Sometimes it sneaks up on me. Its not totally ninja, its more like a blister; you know the irritant is there but you don’t quite expect for it to fester so much. (Denial is when you think that irritant is going to grow a pearl.) During the day I notice I’m breathing shallower, quicker. I glance at my hands on the steering wheel and observe they are fidgety. I’m a little more irritable than usual at the slow traffic, slow kids and dumb dog. And then it happens. All the sudden I’m in a full blown anxious state. My brain is racing, I suddenly have no space, time, energy or money to complete anything and the world is going to explode at any minute. Everything is happening at once and I am powerless to stop it. Everything is bad. Nothing is good. And usually, I’m the cause of it all going to hell.
It was the rickety-est ladder I had ever been on. The narrow, uneven rungs threatened to snap under my weight. It felt like I was climbing out of a three story deep cement pool. Near the top, with just a couple of rungs to go, I made the mistake of looking down and got queasy. This made my legs turn to jello. I tried to gather my courage and steady myself but just within reach of the top my leg tremors and the loss of equilibrium caused me to lose my balance. The ladder, not secured at the top, started to first slide, then fall away from the wall. Panicked I started yelling for help even though there was nobody at the top to steady the ladder. What a terrifying feeling to be in free-fall with nobody to help.
This is my life. When I finally received a diagnosis it was so relieving because somebody could finally describe to me what the heck was going on with my brain and emotions. I am high functioning in my illness and have been really fortunate to have lived a really amazing life so far, with lots left to life. I have also had great resources and support systems. God has been so good to me and I can see His hand on my life and my days. But, this is still my life.
- Complex PTSD is a very isolating, exhausting and devastating severe illness. It has been referred to as the psychiatric equivalent of cancer.
- It affects every part of your life, magnifying every problem intensely and affecting daily function.
- PTSD is a very severe, but normal reaction to severe abnormal trauma. But, there are days, weeks, when I feel so far from normal.
- Complex PTSD affects every relationship/friendship I have, with my husband, my children, my friends. People, have no idea the impact they cause when they hurt someone with Complex PTSD.
- Complex PTSD makes you never want to trust anyone, because every time you do, you get hurt and the cost is too high.
- Complex PTSD is a devastating, life threatening, exhausting, disabling, isolating, extremely painful severe psychiatric illness.
- Complex PTSD does not “get healed” or “go away”. However, with help a victim can learn to avoid triggers and learn to manage the symptoms.
- It does require specialized, professional therapy.
Day 22 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.
It promised to be a wonderful day by myself. I was to spend part of the day in one of my favorite places in the world. I love the hustle, crowd, smells, diversity and artisans of the market. The weather was perfect and I really looked forward to it. But, like so many other things this year, the experience was tainted by my new found recognition of my own needs.
Less than one hour into my adventure I started to be sick. My anxiety kicked in full force. I found a couple of quiet spots to step outside the overwhelming pressing crowd to catch a deep breath. I put my earphones in and listened to some happy country tunes.
I think I am a fringe person now. I love the activity of the world. I just need to be on the outer rim where I can experiences the sights, smells and activities without being obligated to participate.
A sad and clarifying experience. The upside? I am getting better at recognizing what I need and being willing to take care of myself! This is the learning curve of PTSD. I may be a slow learner but I can be taught!
Day 21 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.
I didn’t understand the rules. With every family I lived with there was a different set of rules. I was used to rules – my mother’s home was one of the strictest, cleanest and OCD producing environments known to man. Even the magazines on the coffee table where placed strategically and equi-distance from one another. But this was not the case in every house I visited.
In one house I frustrated my siblings because I didn’t get my hair out of the drain catch in the shower. I hadn’t noticed the drain catch. I also frustrated them because I would study in the sun room with the door closed. I didn’t know this made them feel left out and feeling like I didn’t want to interact. I was just trying to find a place where I could get my homework done. In another family I didn’t understand the episcopal church AT ALL. It was so very different from my charismatic hoppin’ church home. Where one family ate at a counter another ate in the living room. Still another ate in a formal dining room. And in my husbands family nobody warned me that they are all lip kissers!! What is normative and acceptable in one family is certainly not in another and it takes a while to learn the “rules.”
Life now is filled with new rules. I have decided that instead of trying to fit other people’s rules and expectations into my life that I would make my own house rules. For instance, I will talk about mental illness/depression/anxiety openly and on the world-wide web. I can regulate my caffeine so it doesn’t produce more anxiety. I will freak out or curl up in a ball when I need to. I can turn down social invitations just because the setting is too crowded and I may not enjoy it – or because it is too late in the day for me to get enough sleep to accommodate my sleep meds. It’s my house. I’ll make my own doggone rules.