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To the Girl With PTSD Who Is Scared at Night

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To the girl with PTSD who is scared at night,

Yes I know being alone is scary, yes I know nighttime is hard.

Nighttime is quiet and lonely and the thoughts begin to race.

• What is PTSD?

The sounds scare you, every light you see is potentially a threat. You are scared to shut your eyes because of what you might see, memories from the past that have come to the present.

The bad people, the monsters, the fear, the pain. Yes I know it all feels so real, but I am here to tell you it isn’t.

You fall into a light sleep and the nightmares come and when you wake up, you may struggle to breathe. It feels like you are being hurt all over again, and the air you try to breathe is suffocating you.

It is hard to know what is real, what is safe. Your body shakes from adrenaline and fear, the tears that fall are filled with sadness and pain. Your head and chest pound, your throat burns, your eyes burn.

The emotional pain has a physical aspect to it. You are terrified this is your new reality and you are not sure if you will ever be able to escape. You sit on the edge of your bed using all those techniques you have learned trying to get a grasp on reality again — to ground yourself. You are trying to remember to breathe. It hurts, it is scary, it is overwhelming.

Is it real? Is it really happening? Are you really being hurt? Those questions race through your mind. You can’t get a grasp on yourself, on the world, on reality.

You hide under your blankets and cry until you eventually fall back into a light sleep.

How do I know so well you might ask? It is because this is my reality. I am the girl who wakes up terrified, but I am also the same girl who can tell you it will be OK. It feels scary, but you will overcome. You have survived it every other time before and this time is no different.

PTSD is real. It is scary. It can take over your life. At times my PTSD leaves me exhausted and emotional. Because of my PTSD I wake up crying every time I go to sleep. My PTSD doesn’t just haunt me at night but also in the day time. Flashbacks, nightmares, memories. My body and mind remember every detail. And over the years, the memories and feelings do not fade and if they do, not as quickly as you hope.

Unsplash photo via Sarah Diniz Outeiro

Originally published: March 5, 2018
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