Aspiring author J-EveUally has been living with undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder since 10 years of age. Here he writes about finding himself at the Wellways Adult Step Up, Step Down program in the Australian Capital Territory and what led him there.

My life was spiralling downward emotionally. All this time I’d been trying to hold up and encourage everyone around me, while inside I’d been trying to overcome all of the monstrosities I’d witnessed. I hadn‘t been looking after myself. And it was taking all my strength to run on empty and not feel like a monster myself.

Through philosophy, imagination, creativity, emotion, poetry, fictional adventures, reading, Scrabble and reading the dictionary as a child, writing had become a safe place and healthy outlet for me. Creative expression allowed me to explore and learn emotional depths.

Things looked good on the surface. My family deserved the best I could give and I always took last place. After years of silent struggle, I started trying to finally look after myself, and it was hard to face - my whole life, I never had.

I took it a few steps at a time, by doing something for myself once a week, something I would have done for a loved one in a heartbeat. Putting myself first left me distraught and fraught with insecurity. I wasn't able to put myself back together again. Like Humpty Dumpty, I had fallen off the wall but lost some of the pieces.

My struggle with PTSD - with no foundation around me - lead to a breaking down and I tumbled through the health system. Thankfully, the misunderstandings and mistreatment I experienced, with incorrect diagnosis, were not ongoing. Eventually, I entered the Adult Step Up Step Down (ASUSD)  program, a part of Wellways. Though I was difficult to understand at times, I was acknowledged for who I am; and despite my anxiety, I was accepted and encouraged to keep working on myself.

There, daily encouragement and support has at times been overwhelming, because I'm so used to abuse following such things - not readily being accepted and accommodated. It hasn't all been easy, for my anxiety keeps holding me back: thinking I won't be accepted, and expecting abuse. But following each event I've encountered caring individuals, trying to understand me and my complex integral way of thinking.

This is really unusual for me. It's a relief to have people from different walks of life listen, and feel like I won't go unnoticed again. It's definitely helped me do a lot of work on regaining control of my life, and within me.

It feels as though my life is back in my own hands again. I find myself finally looking after me, for me, without anybody else needing to be in the equation! 

I'm focusing on myself for the first time, without having panic attacks about what I've been through. I feel safe, in myself, and in my life, with what I'm doing, with aspirations, in what I am pursuing.

Not to mention how good it has been, to meet other participants, who are trying to do the same thing, in their own way. I cannot express enough, the mutual comfort it brings to find others to communicate with about similar, or otherwise trying circumstances. Misery generally loves company, but here you're finding people trying to improve upon their situations and as much as you're learning from their experiences, you can help them as well by overcoming yours.

The program has really let me define myself, encouraging my development and planning my own goals with support and consistency, without getting in the way of my personal growth and direction. This is a really difficult supporting role to achieve for anyone, and demands a certain level of awareness from all involved. For this, I am most thankful. I'm also thankful for the information they have shared with me, and encouragement to pursue supports that could help me, at my own discretion.

I'm proud to have ASUSD in our community, for they are doing something for members of the community that might previously seemed non-existent. This is the kind of help I'd been needing. It’s been incredible to learn how to cope with my trauma, so I can keep going down the road of learning to love me, for me, and grow.

Nobody else has given this kind of support to me. So for now, and evermore, I'm `doing me‘. I'm not leaving myself out anymore. I'm now ready to build a career that gives me purpose and pursue a lifestyle where I'm involved in my community.

This has laid a foundation for me to focus on myself daily, without having anxiety attacks but rather a positive outlook. It‘s enabled me to keep hoping and trusting in the goodness of others, and know that they seek understanding, which I found almost impossible to do before. And I really want to share the answers I found in the depth of the darkness I have wandered. It may inspire or help others. I'll continue to write my message, so people can see, that there really is always a way forward, out of the bad and into the good heartful pursuits in life.

I believe I am delivering a testimony, if you will, through writing not only this, but my books. And though I am near panic stricken with wishing I knew how things are going to turn out in my life, I'm doing my best, despite how prone to stress and worry I have been. So all I can say is that I'm still doing my best, in all things.

J-EveUalley is a new Australian author from Canberra, and has released his first book free online, on his website. It's a story about a villainous necromancer, named Ytinav. This is the first book in a nine book series!