It was five years ago when I was diagnosed with PTSD. Something I don’t go around mentioning in polite company, and hide every day of my life. I have often put on a smile, when inside I was trembling with sheer terror in my head. People who look at PTSD victims often just make a sad noise, feel a bit sorry, and then make it seem like this is not as dangerous, and hard as it is. Lucky for me, mine has been diagnosed and I go to counseling. But I really am the lucky one.
Before I was diagnosed life was always the same kind of chaos. I was having panic attacks at work, I would invert when corrected, or when I felt threatened. I would get explosively angry, and then sad, I would hide away from people. It was the worst of any world. I didn’t know what was going on, and now I do. You would think that knowing was the best thing ever, but it makes it worse to know that there is no instant cure, and there are thousand of hoops to jump through.
As I have worked to pick up the pieces, I come across more and more signs, that I never knew belonged to PTSD. Now I know what they are and where they belong, and it is scary. The blackouts, when I am enraged, the hyper sensitivity, the anger, the way I react, the nightmares that make no sense, but have the power to destroy a whole day. All of it belongs to survival.
I am strong because I have survived some of the worst situations a person can imagine. Laying in a puddle of my own blood, and being beaten so bad the whole right side of my body was purple. I did that, I lived through that, and I paid the price for survival with a condition of perpetual readiness by my brain. My fight or flight is always ready to react, and in times of stress, I have a heightened awareness of my surroundings, and the people around me. I will, and can, and have reacted to those situations with the proper response. I am ready to fight for survival, and I am ready to flee.
Many people who don’t know PTSD aren’t aware of the dangers. A person who is living with PTSD can snap at any time, all it takes is triggering a past response, or a reminder of a situation where the fight or flight reaction was needed. It is a state of constant mental self defense, and everyone is a potential threat. Coping with that is hard, but it can be done, and I have been doing it for most of my life.
It takes years in therapy to learn to not only find the triggers, and diffuse them, but to work through being ready for disaster all the time. I used to fantasize about bad things happening to me, a mental preparedness. I used to practice what to do in the worst situation. Now, I imagine good things, and love, and it is hard.
PTSD is not a joke, or something to take lightly, the people suffering from it, have no control over suffering from it. I don’t talk about it a lot, because I don’t want to be seen as that girl. But I am that girl. In every relationship, and every place where I go, there it is. I am really great at problem solving, because my mind is always searching for a solution because of my flight response. It has made me smarter, but it has taken its toll.
Having PTSD is mentally and emotionally exhausting, it is one day at a time. It is ups and downs. It is reactions and triggers, and it is dealing with them all. But in time it can get better. Some times it takes meds, sometimes it takes years, and struggles, and lots of love and care, but it can be done. If you know someone who has been diagnosed with PTSD or exhibits the symptoms of it, please help them to get help. It can destroy lives, and relationships. It has the power to take the power from the victim because they are always in the response mode.
I would say the worst part of PTSD is finding all of the parts of it that have been hidden in lost places, and of course the moments when you black out and don’t know exactly what you are doing. PTSD is hard, and I find that some days I want to close the door and just be away from people so that I can have some calm and quiet. So that I can relax. My mind is always going anyway, and I want to be able to just let it relax, and still some of the constant flutter of information floating around.
If you have PTSD, I am sorry for you, and I empathize, that it is a hard condition to live with and through, so please seek help, realize if you have the symptoms and see a therapist. Don’t try and handle PTSD on your own, or manage it without help. There is no shame in having PTSD, because it isn’t something that you can do to yourself. It is something that happens when the mind has been through extreme survival situations.
PTSD is hard, but not impossible. It has effected many more people than we know, and they might rely on you to speak up for them, or help them understand what they are going through, while being a friend does not make you qualified to diagnose PTSD, you can guide them in the right direction to get help, and to better their lives. We are just humans who have survived terrible things, and though we live with PTSD, we try and not let it run our lives.