My story is a story of guilt, violence, shame, and ridicule. Of too many traumatic events. Of growing up in a war zone (literally and figuratively).
Of domestic violence,
Of domestic sexual molestation,
Of real world – terror.
And all of these together, and their consequences on my brain/heart/soul (if you believe in that).
My name is Shrek.
And I have PTSD, CPTSD, OCD and depression (self diagnosed, but none of my therapists ever disagreed with me).
I was born in a middle eastern country, and grew up there, and in the U.S.
I don’t remember a time when I was not beaten by my older brother (to the point of lying on the ground and still being kicked). When he started reaching puberty he started doing other things (I was 9 at that time). That’s when my OCD started, that’s when, I remember that I started washing my hands excessively and showering. Later I got angry, really angry. Eventually – I focused the anger at myself and depression started. For some years, I didn’t remember. I still don’t remember a lot, and I’m slowly remembering more and more (which is not a fun process).
I would say my abuse at the hands of my brother, coupled with my parents’ neglect, are the source of my CPTSD. The fact that I’m male (and was molested by a male) doesn’t help. My internal battle as to the scope of my consenting/not consenting to what happened – worsens this still. Hence – the OCD (and other anxieties I have).
I enlisted into the military and was a combat medic – this put me in harms way numerous times (mortar – shelled, etc) – another more classic source for PTSD. I was also the first respondent to a terrorist bombing in 2 cafés – which gave me additional PTSD as well as enhanced my OCD (I now don’t touch anything on the floor, or that was on the floor – I can answer why, but you won’t like it).
I did save at least one man’s life though (I think).
When I was discharged – (my OCD was suppressed when I was in the military, but I did have depression and sat staring at the barrel of a gun more than one night). I started to get more depressed, and my OCD came back, after seeing a movie focused around rape, flashbacks of sexual abuse started inching their way back to my mind to the point I was about to commit suicide but was (maybe-still not sure it was good all in all) saved by a friend who took me to counseling.
I’ve been in therapy for 10 of the last 15 years. I’ve also tried different types of medications:
Prozac, Cipralex, Luvox, and others, in various dosages.
For a while I was free from OCD and depression, but that never lasted, and an OCD that was compulsion based turned into obsession- based.
Basically meaning, from having a need to wash my hands/self to the point I feel clean, my mind started building rituals that needed to happen for me to be “clean”, and these are a lot more difficult to “shake”.
It’s not a fear of germs, it’s more of a fear of losing control.
My traumas shaped my OCD, the bathroom being the only safe room for me in our apartment (the only room with a lock). The military traumas added their own – I don’t pick up things that have been on the floor (after picking up pieces of people). But the military also honed my suppression mechanisms (medics are good that way) and gave me a dark sense of humor, and sarcasm, a lot of sarcasm…
I don’t trust therapists in general, and was raised in a “macho” environment, one in which boys (and men) don’t cry or tell anyone what bothers them. You grit your teeth and trudge on. Everyone who doesn’t is viewed as “soft” (in a derogatory way). Every time I tried to break away from that – I got ridiculed or shaken off (a father who tells you to “go wash your hands”, a mother who – when you tell her that you think you have OCD, says “everyone has OCD to some degree”).
I never fit into that completely and kept trying, but I still have issues opening up and talking about what I’ve been through/what I feel – which almost destroyed my marriage 3 times.
I’m really trying now (hence my writing this).