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Dear Readers,

I thought you might like an update along about now on how my life is going two years after stopping active therapy sessions.  In short, although I could possibly have stopped therapy two or three years after I began in about 2009, I’m SO glad I went for the “whole guacamole” and stayed with therapy until I was truly ready to leave!  

First, for those of you who have not followed my blog from the beginning, I’ll give you a bit of background.  Like many of you who were abused as children and then transitioned into an abusive relationship after finishing school, I spent the first forty-two years of my life living with the symptoms of PTSD–the flashbacks, the space-outs, the derealization and depersonalization, the nightmares, and all the rest of the miserable physical and psychic sensations.  Because my abuse spanned so many years, I developed what is termed “Complex PTSD.”  Simply put, I had all the symptoms of PTSD and then some!  

I had to fight my symptoms just to live an ordinary and unremarkable life, and  my goal as a child and during my 20-year marriage was to keep a low profile and not be identified as being any different from anyone else.  I knew I had a problem, but I also knew that the smartest thing I could do was make sure nobody figured that out.  If you have ever seen the film “The Snake Pit,” you undoubtedly understand why I was afraid to tell anyone what was happening inside my head.  The world of psychiatric “cures” prior to the 1980s was a world I wanted to avoid.  Finally, however, in 1981, the stress of living in a domestic situation filled with abuses pushed me to the point where I knew I had to find help, and I did that.  My first therapist knew nothing about Complex PTSD, but she somehow intuited how best to help me.  

We worked together for about four years before she retired.  During that time, I caught my former husband in the act of molesting our daughter, reported him to the police, and got a divorce.  Thus, I left behind the role of victim and went ahead with my life as a survivor.  My therapist had faith in my ability to shape a new life for myself, a life I chose, wanted, and enjoyed.  Nobody previously had shown me that kind of support, and I thrived!  I found work at the local community college, earned two graduate degrees, and taught writing in a community college for thirteen years.  When I retired in 2003, I felt as if I had accomplished what I had wanted to accomplish in my life, and I was happy.  Since retiring, I have been poor in financial resources but rich in rewarding experiences, the most important of these rewarding experiences being that of healing my Complex PTSD to the point where I seldom experience symptoms and am able to enjoy my life–warts and all!  

I mentioned in the first paragraph that I could have stopped therapy after two years, and that is true because in two years’ time I managed to reduce my PTSD symptoms to the point where I was able to leave my apartment without fear of having a flashback or experiencing other major symptoms.  However, I felt that my symptoms, were merely in remission because I had not actually dealt with their roots.  I wanted to do the work needed to heal whatever caused the symptoms, and I did not want to find myself returning to therapy in a few years because I had not done the work I needed to do in the first place.  So I continued in therapy for a total of five years, and I’m glad I did!  

The year now is 2016;  I have not been in active therapy for about two years, and I’m fine.  I have ups and downs like everyone else, but I can handle my life.  Once in a while I overreact to situations that other people seem to take in stride, but I know what’s going on; I know that I’m overreacting and can forgive myself for that and just continue on.  My head is relatively clear, and I no longer have horrendous flashbacks and the other symptoms that formerly clouded my thinking.  

I like my life now.  In 2013, I relocated from a major city to a small town in rural Washington State where I had lived during the 1970s and 1980s, and I’m enjoying the more laidback lifestyle.  I do a lot of volunteer work now, and I push for causes that are dear to me such as supporting public transportation in an area where most folks have several cars per household and don’t understand why anyone would possibly need a bus.  I also help in a classroom at the local community college, the school where I found my inspiration to start my teaching career so long ago.  I administer the senior commodities program here at my housing complex.  And then, for fun, I sing in a church choir!  Finally, in my free time, I write letters to the editor when moved to do so, write essays, and attend relevant and interesting public events.  

If I were still battling PTSD symptoms, I probably would not be doing any of these activities because the day-to-day struggle with symptoms takes so much energy and leaves little room in the mind for other thoughts.  I’m glad I decided to continue in therapy after my PTSD symptoms faded because I seem to be able to deal with the ups and downs of life just fine now, at least as well as anyone else.  That’s good enough for me!  I wish the same for you!