This is the story of Reetika Trehan and her journey while tackling post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder (BPD), anxiety, and depression.
I have had a bittersweet childhood. While my parents and my two younger siblings were relentless pillars of affection and care, this was also the time I faced sexual abuse—first at the very young age of six and then at 13.
When you are as young as six, it can be tough to articulate what is actually happening to you—especially if the abuser is your own family member. It is difficult to even express your plight to your parents because you are not exactly aware of how to communicate something like this to them. But when it happened again at 13, I fought back. I was more mature and could comprehend that the abuse was wrong—but it wasn’t of much use.
My teenage years were rather tricky because of my experiences of sexual abuse as a child. I was an excellent student when it came to academics. An ideal child who was the captain of her house and was looked up to. My interpersonal relationships weren’t nearly as perfect. Because of my anxiety, I saw the world as black or white. I was overly empathetic where I was wary even of a tone change in someone’s voice while talking to me. I would isolate myself and thus, I was an introvert who had limited friends.
I started dating someone when I was sixteen. He was with me in school, college, and even when I did my MBA. He was overly possessive and would impose far too many restrictions on me. I was not allowed to have friends, specifically guy friends. He would also physically and emotionally abuse me. I drew the line and got out of that relationship at 23, when he sexually abused me.
When everything looked downhill
In August 2017, all hell broke loose. I was suicidal and attempted killing myself more than a few times but failed. I also indulged in substance abuse as a distraction to take my mind off my condition. I was not capable of controlling my emotions. I would scream and abuse my husband (yes, I was married by this time) and my mother.
I would sit on the floor, sob uncontrollably, and beg them to just let me kill myself. I had psychosomatic symptoms where I would have a terrible body ache. I indulged in self-harm and cut myself pretty often. It was then that I visited a psychiatrist and a psychologist to get my life back on track.
The nature of my problem
My psychiatrist prescribed me medication whereas my therapist helped me emotionally and mentally. Together we dug deep into the issue and figured out that my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD) stemmed from all my childhood trauma.
Anxiety and depression were something that grew alongside my other ailments. We observed that the reason my hands would shake in cars was because my previous boyfriend would physically abuse me in the car. He would slap me or slam my head against the dashboard and window. My therapist helped me unfurl my thoughts and taught me that my illness does not define who I am.
Journey to normalcy
I fought all my mental fights with utmost willpower and I am still tackling a few. This is the reason that I call myself a mental health warrior. I began meditation and eliminated my alcohol intake. I made my life more scheduled and fixated myself on being healthier. I fixed my sleep cycle and realized that my illness was only as strong as I would let it be.
Word of advice
I would just want everyone to know that no matter what you are going through, it will get better. Anyone who is facing a mental health issue should make their outlook more positive. It is crucial to reach out and seek help. You need to know that you are not trapped and there is always a way out. Talking and communicating can help you lower your pain. Your struggle will hurt less if you share your story. Forming bonds and looking for support from them is alright. I have always supported mental health and I always say that mental health matters the most.