PTSD and the FT…

PTSD: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder…

FT: forever trying to get over it

My version, my hell and my recovery…

I am not a psychologist or a therapist so the details here in are more reflections from my experience and my interpretations into what it is and what it is like to live with, to recover…

Delayed PTSD can be a strange animal, when a child goes through a traumatic experience or experiences they can often block the whole experience/s out as if it never happened… often when there are a number of traumatic incidents in a period of time. I did not suffer from PTSD after the events of my childhood, perhaps because they didn’t really stop until I was out of school so I was in the continual survival mode, perhaps because I had blocked it all. It was only after an incident when I was 16 that I started to suddenly have panic attacks and what I call “flash-back” attacks, it was as if the incident set off a trigger and all hell was broken loose in my brain, and I mean hell.

The trigger’s could be anything, I only knew what triggers to avoid by remembering some of the things that happened, the things I obviously hadn’t blocked, so it was difficult to know what exactly I had to avoid – in those days it was avoiding and not healing because I didn’t know what the hell was going on only that it was VERY embarrassing when it happened around people. The flash backs these days are getting less strong and don’t last as long which is good in a way because it means that all the junk in my head is working itself out like a sceptic wound healing – it has to get rid of the gunk inside in order to close up and heal. In the old days it used to take me over I would hear nothing of the real world as if I was transported right back in to that time (depending the trigger) and I would smell, hear, see and feel all over again… as I said hell. These days I can control the senses and have learnt to try and keep my eyes open when a trigger happens, I still get the uncontrollable shakes, clammy hands and my chest still closes but I have learnt the techniques to try and ease it, control it and deal with it.

The last major attack I had was in December last year, embarrassingly enough at a photographic meet. A friend of mine, brilliant photographer, pulled out these gas masks and within seconds I was shaking like a leaf, the flash backs started and I was clammy, clenching my jaw and trying to stop it all while praying that no one had noticed – my sister had though unfortunately and when one of the photographers put the mask on handing me her camera to take photos of her I thought I was going to die – I looked at my sister and she just said “Do it, that was then, this is now, breath and do it”… I can tell you it was absolute hell and thank goodness the camera had image stabilizer cause sure as heck it was shaking along with me.

I know you may wonder whether these flash backs are more a figment of my imagination, unfortunately they have been confirmed. Every time I have one I try and find out the truth, normally from my mother who was the only other person involved during those times – and for the other incidents I either ask friends or I ask myself for some of the perpetrators are dead, some in asylums and others well I sure as hell don’t want to speak to them again. The proof I guess isn’t always what you want though, getting confirmation of what you have relived isn’t exactly nice in a way and some times I do hesitate to discuss it with my mother. I went to her a few years back after a flash back I had at work (thankfully the only one to ever happen) when a guy friend came into my office with a sharp kitchen knife (he was eating an apple) and as a joke started pointing it at me and saying jokingly if I don’t behave he will stick it in me… well I started shakin and the flash back started (luckily I managed to get outside, light a smoke and breathe – I was able to control it. When I asked my mother about it she said that yes indeed it happened when I was about 7, my then step-father threatened both her and I with a large kitchen knife and that at the start of the incident I was big eyed but then just calm, kept still and silent telling her it was going to be ok… I had blocked it all and my mother started to believe that it was traumatic and that my attacks were real and not figments or appeals for attention… she finally believed what I was going through because the details I gave her were matched exactly what happened.

So my journey continues… but each day it gets better, it used to scare me and in the past I’d rather run for a a private four walls and just live it and then get up and going again but now a days I find myself challenging it.  I wear clothes that touch my neck on purpose challenging my mind and body to work together in healing and forgetting the things that happened which make me constantly pull the top away from my neck to stop the strangulation sensation.  It has gotten better and sometimes now a days I don’t even notice that I have a “neck-touching” top on…

A couple of days ago though it drove me nuts, in the morning it was fine and it didn’t bother me one bit but in the afternoon it got so bad that my chest started to close, my hands got clammy and the shakes were there, not too hectic though.  I was so disappointed in myself, I try so hard and push myself so hard and yet I STILL have setbacks/relapses… drives me blooming bonkers and angry with myself… by now I should be strong enough to handle it and to be able to get on with it… I am stubborn as well, more with myself than anyone else and forced myself to keep that top on till the reactions stopped… two hours later only the shaking had stopped and I couldn’t take it anymore so I went to go change.  Dang I can’t tell you have upset I was with myself afterwards.

I think, hope and pray that one day my mind will be healed, all the demons out in the open and life can continue with tops touching my neck, me not leaving a kitchen when a wooden spoon is raised or a kitchen knife is pointed at me… ah that would be heaven on earth! Until then though I won’t give up this quest, the stubborness within me wants to continue the fight even though some days I just can’t, I have to get this over with… just wish it would blooming well speed up!!!

Don’t know if you have gone through anything like this, would love to hear how you deal with it, if you have some pointers my ears are all yours as always…

… another ramble by a mixed up soul…


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