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Phoenix: Writing Back to Life

By Amy Hsuan Chiu | Sep 12, 2022, Seattle | insta: @ahcpoetry

Phoenix: Writing Back to Life

I lost a part of me.

I was diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and had to see a therapist every week.

I couldn’t go to sleep and when I did, I felt out of breath, a sense of horror, like something was chasing after me. Staying awake was just as painful as being haunted in my dreams. The doctor recommended the medication route, but I was afraid it’d take away my ability to focus during work, so I stayed on track with counseling and therapy exercises.

Every sentence, every word, and every situation that brought me tears replayed repeatedly in my head. I was scared, upset, and angry all at once. I knew exactly what triggered the pain and who caused those, and I was overwhelmed. My mental state negatively impacted my diet. I ate but did not find joy in the food. I was afraid and ashamed of certain untrue things that were said to me at the dining table. Hearing those demonic voices made me want to vomit and felt ugly inside out.

Fighting and rewiring my brain, I had to tell myself. It was not true. What they said about me was not true. “You are not ugly, and you should take time to eat. It’s okay. You can take your time.” I had to write the exact words down and repeat them. I remember sticking the random notes on pencils, on the bathroom mirror, and in my bags.

There were moments I looked back, wondering how I survived. I had a strong urge to hurt myself during the one year and three months in Taiwan. My boyfriend and best friend took turns checking if I was alive because they weren’t in the same country as me.

For those who know me, I am a determined woman with goals and ambition. I set timelines and challenges for myself, always looking for intellectual stimulation in both my professional field and personal interests. “I couldn’t let my PTSD get in the way,” I thought to myself. I had to work on it in a healthy way. I read and let my close friends know I need help. I let my community know that I needed help.

Luckily, I had an amazing support system when I came back to the states. My friends took the time to sit next to me, spend time with me, and showed up for me. Those little things made a huge difference.

Important things in my life: writing, art, podcast, and music. Those were the reasons I’m still here today. I am going to live for myself. Unfortunately, I still cannot forgive those who stepped down on everything I love.

I miss writing like a lost eagle flying and circling over the ocean, missing the freedom of air, not knowing it was already in it. Something was taken away, abruptly, from the creature. Something damaged the heart vessels, and the rough skin was sealed up, soon, a drop of rain caused the wound to leak, filling the sea with blood again. The arrogance in the eyes was covered with a layer of grey. The wind tried helping, dusting it off. Couldn’t see well, couldn’t protect the damp feather, could no longer fly long hours, it wasn’t time yet.

A lot of people’s time was stolen during the pandemic, and for some, their lives were cut short and taken away. I wanted to be extra cautious, and that went into consideration of delaying my story.

I didn’t remember how or when I fell asleep. Days became nights and sunlight mixed with the moonlight. I couldn’t stop crying or trembling when I put my pen on paper, and there wasn’t any content I felt that was good enough. As an experienced writer, I know every writer feels this way sometimes. But I couldn’t post anything without feeling like I was breaking apart, so I stopped updating my writing and personal accounts. I went off social media.

Without any announcement, I could no longer record my favorite podcast episode. I was afraid and scared every day. I could only hope my panic attack did not frequently occur on important days. I needed to stay strong for myself, and I kept pushing.

I was recovering, and one day last August, I was proposed to by the love of my life. I felt loved and accepted by him.

Sharing the news with my direct family caused another layer of pain and their change of attitude worsened my PTSD. Seeing or hearing every notification on any device raised my heartbeat, and I could no longer take it.

I looked forward to being a bride. I wanted to marry him. I’ve thought through it, and all I wanted to hear was “coregulations” but instead I was shamed. I wanted to celebrate, but I couldn’t. My close family friends asked me to lie and cover up with more lies, making their lives better. Some punished my joy with weapons of the same untrue comments. It was like dirt water coming back up from the bottom of my throat, pulling my organs tighter and stuffing my room with childhood trauma. I could not help myself but clean every corner of the house, the sink, and the floor. It was clean, but I could not stop myself from cleaning it once again.

It was never the same, with them.

I could not explain. And I started to lose memories. I had to write down extra notes for myself to function at work and during the day. Every day felt like a grey cloud was getting bigger and darker, slowly swallowing me.

I miss the time when I could share everything in clear, structured writing with my readers, but I had to take a break.

One year later, I am grateful to still be here. Problems weren’t magically solved, but I stopped seeking unnecessary closures.

I am happily building my own family and ready to come back with a different lens of the world.

Take care of yourself and stay tuned.



- About Amy IG: @ahcpoetry | Web: For story sharing and questions, please reach us at #poetry #modernpoetry #poets #seattle #diary

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