The past two weeks have been full of emotions.
Most recently, I went with a friend of mine to have a medical procedure done. The procedure itself was not a huge deal. NOT fun. Definitely not pleasant for anyone. But throw in a little PTSD, and what is mildly uncomfortable for others becomes a traumatizing moment.
I came back from that experience angry. Anger confused me. Angry at what? or who?
Sad and angry that she is having to go through any of this? Yes. What else?
Angry at the fucked up person that abused her? Hell yes!! And there's more.
A week ago, I went with K to her doctor's appointment at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. I don't know how it is other places, but every person who goes through cancer deserves to be treated the way they treated her. Compassionate, professional, knowledgeable doctors and staff. At least two staff recognized her walked up to her in the waiting room to give her a hug and talk to her. The doctors had all been working together and reviewing her scans and files to come up with the best solution for her cancer. BJ and I were in the room with her, plus three people conferenced in on the phone, plus several others who would have been there if she had wanted them there. She was surrounded by amazing and loving support.
I was so glad to see K had all those people and resources. I wish she didn't have to go through this. I love her, and would do anything I could to be helpful, and I was only one of many.
A few days ago, there was a funeral for three beautiful people. The family they left behind were surrounded by love. So many people willing to help, bring food or flowers or heaters, drive shuttles, decorate, offer a hug, a kind note, take pictures, and more that I couldn't even see. It was beautiful to see all of the love, the shared sorrow, and the support.
No one should ever have to go through that kind of loss. No amount of love from people could take the pain away, but there were so many that were willing.
As I sat in the ER with my friend, she tried to explain to the nurse that she had major PTSD.
"What? Were you assaulted or something?" (Just in case anyone is wondering, NOT a very helpful way to word that question.)
My friend asked the doctor for something to calm the anxiety, he offered a small dose of Ativan. He didn't ask what she normally took. He didn't stick around and listen when she tried to explain that Ativan doesn't do much for her.
Twenty minutes later, when the nurse asked if she felt the effects, she said, "No."
The nurse went ahead anyway, and when she saw my friend's tears, said nothing, finished the procedure and ran from the room.
I understand that doctors and nurses have a lot on their plates. These people meant no harm. I understand that my friend probably wouldn't want a room full of support at that moment. (I'm not sure she even wanted me there. I just told her I was coming... and then told the people at the front I wanted to see my sister. She didn't kick me out, so probably okay that I was there.)
It's just... I feel angry and sad that someone with PTSD has to go through it all SO alone.
Typical for me, I wasn't able to put to words the feeling when it was me. Watching someone else go through an experience that is similar to my own, I feel sad for the alone-ness of PTSD.
People don't understand. Doctors, nurses, and professionals don't get it. Most friends and family can't understand what it's like. They can't understand the pain, the confusion, the mixed up ideas, the flashbacks, the nightmares, the loneliness, the depression and anxiety, the guilt, and the shame.
So much shame associated with the abuse and the PTSD itself. I felt like I couldn't let people know what was going on. I didn't want them to think I was crazy, attention-seeking, broken, or screwed up. I couldn't handle the stupid things people would say (Things not to say, Stupid things people say) - it was better to be alone than to have to take care of someone else when I was hurting.
Flashbacks were so personal and so frightening, I didn't want to go through them alone, and I didn't want to have anyone else around while my body was going through that. I was lucky to have BJ. He seemed to understand what I needed, and just sat with me.
Sexual abuse is so personal, so perverse, and so painful... It's hard to talk about. (Sometimes impossible to talk about.) Even now, I don't like talking about it. I still feel very raw and afraid when I tell someone I was molested or raped. Just those words make me want to crawl in a hole.
(And recovery means you stop talking about it... Why is that?)
I shared some of these thoughts with BJ.
He said he wished he had money like the Huntsman's had money.
He would start a big complex just for PTSD research and treatment. There would be doctors of all kinds who were trained in their specialties as well as in PTSD. The place would feel kind and compassionate, and they'd have an ER. There would be therapists, staff, and caseworkers.
It would be big enough that the community would get involved. There would be high school choirs singing or guys playing piano in the lobby. And home-made stressballs made by people in the community available to anyone who wanted one.
They would research the brain, and how to overcome the effects of trauma. And have cutting edge treatment and technology to give every person the best chance of not only surviving but living life to the fullest after survival.
They would have a place where someone could go when they couldn't sleep, because it was too hard to stay grounded AND sleep. Staff and therapists willing to just be with someone who is hurting that much.
Most of all, it would be a place where people wouldn't have to feel ashamed. Not of PTSD symptoms. Not of the abuse or trauma. Not of needing extra support or love or attention.
Suddenly, I wish I was a millionaire. I would like to be a part of creating that place.
Until someone has the money to create such a place, what can be done?
Is there anything that can be done, so that people with PTSD don't feel so alone?
I want there to be more that I can do.