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This Is What My Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Looks Like

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This is what my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) looks like:

It’s 4 a.m. I am still awake. My brain won’t shut off and my thoughts are racing so fast, I can’t catch them. I sit up on the edge of the bed and cry quietly so I don’t wake anyone up because I can’t even pinpoint why I’m crying and telling someone whom I don’t know just feels fake.

• What is PTSD?

I text you in the morning, and when I don’t get a response by afternoon, you hate me and never want to speak to me again. I’m convinced I’ve lost another friend.

This is what my PTSD looks like:

I wake up covered in sweat after finally falling asleep and can’t remember my nightmares, but my heart is rapidly beating and my chest is tight.

I find the energy to pull myself out of bed and stare at the basket of dirty laundry I haven’t washed yet, and my chest is tight again. I feel like I’m not in control.

This is what my PTSD looks like:

I’m watching TV. A violent scene that would send me into flashbacks comes on and I disassociate. I’m no longer even “there” to react.

I make plans and then spend an hour before thinking of ways to back out because the anxiety of being around people is almost overwhelming.

Shopping during busy times makes me dizzy and short of breath.

This is PTSD. I am not a combat veteran. I never served in a war.

I am one of the millions of people who struggle in silence because it’s easier than explaining it over and over.

This is what my PTSD looks like:

Panic attacks, nightmares, insomnia, wanting to be left alone, disassociating from reality, memory lapses, feeling detached.

It doesn’t have a look, and the scars it leaves in its wake are invisible, but that does not make them any less real.

If you don’t understand it, please ask us for help instead of acting ignorant and invalidating our feelings.

It might be a curse, but it is never a weakness.

Thinkstock photo via Giulio_Fornasar

Originally published: April 19, 2017
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