Hello my fellow adventurers. I started this post in March of 2015 but was too freaking messed up to publish it. Reading it over today, it still stands as a testimony of how horrifying it is to be in the throes of a PTSD episode. It’s time to share it.
I AM NOT LOOKING FOR SYMPATHY. Truly and seriously. I adore the heartfelt love that prompts such commentary but that’s not why this is finally getting published. I hope that maybe someone will ‘get it’. Maybe this will speak to someone. If it does, tell me that.
I’m not going to update the original post for my 2017 brain. This was written in 2015 as it was happening, so I’m leaving it in the present tense. Emphasis on tense. With a heaping helping of truly fucked up.
Please bear in mind – This is not me any more. This was me on a treacherously rapid trip to the bottom. I’ll tell you about climbing out of the hole in another post. In the meantime, here goes…
March 2015, Milwaukee, WI… Okay, here’s the deal. I have PTSD. I have been a near constant state of trigger for over a week now… more… can’t keep track of time. I cannot take it anymore.
The PTSD is not my fault. That doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty and horribly sorry for every moment that I spend utterly devastated.
I seriously have a hard time remembering when things happen, but Ron tells me that it’s been years since I’ve had this kind of trigger. Where are my tools for dealing with this? Nowhere. Rusty and impossible to find.
I am a victim of the stigma associated with PTSD. Telling anyone puts suspect all my efforts to do good things. If I have a bad day, or am upset about something or mad or think something is wrong, people I work with who know that I have PTSD will ask themselves if my perspective is ‘valid’ or is it just the PTSD talking? I’m not imagining this. It happens.
Doesn’t matter what I accomplish in life, it’s always there. Undermining everything. Making me feel like a fake. Like I’m lying to everyone. That no-one should believe in anything I’m trying to do. Yes, I also stigmatize myself.
Yes, this is screwed up.
Here’s my trigger. I grew up in a very violent household. Every day was a threat. Instead of beating me or my little brother, my step father would beat my mother. The bruises around her neck and black eyes were always there. Me? I was a constant source of irritation to him. I threw his shit back at him but it didn’t stop me from being terrified all the time. So, I grew up being a fighter and terrified all the time. One goes with the other. Of course, having my Mother as a punching bag didn’t keep him from trying to kill me. My Mother put me in a foster home to keep it from happening again.
Being afraid for myself is not my trigger. It’s when a violent, unbalanced psychopath threatens someone I love that I loose it. When this asshole threatened to beat up Ron, I tipped. I became that 8 year old failure who couldn’t keep her Mom from being beaten up, who couldn’t keep her little brother from being terrified and who poked the vicious bear with a sharp stick. Making all the horrid things he did all my fault.
This person who is triggering me now is mean and angry and it’s not just me who marvels at how awful he is. There is only one person I know who will defend him – and she vehemently does. Everyone else stands back wondering where the hell he’s coming from with his constant vitriol. There is never a nice thing out of his mouth. I am prone to hyperbole when triggered, but in this case I’m not exaggerating.
I shared with someone how he was affecting me and they told another person who told him. So, now my messed up mind is terrified that he will increase the level of agitation. That now he knows he can get me – that he can incapacitate me – so he will. This also reinforced the need to keep quiet. Don’t tell so no-one else has that kind of power over me.
How screwed up is that?
So, now. I’m trying to function and am failing on all fronts. My work is for crap. I look at the people I need to be helping and supporting and working with and feel guilty for how badly I’m letting them down. I feel like they have every good reason to give up on me – and assume that they have. Why should they stick with me? They don’t owe me anything. Just the opposite. I owe them everything. I owe everyone everything.
I cannot go a day without sobbing. I cannot sit in a meeting with others associated with this project and look them in the eye. I stare down at the floor and hold my breath and pray for it to be over. I cannot contribute at these meetings.
Ron has had to drop everything and sit with me. He has had to get an emergency ride home in the middle of a workday on this project so that he can pick me up from the floor and sit with me for the rest of the day. I am trying to put all my things together for this project and am failing. Yet, I can’t quit. There’s no one else to do this stuff. Seriously. I’m not martyring myself. There is no one.
I have a friend who has talked me down. I tried to make light but he understood what was going on. I reached out because he also suffers from PTSD and it’s different talking with someone who gets it. Of course, when I say ‘talked’, I mean via email or chat or text. I can’t actually talk out loud with anyone about this – but Ron. Lucky him. Another friend texted with me until Ron could get home. I couldn’t contact him and directly beg for help. She did it without my knowing – which is good.
This person who triggers me is attached to this project. The project that Ron and I are valiantly trying to work on. The project that I keep sabotaging because of my inability to function. The project that Ron keeps loosing more and more valuable time to work on so that he can sit with me. All the hours we have both lost that we could have been doing the work. Now, I can’t tell Ron when I’ve lost it because it’s just not fair to him.
I just want it to be over. This project that should be a joyous, creative, endeavor. I just want it to be over. Most of the people I’m working with are outrageously wonderful. I swear – I’ve never laughed so much at rehearsals. I have sincere admiration for how hard they are trying and how much they are giving. We hug and miss each other between rehearsals. Now I feel like I need to protect them and that I can’t. That this person will show up. That he will hurt them.
We have our opening coming up in a bit over a week. We’re in crunch time. Too much to do and not enough time or resources. You know – theatre. The person who told the asshole that I have PTSD also told a board that governs a lot of the activities associated with this project. He’s a part of this board. His behavior prompted them to censure him. Oh great. Now this violent jerk with a massive chip on his shoulder about all the abuses he has suffered in life has a specific bone to pick with me.
He will be there opening night and all I can wonder is if he is the kind of person who will show up with a gun and start shooting. My heart will not stop racing.
I had an emergency session with my former therapist and am back on her books. We’re going to tackle the PTSD together. The soonest I can get with her is after all 5 of our shows are over. So, yeah. That’s nice. In the meantime, I’m seriously messed up.
So, I’m outing myself.
I’ve been trying to keep the PTSD a secret but it’s too big for me to deal with. I have no choice but to out myself. It’s so bad that I can’t cover it up any more. I’m backed into a corner. And, I promised Ron that I wouldn’t off myself.
September 2017 Post Script. That was as far as I was able to write 2 plus years ago. No nice neat conclusion. No uplifting ‘and I’ll be okay’ cause I’m a plucky woman’ message to tie it up with a pretty ribbon. That’s not how this works.
Needless to say, I got help. I’m probably at the loveliest mental health place in my whole life right now. And, like I said in the preface, that’s another story.