The Great Pretender
I have PTSD, but I didn't know that until I was past 50. I am almost 60 now, and I spent most of my life wondering what was wrong with me. I figure that I have been dealing with this illness since the age of 4 1/2 when I first started school. I was suffering from stress on the first day of school. But growing up in the 1950s meant that a lot of emotional stuff was either ignored or covered up. And the 1950s meant being a "man" and not talking about feelings or emotionals. It was ok for women to cry and show emotion, but as a guy you were supposed to "be a man" and just deal with it on your own. Well, being a sensitive and emotional person just made my stressful condition at school and at home worse. And to add to that I was being verbally and emotionally abused by my father and as I got older, say 10 or 11, I was getting regular beatings as well. Now all the time all this stress and abuse was happening I never told anyone about it. I was too ashamed to talk about it. So I did the best I could and just pretended that nothing was wrong. I pretended nothing was wrong for all of my life. But it meant that I had a miserable life. I had lots of different jobs, which I had to quit due to stress. And lots of messed up relationships and marriages. By the time i was in my fifties I had over 20 different jobs, 3 divorces , lots of debts, no friends and had to work as a dishwasher because it was the only job I could do even if i was suffering from a deep depression because of my PTSD. I am doing better these days, but only because I know what my illness is and how to treat it. But I can't help but think about what life could have been like if I knew earlier what was wrong with me and fixed it. Medical knowledge has improved so much over the last 10 or 20 years. At least others like me won't have to suffer for years before they can get help. The only satisfaction I can get from my life experience is an appreciation for how I was able to survive all that suffering for all those years without any support or help. It is amazing sometimes what a person survive.