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The Brutal Reality of PTSD: Restless Sleep and a Black Eye

I woke up this morning with a black eye. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. One symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that I struggle with is nightmares. Because of them, my sleep is never restful and sometimes violent.

I’m not sharing this for pity. I don’t need or want it. I’m sharing this to show the realities of living with a mental illness.

For those of us with PTSD, we relive our trauma over and over, whether in our dreams or in flashbacks. Something I call a “side effect of being me” is that I tend to fight back during these times. I think it comes from when I did kickboxing. My instinct is to fight. While I’m on that topic, that is also why you should never, ever sneak up on me. I have almost punched several people who startled me without meaning to. It’s just my first instinct.

Thankfully, as I have progressed in my therapy and treatment, these instances are becoming fewer. I haven’t had a black eye in months, but I did almost break my hand a couple of weeks ago when I punched a steel door during a flashback.

This is just my reality. It’s not beautiful, it’s not glamorous, but it’s my life — my life which I’m learning to love and learning to live.

I have accepted what happened to me. I have accepted the challenges that come from it. I have accepted that some of those challenges may never go away. I grieved for the life I used to have and the life I always dreamed of. Once I was able to do that and accept who I am, I started to see all the wonderful things I have made myself into because of this struggle.

I don’t know why I woke up with a black eye again today after months of not having one. I don’t know when my next flashback will happen. What I do know is that I’ll deal with it and I will survive.

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Thinkstock photo via KatarzynaBialasiewicz