According to the National Institutes of Health, “post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a real illness. You can get PTSD after living through or seeing a traumatic event, such as war, a hurricane, rape, physical abuse or a bad accident.
"PTSD makes you feel stressed and afraid after the danger is over. It affects your life and the people around you.” According to Golier and Yehuda's article, “Neuropsychological processes in post-traumatic stress disorder”, women are at an increased risk of developing post-traumatic disorder; rape and sexual assault are the largest causes, though many US female soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder. I once had a professor describe post-traumatic stress disorder as being constantly fearful. When he said that, I kept thinking: yep, I know exactly how that feels.
I have lived with post-traumatic stress disorder for almost three years after being raped my sophomore year of college. Both times were in relationships a few months apart; I was still traumatized from the first incident that I did not realize that the second relationship was also abusive until I was being trained as a sexual assault crisis counselor my junior year. Post-traumatic stress disorder changed my life dramatically: I could not concentrate, I debated suicide and I could barely function. For example, I once curled up into the fetal position and hyperventilated during an organic chemistry test. I believed that the assaults were my fault (which is never true about abuse!) My body felt constantly heavy and I was stuck in a constant depression. There were days that I wondered if dying would be easier. However, I was lucky to have supportive professors and mentors who helped me through; without them, I would have never graduated college or be around today.
There is a great line from my counseling manual: “healing is a lifelong process.” I have come a long way from my mental state three years ago, with tons of support from friends and family, therapy and medication.
We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.