Trauma and recovery cracked ‘Wide Open’ in new memoir by B.C. author

B.C. author D.M. Ditson writes about assault and the journey to recovery

Trauma and recovery cracked ‘Wide Open’ in new memoir by B.C. author

Wide Open is a memoir that tackles one woman’s journey through sexual assault and recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder.

B.C. author D.M. Ditson shared a little about her journey, her book, and what she hopes to achieve through the telling of her story. Wide Open is a raw and emotional account of how she became vulnerable to assault, the depths to which she fell, and of her excruciating recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder.

During her darkest days, Ditson searched for stories of people who had gone through something similar and made it out the other side. She found memoirs of survivors who wrote about what happened, but not how they found normalcy and healing in their life again.

“I wanted to see somebody else’s map of how they got better so I could know that I could get better too. And that’s what I ended up writing,” she says.

The story chronicles her journey to recovery. Once she started to work on getting better, she felt she had no choice but to push through.

“I was in dreadful, dreadful shape,” she recalls. When she began to focus on healing her mental state, her body reacted in strange and disruptive ways, such as uncontrollable shaking legs every single day for more than three years.

“There were some nights where it lasted forever, where I don’t even know if I even slept at all,” Ditson recalls.

Ditson ended up quitting her job and spent 14 months doing nothing but focusing on her recovery.

“I remember going to my therapist and asking, ‘why aren’t I better yet? Why is this taking so long? Why is all this weird stuff happening to me’?,” Ditson recounts. “She told me there’s no timeline on how long it takes. It just takes as long as it takes.”

She found meditation helpful, as well as writing. She wrote the book while she was in the process of healing. Earlier on, before she worked out her recovery, she would write about the assaults, then destroy the pages. One time, she tried flushing her diary entries into the toilet. Another time, she burned and buried them in the backyard.

“It was all these secrets I was trying to keep even from myself. And the more I kept them from myself, the more it made me unwell,” she explains.

Part of her healing process was taking these secrets and letting them out. She shared with a few people and found in their response a compassion and empathy she had not expected. That was a pivotal moment for Ditson as she worked to heal.

“I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to sit down and I’m going to write more of this. I’m going to let more of my secrets out, because apparently they’re not so dark that they’re going to make everyone hate me’.”

Ditson wrote the book to document her own recovery, and to hopefully help others. She wants survivors, loved ones of survivors, and anyone struggling with mental health to read it and see there is hope.

“It’s so difficult to get better. I just wanted to show that ‘yes, you can’,” she explains. “I hope it helps people see each other with more empathy.”

After the sexual assaults, trauma, and lengthy recovery process, Ditson has come out the other side. She feels whole, healed, and happy now, adding it is important that people know that full recovery is possible.

“People who haven’t gone through this kind of upheaval don’t necessarily live their life specifically by design. And in having exploded my previous life, I got to choose exactly what I wanted in my new one,” she says.

Ditson shares a story of the moment she realized she was healed, when this chapter of her life could close. It was a year and a half ago. She was staying in Fernie and desperately wanted to climb a mountain. The first time she tried, she was turned back by a park ranger who said the trail was decommissioned. She tried again, this time urged to turn back by another person who said the trail ahead was too hard. Finally on the third attempt, she got three quarters of the way up before encountering a young man coming down the mountain. He told her it was so treacherous, he turned back just shy of the summit.

But she kept climbing. She had to reach the peak of the mountain this time.

“It was steep, and super hard. By the end I started rock climbing,” she says. But, she finally reached the top.

“It felt then like I was on the other side (of my recovery),” she said. She surveyed the view: stretched out before her was a picture of spring – everything was new and fresh, a totally separate season than the summery mountain behind her. And she knew then. She was healed.

It has been five years since Ms. Ditson started writing her memoir. It is available for pre-sale now. For more details, visit dmditson.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack Fire Department responded to a townhouse on fire on May 9, 2020, in the 6400-block of Vedder Road. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Townhouse fire in Sardis knocked down by Chilliwack firefighters

Vedder Road closed while crews work on Mother’s Day house fire

Chilliwack volunteer drivers are needed to help get cancer patients back and forth to Abbotsford (shown here), Surrey and Vancouver cancer clinics. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Volunteer drivers needed to expand cancer driver program to Chilliwack

Drivers will need to commit to one full day of driving, or two half days each week

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

An injection kit is seen inside a Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Hope’s high rate of drug overdose noted in BC Coroners Service report

Up-to-date numbers not available yet for 2021, but Fraser Health deaths on the rise

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country’s crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
IHIT investigating after man killed in Burnaby shooting

Police looking for more information on fatal shooting

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Most Read