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This Is My Complex PTSD

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It’s waking up each morning, feeling with all your soul like you won’t be able to do what you need to.

• What is PTSD?

It’s feeling embarrassed that you don’t seem to function like the rest of the world.

It’s reading Facebook posts from friends and feeling torn.

It’s laughing at the text you get on a Friday night from a friend asking if you have plans.

It’s looking into the loving eyes of your wife and seeing her desperation to understand and fix it, but knowing she can’t, and feeling guilty that you are giving her this burden.

It’s opening your eyes in the morning, pulse racing, with a deep feeling of fear gripping you, despite praying the night before that tomorrow might be the day you wake up and it’s gone.

It’s telling yourself every five seconds of the day that it’s irrational, illogical, no harm will come to you, you are safe, they are just thoughts; but getting hoarse from repeating yourself because your body can’t hear you.

It’s dreading someone asking you to do something that will be out of your capabilities, but dreading the day they stop asking even more.

It’s feeling like you are different from the world, like you are an imposter and terrified that one day your disguise will slip and they will see you for the illogical person you are.

It’s trying to tell your mum that not even she can make it better. In fact, just her being there will likely make it worse.

It’s feeling both under threat and a threat to the world — so out of control that you think you might be better off away from everyone.

It’s wanting it to stop, being afraid to be alive, but not wanting to die.

It’s being afraid that an obligation will arise that you can’t turn down, but you know you can’t cope with.

It’s feeling like every episode is the one where you will “lose your mind.”

It’s eradicating your years of progress with one “bad day” because your mind conveniently forgets all your successes, but plays your struggles and difficulties on repeat.

It’s wanting help but knowing you have all the help you can get and there’s probably nothing else.

It’s knowing that ultimately, I believe no one can fix me.

It’s being embarrassed that the lucky trusted few have to be on standby in case you need them, and knowing if they needed someone, they wouldn’t call you.

It’s feeling engulfed by your shrinking world as more and more things become off limits to you.

It’s looking at the pictures of your nieces and nephews on Facebook, wishing you could have been there for that school play or that concert, dreading the day they find out Aunty Weewah is “different.”

It’s feeling like a failure — as a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter and a patient.

It’s worrying that one day going to work will become “out of bounds,” people will become “out of bounds” and you will die alone. 

It’s fundamentally feeling like you don’t have the capacity to live your life.

It’s feeling like there is no rescue.

It’s waking up every day and not knowing how you’re going to get to work, but getting up and doing it all the same. Never giving yourself the credit for your achievement because you’re already thinking about having to do it tomorrow.

It’s feeling like everything is insurmountable.

It’s knowing that this is all “in your head” and hating “your head” for it.

It’s a voice louder than any rational or logical thought.

It’s the absolute certainty that you can’t do something, even if you’ve done it before or there’s nothing physically stopping you.

It’s a mental wall.

It’s looking at photos of yourself and thinking: “How the hell did I ever do that” and “how the hell will I ever do that again?” Who is that person?

It’s knowing you might be wasting your life, but feeling powerless to stop it.

It’s doing everything “right,” even thought it’s still going “wrong.”

It’s being afraid of people — especially yourself.

It’s worrying about something trivial such as a sick day manifesting into losing your job, your house, your wife, your life.

It’s knowing that if you don’t do it today, you might never do it again.

It’s never knowing peace.

It’s feeling guilty, ashamed and like a burden.

It’s being ashamed to say all these things knowing that people are “worse off,” but wondering what could be worse.

It’s thinking of the worst possible thing that could happen in a moment and playing it on a loop in your mind.

It’s knowing that it could happen anywhere at anytime.

It’s being so convinced that you feel so out of control, so you inevitably do something out of control, something you may never be able to take back.

It’s being afraid of people seeing you “in the moment,” and therefore cutting yourself off from any support or comfort when you need it most.

It’s wondering if they would be better off without you.

It’s jumping out of your skin when the doorbell rings, convinced it must be the police or someone who has come to take you away.

It’s thinking in every conversation, “I could never cope if that happened to me,” and building an ever-growing list of insurmountable scenarios.

It’s wanting to live, to see, to dream, to explore, to be free.

It’s wanting to help, support and bring joy to other people and knowing you do the opposite.

It’s feeling useless, like a carcass.

It’s the need for clarity, structure, organization and calm.

It’s constantly telling yourself tomorrow will be better and desperately looking for evidence that it is.

It’s feeling like everything is noisy and fast and intrusive.

It’s wanting to find a space in the world where no one is, but knowing you couldn’t get there anyway.

It’s about finding ways to avoid feeling trapped and realizing any situation makes you feel trapped.

It’s like running away from a firework tied to your leg.

It’s wishing you were different.

It’s feeling guilty for being “negative.”

It’s knowing your hope for recovery is therapy, but by worrying so much, you never get there.

It’s putting so much pressure on yourself that you have to do these things that you inevitably can’t.

It’s worrying so much about letting someone down — and then you do.

It’s wanting someone to tell you it will be OK and giving yourself the permission to believe them.

It’s feeling angry at your wife for “arranging something.”

It’s smiling when people say, “of course you can, you’ve done it before!”

It’s feeling like there’s nowhere safe and nowhere to go.

It’s wanting to shout “I know!” when people say that if you don’t do it, you’ll only feel worse, and wondering in that moment if there is a “worse.”

It’s a boundary that is artificially created by your mind.

It’s a wall of safety that keeps people out, but also keeps you in.

But my complex PTSD is also:

Having a crude perception that enables you to see people as they really are.

Opportunity to appreciate your friends and family and the support they offer.

Potential to educate and raise awareness.

Enables you to be kind and compassionate to others because you know struggle.

Finding out you have people who really care.

Unbelievable stamina and determination and refusal to give up.

Learning more about yourself than anyone might, and learning to accept it.

It’s frightening, It’s hell on earth, but the end of my story will never be: and so she gave up.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Thinkstock photo via Archv

Originally published: November 1, 2017
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