"Miss Mohr, you've been dealt such a dirty hand, but it's what you do with that hand that determines who you will become. You can either let it hinder everything you've ever wanted out of life and become just like those who have hurt you or you can play the hell out of that hand and learn everything you would ever possibly need to know to be whoever you want."
"Hmm, I'll take the latter for 500, please."
"Ah yes, silliness. One of your favorite coping mechanisms. I believe you've already mastered that one, so maybe just give believing in yourself a real chance."
Trauma does incredible things to our brains. It can instill fear in situations where fear isn't necessarily common, it can give you the memory of an elephant which in turn makes you remember things right down to the smallest detail. It can cause hyperawareness to every bit of energy going on around you. The smallest change in someones tone or deameanor can force you into being a contestant on my least favorite game show called What Did I Do? You didn't do anything, this is just how your brain works with post traumatic stress disorder. It's a real mother fucker to say the least.
PTSD can be somewhat short lived or it can be chronic. It can also be caused by one incident or by several, and it wouldn't be a real disorder if it wasn't accumulative would it? That's where it gets tricky.
People have been studying fear for years upon years upon years. There's seriously someone out there walking around with a PhD on fear. They are literally a doctor of FEAR! For what sounds almost menacing is actually pretty badass, for lack of a better word. I'm not one of these people with a PhD, but I'm still pretty fucking cool, if I may say so myself.. and I will, because I live with this and I'm not ashamed to talk about it.
Social anxiety has never been part of my world, it's referred to as general anxiety. I am generally anxious about everything all the time. Imagine trying to express this as a child. I tried and was prescribed heartburn medication. I mean, what else would you give to a kid who looks like they eat too much and is always complaining of a stomach ache? Probably a nice lesson on how the food pyramid works. Add in a little bodyshaming and boom, cured! Diet and exercise can make all your problems go away. The problem was that I didn't have heartburn, I don't know that I've ever had heartburn to this day, I was having panic attacks. Panic attacks in childhood? Oh, indeed.
This occured mainly at school, therefore school sucks so I'm not going. Brilliant idea, but it's a pretty tough plan to execute when you're in elementary school. I tried almost everything to be able to stay home. Gagging excessively loud and dumping water into the toilet, therometer under the hot faucet, heating pad on the forehead, etc. I would even willingly go to the doctor, I didn't care. Just keep me away from that soul crushing institution.
Out of one hundred and eighty school days I generally missed about 60. I'm pretty sure my teachers were impressed I could even read, let alone at a college level by the age of 12. I always did my homework, I love learning, just on my own terms. I'm one of those people where if you try to force me to do something I'll either do the opposite or nothing at all.
One day in the sixth grade I took everything out of my locker, went home, and begged my mom to never make me go back there again. She said she couldn't afford to home school me so I ended up in a private school for a semester.
It was incredibly bizarre attending a school that had crucifixes everywhere since I was raised in a Jehovah's Witness family where crosses and pictures of Jesus were not allowed. Getting a black cross put on my forehead for Ash Wednesday scared the living shit out of me. I felt somewhat dirty and waited to be struck down by a bolt of lightning until I could wash that damn thing off. That was by far the creepiest thing I'd ever endured until I saw the movie the Exorcist for the first time. I slept with my overhead light on for a month straight.
Eventually I ended up back at public school since private school is crazy expensive and my mom and I moved away from my childhood home, leaving my siblings to live with our dad. So, of course, everything started all over again. A new school, full of one thousand strangers where I was supposed to be just like everyone else, but I didn't know who any of these people were, how on earth was I supposed to be like them? Why was I supposed to be like everyone else in the first place? Why do I have to share a locker with someone who isn't even in any of my classes? I sat alone at lunch and didn't eat anything, because I was so uncomfortable I was constantly nauseous.
"Just give it time." Yeah, okay. No.
I enrolled in a program called Home Bound, which is usually for kids who are injured or too sick to attend class. A teacher came to my house and went over lessons with me. I remember asking her if she thought I was crazy. She assured me I was not and I was just another normal kid. I get it now, but at the time I thought she was just being nice. I really admire people like her. I couldn't imagine what it'd be like teaching such young kids that have psychological problems interfering with their everyday lives to the point where all they want to do is hide away and hope the world forgets about them.
She was tough and knew things about the world that the other adults I knew didn't. She looked at things with empathy and so did I. Someone finally understood me and didn't think I was just being a baby.
A month or so later I was back in regular classes, doing well and making friends. I still knew I was different and it wasn't always smooth sailing, but it got a little easier as time went by. It's perfectly normal to have a shell, but you don't have to hide behind it completely, in fear of thinking you have nothing to offer the world. There's a good chance you have some of the answers someone else is looking for.