A girl with blonde curly hear and a jeans jacket on the right side and an inspirational quote about fear and gratitude on the left side with the title PTSD: My Story Project on the Journeyofsmiley Blog

My Story of How to Turn Fear Into Gratitude

My Story of How to Turn Fear Into Gratitude

by Sarah Ruesch

| PTSD: My Story Project #013

Trigger warning

What has been the greatest struggle that you have overcome in life? For me, it was my vision. I popped out of the womb nearly blind, and not just a common eye condition, one so rare that you would only hear about it in textbooks! It is not fun to be rare in the medical world, it is a bit like a gamble with your health. But after all, I managed to turn my fear into gratitude. And this is my story of how…

A girl with blonde curly hear and a jeans jacket on the right side and an inspirational quote about turning fear into gratitude on the left side with the title PTSD: My Story Project on the Journeyofsmiley Blog

Read also ‘There Is Nothing Wrong With You by Karen Sargent

My Story

Throughout my life, I was ashamed of the fact I couldn’t see well. I also became a perfectionist to hide that I had something wrong with me. I never liked messing up, and I pledged to myself that I would be extremely successful one day. And I still sometimes struggle with perfectionism. I had always grown-up religious and had a relationship with Christ, but it wasn’t until April 2019 that my whole life came crashing down on me. This was also the turning point for my faith. When my fear turned into gratitude.

I was playing Pickleball, which I am horrible at by the way, with a friend from college, when all of a sudden the vision in my left eye began to grow increasingly blurry. My head pounded terribly. I blamed it on the fact that I was dehydrated and had run out of water quite early in the game. Pressing my terrorizing thoughts into the back of my mind, I continued to play, but my brain was just beginning to play its own game. My left eye was bleeding internally. These were the words the doctor spewed out to me as he stared at a picture of my eye sloshed with red swatches everywhere. My heart sank one million miles into my chest. It felt like all the plans for my success had been shoved away. How could this possibly be? It simply wasn’t fair.

Read also ‘Conversion Disorder: Is Anxiety Attaching My Body? by Susanne Kooijman

Blessing in disguise

I went home, and let me admit I cried about one million times, as month by month my vision decreased slowly, blurring into a mist of gray fog. At this point, there was nothing to lose. The odds were very much stacked against me, every other surgery I had heard about with my condition had ended badly. I had never felt such anger for my situation until then as I sat alone in my room. I stared at the wall, my heart becoming a flaming fire of pain in my chest. My body shook as I cried out to the Lord. “This isn’t fair,” I pleaded, dragging my fingers through the shaggy carpet sobbing harder. “ I just wanted to be successful, and make myself proud! I just wanted to make a good impact on the world.”

It was silent in my room, only the soft hum of the music from my phone echoing off the light-painted walls. The song promptly ended as another one came on. I sat there, crouched against the floor, my heart hammering in my chest. What if your trials are God’s mercies in disguise? I blinked as those words echoed from the song. Sitting up, I heaved a long slow breath. How can something so painful be a mercy or a gift? Wiping the tears away, I stood up. It was inevitable that I go through trials, but I had some power over them. I could choose to be humble and turn to God for strength. I could also rely on my own understanding. Yes, my vision was nearly gone at that moment, but I had obtained a new vision. One that was more clear than ever.

Could we replace fear with gratitude?

God did not make me blind by mistake, He was not punishing me. He was blessing me. I was being sanctified and molded into the person He needed me to be so I could be successful, not on my own terms but in a way far greater than I could have ever realized. I decided to partake in the surgery, and the night before I went in was one of the most difficult nights of my life. My mind was screaming with what-ifs. What if the surgery didn’t work? What if I ended up all the way blind? I sat at my kitchen counter alone with only the clock to keep me company with its ticking.

“What if” I questioned myself. Was my faith only built upon success? I remembered the story of Shadrach Meshach and Abednego. They had stood in the fire and said that even if God didn’t save them, they would not worship any other God. My identity was not built upon my situation in life, nor was my faith. I would continue to love and follow God no matter the outcome of my surgery. At that moment, I knew what my purpose was. It burned through every fiber of my being. I wanted to spread God‘s love and peace with everyone. If I, someone about to go into surgery who could lose all their vision felt peaceful, then surely many others could obtain peace as well. Perhaps we could turn our fear into gratitude.

Read also ‘You Are Never Alone by Jannette Fuller

Every day is a miracle

I walked into the hospital the next day, and as I was put to sleep, I thought of all that God had endured for us. Every second of my life has led up to this moment. My whole life I had said that if I ever went blind, I could never be happy. Here I was now with the possibility of that becoming my reality, and it wasn’t the end of the world. Our joy does not depend on our situation but on our focus. It still took me quite a long time to realize that after my surgery, but that was the turning point for me.

I regained my vision after the surgery. It was a miracle I still continue to be grateful for every day. I felt truly lucky, however, a new fear arose in my mind. I found myself afraid to open my eyes every morning. What if suddenly I opened them and I couldn’t see anything? I would constantly check my vision and stress that something would cause it to become less. I had never been afraid the way I was after that surgery. It had been so scary to go through, slowly having my life stripped away. The thought that it could happen again terrified me.

PTSD has many faces

I never would have guessed it was PTSD. However, PTSD is not always screaming and having breakdowns. Sometimes, it is a constant fear or a reminder of the past. It slips its way into every day, little corners of our minds that gradually remind us of something we are afraid of. It is subtle but caging.

That is the reason I chose to be part of the PTSD: My Story Project, to spread awareness and tell my story. I also wanted to spread the message that it is okay to grow little by little. We are not expected to be perfect. It took me some time to regain my confidence. However, there was peace in the fear for me. And the fear started to turn into gratitude.

That came through Jesus Christ. Whenever fear entered my mind, I would turn to him. I began to fully understand what grace was. With the constant reminder of my past, my fears, and all that I felt I was lacking, His arms circled around me and lifted me up. He carried me through those months as I moved on from my struggles. Every time I opened my eyes and still saw the light come through, every detail of my bedroom becoming an everyday miracle, I felt extremely grateful.

Read also ‘On My Journey of Trauma Healing by Natasha Levai

Turning my fear into gratitude

Instead of being afraid, I turned that fear into gratitude. I was blessed. I had a loving family, a wonderful group of friends, and a greater willingness and desire to follow Christ. Through my trials, I had been sanctified. Even though I had suffered, I’ve also become stronger. By turning fear into gratitude, I discovered my purpose, and with that, I took action.

I created an organization entitled The Peacemakers, where I share daily messages of inspiration. I turned my fear into gratitude. And I am helping others to step-by-step gain a relationship with God. I also added my passion for business into my organization! I continue to help others learn how to create their own business and obtain financial freedom. And I spread a new message of confidence. One that does not leave you when things change but a deeper confidence that comes from God. I also married my forever soulmate, and have our baby girl.

Yes, I have been forever blessed. With two businesses, a wonderful family, and a passion for a life that I had never felt before. Things might not always be perfect, but I have the choice to remain steadfast and joyous throughout the trials. We have no control over what cards we are dealt in life. But we surely do have power over how we choose to view them. And this is my story of how to turn fear into gratitude.

Sarah Ruesch

Sarah has always dreamed of making a difference in the world. She was born with a visual impairment, which has made her life difficult, but she never let it slow her down. She created a nonprofit called The Peacemakers, where she writes inspiring blog posts and creates free printables for anyone to use. Sarah has a passion for following Christ, being self-sufficient, and creating a successful business so she can enjoy time with her family. You can connect with Sarah on IG here.

Read more real-life stories from trauma survivors here: ‘PTSD: My Story Project‘.

PTSD: My Story Project

Do you have experience with PTSD, or do you take care of / live with someone who has? Would you like to share your story in a guest blog post? 


I’m not an expert or a health professional, so the aim of this project isn’t to offer professional advice. Neither is it to pity those who experience PTSD. That’s not what I want. My aim is to raise awareness of PTSD. By sharing your story, you can inspire and empower others. You can highlight the methods that helped you. This way, you can encourage others to reach out for help.

And it may help you as well. Perhaps it’s something you feel like you’re not able to talk about within your closest circle and would like to connect with others in a similar situation. It’s nothing more than bearing an untold story inside you. The fact is that our society still lacks an understanding of mental health.  Therefore, I’ve decided to share my story and invite others to join me in this project and write a blog post about their experience. By working together, we can help destigmatise mental health problems and promote well-being.

To be featured

If you would like to join in and share your story on my blog but don’t have the experience of writing a blog post, this isn’t a problem. You can still contact me, and I’d be happy to assist you with the writing. And you can use a pseudonym if you wish to stay anonymous. You can share as much of your story as you want in a way you feel comfortable with.

The only thing I ask is that you mention ‘PTSD: My story project’ in your post and briefly state why you have chosen to take part in it.  You will be allowed to approve the post before publishing it, should it be edited.

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3 thoughts on “My Story of How to Turn Fear Into Gratitude”

  1. This was very brave of you to share! And I’m so glad that you did! Thank you so much for opening up and being vulnerable while also showing you strength!

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