I don’t see myself as a person with a mental disorder. I don’t buy into thrown-around labels and insults.
Deep within my core, I believe we all have differences:
Maybe your trauma was a car accident that threw your Civic off the highway, and every time you drive that stretch your knees buckle, reminding you how scary it was to end up in the brush with a jammed driver’s side door.
Or maybe you were diagnosed with depression when your parents finally separated after years of sleeping in separate bedrooms and verbally vomiting on each other at the dinner table.
My diagnosis? PTSD and Body dysmorphic disorder, after surviving eighteen months of sexual, physical, emotional and financial abuse at the hands of a man I thought I’d save and then, subsequently, marry. He was sick too, after all. And even though I knew the man had issues to work through, I was also all-to-aware that he knew right from wrong and his battery came only when he thought I was trapped.
Picking up the pieces of a shattered dream is hard, but living in the aftermath proved harder. At twenty seven, after two complete and successful years as a high school English teacher, I found myself standing in the front yard of my house on Magnolia while the repo man took my car. Days later, my house would go into foreclosure proceedings.
And the voices congested my head so quickly I wasn’t sure which voice was mine. I tried to get back into the classroom and forget about what happened, and it was easy until a seventeen year old football player would ask for help while I backed myself against the wall. If he was going to attack me, I was going to be sure he couldn’t grab me from behind.
That’s when I realized I couldn’t do my work without getting the mental help I needed.
After three years of EMDR I healed from my diagnosis, though there are times I’m triggered by events around me. I battle PTSD on the good and bad days, no matter how much I wish for its death. And I work damn hard to make sure people know survivors are more than their abuse or the costs of it.
Just as you didn’t choose to be thrown off that highway or watch your house burn to the ground. Just as you couldn’t pick your parents (or stop their fighting), I also couldn’t chose what would happen to my brain when someone else tampered with it.
That was his choice, not mine.
There are plenty of people worldwide who would like to, and very often do, speak about the fact that I chose to get involved with someone and my diagnoses were the consequences of my choice. That’s the stigma that sends hot bile up my throat, and even though I don’t spit it at them, even though their misunderstanding makes me angry because – duh – I use their misguided thoughts to aid in my recovery.
At least I understand I’m bigger than the afflictions they prescribe.
I’m a woman who loves the literary world as an escape, I’m an advocate for those who suffer in silence, and I’m a recovering carbaholic. Sometimes, when nobody is looking, I check myself out in the mirror to see if I’m aging and then I dance down the hallway when I realize I’m not, knowing it’s only a matter of time before this blonde hair turns silver. I cuddle my dog like he’s my child and my husband like we’ve never touched before.
I see the beauty in this world and all of our shortcomings far more than I did before The House on Sunset.
That’s the thing: maybe I didn’t always have a stigma to fight, maybe I had a good, safe childhood, and maybe – even with those truths – it wouldn’t matter.
There’s always something around the corner, ready to knock us out of our new normal.
And when you look at it that way, diagnoses or not, I’m just another human on this planet, trying to make the best use out of the cards I was dealt while moving forward.
* * *
Lindsay Fischer graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, English. An avid reader and learner, Lindsay took her passion for words into a classroom before starting a writing career. Life pulled her from the classroom, providing an opportunity to use her voice against domestic violence, blogging under the pseudonym, Sarafina Bianco, since 2009.
Her memoir, The House on Sunset, is being republished by Booktroope after a successful stint in the self-publishing world. Through her words, Lindsay advocates for women, men, and children who still live within the nightmare of their abuse.
Visit Lindsay at survivorswillbeheard.com and join her when she hosts #domesticviolencechat every Monday night at 9pm EST on Twitter.
She currently lives with her husband and three dogs in St. Louis, Missouri.
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