Brittany, 21, US

12227033_503962926444902_6058600597976297296_n“I’m a student going to university, working part-time to pay the bills. I also volunteer, ministering to & loving on the young people within the heart of my native-born city.
I was physically assaulted by an immediate family member in January of 2014, triggering a late onset of PTSD due to repeated physical abuse I experienced during my childhood.

Post-traumatic stress disorder… I never thought something in your mind could affect your body in such a real way: feeling the weight of each breath you take, knowing it should be involuntary but isn’t; keeping you up at night and tying you down in the morning.
I felt guilt and shame when the anxiety first hit as if I should be stronger and more in control than what I was. I wanted the emotional scars to be gone, and the pain to be lifted.
Now I have had to learn to change my perspective and have a little faith. Heck, the last two Sunday’s in a row I laid in bed all day because my anxiety was debilitating… But days like that just make me appreciate the good so much more and make me thankful to be alive and feel the air fill my lungs. It has humbled me and taught me how to love others in a deeper, more meaningful way. It has taught me to love myself, even the parts I don’t like or want. And lastly, it has taught me an infinity of patience… which I sometimes thank God for with a tight smile.

If I can leave you with any advice, it is to surround yourself with those that will love you when you’re unlovable and will challenge you when you can be more. Laugh loudly. Cry often. Pray. Let yourself feel and to grieve. Love yourself through the process.

Living with a mental illness doesn’t define you or mean you are broken or unfixable. It makes you a survivor. Keep fighting that good fight & stay golden”

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