I Am Struggling, But I Am Not Alone | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

I Am Struggling, But I Am Not Alone

By Ezra Grotewohl

"You Are Not Alone" is a concept, as simple as it may be, that I feel very distant from most of the time. I have a host of mental illnesses, but out of them, my PTSD and BPD affect me the most. 
I have PTSD from repeated emotional, physical and sexual violence when I was 15-16. I am currently 19 years old and struggling. A lot. I always struggle, but with the isolation and general hopeless in the midst of a pandemic, my symptoms have taken over my life. 
My PTSD comes with psychotic symptoms, which, paired with my BPD, makes my relationships with my loved ones very strained, and with the heightened stress of COVID-19, nearly impossible to maintain like I used to. 
My BPD also means that I have extreme black and white thinking patterns, which magnifies the psychotic symptoms and general feelings of isolation. When loved ones aren't willing to help me, whether through a simple task or one of my frequent panic attacks/flashbacks, suddenly it's "no one cares about me, they hate me, it's always been this way and always will be." 
As hopeless as it has felt, I have found some relief. I joined a couple of Facebook groups that are about issues I relate to. I identify as trans, and the positivity and humor of the trans groups I'm a part of brings me a lot of hope. I am also a part of some supportive groups where the whole point is to spread positivity and love, and help others through what they are going through. It helps me stay connected by supporting others. 
I've found that through showing kindness to others, I feel kinder towards myself. I have also shared some of my experiences in comments in some of these groups, and the support was amazing. I am friends with a lot of people I'm not very close to on my Facebook, and after an incredibly difficult week, I posted about how unsafe I felt after seeing TWO of my abusers at grocery stores after almost three years of not seeing them. 
Several people I don't have much contact with reached out and told me they were there for me any time, and it meant the world. My best friend, who I live with, is so accustomed to my grief and struggles, that she has learned that joking about my traumas actually makes me feel better. She gets me to laugh through the pain. 
For anyone out there with any similar struggles to me, know that I See You. You are truly not alone. Reach out. Sometimes that looks like asking someone to bring you food because you're too exhausted to cook, or calling someone and asking them to talk you through an episode, or just by posting on Facebook. 
I am struggling, and I am not alone. Connection heals aloneness. Gratitude is connection. Love is connection. I had to drop out of high school for my mental health issues. I've lost friends. I've put my family through the trauma of almost losing their child to the monster that my aloneness turned into. My body will never be the same after what I had to do to it to survive through the aftermath of my traumas. But I am grateful that I survived. 
I am now self-supporting. I've been at my first full-time job for a year, working towards a career in health care. I’m in a serious relationship with the first partner who has ever made me feel safe. 
Yes, I am struggling. But I am also grateful for all of the connections I love to experience with strangers. I am grateful for the strength and bravery of other survivors. I am grateful for the unconditional love my dog shows me. I am grateful for all of the people fighting for the lives of others even at their own expense. I am grateful for the beauty of this world. I am not alone.

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