So today I decided to write about a rather serious topic after having to end a friendship of almost 2 years. As most who have read my blog would know, I left home.. my comfort zone almost a year ago to live abroad. Travelling sort of came with it and while I do enjoy it, it can be a hassle as well. Especially, when suffering with PTSD. And before you ask or assume, no I have never been in a war or served in the Military, it is a common misconception that those are the only people who suffer from it.
Too many people do not understand PTSD and unfortunately, neither did this friend. Not that explaining myself would have help, any time I did they just wrote it off as me making excuses. It hurts losing a friend that I was close with because of this, but it hurts even more having to constantly justify the way I feel or why I do things when in some cases I don’t even understand myself. Yes, I know it can sounds irrational or stupid; my reasons.. trust me I know.. but it doesn’t change that during certain situations and points in my life, that is how I feel.
Among individuals who are victims of a severe traumatic experience, 60-80% will develop PTSD. An estimated 1 in 10 women develops PTSD in their lifetime and women are twice as likely to develop PTSD as men. Traumatic events in someone’s life, especially one that happens in childhood can cause such a psychological shock that the mind is permanently altered because of it. And then it could take YEARS before it is even recongised causing a child’s development, including their behaviour and self-confidence, to be altered as they get older. For some people, like myself who get misdiagnosed.. that means YEARS without treatment or understanding what is wrong with you.
There is even a point in time where you feel as if no one understands. A trigger happens and you are standing in a crowded place, yet you feel absolutely alone. Your hearts starts to race, it feels as though it might explode or burst out of your chest, you can feel your pulse everywhere.. on your neck, on your wrists, your temples.. as if your blood itself wants to escape the flashback that is coming. You begin to feel hot, sweat, yet your hands are freezing, your mouth goes dry and your vision seems to narrow. You can’t speak because you are simply so afraid that it is happening again, your brain has you so convinced it is happening again and then it shuts down, you break down. Some times you curl up in a ball and start to rock yourself or feel as though you are not really in your body, becoming dissociated completely. Some times you shake uncontrollable and simply cry, wishing it would just go away, that you can just be normal. But you never are and you can never talk about it. Because it seems no one quite understands.
People tell you to “get over it.. to calm down” as if you can control it. Why don’t you just do this? Why don’t you just take these meds? Yet the meds won’t stop the triggers and ANYTHING can be a trigger. Even when you are not having flashbacks, you are constantly on alert.. on guard.. worried.. scared.. wondering whether or not today will be a “Lost day” because some random thing in the world might set it off again. You begin to avoid things that might cause a trigger: people, places, situations, being too hot, loud noises, aggressive people. But you realise one day, you can’t hide from the world out of fear of a trigger. You learn just to live with and deal with the symptoms of PTSD.
You cut out the people in your life who cause the symptoms to worsen:Lovers, friends, even family. And it sucks, simply because PTSD is not understood by the populous. It is not something you simply “get over” or “move on” from. It is a psychological injury.. yeah I said it.. an injury to the brain that you can’t simply take a pill and poof things are better.
The worst part to me.. is not the triggers, its not the attacks, the stress, its not even the emotions.. I have learned to just deal with it as they will pass eventually; its having to justify myself and constantly explain my reactions over something that at times I have no control over. Having to explain myself over and over because people don’t believe that it the real reason. It gets exhausting and eventually you have to say “Enough” because some people simply will never understand because they don’t want to. In the end, you cut the ties to those who don’t want to understand and try to look forward, towards the light at the end of the tunnel. When it’s your past that haunts your present, the future is where you look to in the end. Because what else is there?