I don't like writing about having PTSD. I feel a constant need to apologize for having it because I haven't been in combat or the victim of a violent crime. My therapist says this is a huge part of why I refused to see what was happening for so long.
I suspect she's right.
In 2003, about a week after I'd gone from being the only allergy-free person in my immediate family to the one with more allergies than all of them combined, I had my first run-in with anaphylaxis.
For a few days after my trip to the ER, I would make myself something to eat, but within a few bites, I'd have to stop because I was sweating and shaking and convinced I could feel an itch forming in my throat.
Then I realized if I didn't eat, I'd be totally safe because if I didn't eat, I wouldn't die.
So I stopped eating.
I woke up two days later in the middle of the night, sweating and screaming. I passed out trying to get up. My husband and parents (who'd come up while I was in the ER) forced me to eat two tablespoons of sugar and the next morning, I found myself headed toward my parents' home, where I spent the next six weeks learning to eat again.
It was hell. I wept the first time I ate a bite of chicken. I curled up in a ball on the floor for an hour after eating half a cup of rice. I was so sure I was going to die, but as the weeks went by, I gradually realized I wouldn't die if I ate foods I wasn't allergic to.
I ate a very restricted diet for three years after that, and eventually managed to get into the high double digits of things I would eat without fear. I learned to act like I didn't care that I was allergic to so many things, and it didn't take very long for me to believe it.
It wasn't until I started seeing a therapist in 2011 that I realized I wasn't okay with what had happened. In fact, when I decided to have full allergy testing done again in early 2012 and found myself having nightmares, I kept wondering why I was so scared. I'd had the testing before. It took a while, sure, but it wasn't painful.
My therapist told me that I wasn't afraid of the testing, but that I was very afraid of what might happen afterward because of what had happened before. And after she asked me to talk about what had happened, she showed me a checklist for PTSD symptoms and I found out--nearly nine years later--that I have PTSD.
I'm not nearly as aware or as brave as Megan is, but I've come to see that when I wrote Miracle, it was my subconscious screaming at me to see what was going on inside me. I've always sworn I'd never write about myself or anyone I know, but it turns out that Miracle is the most personal thing I've ever written. It just took me a long time to realize it.
If you or anyone you know has undergone a traumatic experience of any kind, please visit http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/what-are-the-symptoms-of-ptsd.shtml to learn more and make sure you get the help you need.