Living with PTSD: My Story

Well, hello there. Welcome to my blog: Woman of Steel. I am a Mental Illness Warrior, living with PTSD. This blog will be a place for me to spread awareness about Mental Illness, specifically Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and offer a weekly read on what life is like living with it. That being said, please know that mental illnesses are NEVER the same for any two people. Symptoms are similar, but just like anything else, the way we handle it is always different. So, anything I may experience will be different than something you may have experienced, and vice versa.

But now more about who I am. If you haven’t read my ‘About Me‘ page, then I will quickly sum it up. My name is Brianne Lopez. I’m 25, and posses a quirky, yet classy and sassy soul. I work with special needs children, but aspire to be a Film Actress/Screenwriter/Director. I am the oldest of 4 children, but my family has also taken in 3 lovely girls, so I have a large family.

Bryant is my incredible boyfriend of 2 years, and yes, I do plan on marrying this man one day.

I love to write, sing, read, watch movies, hang out with friends, practice putting on makeup, and laugh as much as possible. Lastly, I am a very spiritual person, but in understanding the trigger that can be for some people, I will always place a warning before I talk about that.

Oh and one last thing: I was diagnosed with PTSD at five years old. It does not define me, but it is one of my defining qualities…if that makes sense. I am Living with PTSD, surviving with PTSD, becoming a PTSD Warrior.

Photographer: Sarah Rain Perez http://www.sarahrain.com/digital/

Here’s more of my story. (TRIGGER WARNING-some graphic details)

When I was five years old, I was molested by my older cousin. I’ll be honest, most of this memory is a blur, but I know that I ended up telling my Grandmother what happened. I also know that she told me to just get over it, let her handle it, that it wouldn’t happen again, and that she would tell my parents. Trusting, I believed her. This is where everything gets really foggy.

I am not quite positive how much time passed (I’m told about 8 months) before I decided to bring it up to my parents myself. In that time, I became distant, quiet, shy, not myself. I am very fortunate and blessed to have the parents I do have, because what they did next is something I will always be grateful for. My extended family did not find it necessary to get my cousin help, so my parents did find it necessary to take me out of that environment.

We left my mother’s whole family.

This story comes with much more detail and drama, but we will just stick to that. I went from a busy life with a grandparent, aunts and uncles, and a multitude of cousins to relying on just my parents. But I can’t complain, they got me the help that I needed, and put me into a safe environment. When they took me to therapy, I was diagnosed with PTSD.

Again, being honest, I didn’t remember that. In my six years of therapy and medication, I was never aware of what I had, I just knew I had so many emotions to deal with.

At the end of six years, I was able to stop medication and therapy. I was happy and healthy.

The next six years of my life switched focus, and my family was living for younger brother, Garrett. He was diagnosed with Leukemia months after I finished therapy. I could write a book about my family’s fight for Garrett, but I will sum it up. In those six years, he was diagnosed, relapsed three times, had two stem cell transplants, survived septic shock and completely changed the lives of everyone he knew.

Laughter was his medicine, and my family discovered the true meaning of prayer, positive thinking, and sticking together. Garrett finally passed away in October of 2008. It was my senior year of high school and my life had been changed forever.

But I couldn’t stop.

I had to focus on my grades and getting into college. We did our best to grieve as a family, which we did. But I put myself last, as I always have. I attended a university close to home. While that provided the safety net of family for the next four years, it also made it very easy to stop focusing on myself altogether. If I wasn’t helping a friend, or partying, I was doing something for church or with family.

By the end of my sophomore year, I was entering an episode. I didn’t realize it at the time, however. Because my diagnosis was never stated at an age I would understand, I just thought I was depressed. After months of refusing to get help, I finally went on medication, but did not enter therapy. Less than a year later, I decided that my medication had done its job and I could stop the medications myself. (NEVER DO THAT) Senior year rolled around, I was busy with my theater major, with my friends, and deciding what to do with my life. Taking care of others was still my mantra. I believed that if I took care of other people and loved them, I would indirectly be taking care of myself.

After graduation, I worked a couple of odd jobs before going on tour with Missoula Children’s Theater Company for 5 months.  I was then offered a job teaching Drama at my old high school. I met my current boyfriend at the same time. It’s been 2 and a half years, and here I am: no longer teaching, but happy with my new job, still with my boyfriend, and experiencing a horrible episode.

What makes this story a little humorous is the fact that I didn’t actually know I had PTSD until a year ago when my doctor prescribed medication. Since then, my life has made more sense, and I’ve done all that I can to be aware of my PTSD, how I handle situations, and have become passionate about mental illness. I MUST STOP THE STIGMA.

As an aspiring actress and writer, I am well aware of how any form of art is incredibly therapeutic. I will always suggest writing, drawing, even cooking to someone as a way to slow down. Funny enough, I am definitely one of those people that doesn’t listen to their own advice. That’s probably because I’m one of the most stubborn people in the world, but no matter. After a year of medication and therapy, I’ve finally made the decision to use my art as therapy.

That is why I am starting this blog.

I get to write, something that I have always loved doing. As a child, song lyrics were my passion, then it became poetry. This can give me an outlet for both, as well as freestyle writing.

But most importantly, this blog is giving me a venue for one of my other passions: inspiration. I have always wanted the opportunity to inspire others, especially women, to discover their worth as humans. To discover their strength and not let anyone or anything tear them down. Maybe this will be something that will allow me to meet/talk to other women and make just a small difference in this world. If not, this blog is allowing me the opportunity to just write and express anything/ everything about my mental illness. That will be worth it. So, thank you for joining me. I would love for you to join me as I continue Living with PTSD. Hope you enjoy!

Let me know about your journeys with mental illness, and if you have question about PTSD, ask me, or refer to my post: How to Explain PTSD.

#KnowYourWorth

©2017 Woman of Steel. www.womanofstel-ptsd.com

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Brianne Lopez

4 thoughts on “Living with PTSD: My Story

  1. Dear Brianne,

    I am currently in the process of reading your blog. Believe it or not I also have PTSD – and have suffered from it for many years.

    I admire your courage and your commitment to your own process of healing and I thank you for your passion in urging others to spread love, light and advice as a PTSD warrior.

    Brianne, you are a woman of steel – with one major advantage over any other kind of steel in the world. Most steel is not like you. Steel steel (no the repetition of steel is not a typo) is cold! It is hard and unbending. You, however, are warm hearted and able to open yourself to those in need in a way that is flexible, freeing, full of feeling and to quote our dear friends +Hal and Helen H., “fabulous.”

    I love your writing style, your clarity in self expression and your entire artistic self as it is being born at every moment. You refuse to be stuck in and defined by the past. Instead you choose to go forward and with a generous and loving heart you reach out to invite others to join together on the road to a new happiness and a new freedom, mental health and spiritual joy.

    Today you made my heart sing! Thanks.

    Bryant is blessed to have you in his life!

    May God continue to bless you now and all the days of your life.

    1. Father, I can’t tell you much my heart sang when I read this. I love you and miss more than you know and it’s people like you who have provided the love, support, and strength I’ve needed to become who I am today. Thank you! And I’m so happy you’re enjoying the blog. Love you!

  2. Brianne,

    You are INCREDIBLE. Thank you for sharing your truth. It is only through honesty and vulnerability that we can be set free. You have the potential to help people with this blog. Like you said, it is up to us to put real faces to these struggles and end the stigmas attached. My experience with alcoholism and addiction is different but in the same vein. Blogging helps me process my experiences and hopefully help someone along the way.

    I knew you were artistic but I didn’t know of your writing abilities until now! I’m thankful you invited me to view this. I will be keeping up with it and look forward to your future posts!

    Elliott

    1. Thank you so much for checking it out! It means the world to be able to share this with my friends. I am just beyond touched that you are loving it. Thank you, love you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *