I didnâ€™t fully understand everything that went on during my childhood, until I moved out and started college. As a child, I thought that my parentâ€™s yelling, fighting and the physical abuse was how every family was. I remember trying to talk to a counselor in high school about it, but I donâ€™t think they took me seriously. The counselor probably thought that my stories were a bit exaggerated and didnâ€™t want to believe that it could have happened.
It was only when I started college and was away from home for 4 years, that I realized something was wrong. My surroundings seemed too quiet, as there was no longer any fighting in the background. I found I had to sleep with a radio or a fan on to drown out the silence. Most people like silence, but for me the silence would make me have nightmares and they would be the same ones over and over again. I ended up sleeping with some kind of background noise for years afterwards.
After college, I moved back home and got a job in my field of study, which was good. But eventually, I found myself applying for more jobs. I ended up with 5 part time jobs just so I could fill up my time and avoid being at home. I found that things between my parents were very different, as they grew distant from each other. My dad would stay in his room for days at a time and when my parents did speak, it was brief and at times not very pleasant.
My father passed away in 2004 and shortly after I noticed things about myself changing. I was having nightmares again and I was blaming myself for his death. I was feeling like I didnâ€™t help him enough with his Bipolar. It became hard to sleep and I would have flashbacks of certain incidents, which were easily triggered by things in my surrounding, such as seeing certain things on the television. I dealt with all this on my own for years after his death, since I found it difficult to talk to my family.
It wasnâ€™t until about 3 years ago that I stopped having nightmares and stopped sleeping with the radio on. There are still certain scenes in a movie or a television show that I cannot watch because it brings me back to a bad place, but I no longer carry the guilt of my fatherâ€™s death. I have also since repaired my relationship with my family and we now have a great relationship.
Although I havenâ€™t been officially diagnosed, Iâ€™ve been told I live with the symptoms of PTSD and Iâ€™m not ashamed. The PTSD is a result of what Iâ€™ve seen and heard within my house. Over the years I have developed strategies for how to deal with certain things. I want to bring awareness to mental health issues and I want you to know that itâ€™s okay to talk about your experiences. I found that writing and sharing my stories helps me and it reminds me that I am never alone.
By: Anita Levesque
Anita is a mental health advocate with lived experience through loved ones;Â father – bipolar; brother – PTSD, depression, anxiety; mother – PTSD;Â boyfriend – clinical depression, severe OCD, GAD, personalityÂ disorders. Her goal is to focus on personal experiencesÂ with mental illness.