I didn’t fully understand all that went on during childhood, until I moved out and started college.
While at home, I had thought my parents yelling and fighting, the physical abuse was how every family was. I tried talking to a counsellor in high school and I don’t think they took me seriously. I feel what I did talk about probably seemed a bit farfetched for the counsellor and didn’t want to fathom that it could’ve happened.
I was in college for 4 years, away from home, making my own decisions, not listening to fighting etc. At times my surroundings seemed too quiet; I found I had to sleep with a radio or a fan to drown out the silence. Most people like the silence but I found I would have nightmares and they would be the same ones over and over. I ended up sleeping with some kind of background noise for years afterwards.
After college, I moved back home, got a job in the field of study I graduated in, this was good. Eventually, I found myself applying for more jobs. I ended up with 5 part time jobs, just so I wouldn’t have to go home. I found things between my parents were very different; they were very distant from each other, dad stayed in his room for days, when they did speak it was brief and at times it was not very pleasant.
My father passed away in 2004 and shortly after I noticed things about myself changing. I was having nightmares again, I was blaming myself for his death; feeling I didn’t help him enough with his Bipolar, experiencing a lot of flashbacks of certain incidents, I found I couldn’t watch certain things on television as it caused triggers, found it difficult to talk to my family at times and had a hard time sleeping. All this occurred for years after his death.
Currently, I don’t experience nightmares anymore; I stopped sleeping with the radio 3 years ago, certain scenes in television shows and movies I still cannot watch. I don’t have the guilt anymore about my father’s death and I have a great relationship with my family.
Although I haven’t been diagnosed, I’ve been told I live with the symptoms of PTSD and I’m not ashamed. The PTSD is a result of what I’ve seen and heard within our house and I have learned how to deal with certain things.
Anita Levesque is a web and graphic designer, a mental health advocate with lived experience through loved ones; father – bipolar; brother – PTSD, depression, anxiety; mother – PTSD; boyfriend – clinical depression, severe OCD, GAD, personality disorders. The goal with my website, http://mentalillness-doyouknow.com is to focus on personal experiences rather than articles by doctors and medical professionals who haven’t experienced mental illness. Anita writes articles for several websites on topics such as OCD, Addictions, Suicide, PTSD and more. She resides in Stoney Creek, Ontario and interests are photography, reading, music, learning, spending time with her family.