Cross-Cultural Investigative Journalist, Gabrielle Alexandra Smith discusses her journey with mental health. She was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder last month, and receiving has an update.

DMVDaily: Discuss how you coping with PTSD.
Gabrielle: I have Post Traumatic Growth, which is the transformation following trauma. It is when you turn your trauma into adversity and success. Another way to look at it is a positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event.
DMVDaily: This is wonderful. You are seriously allowing people to feel comfortable about their mental health issues. A lot of people are afraid and not brave like you. Your bravery is not even the regular bravery. It is fearlessness. Not a lot of people have this after a traumatic event. 
Gabrielle: You are right.
DMVDaily: You discussed with our staff that you had to reteach yourself how to live. Explain this further.
Gabrielle: After graduating college in Westchester, New York, my career as an Investigative Journalist seized. I was living two lives seriously. One was a professional and serious investigative journalist in entertainment. Two was just a college student. I never crisscrossed the two lives. However, when I did in the beginning, they never worked out in the same space.
I went in reverse culture shock, which is the “emotional and psychological distress suffered by some people when they return home after a number of years overseas. This can result in unexpected difficulty in readjusting to the culture and values of the home country, now that the previously familiar has become unfamiliar.”
DMVDaily: Is this the same as a culture shock? I am not aware of this term.
Gabrielle: No. It is more intense. Culture Shock is the “feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.”
DMVDaily: Okay. I am starting to understand. You suffered emotional and psychological distress. 
Gabrielle: Yes. I was in a tabula rasa mind state. A philosopher named John Locke coined the phrase Tabula Rasa. It is the theory that babies have a blank or empty state before receiving outside impressions.
DMVDaily: Interesting. So, your home life in the Nation’s Capitol was erased?
Gabrielle: Yes, I had forgotten everything. I got home and was confused as to why I lived in my house. I had forgotten my elementary school, middle school, and high school life.
I had seriously forgotten who I was. I was trying to figure who this “Gabrielle” They were talking about. They would describe the old me as funny, passionate, ambitious, sarcastic, outgoing, and persistent. I had lost these traits. The one thing people can say about me is that I am ambitious and have a drive like no other.
I was trying to get to know the old me. I only identified with my career as an investigative journalist, working in third-world countries, in entertainment. I was doing close to 100 interviews per week. A lot were international. This was all that I knew. This life was figuratively equivalent to “ABC’s.”
DMVDaily: How did you get through it?
Gabrielle: I was putting on a front in trying to be like the “Gabrielle” people remember. I seriously did not member. It was hard.  During this process, I had to potty train myself, teach myself how to take a shower,  style myself, and comb the dreads out of my hair. I had to reteach myself how to use my phone, watch television, social media, etc.
I even went back to the areas of my elementary schools, middle schools, and high school. I had to reconnect with people from my grade school years. I had to mentally go back to things I did as a child and we rework myself up until my age now. It has to happen fast. Remember while this is happening, people are looking at me still like the old Gabrielle.  People who are extremely close to me realized I acted like I was in between two worlds. When I explained to them everything and Reverse Culture Shock, they agreed and said “yes I noticed.”
DMVDaily: That is crazy, I didn’t know it was that bad.
Gabrielle: Yes. I kept it a secret for two years. My Reverse Culture Shock lasted for two years. Actually, March 2021 is when I completely came back.  I had got so adapted to home life that I had forgotten about my career and life as an investigative journalist. People and big network companies were still reaching out to me asking for me to do interviews.  Subjects that I had interviewed, reached out and said “It was an honor to be interviewed by you.” I was confused. I had to re-read my interview and remember that fearless and bold journalist. I had to then merge these two lives together.
DMVDaily: And how is this going for you?
Gabrielle: It is taking some getting used to. I feel free. I am not living in two different worlds. Well, three because I kept me also being diagnosed with ADHD a secret for 16 years. I had forgotten about this. So, I lived a triple life. Honestly, Abu, I only one life.  I am not keeping anything a secret, especially about mental health. The way to get better is to talk about it. A lot of great people who were not blood-related to me helped me. Some were highly respected people in the entertainment industry.
DMVDaily: Your story is seriously life-changing for any individual that listens or reads. The one thing that makes it life-altering is that you never gave up. Listening, I do not think you lost your drive or your ambition. I think it was always there.
I know people personally, and honestly, a lot of people do not come back. I do not know a lot of people with Reverse Culture Shock. However, the people I know who experienced trauma, are in their 50s and still are stuck in the mentality. You self-cured yourself. PTSD is linked to Reverse Culture Shock.
It is important to learn about your mental health and seek out answers. Many people, Gabrielle do not have that drive to want to know me. You are right talking about it openly sets a person free.  Again, Gabrielle, a lot of people are not fearless like that. Sounds like you were born fearless. A person who is fearless is a born leader by nature.

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