Post traumatic stress disorder. I know I have it. However the triggers are still hazy, unclear.
It seems to be a word, or a feeling, or a visual. Something stupid.
Like, I’ll see a guy on the street who looks something like him. I know it’s not him, but he looks close enough for my heart to start racing. Or, I’m in the shower and some anger rises up. I start talking to him, telling him things I wish I could have said. Or – sitting with my therapist.
One second I’m there – walking down the street, washing my hair, conversing with my therapist. The next moment I’m gone. To a room outside of time and space.
It’s just happened. Only hours ago. It’s just happened and I’m there, dealing with the overwhelming feelings of shock, pain, distress, fear and panic.
Like a very strong tide, I’m simply swept away from the shores of rational thought, and I’m surrounded. The tears rise up and don’t stop. My heart beats so fast I’m amazed I don’t die right there. My body temperature rises and I’m sweating. All potential for thinking about anything else has gone.
I’ve been abducted from my world and transported to a place where the trauma never goes away. Where it’s sharp and pointy, looking for a soft place to gouge. Where it’s all I can do to remember myself.
It lasts as long as it lasts. I descend into a place with no windows. Others can see in if they happen to be around, but I can’t see out. It’s dark in there, this place.
Sitting in my second session with my therapist (I think!) I go to pieces. I stop hearing what she is saying – no, I can hear the words but they don’t make any sense. She hadn’t said anything particularly challenging, and neither had I.
My memory isn’t so great these days but I think it was just an evocation of emotion. It accumulated slowly, sneaking in behind my defences as silently as fog.
My other senses started to fail. Sight, sound, touch, taste. It all became about feeling… pain, sorrow, incredulousness, sadness, fear, terror,
The coughing started. The normal breathing patterns went away. The shaking began. The non-stop crying, like a child.
It’s like being at the top of a slippery dip and without warning I’m going down. There’s no shortcut, I ride the length of the slide from top to bottom.
My therapist did give me some tools to work with:
- You have to catch it when it comes and tell yourself to stop
- Its important to tell yourself you are safe, that its over now
- Try to catch yourself at the top of the slide
- If you can’t, then try to get off as soon as you can
So far, they’ve helped a bit. Well, a little bit. I know it’s a matter of practice.
Wonderful description of how you feel. I’m sorry you are going through all of this. It sounds like your therapist has some good ideas to help you make it stop. take care, Susan
@Susan – Thanks! You know, they vary in intensity and duration. Some are quite short. But they leave an indeliable mark and contribute to the ongoing cycle of trauma… but yeah, my therapist seems to have a good handle on how to help me out of this dance with the past. 🙂
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Hmmm, I don’t know if anyone has the right to tell someone else they don’t agree with their experience? How can we possibly know what someone else is going through?
You captured the terror and I know you paid a price for telling it. Writing about PTSD does that to me. But when it is out on paper, I can view it from a distance and feel as if I have dealt with it, at least for the moment.
Meditation helps me. Stepping back from the rising emotions as soon as you recognize them is another way I too deal with it.
I have used it to spur things on. But I am never sure how much of it I am in command of and how much it commands me. I used the anger to write a scaving article, one in which I never would have written had I not been in the grasp of PTSD.
Can’t do it often. I get burned everytime I stoke the fire.
Thanks for you insight.
@contoveros – Thanks for dropping by to comment. I’m actually doing very well these days and haven’t had any flashbacks since the beginning of this year! Luckily, I found a treatment that worked for me, and even though I still occaisionally deal with anxiety attacks, I’m doing so much better than I was. I hope you too, find a form of therapy that works. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, its that it is possible to recover from PTSD. Wishing you all the very best on your journey!