“Are you not over it yet?” someone said to me the other day. Someone I hadn’t expected had voiced this regarding my past experiences, since the trauma of my daughters birth. At the time I laughed it off, but as the day wore on it niggled in my head, plaguing my thoughts and making old doubts creep up from the darkness.
Am I over it? The question filled my head and robbed me of sleep. Yes, it’s been a while since I had my daughter, she is all grown, a wonderful, young women in her own right, full of life and wonder. It has brought so much joy watching her grow up and I treasure it because there were days where I honestly thought we wouldn’t make it.
Am I over it? I’m not sure trauma is something you just ‘get over’, instead you learn to cope, to live each day with it in the background. It’s hard as I still have certain triggers that will send me straight back to those days spent in hospital, on the ward, at the side of her cot. The memories come like it was yesterday, the sights, sounds, smells, like a mini time machine in my mind.
I am recovered, in that it no longer rules my life, holds me back from trying to do the things that makes life meaningful, from accomplishing things or defines me. I still have bad days, the darkness sometimes descends, mostly in the form of returning old feelings of not being good enough, not as strong and confident as others. Its grip tries to still take me, but now there is far more light and better days, more happiness and strength. I have learnt to nurture me, to find my inner healing and grow.
Yes time has passed but I didn’t get help for many years, no proper diagnosis, no therapy or treatment. My trauma was impacted, long lasting, ignored and neglected. So it has taken a while for me to undo all the harm caused, all the damage to me. Who I was has been changed forever and its taking time to find me again and to learn to unfold my wings and fly again.
Ah but then there’s the question ‘should I be over it’ ? It’s funny as humans how we put time limits on everything, I should be married by…., I should have a baby by….., I must be in this job by……. The problem is human emotions have no concept of time, they don’t value the rising of the sun or the shining of the stars. They come, last and stay with us for as long as they want till they are part of us. To be honest that’s ok they are a welcome visitor, Why?
Well I don’t want to forget my trauma, and yes that must seem like a strange thing to say. Yet its not, because good has come from my experience. Yes out of trauma has come hope and passion. It drove me to train in order to help others, which led to a job I loved in the hospital were I suffered, supporting families giving them the help I never had. It has led to me being passionate about improving maternity services. It has led to my wanting to raise awareness of PTSD and to campaign for better support in perinatal mental health and to founding unfold your wings. I’ve met wonderful, brave people along the way that have encouraged me, helped me be stronger, braver and not ashamed of who I am.
No longer is my pain in the darkness, ignored, hidden and not acknowledged, it out there stripped and vulnerable for all to see, yes sometimes I feel naked, bear and scared that my scars are visible. I didn’t do it for pity, I didn’t bear my soul and the darkness for others to feel sorry for me or to gain anyones approval. I did it because there are others like me, others hurt, struggling with no help, no support, feeling alone and adrift, their wings too are clipped like a bird in a cage. I do it for them, so they no longer feel alone, so that others can hear our voices and see that things must change. So that they too can see that our past does not define us but our stories should not be lost, or washed away, but can serve to make for a better future, for me, for you, for my daughters for us all.