Written By: Marie Aprile
This picture is hard for me to look at, but it needs to be shown; this is what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder looks like.
PTSD is invisible; I may look better than fine. I may be calm and composed most times. But you can not see the war that is waging day in and day out in my mind.
No, I’m not a soldier. No, I never have been to war. That doesn’t change the fact that a few words can trigger a flashback to a time you never wanted to remember. Once it’s triggered, there is no going back.
Finding your way out is borderline impossible. You are drowning in the darkness, suffocating from the painful memory. Crushed by the weight of the trauma, exhausted from fighting the war waging in your mind. Flashbacked to a time you repressed long ago.
The other night, my PTSD was triggered. I had the worst attack I have ever had. It’s been 2 years now…god two years. I’ve been free from the trauma for two whole years, yet in a matter of seconds I was trapped back in 2015 with wounds as fresh and raw as the day they were made. I was doing so well mentally for almost two years; I was beginning to trust again. I was beginning to enjoy food again. I was sleeping. I was recovering.
Then this year came and it’s just like a screeching halt. My mind can’t stop racing with what ifs. What if it happens again? What if everything is a lie? I can’t turn it off. I can’t breathe. I’m that kicked puppy in a corner again, shutting down to stop the bleeding.
Stop the trauma.
Prevent it from reoccurring.
Beating yourself up for even potentially letting it happen again; how could I let this happen again? What in the world is wrong with me? Did I not learn? Is it me? Did I do something to deserve this? Constantly overanalyzing and holding the pain and anger close to your heart just so you won’t be caught off guard again.
PTSD is complex, it’s heavy. It’s hard to live with and it is all encompassing. Equally as hard as living with PTSD is trying to recovery from PTSD. Once the blindfold is off and you understand why you react to certain triggers, the battle wages even harder; especially when you are aware of how irrational your thoughts are. You SEE the chain of abuse and trauma, you SEE the triggers, you SEE how beaten down you became to get to this point. But seeing doesn’t translate into coming to terms with it all. Being self aware just ignites the new leg of the journey to recovery.
When you are struggling, it is important to remember you are NOT weak, and you are NOT alone. There are others who have been where you are too; in these times it’s best to reach out. In my experience, I have found that sharing the burden of the trauma with others has lifted some of the weight it carried off of my heart. Opening up about the pain has made it less raw; it may be very scary to open up at first, but there is strength and healing in vulnerability. Take power back from what has had power over you all these years; take control back from the abusers and shine your light as bright as you can in the process-you’d be surprised at how many are desperately searching for that light in the darkness.