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It is a continuous challenge living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I’ve suffered from it for most of my life. I can look back now and gently laugh at all the people who thought I had the perfect life. I was young, beautiful, and talented, but unbeknownst to them, I was terrorized by an undiagnosed debilitating mental illness.

Having been properly diagnosed with PTSD at age 25, I know that there is not one aspect of my life that has gone untouched by this mental illness. My PTSD was triggered by several traumas, including a childhood laced with physical, mental, and sexual abuse. I was raped at a very young age repeatedly by my brother-in-law who passed away from cancer in 2017. I would never be the same after that rape. For me there was no safe place in the world, not even my home. I went to the police and filed a report. Rape counselors came to see me while I was in the hospital, but I declined their help, convinced that I didn’t need it. This would be the most damaging decision of my life

For months after the rape, I couldn’t close my eyes without envisioning the face of my rapist. I suffered horrific flashbacks and nightmares. For four years after the rape I was unable to sleep alone in my house. I obsessively checked windows, doors, and locks. By age 17, I’d suffered my first panic attack. Soon I became unable to leave my house for weeks at a time. This just became a way of life. Years passed when I had few or no symptoms at all, and I led what I thought was a fairly normal life, just thinking I had a “panic problem.

At age 18, I started dancing in a local bar. The money was quick and easy. I then was introduced to crack, which I got hooked on immediately for about 16 years, it numbed all my pain and made me forget everything. I thought it was the best medicine for all my problems. But, one day I became fed up with being fed up, sick and tired of being sick and tired, that I finally quit on my own. I am clean ever since July 5, 2011.

Then another traumatic event re-triggered the PTSD. It was as if the past had evaporated, and I was back in the place of my rape, only now, I had uncontrollable thoughts of someone entering my house and harming me. I saw violent images every time I closed my eyes. I lost all ability to concentrate or even complete simple tasks. Normally social, I stopped trying to make friends or get involved in my community. I often felt disoriented, forgetting where, or who, I was. I would panic on the freeway and became unable to drive, again ending a career. I felt as if I had completely lost my mind. For a time, I managed to keep it together on the outside, but then I became unable to leave my house again.

Around this time I was diagnosed with PTSD. I cannot express to you the enormous relief I felt when I discovered my condition was real and treatable. I felt safe for the first time in 32 years. Taking medication and undergoing behavioral therapy marked the turning point in my regaining control of my life I’m rebuilding a satisfying career as an artist, and I am enjoying my life. The world is new to me and not limited by the restrictive vision of anxiety. It amazes me to think back to what my life was like only a year ago, and just how far I’ve come.

For me there is no cure, no final healing. But there are things I can do to ensure that I never have to suffer as I did before being diagnosed with PTSD. I’m no longer at the mercy of my disorder and I would not be here today had I not had the proper diagnosis and treatment. The most important thing to know is that it’s never too late to seek help.

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Life After Rape.

As I kept getting the news, I found myself starting to feel really empty and genuinely numb to the outside world. I was crying nearly every day and just felt a hopelessness that wouldn’t go away. It was a strange feeling that I had never experienced before. During work, the only thing I could think about was getting back in my bed. About a month after dealing with this, I was diagnosed with “major depressive disorder,” and it was really hard because all my friends wanted to go out and would practically make fun of me when I didn’t want to. I felt embarrassed to tell them I was going through it, and, even worse, having to take medication for it.

I would get stuck in conversations where people said that depression was just an excuse people make and wasn’t even a real thing. It’s funny, because I always questioned people suffering from the same thing. It was really hard, and makes you feel even more isolated. It’s strange because you begin to distance yourself from everyone, and relationships get really difficult and unbalanced. I sometimes have off days, but it was the true friendships and family support that helped me overcome it. After going through it myself, it made me look at mental illness in a whole new way that really needs to be addressed.

When I was 14, I was the victim of a vicious sexual assault by my brother-in-law. For years after that I was depressed. I kept it a secret, and was afraid to tell anyone for fear of being ostracized and treated differently. I felt alone, and since I had no one to talk to about it, I suffered in silence. When I was 15, I made a conscious decision to take my own life. I knew that my dad kept a revolver in his nightstand. It was a Saturday in the spring, and my parents went to the local fair for the afternoon. I took my dad’s revolver to our back patio and readied myself. As I was taking the gun out of its sheath, I heard a car pull into my parents’ driveway. This spooked me, so I hid the gun, and found out it was my aunt coming to drop something off.

After she left I put the gun back, went into the house, and cried. I saw it as a sign from God that I was not meant to die that day. I was still extremely bothered by what had happened to me as a child. A few years later, with the help of a friend, I was able to tell my parents about the assault. What helped me the most through my feelings and stages of utter despair was talking to other survivors who had been the victims of similar attacks. There are many people who have been assaulted as children, I came to find out.

I initially talked to a friend’s sister who had been sexually abused as a child, as well. Over the years I have talked to many other people, and it was so uplifting to know that I was not alone. For me, the cure was talking to others. No matter how bad it may seem, or how alone you may feel, others are there to help. By the grace of God and good people, I was able to get through that trying time in my life.

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Help & Hope.

One of the saddest things in the world is to feel broken, and although you’ve somehow been figuratively ripped apart, you feel like you can never be put back together again. There are days when I ask myself, What are you staying here for? Most times I don’t even have an answer. Sometimes I just don’t want to be here anymore, and those are the toughest thoughts to deal with.

But the days that I truly cherish are the ones where I’m so overwhelmed with happiness that it feels like I can beat this depression. That happiness comes from friends and the jokes we share with one another, it comes from family members and their unconditional love for me. I love when friends and family are able to penetrate the barrier of lies and insecurities that depression creates, allowing me to feel love. Those are the days that make life worth living, and those are the days that keep me fighting.

The extremes of depression are the worst. One minute you could be on cloud nine and in the next you can feel like you’ve hit rock bottom. One day, however, I would like to get to a place where I can know for certain, without a doubt in my mind, that I belong here without the validation that comes from external forces.

There are times when my depression has made me feel like I’m not doing anything right in my life. That’s a tough thought to fight against, because it feeds itself: Once you’re convinced that you’re worthless, you stop doing anything worthwhile. And suddenly you’ve become the person you already thought you were, someone who naps for hours just to make the days go by faster, and who looks for any excuse to avoid getting up or even turning on the lights.

But you’re not worthless, even if your depression is keeping you from being an active member of society. When I got help and began to start feeling like a human again, I was able to reflect honestly on my achievements and the paths I have taken. And one of the things I’m proudest of, which is something I cling to when the depressive tendencies creep back, is that I’ve always been open about my struggles. I know how much it helps me to be reminded that I’m not alone. If I can do the same for others, I know I’m doing something rewarding.

 Some days depression feels like an invisible hand holding my head down. I know the voice of despair lies to me, and I know my worries are unfounded, but some days the lies are very hard to resist, and I feel these brief, soul-crushing moments of despair. And then when I pull through these moments, I feel stronger, but I still fear the next barrage of despair.

My empathy increased dramatically. It is such a difficult thing to understand if you haven’t experienced it. But I always encourage friends to seek therapy/counseling and most of all, not to try to carry the burden by themselves. If you’re struggling today, what you are going through is very real and if anyone gives you the impression you should simply “snap out of it,” then you need to avoid that person’s advice. It’s not that simple. There is help and hope.

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To Remember Me.

The day will come when my body will lie upon a white sheet neatly tucked under four corners of a mattress located in a hospital busily occupied with the living and the dying. At a certain moment a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped. When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don’t call this my deathbed. Let it be called the Bed of Life, and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.

Give my sight to the man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby’s face or love in the eyes of a woman. Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain. Give my blood to the teenager who was pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play. Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week.

Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk. Explore every corner of my brain. Take my cells, if necessary, and let them grow so that someday, a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her window. Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow. If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all prejudice against my fellow man. Give my sins to the devil. Give my soul to God. If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked, I will live forever.

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You Say…

You say: “It’s impossible” God says: All things are possible (Luke 18:27)

You say: “I’m too tired” God says: I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: “Nobody really loves me” God says: I love you (John 3:16 & John 13:34)

You say: “I can’t go on” God says: My grace is sufficient (II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: “I can’t figure things out” God says: I will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say: “I can’t do it” God says: You can do all things (Philippians 4:13)

You say: “I’m not able” God says: I am able (II Corinthians 9:8)

You say: “It’s not worth it” God says: It will be worth it (Roman 8:28)

You say: “I can’t forgive myself” God says: I FORGIVE YOU (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1) this one’s my favorite! 🙂

You say: “I can’t manage” God says: I will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19)

You say: “I’m afraid” God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear (II Timothy 1:7)

You say: “I’m always worried and frustrated” God says: Cast all your cares on ME (I Peter 5:7)

You say: “I don’t have enough faith” God says: I’ve given everyone a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)

You say: “I’m not smart enough” God says: I give you wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30)

You say: “I feel all alone” God says: I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

Pass this on, you never know whose life maybe in need of this today!

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9 Short Stories.

Short Inspirational stories are powerful reads;

The great thing about them is that they’re so easy to digest, and there’s always a moral at the end of the story.

Whether they’re true stories or not is another thing, as many of them are legends supposedly hundreds of years old.

However, the stories that I’m talking about are so powerful and inspirational that many of them really do get you thinking and even leave you speechless at times.

I’ve been reading plenty of these short stories in the past couple of weeks and found the lessons behind them truly wonderful. So I’ve decided to write out this article highlighting the 9 most inspirational short stories I’ve heard.

Next to the subheadings, in brackets, I’ve put what the story’s lesson is all about, with a short description of the moral of the story at the end of each section.

The Elephant Rope (Belief)

A gentleman was walking through an elephant camp, and he spotted that the elephants weren’t being kept in cages or held by the use of chains.

All that was holding them back from escaping the camp, was a small piece of rope tied to one of their legs.

As the man gazed upon the elephants, he was completely confused as to why the elephants didn’t just use their strength to break the rope and escape the camp. They could easily have done so, but instead, they didn’t try to at all.

Curious and wanting to know the answer, he asked a trainer nearby why the elephants were just standing there and never tried to escape.

The trainer replied;

“when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The only reason that the elephants weren’t breaking free and escaping from the camp was that over time they adopted the belief that it just wasn’t possible.

Moral of the story:

No matter how much the world tries to hold you back, always continue with the belief that what you want to achieve is possible. Believing you can become successful is the most important step in actually achieving it.

Thinking Outside The Box (Creative Thinking)

In a small Italian town, hundreds of years ago, a small business owner owed a large sum of money to a loan-shark. The loan-shark was a very old, unattractive looking guy that just so happened to fancy the business owner’s daughter.

He decided to offer the businessman a deal that would completely wipe out the debt he owed him. However, the catch was that we would only wipe out the debt if he could marry the businessman’s daughter.

Needless to say, this proposal was met with a look of disgust.

The loan-shark said that he would place two pebbles into a bag, one white and one black.

The daughter would then have to reach into the bag and pick out a pebble. If it was black, the debt would be wiped, but the loan-shark would then marry her. If it was white, the debt would also be wiped, but the daughter wouldn’t have to marry the loan-shark.

Standing on a pebble-strewn path in the businessman’s garden, the loan-shark bent over and picked up two pebbles.

Whilst he was picking them up, the daughter noticed that he’d picked up two black pebbles and placed them both into the bag. He then asked the daughter to reach into the bag and pick one. The daughter naturally had three choices as to what she could have done:

1. Refuse to pick a pebble from the bag. 2. Take both pebbles out of the bag and expose the loan-shark for cheating. 3. Pick a pebble from the bag fully well knowing it was black and sacrifice herself for her father’s freedom.

She drew out a pebble from the bag, and before looking at it ‘accidentally’ dropped it into the midst of the other pebbles. She said to the loan-shark;

“Oh, how clumsy of me. Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”

The pebble left in the bag is obviously black, and seeing as the loan-shark didn’t want to be exposed, he had to play along as if the pebble the daughter dropped was white, and clear her father’s debt.

Moral of the story:

It’s always possible to overcome a tough situation throughout of the box thinking, and not give in to the only options you think you have to pick from.

The Group Of Frogs (Encouragement)

As a group of frogs was traveling through the woods, two of them fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs crowded around the pit and saw how deep it was, they told the two frogs that there was no hope left for them.

However, the two frogs decided to ignore what the others were saying and they proceeded to try and jump out of the pit.

Despite their efforts, the group of frogs at the top of the pit were still saying that they should just give up. That they would never make it out.

Eventually, one of the frogs took heed to what the others were saying and he gave up, falling down to his death. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die.

He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs said, “Did you not hear us?”

The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

Moral of the story:

People’s words can have a big effect on other’s lives. Think about what you say before it comes out of your mouth. It might just be the difference between life and death.

A Pound Of Butter (Honesty)

There was a farmer who sold a pound of butter to a baker. One day the baker decided to weigh the butter to see if he was getting the right amount, which he wasn’t. Angry about this, he took the farmer to court.

The judge asked the farmer if he was using any measure to weight the butter. The farmer replied, “Honor, I am primitive. I don’t have a proper measure, but I do have a scale.”

The judge asked, “Then how do you weigh the butter?”

The farmer replied;

“Your Honor, long before the baker started buying butter from me, I have been buying a pound loaf of bread from him. Every day when the baker brings the bread, I put it on the scale and give him the same weight in butter. If anyone is to be blamed, it is the baker.”

Moral of the story:

In life, you get what you give. Don’t try and cheat others.

The Obstacle In Our Path (Opportunity)

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. He then hid himself and watched to see if anyone would move the boulder out of the way. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it.

Many people loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none of them did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

A peasant then came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to push the stone out of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.

After the peasant went back to pick up his vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been.

The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King explaining that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

Moral of the story:

Every obstacle we come across in life gives us an opportunity to improve our circumstances, and whilst the lazy complain, the others are creating opportunities through their kind hearts, generosity, and willingness to get things done.

Control Your Temper (Anger)

There once was a little boy who had a very bad temper. His father decided to hand him a bag of nails and said that every time the boy lost his temper, he had to hammer a nail into the fence.

On the first day, the boy hammered 37 nails into that fence.

The boy gradually began to control his temper over the next few weeks, and the number of nails he was hammering into the fence slowly decreased.

He discovered it was easier to control his temper than to hammer those nails into the fence.

Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father the news and the father suggested that the boy should now pull out a nail every day he kept his temper under control.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.

“You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”

Moral of the story:

Control your anger, and don’t say things to people in the heat of the moment, that you may later regret. Some things in life, you are unable to take back.

The Blind Girl (Change)

There was a blind girl who hated herself purely for the fact she was blind. The only person she didn’t hate was her loving boyfriend, as he was always there for her. She said that if she could only see the world, she would marry him.

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her – now she could see everything, including her boyfriend. Her boyfriend asked her, “now that you can see the world, will you marry me?”

The girl was shocked when she saw that her boyfriend was blind too, and refused to marry him. Her boyfriend walked away in tears, and later wrote a letter to her saying:

“Just take care of my eyes dear.”

Moral of the story:

When our circumstances change, so does our mind. Some people may not be able to see the way things were before, and might not be able to appreciate them. There are many things to take away from this story, not just one.

This is one of the inspirational short stories that left me speechless.

Puppies For Sale (Understanding)

A shop owner placed a sign above his door that said: “Puppies For Sale.”

Signs like this always have a way of attracting young children, and to no surprise, a boy saw the sign and approached the owner;

“How much are you going to sell the puppies for?” he asked.

The store owner replied, “Anywhere from $30 to $50.”

The little boy pulled out some change from his pocket. “I have $2.37,” he said. “Can I please look at them?”

The shop owner smiled and whistled. Out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his shop followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur.

One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, “What’s wrong with that little dog?”

The shop owner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn’t have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame.

The little boy became excited. “That is the puppy that I want to buy.”

The shop owner said, “No, you don’t want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I’ll just give him to you.”

The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store owner’s eyes, pointing his finger, and said;

“I don’t want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I’ll pay full price. In fact, I’ll give you $2.37 now, and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for.”

The shop owner countered, “You really don’t want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies.”

To his surprise, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the shop owner and softly replied, “Well, I don’t run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!”

Box Full Of Kisses (Love)

Some time ago, a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, “This is for you, Daddy.”

The man became embarrassed by his overreaction earlier, but his rage continue when he saw that the box was empty. He yelled at her; “Don’t you know, when you give someone a present, there is supposed to be something inside?”

The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and cried;

“Oh, Daddy, it’s not empty at all. I blew kisses into the box. They’re all for you, Daddy.”

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness.

Only a short time later, an accident took the life of the child.

Her father kept the gold box by his bed for many years and, whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

Moral of the story:

Love is the most precious gift in the world.

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Good Girl.

You know how she feels, only you aren’t doing anything about it. 

She’s nice. She treats you well. And she cares.

You know no matter how you treat her, it won’t change the way she treats you.

She makes it easy.

So you keep her tucked away, like some backup plan.

In case all those girls you go for, don’t answer or leave you stag.

You know she’d be anywhere you’d ask her to and do anything you’d want.

But there is something about these other types of girls.

You know the ones you want, but can’t have.

The ones who play as good of a game as you do.

The ones who keep you on your toes.

But the only thing each of you are gaining from it is, who cares less and who can show that.

Meanwhile, this other girl has given you her absolute best.

She’s the one who answers too quickly and cares too deeply.

And makes things a little too obvious.

She’s the one you know your mom would like.

And that’s the problem. You know she’d be good for you, yet there is something holding you back.

There’s nothing mysterious about her.

There’s nothing about her that keeps you guessing.

She’s blunt, honest, and forward to a point where it leaves you speechless, because you don’t know what to say to her sometimes.

Unlike the other girls, yes they both have confidence, but it’s a different type of confidence. It’s a confidence in who she is and how she feels when the other one is confident that you want her.

You know the girl plays you. She answers back hours later. She keeps you wondering what exactly she’s doing, that she opened your snap but isn’t answering. And it irks you. Because we all want what we can’t have. 

Guys, you claim you want a decent girl, but the second you meet one, you don’t see it or choose not to. You look at her flaws as excuses to reject her. You look for every reason you shouldn’t give it a go. And the truth is, if you look for reasons, you’ll always find them. You turn her down before you even give her a fair shot.

But you also like having her there. You like knowing someone likes you even if you can’t reciprocate it. Anyone’s confidence gets boosted when someone cares for them.

So you pull her in just a little so you know you have her, then you push her away just to watch her try harder. One day you appear to care and the next you appear heartless. It’s a game with you.

But the thing about good girls is, they don’t play by those rules.

They just do their own thing and hope one day it works.

So while you are fumbling through how you feel, caring about the attention of girls, who play games as good as you do, what you’re really missing out on is a chance to fall for someone who won’t keep you guessing.

Someone whose love will heal you.

Someone who will make you better.

Maybe you aren’t ready for someone like her.

We think love is something that’s supposed to be hard to get, but there are some girls who make it easy because it’s supposed to be.

Guys , you wonder why you haven’t met a good girl? You have, but you’re telling yourself she isn’t what you want.

Sometimes though, the things we want in life aren’t always what’s best for us, but we owe it to ourselves to take a chance at the things we need.

And maybe you don’t know how much you need her yet.

It kills me to see these girls look at their reflection, not with admiration, but with questions wondering why they aren’t good enough.

It kills me to see these girls try so hard only to not get it reciprocated.

It kills me to see girls thinking they need to change to be what he wants.

She never stops trying. She stands beside him being what he needs when he’s everything she wants. And she plays the friend role listening as he speaks about other women, complaining about this one and that one. And she’s just standing there wondering, “how does someone not see him the way I do?” But she stays quiet. She plays the role he needs her to because that’s what friends do.

Being just friends is a form of selfless love that is deeper than any.

Girls, I promise you the love you give is something that comes back to you.

Your ability to love unconditionally when you aren’t gaining much out of it, in return makes you one of the most beautiful people because of it.

You’re loving someone just to love them without having to make them yours.

To those girls, I say keep loving as hard as you do. Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.

And maybe you aren’t getting the relationship you want because you deserve more. You deserve someone who knows they want you and only you. You deserve someone who wouldn’t dare make the mistake of making you just a friend.

And to every guy who wonders where the quality girls are in their life, I want you to look at the one girl standing right next to you, because she’s right there and she’s probably been there a while, trying so hard to get you to notice her. 

Take a chance on her because if you don’t, someone else will, and that’s when you’re going to regret it.