Jess | PTSD Empowerment

• August 21st, 2020 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

These sessions have become to mean so much to me. Trauma can have such awful and long lasting effects. Learning how to cope and manage them can take years learning tools, coping skills, defense mechanisms and more. And for many, it can go undiagnosed for years. Taking time to SHARE the struggle and the ups and downs of the journey through PTSD is something I am so VERY proud to have done.

Please welcome Jess to my blog. She is such a kind and beautiful young lady who has suffered from trauma since she was a young girl. Here is her story, in her own words.

 I wanted to do the PTSD/anxiety shoot with Devon; because, although I’ve shared my experiences with a few friends, I really trust Devon and wanted her to share with other victims her capturing myself and to encourage others to speak out about their struggles as well. 

 As I thought of what I wanted to share during my session, I thought of the numerous experiences I’ve had with anxiety throughout my whole life.

Growing into the woman I am today, I find that many young women are often shamed if they don’t have a good relationship with their mothers. At least that is how my story has felt.

It becomes hard on us to speak our story when other people, especially women, work to break you down. This is so heartbreaking when you are already struggling with having a bad relationship with the woman who gave birth to you. If you don’t agree with someone they just stop listening, and you get talked over or spoken at. Your name becomes spat on and you’re just this “stubborn” woman who has all of these agendas when you can barely keep up with your own life and goals for the days. I think the world has had enough of the people who just dismiss others and gossip. We that try to speak about our pain have often felt silenced or unheard.

I struggled early on in my life from being sexually abused, I didn’t have a trusting adult to go too. Was moved away from my extended family when I was about 5-6. I was far too young, and though my mom would often ask what happened, I felt smothered and far too embarrassed to say anything. And in time I pushed the memories away, at least from what I remember. I’ve often found myself shaky as well as dismissing anyone that would share their feelings for me. Some days I find myself wanting that true love, other days I find myself struggling to be the independent woman I’ve never really had a chance to be. Often I feel “stuck” unable to move forward.

For me, the image that stood out to me the most was the mirror images. Because of my past traumas, I’ve often thought of myself of this less than beautiful woman and always looking at ways to improve my appearance. And often, the beauty others might see outwardly, is much different than what I am feeling on the inside. I struggle with self confidence and I wanted to portray that in this session.

It has been a long struggle to get to where I am today. But I am proud to say, I am a fighter who has fought hard overcome my past. I am a survivor! Thank you for listening to my story. So very glad Devon captured it so well and I hope, though hearing and seeing my story, you are able to find the courage to fight a little harder, share your story and find the survivor in you too! ~Jess

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.