My True Life Story: How One Assistant Got Help For PTSD

As True Life: I have PTSD showed, many U.S. soldiers who served in Iraq currently suffer from symptoms of the disorder. But Post Traumatic Stress Disorder doesn't only affect war veterans -- anyone who has experienced major trauma can be afflicted. Below, production assistant Melissa Vonderhaar tells her emotional story and echoes Arthur, Adam and Kenny's sentiments that help is indeed out there.

Working as an online production assistant on the True Life series, rarely has any topic hit as close to home as True Life: I Have PTSD. Although I’ve never served in combat, I too suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder like the men in this episode. While PTSD is a growing issue amongst our veterans, the disorder affects people who have suffered any kind of major trauma: domestic violence, surviving natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, or in my case, sexual abuse as a child.

I spent more than 10 years in denial, coping with intense bouts of insomnia, visions of my attacker and panic attacks that felt more like heart failure. The effects of the disorder often baffled my friends, interfered with my school and work responsibilities and made it all but impossible to maintain a romantic relationship. This all changed when I decided to accept my past and seek treatment. It took years, but I learned how to manage my symptoms and finally come clean about my past to those closest to me. Like too many with PTSD, I feared people would think I was weak or was faking it. Instead, I found that 99 percent of the people I told were nothing but incredibly supportive and often thought of me as a stronger person.

Since “coming out,” I’ve met many other people who suffer from PTSD. While not all of them have experienced the success I have with treatment, I can tell you one thing: I have yet to meet someone who has sought help and not seen some kind of positive results. I highly encourage anyone who thinks they (or someone care about) may have PTSD to visit the links below for more information on the disorder and where they can get help.

The Sidran Traumatic Stress Institute

The National Institute Of Mental Health