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Personally, whenever I hear someone say "PTSD," my mind immediately thinks of the courageous men and women who have served the country, or at least I used, too. Don't get me wrong, I still associate it with war. I'm very grateful for those who are serving or have served our country and I have much sympathy for them, but I guess I just have more of an understanding ever since my diagnoses.
Along with many children, I was a victim of bullying. I was in middle school when things got bad verbally, physically, and emotionally. The bullying became a normal part of my everyday routine: wake up, go to school, get made fun of, get pelted with objects in class, eat lunch with the nurse, go home where it still didn't end. My mind began to turn on me after a while. Constant information was fed to me, making me question everything about myself. My time was occupied by bullies and the obsession to perfect myself so they would stop.
After three long years of this, I became paranoid, hesitant, and guarded. I entered high school in a different school halfway to the other end of my state, knowing no one — as I wanted. Some kids dread high school, but personally, it was paradise for me compared to my middle school experience. Going through my freshman year, if I noticed people whispering, I immediately thought it was about me. I would get defensive easily and constantly ask my friends "Did you hear what they just said? Were they talking about me?" It eventually began to destroy relationships with people I was once close to. They saw me as "crazy" and compared talking me to talking to a "brick wall."
Then came sophomore year and the paranoia got worse, but then new things would start happening. I would feel like I was experiencing the bullying all over again. My mind would take me back to vivid and painful memories of middle school. I never really told anyone what I experienced until I had to renew my IEP that summer. If you have ever participated in testing for learning disabilities, you'll understand that you sit in a room for hours working with someone (mine happened to be a lady) and they basically just test you for all different things. It's different for everyone. After a while, you return to the person and they sit down with you, reading off what your plan consists of, your strengths and weaknesses. So the day I returned to hear my plan, she began reading off things I already knew about myself. (Anxiety, Seperation Anxiety, Depression, ADD, Difficulty processing, etc.) Then she started with the "new" things: I had a hard time with a certain motor skill, which I personally don't remember what it was, then she said to me, "I believe you have PTSD," When she read off the "criteria" for PTSD and I fit absolutely everything, she then asked, "Do you feel the same?" My reply was a simple and shocked "yes." I always thought PTSD just happened to people at war but my doctor assured me that isn't always the case.
Currently, I am 18-years-old and in my senior year of high school. I have been open to sharing the fact that I have PTSD with people, hoping that they see the effects of bullying. Although my symptoms are not as severe as others, it still affects my life in a way that challenges me everyday.