Each night is a fresh hell brought forth by memories I can never erase.
Since the war, my life has become a monotony of misery. My sheets soaked in sweat each night from panic, tangled and shredded at my feet from the struggle.
I’ve gone through five sets this year alone. And it’s only April.
Palms sweating. Heart racing. Numbness in every extremity. Unexplained, excruciating and near constant pain. Hot then instantly cold, unable to regulate my own internal thermostat. Racing thoughts of worthlessness and suicide. Rocking in my bed, unable to lift my head or even leave the safety of my sheets some days. The constant invisible agony that no one sees.
Each quick turn of the head gives me glimpses of gore. Hacked bodies lying on city streets, machetes headed in my direction. Flashbacks that can over take my whole reality and leave me in psychosis hell in an instant with terror in every direction. You see to me a trigger is only the small part of the gun staring in my face. It has no relation to the things it “should” and people’s coddled affection for my ailment only leaves me pitied and alone in my misery. There is no amount of shielding that will lessen my fate. You see, the smell of cooked bacon, reminds me of their burning flesh, but I can read about rape until the cows come home. I can explore gore without emotion, but spending joyful times with my nieces and nephews leaves me paralysed with dread for days.
You see, my brain has learned to interpret success and joy as pain and trauma. Permenantly etched as the new reality, each new bliss follows hours or days or even weeks of panic and intense urges to flee, run away, hide, or die. Just stop the pain that follows. I can’t go through it all again. Afraid to be happy, feeling underserving, it has transformed my life into a sad misery where every joy is literally pain. Pure torture.
When people laugh and joke that they have “PTSD” after something minorly annoying happens to them, I feel like they have just punched me in the gut and left me breathless, keeling over from worthlessness. Diminished. Like my struggle is worthy of their laughter, and that I am somehow weak for having this viseral physical reaction to the protracted trauma I experienced. I consider if for just one moment they could reach inside my head and feel this type of terror face to face if they’d ever make that joke again. But then, I wouldn’t wish that horror on anyone. Not even for a moment.
My reality looks bleak. There’s a 70% chance I’ll suffer from this trauma for the rest of my existence. You see, I’m a prisoner of war, trapped forever in the hell my own brain has created to compensate for the horrors it could not explain. It’s no wonder most of us just decide to end it. There are enemies all among us, politely ensuring we survive only to endure more horror and there is no one ever coming to rescue us. We are in this all alone, forever.
My blog should just be titled “Everything hurts. All the time.”because it seems to be the number one thing on my mind each and every day.
My joints hurt. More so in the winter. In the rain. Especially the ones I’ve broken, which is most of them. I sometimes fear what will happen if I ever make it to my 60s, 70s, 80s or beyond. If my joints hurt this badly in my 30s, I can’t even fathom the pain that’s to come.
Last night I left the house. Alone. And did something social, alone. It’s hard to get the energy to even get out of bed these days, but it went ok.
I did an open mic night at a coffee house. I performed, and got some very positive feedback, got to socialize, was proud of myself. I heard my buddy was opening his sauna nearby, and I just couldn’t pass it up. I went for about an hour. Then went home.
I did everything on my list yesterday.
This is the reality of recovery. Every day is just boring. Trying to get back to a semblance of normalcy. Tasks on a to -do list. Shower. Eat. Do dishes. Simple things. CBT. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Change patterns of behaviour, and you will change patterns of thought. Sure.
I’ve been this route for most of the last four years, in the background of other therapies. While it does get me out of bed, it doesn’t change the dissociation I feel while doing the taks. That I feel like a fraud. Putting cover-up over emotional bruises. But they’re peeking through.
I go through the motions, hoping, hoping, hoping, that one day, it won’t just be motions anymore, it will be habit. But hundreds of days pass with no change. It’s still an effort, for each and every action. It still feels unnatural. It still hurts and is a struggle.
I don’t think I’ll ever be “normal” again. I can’t even imagine at this point what it would feel like to be without depression. I no longer remember what that feels like. What it feels like to be genuinely happy, without the inevitable spiral afterwards, handling the dissociative reaction that accompanies any emotions. That it physically hurts. That it emotionally hurts. That it leaves me breathless. Ringing in my ears. Worthless thoughts raging through my brain, reminding me that I’m nothing. That I’m human garbage.
So lie. Lie through the pain. Put a smile on your face and face reality.
I woke up this morning with a sore throat. Feels like the beginning of strep. That scratchy, ache that feels like something might have scratched your throat on the way down.
Getting sick with the flu or cold can be deadly for me. In more ways than one. I have a weakened immune system and it seems that I catch every single thing that comes in front of me. Second to that, when I’m sick, I can’t do my daily tasks, and my whole mental well-being goes into disarray.
You see, my average day is all about completing my daily tasks. When I’m really sick mentally, those tasks fall to a small list of simple doable actions, like, play guitar for 10 minutes or have a bath or shower. As I get more mentally healthy, the checklists get longer and more complicated/difficult.
I’ve included writing here as part of my new daily routine again.
Today’s list is short. I’ve pushed myself hard yesterday and I need a bit of a break.
I’m getting better at acknowledging accomplishments, like having a shower that day, getting out of bed, and not just leave myself feeling like a failure of a human being for being limited by my C-PTSD. That when you are in a truly depressive or anxious state, getting out of bed is like running a marathon. That it requires this same determination or will and physical exertion.
It’s hard sometimes to remember who I used to be, before all this bad stuff. My character has changed in drastic ways. I’m much more pessimistic. Much more argumentative. Angry. Anger wasn’t something I really felt before all this happened. Tiny annoyances, sure. But never REAL, can’t think, anger. Boxing the punching bag has helped me channel this energy in the past, but it’s hard to be physical when I’m hurting so much physically.
And it’s hard to tell where the lines between physical hurt and mental hurt being felt as physical pain are. I’ve had many health issues, and many injuries, and these things hurt, but some days, I really can’t tell if it’s all in my head (still manifesting as REAL pain physically) or actual physical pain. And this has become problematic for me. If you experience prolonged physical pain, you start minimizing it. Ignoring it.
And if it’s a real physical problem, not just mental pain, then you miss signs of illness. It goes untreated, and gets worse.
But also, the very REAL toll of prolonged pain, whether physical or mental, is that it diminishes your spirit, your capacity for anything, really. It makes you lash out. Isolates.
I’ve been unable to take any pain-killing medication since my addiction days without a problem, so I don’t. I take all my surgeries without morphine. Without a drip of calm. It’s been painful, but it really pales in comparison to the pain I feel when I have mental pain manifesting as physical pain.
I’ve learned tricks to cope.
Mostly I just over-eat when I’m in pain. Or imagine chocolate cake or brownies. Something delicious. This seems to help somewhat.
I play the 30 second game. You can handle any pain or torture for thirty seconds without cracking. So you endure, count it out. Then start over.
I play the dissociation game. Where you invent fantasy scenarios to take you away from what you’re experiencing.
I play the here and now game. Where there is no past. There is no future. There’s only here and now. And we must enjoy it.
I’ve found I’ve become an open book with everyone. Unable to stop the verbal diarrhea coming out of my mouth, so far from my childhood of “don’t air your dirty laundry in public”.
I stopped caring what people think of me, for the most part. I still want to belong in the communities I care about, and don’t want to hurt other people, but I care less and less whether people think I’m “cool”, or whether they like me.
I’ve learned a lot of coping strategies.
Some work better than others.