Oh, Life is a Struggle

So I’m going on my first month in a massive PTSD episode. We’re talking full on trigger mode. There are times in my life the trauma surfaces so severely that my mental health goes into system failure mode. I’m not talking about your typical depressive episode. It’s the kind of episode where you feel like you are losing your mind. It’s one thing to feel down about life and everything you see is darkness but another thing when you feel like you’re drifting into madness and everything is out of control. Regular episodes I can usually work my way through within weeks, sometimes days. Episodes like this one can last months if not over a year. In the past, they have led to multiple hospitalizations and I fear that is where I’m heading.

Most people won’t understand any of this. I’m speaking a different language than them. They just see someone constantly complaining, aka always being negative. If you think I’m being negative you should get inside my head and you will see the real negative. It’s a dark pit of loneliness, regret and sorrow. It’s like constantly gasping for air. There is no water but you’re drowning in misery. That’s what I am currently feeling. It’s like the atomic bomb of panic attacks. It’s non-stop. It just goes on and on. I will have a few days where I feel like I’m going to die, then I start to feel a little bit better for a day or so. The depression, anxiety and paranoia aren’t far away. The past month they continue to follow me and possess my body. I can’t help the triggers. That’s the problem when I have this type of massive PTSD episode. Not only am I flooded with emotion and pain but I’m forced to relive the trauma through flashbacks. I can’t get away from it.

Now it’s followed me into my dreams. For weeks I have been having these horrible dreams about real pain, fears and insecurities that have occured. The cast of characters are always the people in my life. I don’t dream about past actions. Instead I dream of new scenarios where I experience the same pain behind the actions. Like for example my Mom dying. Many nights my dreams are about her dying in new ways. Last night I dreamed that both my Mom and Dad were murdered on a family vacation to Walt Disney World. In High School my parents (when they were still together) took my sister and I to Disney. It was the greatest memory I have of us as a family. Pure happiness, joy and fun. In my nightmare that trip turned into a horror story where my parents disappeared while we were down there. In the dream, I’m desperately searching for my parents and trying to find my sister. I don’t realize that they’ve already been murdered. I’m also there with a boyfriend, who ends up leaving me during this situation. He just used me to get a trip to Walt Disney World. So imagine waking up from that dream today???? I woke up disoriented feeling like the world was coming to an end. I felt like my Mom died all over again. My dreams took one of the few happy memories of my childhood and destroyed them.

In regular ptsd episodes I never really feel like I’m losing my mind, as they’re not really based in major traumas. Usually they are environmental based like not getting out of the house. At first I was handling the dreams but they’ve been non-stop. One night I woke up every couple of hours. Everytime I fell back asleep the same nightmare started again. It was like someone was had put pause on my nightmare. When you tell people that you’re having bad dreams most people relate to it but I’m not talking about your typical dreams. These are like night terrors. I wake up feeling like I’ve been shaken or hit by a cement truck. I woke up at 5pm and I’m still feeling shaky at 3am. The first two hours were hell. I get in this paranoid state where everything is off, like I’m drugged. I’m frightened by everything. I went out to my park for a Pokemon Go raid and that was very problematic. It’s like being a lost child looking for his Mommy. It’s that feeling when I go out into the real world when I’m triggered. Everyone is a stranger, including friends and family. I had a good friend at this raid and even he I couldn’t trust. I describe this as friends and family becomes strangers, and strangers become enemies. You can’t trust anyone. Everyone is out against you. It’s like coming out of a sensory deprivation tank, that you have be trapped in for years. Everything is hazy. You lose all sight of your senses. Lights are too brilliant and sounds too piercing. Your skin crawls and you walk on pins and needles. Now you might be understanding why I feel like I’m losing my mind.

If it was just one trauma or emotion then I might could adjust but I’m being hit with everything at once. It’s like a family reunion of pain, trauma, rejection, loss and sorrow. On top of this all I’m coming upon the sixth anniversary of my Mom dying, which is one big factor in why I’m so triggered. So not only am I having to deal with the grief but I’m also reliving the other traumas in my life like the sexual abuse when I was ten. As well as the emotional abuse my father and many other rejections in my life. So think of all the bad things that have ever happened to you. Imagine having to relive them over and over for a month or longer. Most couldn’t handle a week. There were four big traumas in my life altered who I am. First the sexual abuse. I don’t need to explain that one. Then it was when my father left my Mom when I was in Middle School. That was when the emotional abuse started with my father. It’s when I started to hide in my bed out of fear and safety. The third trauma was coming out when I was eighteen, which were also related to the first two traumas. My father was extremely emotionally abusive. Even my Mom, who’d always been my protector, turned against me. The final major trauma was when my Mom died in 2012. In between those four big events were other traumas usually stemming from one of those traumas like getting in an abusive relationship. The smaller traumas would just reinjury me in the same ways. They reinforced the damage and negative view of myself.

I already was in a trigger from the sexual abuse, which started when the me too movement started last year. I have been working on those issues with my therapist. I had started to talk about the core of that trauma, which I haven’t done in over ten years. Then I had the whole living in a homeless shelter experience, which was one of the minor traumas. Finally what really opened pandora’s box was the lunch I had with my Grandmother a month ago where she shamed me for not having a relationship with my abusive, toxic father. She pushed every hurtful button there was. It’s like she dove a dagger into my heart and kept digging. No matter what my father did or said was justification for not having him in my life. That was the past. I needed to forgive and forget like my father told me many years ago when he found out that my cousin molested me. He said that the day after he found out, when I got upset that he went hunting with my cousin. It didn’t matter, it was of great shame to the family that I was acting like I did. Especially being a fucked up human being. I was told that I wasn’t an inspiration. She took a weedwacker to my soul and I have been struggling ever since. It brought up every wound I had. Especially the ones where I started to believe that I deserved the pain and that I deserved to be treated that way. So of course, I’m starting to think of trying to have a relationship with my Dad because I deserve the abuse. These are the things going through my head right now. Did I mention I had a dream where I was forced into a sexual experience by him????

So yeah my brain is a bit scrambled right now and I’m trying to hold on the best I can. I have virtually no one to turn to. Thankfully I have made a couple of friends playing pokemon but I can’t turn to them in this way. I have no one checking up on me. I’m not on anyone’s radar. People see my cries on Facebook and all they see is noise. The only family I have left is my sister and she’s in her own hell currently. That’s what makes this whole episode horrible, is that I don’t have my Mom to turn to for comfort. I see children with their Mom’s and it kills me. What I wouldn’t do to be able to see her in person and get a hugg from her but that will never happen again, at least not in this lifetime. So I must learn to suffer alone. If it wasn’t for Pokemon Go I would go weeks without seeing anyone, other than my therapist and my neighbors who I just see in passing. I had started going to a transgender support group monthly and even this month’s meeting triggered me so nowhere is safe.

My triggers are creeping into every aspect of my life and they’re affecting me deeply. Nowhere is safe, not even my dreams. I’m living in my own world war. Will this be the day when the monsters come knocking at my door. I’m doing all I can to cope with this all. I’m sticking with therapy, even when I don’t want to go. I continue to talk about the things I don’t want to but the pain is endless and there is no relief. The trauma and feelings from that trauma have me in this torture chamber. It’s using my new awareness against me. They know that my wounds are wide open and they can push their pointy little fingers into the flesh of my gaping wounds. The beast uses its claws to tear through my wounds, like nails on a chalkboard. There is no pain killers to dull this level of torturous pain.

I just wish others would acknowledge the pain and not try to cover it up or pretend it’s not there. I gotta get through this. There is no easy fix. Taking a hot bath won’t solve this problem, nor will any amount of positivity. The one person who would check up on me is dead. I have no one looking out for me. I don’t really even have anyone to be around, especially on a regular basis. I go days without seeing anyone. I am locked in my solitude. Lately I don’t even want to be in my apartment. Right now it’s just a bedroom. I don’t have a couch. I have nowhere to relax. I have a tv and no way to watch anything on it. So right I just see an empty space, where I’m left to deal with all this pain and trauma.

I just wonder when things will ever change. I sure want them too. I hope I’m really at the core of my problems. Maybe that’s why I’m struggling so. I just worry that it will get so severe that the pain will take me over completely. Right now I have the sense to be able to write it all out in this post but tomorrow could be differently. My life is in turmoil right now and that’s not on anyone’s radar. I’m dying inside and no one is invested enough in me to know this. The clues are all over my Facebook and after a while people just unfollow and tune you out. You become apart of the fake news on Facebook.

My father use to tell me (over and over) that I was going to Hell. He was lying, I was already there. Ever since I have been desperately trying to get out of it. I’m locked inside my own misery and I haven’t found a way to escape. Every door I open leads me back to that room, where the pain lives. That is where I’m at today. I keep fighting and pushing through. I keep trying but I’m so tired and so lonely. I just want people to be around. I want people to care that I’m dying inside.

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The Quantum Leap of PTSD

QuantumLeap-2

So I’m in the second week of my PTSD episode or what I call a bubble… more like a force field. One thing I learned very early on was how to dissociate to keep myself safe. There were two significant events in my childhood where I first learned to dissociate. The first started when I was sexually abused at the age of ten. I learned then that my bed and pillow were the passageway to another dimension. They became my magic carpet into the night sky. The second was a few years later when my parents had separated and my father would come over enraged, threatening my mother harm and trying to knock down the door. Both these instances I tried to float away from the scary and traumatic event that I couldn’t stop. I was scared and alone, so naturally I chose the only way possible and that was to hide. Float away from my body so that I didn’t have to endure the pain.

Once I learned the dissociative trick I started to use it as a coping mechanism, especially when trying to deal with any of the past trauma. It was my escape plan and I used it often in my adult life. Often times I had no control over it. Like a switch it would quickly get switched on and I would float away. My bedroom became this safety zone. It was like this teleportation device kind of like my own Tardis. Though I don’t need to be in my bed to dissociate. It’s just home base for me. No matter how scary and painful my life was I knew that I had my room to escape to. This was true when I came out in 1995. My parents didn’t understand being gay and they tried to change me. As a result it caused even more trauma and it confirmed to me that the only way to cope from traumatic events was to check out of my body by dissociating.

There are times when my dissociation is brief. If I can notice that I’m starting to float away then that helps lessen the time it takes to get back, though that’s not always the case. If it’s an environmental trigger then I usually can just leave the situation. Though a lot of times it will set off further triggers, making it a nasty cycle to overcome.  If you are near me when I start to dissociate it’s pretty obvious. It’s like the air is being sucked out of me and I start to deflate. I go inward like I’m ready to ready to go into a cocoon. This was obvious a few weeks ago during a support group where we had a man come into our safe space and use it for his own motives. I could feel myself float away because I couldn’t handle the situation. Listening to him lecture us was just too much to take and it reminded me of too much of my past with my family. I couldn’t find a way to deflate the situation so the only choice I had was to dissociate. My two options were to confront the man or to leave. Either choices could have put me in harms way of being assaulted. I didn’t know how to handle the situation and worried about him invading my own personal space so away I went on my magic carpet.

The problem with that situation is that I had already started to dissociate prior to that night. So my magic carpet was ready to go to it’s final descent. Once I completely check out then it’s very difficult to get back to my body. It can take months and in the past it has lead to hospitalizations. To cope I take the magic carpet so far away that I get stuck in this void of nothingness. It’s a very scary place to be. It’s like you split in two. I can feel my body but everything else is far away. The whole out of body experience is like watching a movie. I can see and hear everything around me but I can’t really change what I see. I just have to wait until the movie is over. Being out in public like this is very startling. You have this sense of paranoia. It feels like the world is going to end. Everything is dark and scary. Physically I am drained and can feel every move I make. I really feel my weight like this. When I discoatiate my healthy parts go far away, leaving the unhealthy ones to roam free. They take full advantage of being alone and they use my mind as their own playground. Every insecurity and bad thought is pounded in my brain with a sledgehammer. I feel like I’m dying.

Today I had to leave the house for an errand and I didn’t want to leave. The world outside of my apartment is a very dangerous place right now. My friends and family have become strangers, and strangers are now predators. I can’t trust everyone. Everything is in fast forward, while I’m in slow motion. It’s tough to navigate like this but I do the best I can. When my errand was done I wanted to get back home. I couldn’t take the outside anymore. I started to panic as I knew it’d be at least an hour with public transportation. I would have done anything to been able to physically teleport out of there. Unfortunately my magic carpet doesn’t take my actual body. I could feel my anxiety rise as I got closer to home. The closer I got the more it felt like I would fail. Finally I did get home and I was safe again. I laid down and slept for three hours.

The process of returning my body is a slow task. Each day I get closer and there are setbacks. I will get triggered by something and start to float away again. I take two steps forward and one step back. The returning to my body aspect of it is when I feel my physicalness pretty dramatically. It’s why today on the bus it felt like I was going to die. It’s not a natural process to return. It’s a shock to my system. Once the two parts start to unite I can feel everything. The darkness starts to turn to grey but I can still see the darkness in a distance. It’s strange to be able to feel both sides, the good and bad. My mind feels better but my body and spirit don’t right away. I’m less weighted down and start to venture out more. I have to force myself to do things. Though there are things too far out of my comfort zone, like having cavities filled by my dentist. Having any sort of appointment during this period is problematic and often times I cancel like I did today. In my mind, I already have an exit strategy just in case. I go from wanting to go to therapy to not wanting to at all. In the past I would cancel therapy but this time it’s different. I have enough control of my healthy side that I know that I need it more than ever. I don’t want to talk about the pain and struggles but I do anyways. This last session I kept wanting to bolt out of the room. Talking about my problems will only bring me closer to my body and the unhealthy parts will do whatever necessary to stop that transition.

Deep inside of me is that scared little boy I use to be. I wasn’t allowed to heal or process things properly so I locked him far away, where no one could hurt him. I piled trash up on trash on top of him to disguise his location. Now as an adult I’m starting to finally heal. I’m having to pick up the trash, one piece of time. I’m closer to him than I have ever been. I’m in the house where he is at but there is still something blocking my way to his bedroom. It’s like in Harry Potter when Fluffy is blocking my bedroom door. If you’ve not seen the movie or read the books it’s a three headed gigantic dog that is foaming at the mouth and ready to eat anyone who tries to get through the door. That is what I’m up against and I’m still figuring the best way in.

I hope that this might be my last leap but history tells me that it might not be. I’m tired of enduring this process. I hope that as I start to properly heal that it will become easier to identify and control the dissociation. That means dealing with a lot of pain and trauma. I have to feel those horrible feelings that I couldn’t cope with so many years ago. I can’t run anymore. So I must deal with them as they come.