A Weekend With Complex PTSD

It’s bad enough to be told you have Post Traumatic Stress disorder. It’s a whole other whammy to be told it’s complex. The difference between PTSD and cPTSD is multiple trauma. Usually, it happened (or is happening) for a long period of time, and in some cases in multiple areas of a person’s life. Due to these factors, there’s a change in the creation of self-concept and much more adaptation to typical and stressful life events.

I understand why suicide rates are so high among anyone who’s experience life-threatening trauma. cPTSD has taken away any sense of stability or control. Some days are better than others, but it’s a struggle. I’ve tried to take my own life twice.

Saturday started out alright. Right after breakfast, I started to feel like a part of me was separating from my body. I went into a dissociative/depersonalized state that lasted for 10 hours. The best way to describe what happens on a light day (this was light, but very lengthy) is I feel floaty. I take long pauses to reply to a question, and I ask you to repeat yourself enough times that you may ask me to drop it. I see the world through beveled glass. I only noticed the time had changed once I started to come back out of the state.

I was on complete auto-pilot. My depth perception was shot: I bumped into everything, I dropped almost everything, and I would grab for something only to miss it by inches. Trying to plan anything caused this inexplicable tension in my stomach and I wanted to scream. All senses were dulled. I can give you a gist of what happened, but don’t ask me about details. I hate that state, it cements that I’ve officially lost what sanity I had left. The day was a complete write-off.

insane
Wayne’s World (1992)

I start again Sunday, and things were fine. Sleep was a bit rough, but not the worst it’s been. Pain levels were manageable that I completed my workout and physio exercises. I planned the day. I ate a complete breakfast and lunch.

I’m out doing errands, and I see someone who’s a piece of my trauma puzzle. Freeze kicked in: it felt like all the blood left my limbs and legs. My eyes felt like they grew to the size of of those anime cartoons. My hands were ice. Time slowed way down, and the sound around me started to sound muffled. All I could think about was find an exit while keeping an eye on what they’re doing. Why? I need to stay away: it’s not safe. I have to do this as inconspicuously as possible as to not to be noticed.
I’m, admitted ridiculously, standing behind columns or people and making sure my eyes are on two places: the cause of the trauma, and on the exit. It helped that we’ve not communicated for over 6 months now, but I guess that amount of time isn’t enough for the primitive part of brain. All it wants is survival, and overrides anything else.
I don’t know if I was spotted, I won’t know (most likely). I want to ask later via a messaging service, but is that a healthy behavior? No. I used to always initiate the healing, not anymore. That’s the gross part of cPTSD: if it’s a person, you usually want to confront them, an odd type of Stockholm Syndrome. Luckily for me, it’s not vengeful like so many. I’m actually deathly afraid, and I wish I wasn’t. When you aren’t given evidence that you are safe, or the person giving a shit, well…

kronk
Kronk trying to be stealthy, and doing a poor job. If you’ve seen this movie, it felt like that scene (Emperor’s New Groove, 2000)

Once I finally escaped, I was shaking, and I felt so nauseous that I couldn’t eat anything for the rest of the day. I kept the visibility of this as minimal as possible. I’m the strong one, I don’t break under pressure. Particularly dumb pressure.

You can see how I try to rationalize in the moment only for it to be to my detriment later on.

Momentarily, I finally felt like I was going to cry. No. I’m in public and with someone, so buried it went and stoic me comes to the forefront. Other than somatic sensations in my body, I felt empty. I don’t feel like I can return to that store, or I have to change the day and time I go. Wow, just like how I can’t go to places I’m certain that person will be. I’ve cut myself off of many places I love, a career path I miss dearly, and I don’t know how to get over any of that.

I have no one to talk to about any of this. I have to bare this all by myself.

I tried to put it behind me and go out again with family in the evening. I was debating going since what had happened shook me, plus depersonalizing for so long the day before. But, I’ve already declined going out too many times. My family barely understands, and I don’t want to break the last familial bonds I have. Plus, you’re told when it comes to phobia: face the fear head on.

If it were in metaphor, you should wade your feet in the water, not jump into the deep end with bricks in your pockets and sit at the bottom forgetting you need to go back up to breathe. Guess which one I tend to do?

The place was over-capacity and people weren’t on their best behavior.

It’s not safe here, either. I need to leave. NOW.

I stayed for as long as I could, telling my ride over and over I had to leave. Even after being told I was the priority (due to not letting things effect my recovery), I had to compromise and left on my own. I had to gain composure for a few minutes to be able to get myself able to drive safely. This didn’t last: I drove faster than the posted speed limit. I tried listening to music, but any song that played took me back to the time when all that trauma was happening.

alone
Found on Giphy.

I sat in my room, alone, for an hour and a half. Thoughts of ending it kept going through my mind that I watched some clips of others talking about their suicide attempts. Talking about suicide doesn’t make you suicidal, it releases you from the grip. Please know this.

I go back into old eating disorder habits and dirty a plate to make it look like I ate.

I lay staring at the ceiling, thoughts whizzing through my head of the traumas related to the trigger earlier in the day. Tension from the anxiety has caused my chronic pain areas to make themselves known with a dull ache. I hope the heating pad will calm them down. I’m sure tomorrow I’m going to see new bite marks on the hard plastic of my bite plate.

Will I sleep? Will I relive this in my dreams? Don’t take any extra meds. Don’t fuck up your titration. This will pass. Will this start something? Have I caused a setback? You didn’t eat, way to go. You’ll never get better. Kill yourself. You’re such a waste of oxygen. Etc, etc…

IMG_9954
Lise Winne

It’s now 7:50am on January 29th, 2018. I woke up momentarily every few hours, and gave up on a restful sleep at about 5:30am. My Fitbit tells me I got 5 hours of restless sleep, this will have to do. My jaw is sore, and there are some new dents in my hard plastic bite plate. I relived something unconsciously.

biteworse
That hole wasn’t that deep yesterday. There’s also new scrapes on the right side.

Everything usually resets the next morning. Today, it hasn’t. I sip my coffee as, editing the ending. Today the super was supposed to bring people around our apartment to help get ideas for the new building. I can’t let them in. I don’t feel safe. I’m going to try to eat, and I’m going to go for a very long walk. Those are the only two focuses I have. The rest, well, I have to let my amygdala reset: my primitive brain know there’s no danger.

I don’t know how long this will take. What I do know: continue to live my life as if none of this happened until I can work on it with a professional. I wrote it all down, I sat here and shared with you what happened to get it out of me. If you’ve read this far, thank you for listening.

I do have control of choice, and I choose to keep going. I want to beat this, even though every day is a toss-up to if I have it in me to not relapse, make stupid choices, or worst case take my life.

Right now, I can say, I don’t know how the hell I’m still doing this. But I am. Somehow.

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