Redefining PTSD

WOW. That is all I can say. My phone and social media completely blew up following my last post. It’s amazing what happens when we put our heart out there and share our struggles.

Here are just a few of the extraordinary messages I received:

“i just read your most recent blog post and it hit me like bricks. i could feel myself experiencing what you described and i related so much. i’ve been feeling really alone lately and your blog post was exactly what i needed. i’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and have ptsd from that and have only recently begun grappling with the aftermath and sorting out how to best heal from it. […] just know that you’re really changing lives. you’ve changed mine, especially with this blog post.”

“I battle with my own diagnosis of PTSD because “it’s for war veterans and rape victims” in my mind. […] Once again, you have made a difference in someone’s life, simply by being real. Thank you for being vulnerable, as I’m sure that for every person that thanks you for sharing, there are a hundred more that find a silent comfort in your words, determination, and faith. Thank you McCall. And hang in there”

“I love when you share the deep darkness, bc it means you’re well on your way into the light. Proud of you and love you!”

“Your blog. THANK YOU for being so brave and vulnerable. EMDR has been something I’ve been fighting with every inch of my body NOT to do. It’s so helpful knowing you were able to push past the fear and take the EMDR plunge.”

“I love you, dear one. Your blog post is so brave. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been going through but so glad you have the support and help you need now. I’m always here.”

And for each of these messages there are 10+ more. I am completely overwhelmed and in awe. We go through this life and through our struggles feeling so alone, but we aren’t alone. I’m not sure there is a worse feeling than loneliness. You can be surrounded by all of your closest friends and family and yet you feel completely alone. Until this week, this is where I have existed for the past few months.

Thank YOU all for helping me feel seen and heard.

Wrapping my head around PTSD and its symptoms was (and still is) difficult for me. How can I have PTSD? I am once again faced with redefining the stereotypes that come with a mental illness.

Trauma is TRAUMA. Period.


There it is in black and white – ‘an emotional upset’. I would say and venture to guess that you all would agree that a child born at 27-weeks and then a cancer diagnosis would be considered ‘an emotional upset’. I mean, I’m not a clinician, but I’m pretty sure that would qualify.

But the PTSD? That is the tough piece. It is easy to accept I experienced trauma. But why the PTSD? Why did I develop these debilitating symptoms? I don’t know. Why did I develop an eating disorder? Why did my child get cancer?

I. Don’t. Know.

Three of the most annoying words and the most unsettling answer ever. I spent so much of my recovery journaling in circles as if to find the exact reason why I developed an eating disorder. Years later, I am in the same boat – why me? Why?

There is no why. Just radical acceptance that this is another crappy card I’ve been dealt and I plan to deal with it just as I have the others – professional help, reaching to my people for support, writing and a lot of ugly crying. I work to make peace with and accept the unknown every day.

Yesterday was a hard day for me. I was flooded with memories of Marjorie’s first Halloween. She was in the NICU, struggling with feeds and I was still in immense physical pain. I did my best to put on a happy face trick or treating with Manning that year, but all I wanted to do was curl up next to Marjorie in her tiny plastic incubator.

Working through the trauma means bringing it to the surface. Some days can feel almost unbearable. Making the bed, folding one shirt can seem like the most difficult task. On these days, I try to take a piece of my own advice that I often give to others – be gentle on yourself. It is the hardest advice to soak in especially when two tiny humans’ (three if you count the baby daddy) basic needs depend on you functioning at some level.

It is on these days that I thank God for my daily distractions – work that I love, pet therapy with my baby, Lilly, daily dose of laughter with my bestie Ellen and embracing distractions that come in (very loud) 3-foot tall packages.

Society teaches us that life and our experiences are supposed to be a certain way or fit into a certain box. I have learned that is not how life happens. Life hits us all differently. Same experiences sometimes, but different emotional outcomes. We compare our pain to others, invalidating and minimizing our own feelings. When we struggle in silence and shame, the only person who truly suffers is ourselves.

Starting at age 16, I took every online test to see if I had an eating disorder. All [WebMD] signs pointed to YES. But I didn’t fit the mold. I didn’t fit what society said an eating disorder ‘looked’ like so I continued suffering in silence.

Over the past two months, I have once again taken every online quiz to see if I had PTSD. And once again, all [WebMD] signs pointed to YES. But, once again, I didn’t fit the mold.

However, this time, history will NOT repeat itself. I have sought help and continue to work through this beast – because that is exactly what it is – a beast. Accepting, redefining and sharing my PTSD has lifted a weight from my broken spirit, allowing me to move forward in a way I didn’t know was possible.

So join me as I walk, stumble, limp and embrace this new road in my journey of life. It’s not going to be pretty, but I know it will be worth it.



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  • Brynna
    November 2, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    I also don’t “fit the mold” for PTSD. I don’t have any big “T” Trauma’s in my life…but when I look back there are plenty of little “t” trauma’s as my therapist calls them, that have occurred in my life. Because I don’t fit the mold I had a really difficult time accepting that EMDR could help me, or any kind of trauma therapy. However, when I finally gave in and let myself give it a try I found healing that hadn’t occurred doing years of other types of therapy. I am glad you are beginning to find some healing and I pray that you continue on this path as the months go by. Trauma work is HARD, but can be so, so good for the soul.

  • Emily Wright
    November 3, 2017 at 4:30 am

    Oh McCall I’m so sorry to hear that you have been struggling these past few months. I know it’s very easy for me to say (and might not feel Like that for you) but it sounds like you are on the right road to recovery and I certainly wish you a speedy one. I have struggled with my mental health my entire life, having scary sounding diagnosis been thrown at me constantly. Depression, bipolar, OCD….in all honesty I couldn’t care two hoots that the doctors want to call it because it all feels the same to me! Of course my nearest and dearest know and support me tirelessly, but no one else knows. Friends, colleagues – all in the dark. I’ve never had the courage you have to be open and honest. It feels like my embarrassing dirty secret that they would judge me for, which is ridiculous I know because if someone else told me that, I would be nothing but compassionate and understanding! Thank you for your vulnerability, honesty and bravery. It might just inspire me to do the same.
    Best of luck on your journey!