If you ever held your breath under water and waited to come up right before the last second that you can, that’s how people with PTSD feels every day.
“It’s called PTSD, or known as post traumatic stress disorder,” a therapist told me when I was up at school.
Apparently my first diagnoses was wrong. It doesn’t surprise me I was just 16 at the time.
But I’m writing this blog to talk about what it feels like to live with this. Usually you only hear that war veterans experience PTSD when in reality anyone, anytime, can experience it. It happens when some traumatic happens in your life that you can’t handle.
Things that you see in your everyday life start to become “triggers”. Those triggers become a part of your life everyday. You see it every where. You become more aware of it and you start to panic. You start to feel numb and you loose concentration. Your surroundings come fuzzy and you go back to that event. Even something as simple as a noise can be a trigger. Words are triggers. How you say things can be triggers.
For example, I would drive down 25 and start to have a sense of panic and worry when I saw or heard a diesel truck. I would forget what I’m doing and where I am going for a few seconds. I feel like I need to run, get away. I feel as if my life is going to come to an end for those few seconds.
But it’s not the triggers that are bad. It’s the dreams. The dreams that seem and feel real.
Picture this, you’re so tired from a long day of work and you just can’t wait to go to sleep. You close your eyes and as you start to fall asleep you feel like you are suffocating. You are sweating perfidiously. You see a man silhouette standing over your bed saying to run but you are stuck onto your bed. You try to scream for help but it makes matters worse. You try and wake yourself up from this nightmare. And your body won’t let you. You awake trying to breathe and in a sense of panic. It’s 1:45 A.M. It’s late. You’re so tired. But you’re so afraid to go to sleep. So afraid to relive something that once was real. You go to bed. This time you’re asleep but as you wake up for the second time because you’re so worried about having a bad dream, you hear a voice whisper in your ear, “You can’t run.” You then get up screaming and swinging at the air to defend yourself only to realize, it’s just you in your room. It’s only 3:45, you decide not to go back to sleep again for another night.
You drive down to your job exhausted from the lack of sleep. You hear a car screech and panic. You start to loose your breathing pattern and get lost again while driving. You eventually start to breakdown because you don’t know what to do.
When you have PTSD, it’s not just affecting one part of you but it effects your whole entire body. You’re reliving that experience over and over again. It seems so real and so vivid.
Now I’m not looking for your sympathy. But I am asking for you to be empathetic for people with a mental illness. They are going through something truly hard. An inner battle that sometimes can never be defeated. I mean, how would you feel with a lack of sleep for 2 weeks? With just only a whopping 9-12 hours of sleep. Being AFRAID to sleep. It’s not fun. Some people turn to the bottle, others ignore it, and others find a way to overcome it.
Be supportive. You can actually save a life that way.