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Open Conversation: Recovery from PTSD is possible

Posted at 10:18 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 20:05:20-04

WACO, Texas — In December of 2018, 25 News employee O. Gloria Okorie was studying abroad in South Korea. She went out with some friends.

"I was dancing and I got attention, but I didn't really care because in a day or two I was going to be on the other side of the world," she said.

The night was one she will never forget. Okorie was assaulted on the dance floor that night and within a few months symptoms of PTSD began.

"I dropped out of two classes, failed a third," she said. "I would always call out of work and say I was sick when I wasn't. I just didn't want to get up and stay in bed all day."

She struggled with insomnia, panic attacks, and even thoughts of suicide.

"I just wanted the pain to stop," Okorie said. "I was just over it, I was tired."

Even with all of the symptoms, Okorie still didn't believe it when a therapist told her she had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"Isn't that just for people in the army, in the military?" she recalled thinking. "I'm just kind of overreacting, it's not PTSD. It's just me not getting enough sleep."

Dr. Emma Church is a psychologist in Waco. She's also an assault and abuse survivor who suffered from PTSD for years.

Being a therapist, she said she was able to understand what was happening.

"I can't imagine what it would be like to acquire PTSD as a lay person," she said. "I had an awareness of what was going on inside of me and I think that is something for me that really has kept me alive."

Dr. Church sought out therapy after symptoms began to take over her life.

"I can remember times where I was at home by myself and just pacing around my house because I couldn't think about how to leave the house," she said. "I didn't know if I was real or not if the world outside was real."

Even with her awareness of the disorder, recovery from PTSD is a challenge, but it's not impossible.

"All of a sudden, you wake up one day and say 'Oh my God, I'm better," Dr. Church said.

The two women have very different stories, but a very similar ending. Both are speaking out to raise awareness and encourage others to stay strong.

"There is such a difference between 2019 me and 2022 me," Okorie said. "It really does get better."

"Recovery from PTSD feels like a continuing waking up process," Dr. Church said.