What It's Like to Live With PTSD: A Poem


Like so many others who live with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other chronic illness, people often ask, “what does it feel like?” I wrote this poem to explain what it feels like for me to live with PTSD.

My PTSD

It doesn’t matter if it’s cold, hot, sunny, snowing, or raining

There is no telling when it’s going to strike.

Are they alive or dead?

Is that pain real or echoes from pain long ago that

Resurface with a memory?

It’s like being held hostage by your mind

Thinking that today would be the day I am free.

I look like everyone else

I know the difference between right and wrong.

Yet in my head, I sometimes can’t remember

The last ten minutes of my life, or what day, year or time it is.

Are those smells real or is that a smell from a place and time

when I was being held against my will?

Am I really hearing the sounds of helicopters, planes, cicadas or birds

Or is that the sound coming from a place that no longer exists and

Should never be talked about?

I want so much to be like everyone else.

So I will keep pulling myself up the rope,

Out of the clutches of PTSD and all the skeleton hands of the past that

Keep trying to pull me down.

I am like everyone else only my job is to live so I can live.

For now, that’s all I can ask of myself if I am going to have a future.

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash


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