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Esther Grace's Letter




Dear Me,


Thanks for all your hard work all these times! My birth and upbringing were neither a choice nor a mistake. Life is not perfect. I experienced lots of breakdowns. I grew up with domestic abuse and school bullying. Every time I shared my experience with others, I cried as I shared. It was shocking for my schoolmates, especially because I seemed to be perfect – a happy top student filled with dreams and kindness. In reality, my empathy came from the suffering I went through, growing up wasn’t easy, it was incredibly hard. In the past, I was afraid to let others know my experience, I was afraid they would not understand or respect me.


However, growing up, I now see how the hardships of my past shaped me into the person I am today. I was not defeated and I did not give up.I must acknowledge myself: I came all the way here, it was not easy, I appreciate the effort, and it is going to be better! I fully accept myself, my birth and the environment was neither a choice nor a mistake. I have never had bad intentions or done anything wrong, I just had unusual experiences which were difficult, and I had to work hard on my own to face them and grow from them.


I am grateful that I always have people who give me light and hope in my life. The specialist of Accident and Emergency Department, my schoolmates, my principal, my teachers and so on. They all lent me their helping hands and care in my darkest time, they stood up for me and protected me, and I will always remember and bless them. They have always been like the stars in the night, lighting up the darkness to give me hope and power to go on.


In a training a year ago, I experienced serious bullying. Since then, I have experienced post-trauma stress symptoms, they became severe and atypical. They were signs of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), which is not listed in DSM-5. The most painful symptom was the constant flashbacks, as if I kept returning to the horrible memory of my childhood. These feelings of helplessness and fear attacked me anytime. It made me feel anxious and depressed. I felt like my self-esteem and confidence were shattered. I had to fight with all my might, and use psychotherapy to calm and ground myself.

I had difficulty focusing on my daily studies. I even doubted my ability. I wanted to give up. Not being able to focus was frustrating! I was really worried and torn. “Will I get well? Will I be discriminated against?” Fortunately, after one to two months of hard work, I have steadied my emotions and almost all the symptoms have gone. I had a well matched clinical psychologist. She steadied me again and again and allowed me to regain the confidence to return to the past traumas for deep processing and therapy. So that my wounds can actually recover bit by bit. I looked forward to every appointment, as I looked forward to becoming a version of myself with more confidence and power.


Perhaps, you are facing something challenging; perhaps, you are experiencing a mental illness. But I want to tell you, no matter how hard it is, it can pass. Believe in recovery, believe in the professionals, believe in hope, you will get better! Everyone can get sick, but it’s okay, you can be healed. After that, you will understand and empathise with people’s stories and suffering better. Having C-PTSD is like having multiple mood disorders at the same time, I can feel others' pain. I can contribute more in advocating for mental health and reducing the stigma, and I also hope to become a better psychotherapist with higher capability. This experience became my glory, I am victorious and glamorous!



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