About a week ago I suffered through an intense PTSD breakdown. The worst I’ve had in years and I’m still feeling the shockwaves.
I can’t tell you when or what exactly broke me. My childhood, the service or a TBI or a combination of the three.
What I can tell you is that I feel the break 24/7 and my life is preoccupied with managing the symptoms.
Not everybody understands what it is or how it works. Most people don’t want to talk about it as it is an uncomfortable discussion.
However, after decades of anxiety, pain, guilt and shame I’m wondering if I want to spend another forty years in this state of mind.
As it goes, mental health is largely blamed on the victim. The one suffering isn’t working hard enough to “fix” their condition.
I’ve never understood this perception about mental health as I work 24/7 on mitigating my symptoms and when the flash flood happens and I drown it’s not as though I enjoy the moment.
Enduring a PTSD breakdown is the absolute worst feeling I have ever encountered. Some of the worst breakdowns actually break you even more than you already were. You can feel it when the break happens, I’ve had several breaks that I’ll never forget. Two soft attempts at suicide and a third I wasn’t suppose to wake up from are the lowest moments in my fight with PTSD.
A week ago as I sat at the foot of a palm tree and that dark voice called out again and for a second or two I listened. This ability to pull a good man down so deep is one of the most frightening things about PTSD. One moment you’re managing your life and then the next you’re NOT. Another break to remember, another scar to think about.
Recently I started to change my paradigm and started calling myself a PTSD survivor which gives me a warm feeling. A feeling of hope that I will continue to fight and learn, cope and adjust so that those flash floods don’t happen and I’m not swept away.
I’ve developed a mantra I’m proud of, “My symptoms don’t match my reality” which have been very effective in bringing me back into focus when I feel a trigger turning into a pull. Trigger pulls become shots fired and that’s when the nightmares begin so keeping symptoms mitigated is the only way to play the game. Realizing that my symptoms don’t match my reality has been cognitive therapy GOLD for me.
If only I could gain a better grip on the depression, guilt and shame that cycles through with PTSD. Because it’s not just the breakdowns that come with it, the triggers, the anger, the doubt and fear. There is a whole circus of symptoms that reside within PTSD and managing them is tedious.
I look to my true self to guide me, the pieces of me that have not been corrupted or linked by or to PTSD.
My empathy towards others, my sense of humor and the child that resides in my heart that I know must of been there before the break happened. I carry the faith with me that God knows my heart and compels me to continue. I ask that Jesus continue to guide me as he has and I thank you both for never leaving my side.
I write often as a way to cope with my feelings, hundreds of pages of introspection and debate and all these pages share a common thread.
My faith is that thread and always finds a way of turning an emotional vent on paper into a prayer. What started as a man writing alone turned into a conversation with his creator.
Thank you Lord for spending this moment with me.