PTSD in all of our lives
“Why am I so terrified of everything?” Is a question I often find myself asking. To my brother, (who thinks that everything I say or do is a lie, and isn’t true) is convinced that there is nothing wrong with me. It’s all just in my head according to Him. But, what He won’t admit, is that my mind was completely changed as a very young boy due to many a trauma, which had affected me before my mind could have the chance to mature.
The National institute of Mental health tells us that PTSD (2015) is indeed real, but is still very misunderstood. They continue to say:
It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger. (p. 1).
And in essence, one could say that my PTSD is the way my body copes emotionally. But what most people are not willing to admit, is; “how can it make such impact to a person who never served in the military?” That too is another myth. This disorder has been shown to be able to affect, and change the brain chemistry within anyone, all because of a shock or drastic change to a person’s brain chemistry. And children are the most susceptible. Especially since their brains haven’t even begun to finishing growing yet, and usually don’t, depending on one’s gender, until the ages of anywhere in the middle of 20-25. Sometimes, it may even take longer for a fully adult brain to mature.
What isn’t so clear about PTSD, is what scientists won’t admit. We know what can cause the issues, but is it even curable? Is it something that permanently affects the person biologically? Or is just psychologically? In all fairness though, I believe that it could be, and is, both. Science seems to think that PTSD could actually be prevented. But, what irks me, is how can you prevent trauma in life? You just can’t! Now, as far as being ready for something like this to happen, since anyone can be affected short or long-term; is best to prepare more so when you’re a parent, uncle/aunt, or even grandparent in order to help the next generation to heal. This is just not something a pill, or even counseling can “cure.”
Day to Day life
Be as it may, as a first hand sufferer of this disease, I can tell you that no matter what anyone says to you about it; being ready for the effects completely cannot be done. Since suffering from PTSD as a kid, I now have more coping experience than most, so I personally have been able to get it down to a more tolerable level. However, I still cannot live on my own yet. Even when sober, constant paranoia, racing thoughts, and easily being scared still plague my life. The hardest part is trying to help everyone around me, well everyone who has stuck around that is, and understand what’s really going on.
Another huge change in my life, has lead me to become more introverted than ever before. As a born extrovert/introvert, switching almost instantly to an introvert/extrovert has been tough. What most also don’t fully comprehend is how the smallest of things to you, become the largest for me. If someone looks at me wrong, even if in reality they didn’t, my mind jumps to the worst conclusions, and automatically goes into “fight or flight” at every turn. IMAGINE if you will; constantly feeling that rush of physiological fact, almost all the time. It becomes unbearable.
What also irks me, is when people who accuse me things, automatically find me “guilty” due to the way I “acted”, or reacted, when being questioned. What they don’t fully know, is that even being accused, especially when I’m completely innocent. (Yes you read that right; for the sake of even only being accused). My brain, yet again, jumps into “protection” mode, and biologically reacts as if I were guilty. The questioning is all it takes, in behalf of the PTSD. I’ve come to know this reaction as; “false guilt.” As well as cognitively working along with my counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists; being able to see what’s happening, from the outside in, after the fact, was/is a huge leap for me.
Overcoming abuse on all fronts as a kid numbed me from the age of 5, until about 25. So, for twenty years, I lived life feeling like an ice-cube. The drugs involved also only made all of this worse. Waking up on the daily, also calls for certain precautions, and OCD has also formed as an addicting habit of checking & rechecking things around the house, i.e; doors, locks on the windows, my car, etc. have become apart of this “routine”, and of course, have become more habitual for “safety”, than for posterity.
Constantly being on guard all the time takes its toll. One of the most heartbreaking things of this disease is those who prey on me, and take advantage of it in order to “one up” me, and have an edge on my natural awesomeness on life sickens me. They’re bullies. And unfortunately, were the wrong people to confide in. My advice is that anyone else who suffers from this, to only tell those who you can completely trust, which is a task in it’s own to figure out.
Most others outside of your personal circle, will not understand/probably not believe you, and more than likely will use it against you. (No, that’s not just the paranoia talking.) As I’m sure that most of you whom are affected by the disease either firsthand, or second, know exactly what I mean by this. When someone has this disorder, they tend to be more brutally honest than any other human being you’ve met. Our stress levels don’t really allow for us to waste time to beat around the bush compared to most other people.
To add, being on edge consistently can be overwhelming for others too. It is a lot to really swallow when meeting new people, and trying to introduce them to the real you. Not only is it tough, but another aspect of this “malfunction”, is that other’ may not get, or care, how sensitive as people we are. And that any small change in our life, especially losing people, will cause us to have, what I call, an outbreak!
What will the neighbors think?
As an illustration, part of what makes me a great writer, is that I’m an explainer! And when I say explainer, I mean everything, in full detail, and in truth for all things. One of my coping mechanisms when I find people are observing me as “weird”, I come right out and tell them what I’m doing. Whether it be; out at 4 o’ clock in the morning staring up at the sky in my apartment parking lot, staring at them while deep in thought (I found waving helps to deter most when this happens, or saying hi), or even overreacting (to non PTSD sufferers) to normal everyday situations. The part of understanding me, is just by listening to what I have to say. (And this can also correlate back to my “on edge” explanation/people thinking I’m guilty since I do explain so much) Even though it may seem like I’m making up an excuse to cover up some “sinister” act, I just want to be understood as a person really. Because I know how I look from the outside looking. It is also a very rare trait that makes my case so unique too.
Even if you don’t listen fully though, I (internally) have to finish my explanation, or I feel like I failed. The mechanism in my brain does not work like anyone else’s for the most part. My social interactions are always on a deep level, no matter what, and I take everything to heart. Yes, in our society this all sounds like a load of crap anyone can just “say”, but I’m also doing this for everyone; man, women, or child to be understood. We’re extremely sensitive, but uphold honesty over anything else. And to let everyone know, no; “I am not a threat!” I am just, well, different. No matter what you think.
In general, you may not ever run into someone like me. Although, reading this article might be able to help you to understand me on such a deeper level, or it might even help you to explain someone you’ve wanted to understand, but just never quite got it. To enumerate, yes, some of our behavior is very fishy, but one thing that separates us from “normal” is that we do exist! Everything in this article is factual, and another thing to say, is that if you can get passed all that we suffered/suffer from, and take the time to work on a relationship with people like me, let me tell you, we are some of the most loyal and loving human beings on this planet. Even if I haven’t slept in a room without a light or TV on for over four years, we all are worth it, and have our quirks. No, it’s not easy. But, if you ever want a; truthful, loving, honest, and hopeful friend/lover, like everyone “says” they want, and who knows what it means to suffer hard, and still live? Then, human beings like us just might be what you need.
If you or anyone that you know, need some advice, or direction on where to start seeking more information on this subject. Please write me!
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (Last Revised 2016). Retrieved November 15, 2015, retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml