Meet Virginia: The Invisible Little Girl, Now Making Herself Known

“It’s funny. The day you feared the most, the day you realized you were not going to climb Mount Everest has come and gone, and you did not collapse in a small plume of smoke of the nothingness you perceived your life to be, but rather you got up, went to work, came home, played with your dog, and made supper.”  (From The Awakening, August 23, 2015 )

My name is Virginia, and to look at me you would never guess that I struggle with major depression and PTSD. This is #myinvisiblefight.

I am successful in my career as a writer, happily married, well-traveled and loved by my friends and family.

Severe childhood trauma compounded with years of untreated depression trapped me in a prison of despair. Unfortunately, my mother was adamant about not seeking treatment because she thought I would never get a job, and a single visit to a psychiatrist would be burned onto my “permanent record,” which I’ve since learned doesn’t really exist!

I am a musician and an artist; that part of me has always been alive. But in my adolescent years, my introspective song writing, poetry, and paintings were not enough to overcome the sadness of my past.

I struggled through school.

Virginia as a child
That innocent smile could fool anyone into thinking that Virginia was perfectly fine as a child. But only she knew the war that was waging inside.

I was always exhausted because I would wake up at the slightest noise and then not be able to go back to sleep, but somehow, I earned a BA with honors and then made a very poor decision to jump into marriage with a Wall Street commodities trader in New York, who expected me to paint the world in colors that he could understand.

It was dark and I was empty. Post-divorce, I began searching for answers.

In the 1980s, anti-depression medication had just begun to gain traction in the pharma world. I saw therapists, psychiatrists, general practitioners, and had there been a witch doctor or medicine man I probably would’ve ended up on those couches too.

Finding the proper treatment was a fight in itself. I might as well have taken tic-tacs – nothing worked for me. When I was most depressed, I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t answer the phone, or wash my hair. All I wanted to do was sleep, but with PTSD, deep sleep is non-existent.

I was always on edge; watching, listening. I believed it was my job to protect the universe, and if no one else was standing guard, I had to. I was frequently disconnected from reality. On the other side of the looking glass, lived Virginia.

Virginia at a younger age

I moved to Florida and I met a pediatric psychiatrist who saw in me the traumatized five year old who stared back at me in the mirror. He diagnosed and began to treat my depression, anxiety, and PTSD simultaneously, as if I was a soldier who had returned from war. Knowing that I was an artist, he was very careful not to over medicate me, and after two weeks the combination of medication was working.

I remember phoning him and saying:

“This is how people are supposed to feel isn’t it?”

For the first time in memory, I began to sleep without terrifying nightmares.

There was great clarity in my thought.

The fatigue was gone and the fear and sadness subsided.

I began to create art, poetry and music again.

I felt happy and sad, and angry and glad, just like everybody else. I know that my battle is all uphill. Sometimes I near the summit and you slip a few feet. But I keep pushing forward.

When I see young Virginia through the looking glass, I wish I could touch her face gently and tell her everything will be okay—someday.

It took me a long time to find the proper treatment; more than twenty years in fact. But my invisible fight still exists today.

I can’t walk into a room or a new place without surveying it, finding the exits and seating myself in direct view of a door. I am hyper-vigilant; loud, un-expected noises can make me jump out of my skin, scream, and even faint. This can be very embarrassing; especially at work in an open office room—like when someone drops something right behind me and I yell like I am being stabbed.

I ask co-workers to give me a heads-up if they’re going to make a commotion or I should expect to hear a bang! My (keeper) husband is great about yelling to me from the basement when he is shuffling through boxes or throwing the laundry basket down the stairs.

I play music or blog when I need to express my feelings or there’s something on my mind. I can see the beauty in the world around me, and I have hope.

It isn’t always easy, but I am proof that you can get better. I never thought I would live past the age of 30, but here I am 27 years later, understanding and accepting of the normality of emotional ebbs and flows, and mental highs and lows.

There were so many times that suicide seemed like the only answer, that nothing would ever get better—just know that type of thinking is part of the disease. IT WILL GET BETTER. I promise.

#Invisiblefight? I have two: Major Depression and PTSD, but I no longer suffer in silence.

Virginia nowEditor’s Note:

Depression is an invisible illness. It is a sometimes fatal disease that few people are willing to talk about because of the pervading stigma surrounding all forms of mental illness. If you, or someone you love, has depression and/or anxiety, help is available, regardless of your ability to pay. It’s not an easy road to feel better, and sometimes there is a lot of try and try again–but mental illness is treatable and help is available.

How Virginia is Shining Light on the Invisible:

Virginia is an independent artist and her music can be heard on Spotify and iTunes. (Virginia Wagner: Albums: Broken Hearted Angel 1994, Darkness Visible 2007 – Anvil Records). She welcomes you to check out her blog, A Light Beyond the Hedge: Poetry and Somewhat Social Commentary at www.Muse217.WordPress.com. Images sourced from blog.

eclipse-of-mrs-moon-cover-bookbaby_VirginiaImage of VA’s book, The Eclipse of Mrs. Moon: published as an e-book, available for Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc., Click here to purchase. ” The Eclipse of Mrs. Moon tells the story of Linda, a nine-year-old girl who is navigating the world in an emotional void until she meets Mrs. Moon, the elderly antiques dealer, who lives across the street. Both Linda and her mother, are in grave danger because Linda’s mother has stolen a key from a very dangerous man, who desperately wants it back. The story weaves a beautiful, yet frightening tapestry of the powerlessness of childhood, and salvation that comes in the form of unconditional love.”

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