Healing can come from very unexpected places. When you find what heals you, hang on to it for dear life. – Jennifer Ready
Receiving my Complex Post Traumatic Stress (C-PTSD) diagnosis felt like a life sentence at the time. Little did I know I would find healing, strength and joy through mental health advocacy and awareness.
My mental health advocacy and awareness mission actually began before I even knew I had PTSD. I started this mission as I advocated for veterans who have PTSD, like my husband John Ready, an Army veteran. He received his PTSD diagnosis in 2009 as he was getting ready to leave the military and transition into the civilian world.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an advocate is “one who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group”. I stepped into my advocate role as soon as my husband was diagnosed. Raising awareness about the prevalence of Veterans with PTSD was important to me. I felt like too many people just didn’t know much about PTSD, including myself.
Knowledge is power. The more I researched PTSD and its ties to depression and suicide, my advocacy turned into passion. I HAD to get the message out. Many people have PTSD; some are taking their own lives because of it . As society becomes more aware of PTSD and other mental health conditions, I can only hope a more loving, accepting and supportive society will bloom.
I began sharing my experience as a mental health caregiver and patient on Facebook and http://www.ptsdchat.org. This is something I knew I could do. I’m not shy or ashamed for having mental health struggles.Slowly I am confessing my “Truth Moments”, which highlight symptoms of depression, OCD and PTSD. With every layer of mental health struggle I shed, I gain another layer of healing. Who knew that social media platforms and http://www.ptsdchat.org could offer such healing?!
Sharing my experiences with PTSD depression, anxiety and OCD kicks that nasty mental health stigma in the ass. That’s right. I said it. .More recently, I started a Facebook page titled “Pillars of Hope and Strength” (https://www.facebook.com/Jen2Ready) – a women’s mental health support group and source for mental health information. Advocacy and awareness gives me the holy grail of mental illness – HEALING! I’m not completely healed. I still go to therapy and take my medications as prescribed. My mind , body and soul are healing and that’s what really matters.
Advocacy and awareness has helped me to become a fighter, not a victim of circumstance. Post Traumatic Stress can feel like a thorn in my hip (Bible reference) but it will not define me. It certainly won’t prevent me from being the woman warrior God has created me to be. That’s when healing begins-when you accept that some bad crap has happened to you but you will not go down without a fight and let it consume you.
As long as I stand on this earth I will continue to share my story to give other people hope and empowerment. It gives me so much joy to encourage others, even when I feel like I need it myself. I advocate for people who have mental illness(es) because in the end, we are human beings that need love, support and understanding.
To hear more about my story of healing through PTSD advocacy and awareness, tune into to the http://www.ptsdchat.org Radio Show on Wednesday, February 1st at 9 pm EST/ 6 pm PST. Thank you for reading and your support!