Photo credit: Bradley Parker
My PTSD came from a series of death related unfortunate events first started shortly after I turned eighteen. I was not equipped with necessary tools and knowledge at that time which led to failure in coping with bad dreams, terrible sleeping habit, aggression, anxiety and depression.
The story of how it all started is still a sensitive topic to me and it took me a while to learn how to tell it without triggering the uneasy feeling and uncomfortable thoughts. I have been on a long quest since then to regain the balance in my life which I often referred to as my quest to happiness.
Throughout my years of university, I have seen myself waking up in despair from bad dreams, walking around the house at four in the morning to make myself falling asleep. I occasionally suffered from anxiety, depression, and frustration. Many time, I had to withdraw myself from situations out of unexpected edgy feeling. The issue reached its peak in my third year as I started to get hostile and eventually physically hurt people, including myself, out of aggression. I was smart enough to hide it well among others but a few of my friends still had a sense of what was going on.
I decided to reach out in my third year, first to my close friends, then for professional help several months later. It was a long and emotional process but by doing so, I started to appreciate, accept, and understand every part of me after years of avoidance and denial. I learned to cherish the great companions I have, especially those who have walked with me in my darkest days. And most importantly, I finally understood the concept of asking for help when it was due. My road to recovery was not easy as I was constantly exposed to emotional crises, which was a part of my job as a residence leader. Yet, I loved the beautiful journey and I have made positive impacts wherever I’ve been to.
So, am I happy now?
I have achieved many great things in my university year as a residence leader, an international student advocate, and an aspiring Chemical Engineering student. Many speak of me with utmost respect and I am often referred to as an outgoing, fun-loving, spirited leader. But to answer the question: I do not know, but I want to believe that I am happy. I come from Vietnam, where any mental health issue is still strictly associated with “craziness” by many and the talk is widely stigmatized and avoided. Having the strength to finally let people know about the troublesome side of me feels incredible. Because, you see, even though I am not fully recovered, I am still pretty damn cool.