I spend an hour giving myself a pep talk, deep breathing, and mentally preparing for my next doctor visit. I may have a panic attack. I expect it. I wait in the waiting room, praying to actually be “seen”.
It deeply hurts, with every eye roll, smirk, and response of “There is nothing wrong with you. The pain is all in your head.” Or, even better, “It’s just depression and anxiety.” No. The only thing that gives me those is your treatment of me! Thank you. I do have CPTSD from child abuse. I am aware that my body and mind developed through severe stress and chaos. I don’t have a baseline – or understand a lot of basic concepts or developmental needs. I am gaining those milestones now. I have an entire dresser drawer filled with braces and splints. I have had to retrain my muscle memory, due to overcompensation caused from repetitive physical trauma as a child. I get that! I acknowledge that.
My mental health is now used as an excuse to minimize my symptoms, dismiss testing, diagnosis, or treatment. I struggle to function. I have been losing my ability to walk since I was 17. My weight has ballooned. Pain is my normal. I keep getting worse. Still, I am given a pill, and told to “lose weight and exercise more.”
In December of 2020, my whole neurological system shut down. It felt like I was being mauled to death, stabbed, and my whole body was turning into cement. It was the worst pain I have ever experienced. I was terrified of going to the ER, enduring more trauma like I have in the past. I instead lied on my floor for three hours, trying to get up, unable to, and sobbing on the phone with my mother. She finally called 911. Even then, I was interrogated by the ambulance driver and thrown on my bed. Later, when a police officer came, I pleaded not to go. I was “fine.” I laid half on my bed, screaming in agony, the floor covered in urine.
Even worse is, after this whole ordeal, two weeks in a rehab and a Nursing home, my discharge papers read “PTSD. “Poor motivation for Independence and Self Care,” and back pain. That was it! Rather than do tests, acknowledge severe muscle weakness, or see that my shoulder was completely out of socket, I was labeled and dismissed.
It took another month before my shoulder was discovered, another two before they realized my brain was operating like someone who had a stroke. A year before my tachycardia, liver, and blood sugar were addressed.
Even now, I do not have an answer.
This is medical trauma. I am looking to the medical professionals to help me- not invalidate, shame, blame, gaslight, and abuse me. I fear going back and I am terrified of when I may have to. I may just die instead.
Patricia Helbig is a dedicated advocate for mental health and blog author. Read more from her at “Growing Past Abuse- The Journey to Adulthood” on Facebook.