I used to hate being around smoke and people who were covered in fake blood. Even now, I refuse to use a certain exit at King's Cross station because it reminds me of that day. It broke me down very quickly. I found surviving was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Every day was a struggle, and sometimes still is, forcing myself to get out of bed when I have spent all night with nightmares is agonising. I remember thinking, and I used to be ashamed of this, that living was the hardest thing. Sometimes, I thought that it would have been easier if I was killed that day.

This has left me with severe trust issues; I do not let anyone in, even a doctor. I have tried and failed. Often too scared to attend appointments. I find it really hard to love, and to trust despite the fact I am trying to be so caring. I try and prevent other people feeling upset, because I don't want them to feel anything near, or similar to what I did.. I often suffer in silence and sometimes people have asked me if I am ok. My response is ‘I'm fine' when in fact I want to scream out that everything is not ok. Frankly I don't want them to worry. But I am also afraid that I will be told to ‘Grow up' or ‘Get over' this. I can't do that easily sadly. I don't think anyone can ever understand these illnesses unless they go through it; but I will do my best to explain to them how hard it is. That's if I trust them enough to hear how I feel in the first

But this illness is not me, and nor does it make me. It is a part of me. Yes I suffer from these dreams and these feelings but I have friends and slowly I am beginning to rebuild my life. I have allowed myself to love people again and let myself enter a profession where I have to be strong. I don't think I could have done that six years ago. I am not strong, but nor am I weak. I have been through things that people cannot imagine, but then for me this is normal. For me its something I have to learn to live with; and hopefully with time and some courage (to ask for help) I will be ok.

I cannot remember who I was before that train, its such a turning point in my life but I have made it out the other side. That is why I am writing this blog, to tell people that things will get better. I hope I can inspire at least one person to go and ask for help, because mental illness does not make you, nor is it you. But its just one aspect in someone's wonderful personality.