recipe for an amazing pasta salad + what life has been like with PTSD

October 1, 2018

What a double-whammy I have for you here.


let’s start with the pasta salad recipe I promised months ago 😉

It’s this amazing trumpet pasta made from mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach. Cooked and then cooled. Add chopped up Romaine lettuce, some onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and basically whatever other veggies you like. Then some oil & vinegar and we added a seasoning we bought from the Farmer’s Market in Anacortes from a company called “Island Salts.” Honestly, best pasta salad ever. Danielle and Hailey added some sort of cheese to theirs, but obviously, I am not the cheese queen so I definitely don’t remember what kind it was…


Now, on to the fun stuff. Kinda.

That was a bad joke. This actually won’t be fun at all.

But hey, I think talking about the reality of what living with undiagnosed and then diagnosed PTSD is so important. And I wish someone had told me that what I was experiencing was normal in those moments.


The first time I knew something bad had happened was within days of the incident while shopping at a Petsmart. I had taken my dog in to get him fitted for a new harness. The guy helping me stood a little too close and all the blood rushed to my head. I was dizzy. I was confused. I just wanted to buy the harness and leave. I literally paid and then ran out of that store and couldn’t even make eye contact.

He hadn’t even touched me, but I got out to my car and immediately started crying. I had no idea why.

I was still dating the man who assaulted me because I couldn’t remember what he had done. But I also knew I couldn’t tell him about this interaction with a stranger.

So I stayed quiet.


Two weeks later… we were broken up and there were all sorts of rumors about why flying around. I’m still not even sure why we broke up. But I knew I wasn’t sad about it. I didn’t cry or yell or get angry. I, in some weird way, was relieved.

The next two times that I could tell something was off was a few days after we had broken up. They both happened on the same day. During the same shift. First, my manager at Starbucks put his arm on my side to let me know he was behind me and needed into the fridge at my feet, so I needed to step to the side. Not an unusual occurrence in a busy Starbucks on a Saturday morning.

Suddenly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

Apparently, it was obvious because he looked at me and asked if I was okay and I couldn’t even get out an answer.

Thankfully my shift ended about 10 minutes later.

Where I immediately ran into a family friend and he and his wife both hugged me hello and again… I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk. I could just stare at them with no idea what was wrong.

I just knew that every time someone touched me I would stop breathing and feel light headed and lost and afraid. But hey, I was probaby fine, right?

So again, I stayed quiet.


I remember a few nights later laying on my floor in my bathroom texting my best friend Abby while crying and having no idea why or what was actually wrong. I just knew something was wrong and I was so hurt.


My ex’s family was still saying terrible things about me to our mutual friends. I didn’t know why.

But now I know it was to protect someone they love.


I had all these symptoms and no memories that could explain them.

Once the memories started to come back… I was shocked, but not surprised. I was overwhelmed. I was sad. I was glad to know what happened that night… even though I still can’t remember it all. I was angry. I was hurt. I wanted it all to go away.

And once those memories started to come back they flooded my brain. I couldn’t focus at work. I couldn’t focus at church. I refused to go see any of my friends. I quit working at Starbucks where my entire support system in the South Sound was.

I removed anyone from my life who would encourage me to seek the help I needed because I wasn’t ready.


Then I saw so many survivors coming forward about Larry Nassar.

Suddenly, I felt like I could be heard.

I felt like there was a space to speak.


I started small.

I started by telling the truth about what happened to me to one friend. Then another.


Eventually, I got to the point where I knew I needed to do something, but I had no idea what. I knew I needed to reach out and ask for help, but had no idea where to go to get that help.


Months later I found myself crying in my lead pastor’s car telling he and another pastor what happened. Then I’m on the phone filing a police report with a cop in Berkeley, California. Next, I’m trying to get a protection order and bawling my eyes out to a judge who grants temporary protection.

Now I find myself in a meeting with my pastors sitting with me and a team from the church my abuser still works for. I’m asked questions by his church like, “What were you wearing?” “Were you drugged?” “Why do you think you can’t remember every detail?” “How ‘far’ had you two gone before this?”

Then the next judge says I waited too long to report because it was basically already the end of June again (it hadn’t even been 6 months yet) and that I was too friendly immediately after it happened so I clearly didn’t need protection.

I have to see his family there and a pastor from his church. I have one friend with me and an advocate from a sexual assault center.

Months go by.

I resign at the church I love.

I decide I need to prioritize getting help.

The first doctor I see diagnoses me with PTSD within 5 minutes and restarts me on antidepressants in hopes that will help. She hands me a packet that explains “trauma brain” and how my mind works differently now.

A few weeks later my neighbors start seeing my abuser outside of my home in his car on a semi-regular basis.

My first doctor feels that my needs are beyond what she can handle now, so I need to add more doctors to my already busy life.

I currently have a team of one doctor and three counselors (two of which work together to try to find my right medication).


Some days I laugh at jokes. Other days I sleep all day.

Sometimes I yell at my dog when he is being a little stinker. Other days I actually have patience.

I take six medications every night and two every morning.

I try to talk to at least one of my friends every single day.

I try to go to church and not worry what #churchtoo story is going on behind the scenes.

I try to be open and honest about how I’m really doing even when it’s hard.


I am exhausted. But I am healing.

It’s messy and hard most of the time.

But sometimes I genuinely have a good day. I never thought being hugged without panicking would be a huge milestone in my life. But here I am.

And I will continue to speak out  because I know there is someone else out there that needs to hear me say this…

It’s okay to not be okay. (my personal motto of 2018)

It’s not your fault that someone did this to you.

Yes, what you are going through is normal, but it’s okay that it still sucks most of the time.

I hear you. I love you. I am always willing to listen. 


If you want to see my twitter thread about my plants click here.

5 People reacted on this

  1. Caitlin I am at a loss for words. This brought a rush of emotions and memories of some of the hardest days of my life. I’m so sorry that you had to experience this. I’m sad that this club is gaining more members. I would not wish this on anyone. I love you, I pray for you and I’m glad you have found your voice and you are able to experience better days. Being able to minister to others is a small bit of good that has come out of a horrible situation yet one I’m thankful for, for you and me and my family. Sending you big virtual hugs and much love♡

  2. This will speak right to the heart of the people that were meant to hear it.. and change their lives 💓 ❤️ I know it will. You are so strong and brave C. I admire you!

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