But, dammit all, I was a "helper" and being a helper proved to be my downfall. You see, I always wanted to fix things and make people happy. And it was this desire to "help" that ultimately led to my "Bam!"
The consensus amongst her family and law enforcement was that her ex boyfriend was holding her in a hunting camp somewhere in the woods. When the ex bf was apprehended by the police on day 5, the girl did not show up and the Search and Rescue went in to look for her.
I ran back towards him with my heart in my throat and panic filling me. What was in the bag? Why was he screaming?
"Omg, omg. It can't be. No, it's not. No. There's no way," I repeated over and over.
Here we were stuck in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception. The Search party was unarmed and we were terrified that whomever had dumped the girl's body was still in the woods watching us.
I was afraid for my life in those moments, worried that the murderer would come for us too.
But I was still a nurse and a caregiver and even though I was overcome with grief, I stayed with the body while the others tried to reach someone on the CB radio. I guess I felt like this poor girl had been left in such an inhuman and undignified manner, there was no way I could leave her alone in the woods for one more minute while we tried to get help. So, overcome with the inhumanity and violence of the situation, I just stood there with her and wept.
Things went from bad to worse in the following days. Our entire Search party was taken to the police station by police escort, boot printed, fingerprinted and individually questioned. I had never received so much as a parking ticket before this, so it was a very traumatic experience for me. The way they question you and gang up on you, it's almost like they're implying that we were somehow responsible or connected to the horror that occurred in the woods.
Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and things started to get worse instead of better. I suddenly became hypervigilant and afraid. Every minute of every waking hour hour, I was constantly on alert and waiting. I fully expected "something" awful to happen to me or someone I loved. I cried constantly and the nightmares continued almost nightly. I started withdrawing from life and, except for work, I stopped leaving the house altogether.
Eventually, I couldn't cope with the demands of my job anymore either. My short term memory was shot and I couldn't even remember simple tasks. I found myself having to write everything down or the information was gone. I even had to set alarms on my phone to remind me to do important things, otherwise I would forget.
I was put off on "stress leave" by my doctor but when I returned to work, four months later, I had a particularly bad shift where I lost two patients within an hour of one another and I went off the deep end. We're talking completely lost it. Like sent to one of the hospital psychiatrists, put off work again and put on medication, lost it. Let me tell you, there's nothing more humiliating than being sent to a psychiatrist at the very hospital where you work.
Anyway, I basically went bat-shit crazy and was formally diagnosed with PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I'm sure most of you have heard of it. Soldiers, police officers, EMT's, Search and Rescue and abused women frequently get it.
I have PTSD.
I was ashamed of it for a really long time but I have come to realise over the years, that it is not my fault. I didn't ask for PTSD, just like the patients I once cared for didn't ask for cancer. It's just something that happened to me and I refuse to be quiet about it anymore.
So this is officially part 1 of my Stu Reardon post. I realise that it's quite long but you need to understand the framework and the background before I get to the part that I am grateful for.
Thanks for following along! Seduction Book 2 is being sent to the formatters. Yahoo! Not long now :)
I hope you are all having a great weekend and I just wanted you to know that I appreciate all of your support. Whether it is by commenting here, leaving me a book review, sending me an email or simply by reading my book. It means the world to me. Truly. Writing has been a long held dream of mine and I thank you for coming along for the ride!
Love to you all,