• Hannah Galliers

PTSD and me: Victim to Hero

My PTSD is a funny thing.

It pops up every now and again to remind me of memories I'd rather forget. In 2011 I was brutally attacked by two men in London. One night which led to years of trauma. But I'm not here to talk about the incident, I want to talk about how recovery is possible for everyone and you are not the exception.

At this very moment I am on my way to a film studio in London. I was given a part in an online audio comic. Sat in the Victoria line train, crammed with people and the smell of cheap aftershave filling my nose. It's at this very moment I've realised I've done it. I have my full life back. I feel overwhelmed with a sense of pride. I am travelling all by myself in London. I not scared and nothing is holding me back. I have got back the independence that was taken from me 8 years ago.

How did I go from victim to hero? Firstly it's important to know that everyone's experiences are different. I cannot tell you that just because it took me 8 years to gain my life back that it will be the same for you. It could take you longer. It could be shorter. Each of us are so beautifully unique.

It took me 4 years to recognise the problem. In fact it felt like nothing happened. I went to university two weeks after the incident, as planned to get on with my life. I got some of counselling through the university as a precautionary measure. I was treating the whole incident with the typical british approach of a stiff upper lip. The therapist was shocked at the level of detail I could go into without so much as a change of expression. I had created a narrative whereby the girl in the story wasn't me. I was just repeating a story. The girl in the story was a victim of what happened. Not me, I was strong and nothing could phase me. If i didn't deal with the issue, how could it bother me.

You will only ever know your strength when you you are put in a situation where you have to show strength. I didn't own this narrative until I accepted the story.

At university I struggled. I couldn't be by myself or I would often just sit there and cry. Going out with friends was hard. During freshers I was determined not to let it stop me so I continued to go out. I was faced with situations of men approaching me and new friends leaving me. I was scared and fragile. My sense of self had been destroyed and until I confronted it, I wouldn't be able to move on. I left clubs in tears, being forced into a flashback.

Facing my narrative was the hardest part. Accepting that this did happen to me. Accepting I am no longer then person I was. I had to evolve. I had made it my goal not to let them win. But the truth was I was never going to be the same person. I had to discover who I was now and become acquainted with this new me instead of pushing her away.

Some say that avoidance is a bad thing, in fact I think it's very useful to heal. A wound cannot heal if it's being ripped open all the time. You must approach it with kindness and compassion.m Using meditation I was able to connect back to myself. The separation of thoughts and mind allowed to to see clearly which thoughts to listen to and let others wave over me.

If you ask the gods for strength, you will be presented with a situation that requires strength. Only when you are tested will you know how strong you are. This strength is part of my make up now. I wear it every day to face the world.

I believe we all have it inside of us. We just need to dig deep to find it.

This strength makes me a hero. I'm the one who got knocked down and got back up stronger, wiser and fiercer. I'm the one that overcame the odds and I've made the life I never knew I wanted. I have a house, a loving kind partner and a dog. I am so grateful for everything in my life. I look back at the dark events that plague me and wonder if I'd be the same person now had these things never happened.

#Mentalhealth #PTSD #recovery #innerstrength

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