Travailing through Trauma: A Night With PTSD

Last night, PTSD won. I spent most of the night curled up in my closet, like a child afraid of the Boogeyman, trying my best to be as small as possible, like nothing at all, because the amount of open space my room offered was too much. Around 11 p.m., I laid on the floor with my deep plum blanket and a pillow beneath me—as the carpeted floor is hard after some time—surrounded by decorative pillows, shoes, and a worn hamper full of dirty laundry, trying not to cry from intrusive memories that transformed themselves into a horrific flashback. I could feel his warm breath on the back of my neck and his hands claiming me against my will…

I tried to breathe deeply to remind myself that I was still here and not there anymore (his hands weren’t actually on me). I tried to externalize the flashback by using a visualization of a TV screen, whereby the trauma is reduced to a 2-dimensional picture instead of with me, clouding my senses and distorting my reality, but it only made the flashback worse. Memories danced across my dark closet ceiling like a silent film and as much as I wanted to turn it off, I couldn’t. So, I let it play out. I had a panic attack, or two; I can’t remember. I don’t remember getting up and crawling back to bed nor do I recall falling asleep, but these things must have happened because when I woke up in my bed this morning, my knees ached with pain. When I woke up this morning, my brain felt like someone had melted it with a blow torch: I couldn’t concentrate on anything, I was experiencing dizziness, and I was just completely out of it. Still, I had to go to work.

Somewhere between me leaving my house to catch the bus and the end of my shift, chronic pain showed up. I have dealt with headaches, chest pain, and pain stemming from endometriosis all day. I want nothing more than to take a hot, long shower and climb in bed. I want my mind to not be so cloudy, as I don’t remember anything that happened at work today. I want to rest more than anything.

Today, the residue of PTSD, and chronic pain won. Sometimes, it’s like that. Bad days happen. In spite of that, strength is still there. Even if it’s hard to see or feel, even if it’s as tiny as a grain of sand, it’s still there. Maybe tomorrow, more will come, but right now, I’m holding on to what strength I have for tonight.

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