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By: Guest Blogger Audra A. Anderson

_fashionistax3.tumblr.com_I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I spent most of my life denying that I do, even to myself.

Lately, things have become so stressful in my life that I don’t have the energy to even try to hide it anymore.

I never realized that I use disassociation to protect myself from anything overwhelming until I went on medicine one time and realized that I was fully integrated for the first time in my entire “remembering self”.   The medicine stopped working and I haven’t found one that does again.

People complain that I am “cold” or “distant”.

People say that I am fake.

My family will say that I don’t pay attention to them, that I don’t remember things that they tell me.

I have started telling people that I am suffering from PTSD very strongly right now.  I feel the need to explain my distance, my lack of emotion, my fatigue.

Something interesting has happened while doing this.  There are many of us out there.  People have begun confiding in me that they too, suffer from PTSD and disassociate too.20

I have spent the past four and a half years advocating for mental illness, and fighting the stigma of mental illness, but as a family member, not as a consumer.

I thought before that I would be of more use in that role.  But the true and genuine power in fighting the stigma of mental illness has been in coming forth, telling my own story, listening and experiencing other’s stories as well.

I would like to say that I had courage and determination and that made me start being honest about this.  It was the extreme sustained stress of the past eight months that forced me to my knees, to submit, to have to be honest in order to continue trying to function at all.

Do I think that PTSD defines me as a person?  Does it dominate my life all the time?  Most certainly not.

I have been able to accomplish many important things in trying to help fellow man while feeling well.

Now that I am having a difficult time lately, it does not take away from what I have accomplished.  It does not prevent me from continuing that journey, but maybe I am working at a diminished pace and capacity.

I would like to think that maybe, just maybe, I have done more now by simply sharing this struggle with others, who now have shared their struggles too.

One in four people in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental illness.  That is a lot of people.  If all of us were to stand up and be counted, that alone is a quarter of the United State’s population who would not share in perpetuating the stigma.

Does that mean that we are a quarter of the population that is bi-polar, depressive, Audra Andersonschizophrenic, PTSD?

No.  No one is a label or a diagnosis.

 My name is not PTSD.  It is Audra A. Anderson and this is Where I Stand.