A few days ago, pop singer Lady Gaga came out on a grand stage and declared herself depressed and a casualty to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The source of her trauma being an incident where she was raped. She has a platform. A voice. And she is bringing awareness to a problem that millions of us have to deal with every day. This is good.
Usually when you think of PTSD, you think of a soldier coming back from the horrors of battle. And sadly, almost every soldier who comes back from the Middle East, Africa or any other war-torn corner of the world, they most certainly have it. But some of us have never even held a gun. We’ve never had to deal with the teetering between life and death. We’ve never had to sleep in a cot in the desert listening to the distant cacophony of bullets. No, for us who just pretend to live ordinary lives in a country that is free from that (for the most part), it’s a sneaky little thing that manifests because of certain events in our lives.
For me, it was my upbringing. I was raised in a strict Catholic, Mexican household. My dad was a veteran. He wasn’t a bad person. But he had no idea how to express his emotions. Dad would come home from a hard day’s work, eat dinner and spend the rest of the evening watching TV until we could hear the elephant-like snoring drifting from his room. He taught us to suck it up. He was against complaining. And it was always his way or the highway. My therapist said that Dad probably suffered from PTSD as well. But Dad didn’t believe in therapy.
Mom was always busy. And when we got older, her obsession with keeping my sister and I out of trouble made us socially inept. They were alcoholics. They screamed at each other daily. The house was consumed by hate. We weren’t allowed to go out. Or have friends. Recently, my sister told me that, for her, it was a nightmare when I went to college. Her older sister, her defender, had vanished. She was in high school and was not even allowed to go in the back yard. She was the rebellious one. I was the one who did what everyone told me to do.
I got married. My married life started to mirror my childhood. I’m currently getting out of this situation and changing my life. Making sacrifices that hopefully will pay off. And like Lady Gaga, I struggle every day. I have a constant dark cancer in my heart. It’s a little ball that I physically feel. In my chest it sits every day taunting me. And every day I have to tell myself that it’s okay. Not to let it win.
I’m not a therapist. I’m not a professional. I have no understanding of this disease…or this condition. But my intention is to write. It’s the one thing I that has been a constant companion in my life. My words. And my hope is that I can heal. And my hope is that people who read my words will not feel alone. We are in it together. I’m in it with you.