PTSD Empowerment | Constance: My Story

• June 24th, 2020 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

I have begun a new series in the studio called PTSD Empowerment. (PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.) As someone who has been directly affected by PTSD, I believe there needs to be more attention and insight brought to the public. Depression, anxiety, emotional distancing, nightmares, flashbacks, memory problems, trust issues and isolation are just a few of the problems people face. And so many think that PTSD is only for military veterans, which is so false. PTSD can affect anyone who experiences a trauma. It can last for months, years or even a lifetime. This series explores the highs and lows of PTSD and gives my clients a physical, tangible, concert way to express what they feel, from their trauma through their ongoing recovery. It is not my place to share their story from my perspective, so I will be allowing them to share it from theirs. Here is one of my clients words and her story as well as her images we have created and chosen to share with you.

Hello. I am Constance. I am a Christian, a mother, a friend, a massage therapist and have beautiful aspirations similar to all of you. I, as well, have PTSD. A disease that affects my life in all aspects everyday.

I wanted to do this session with Devon; although it was a scary idea to unveil my imperfections. But I wanted to help and bring awareness to those that may not understand PTSD and to empower those that are ashamed. It’s ok to say it out loud or in a picture.

I have had many experiences of death in my life that slowly brought me to this point. My little brother, who had autism, was severely burned from the neck down. I fought by his side for months, I slept in chairs waiting rooms and prayed endlessly. He passed away in my arms after his valiant fight and a piece of me chipped away. Yet still I had to keep my smile and mind together, because who has the time to breakdown when you have two kids under 5, right? Then my best friend and godmother of my children developed an addiction. I loved this woman as my sister. I fought with her often and prayed with her. Then, I got a phone call from a detective and I needed to get her things. She was no longer here to fight, talk to or pray for. But again, I had no time to process her death or breakdown as I now had a husband and five children.

Then unexpectedly, my husband my protector the father of my child passed away suddenly in my home. His last breath was mine as I administered CPR. I was helpless, this death finally broke me. My PTSD was here and present, paralyzing and could not be ignored any longer. I sought help because I had no choice. I could not be a mom,a friend and even an advocate for myself I was mentally dying. I sought God and counseling. With those things came medications everyone is so ashamed of talking about. Which by the way, I was ashamed too, and had to learn to deal with that shame. I eventually got myself a career as massage therapist helping others with their physical pain.

That was 2014. Now in 2020, my stepson was killed by a driver under the influence of drugs and my mind triggered once again. But, through my past traumas, I have learned the tools to help myself the best I can. My images in the photos are what I felt inside. Chained up, balled up weighed down. Pulling my hair in despair, the anxiety and fear for my loved ones that are here and can be gone in a split second. Shame that I can’t keep it together. Silenced with duck tape because no one wants to hear it anymore.

Devon captured it all so well. The photo of me holding my kids was inspiration and such a perfect example of what made me fight so hard. God was and is my anchor. I wanted to make sure we included that in my story.

Becoming a massage therapist allowed me to bring healing to others, which in turn helped me to find and seek my own healing.

I want everyone to know that this is real. That the shame is unwarranted. I want people to know that it’s not simply getting over it, it is a daily struggle. And if you don’t understand the disease, it’s okay to ask. We are not just complaining, we physically and mentally are changed. Please excuse our moody times, anger, depression, our unexplained crying, our fake smiles. We are on a journey of healing. This photo shoot was a piece of that healing. And I hope by stepping out it will help yours  too. God bless you, for I am with you and you are not alone.