Monday, May 14, 2018

PTSD Processing: What it looked like for me yesterday.

PTSD symptoms have been stronger lately. I don't know if it's EMDR therapy, or doing the Mormon Stories interview, or just my brain saying, "Hey! Let's deal with this stuff some more!".

Probably a combination of it all.
It kind of sucks, and I also know how to cope and move through it and that usually after I get through rougher times like this, I usually have processed more and am changed for the better.

Yesterday, we had a friend invite us over to his house. I didn't want to go. I felt uncomfortable. His presence triggers something in me that makes me hyper vigilant. I'm aware of his movements when he's in a crowd. I don't think that makes him unsafe, but it makes me feel unsafe. (Those things are different.) I didn't want to go, but I didn't want to be rude. Then we got there, and I felt trapped (not him again, we were just standing in his yard, but I didn't want to be rude, so I felt like I had to stay. My body and my mind wanted to leave, but I kept dismissing my own thoughts and feelings and stayed.)

Dismissing myself and my own thoughts triggered the hell out of me.
Not while I was standing there. Not even when we got home and I had nothing I had to do for several hours, so I read and played on my phone and worked in the yard. Not while visiting my family for Mother's Day. Not on the drive home or while sitting watching TV once we got home.

At 11 pm, while getting ready for bed, my thinking brain turned off, and the rest of my brain took over. I felt afraid and panicked and not all present. Todd was sleepy, which made him unsafe to be around. (PTSD brain thinks tired men can't control themselves. All of the evidence to the contrary means nothing when thinking brain is off.) I sat on the edge of the bed, paralyzed. I couldn't go get ready for bed. I couldn't lay down. I couldn't get up and go do something else. I just couldn't move.

Part of me knew it was time to go to bed, so I should just lay down no matter how panicked I felt. Part of me knew laying down in bed does not help when feeling panicked. Part of me knew if I let myself start talking and stop trying to control the panic, I'd get over it faster.

Eventually, that's what I did. I started talking.
"I'm not comfortable going to his house, so can you take me home first?"
"I want to leave now. I'm going to go sit in the car until you're done."
"I think I'll go for a walk, call me when you're done."

And then the less rational came out.
No. NO. NO. NO.
I won't do that. I just want to go home. Don't touch me. Don't hurt me. That's not okay. I want to go home, and I want my mom. I wish I had never married you. I want to go home, but now my home is supposed to be with him, where can I go? I want my mommy. Please don't go to sleep. I'm so afraid, and I'm hurting, and I don't want to be alone in the dark.
(These were all connected to different memories. Different flashes that didn't fit together at all with the present, but somehow all of these different things were triggered.)

I cried for maybe five or ten minutes. My body shook for a little longer than that.
Then I got up, got ready for bed, and though it took me a long time to get to sleep, I didn't feel panicked while Todd slept.

This is what processing looks like for me. It doesn't take long once I stop trying to control it. All of the connections and emotions get felt, my body shakes, I use my voice to express things that don't make any sense, but luckily Todd understands enough to just listen and roll with it.

Then I'm done. I'm usually really exhausted afterward. It might take a day or two to feel totally human again, but I do.

Also, all while going through this, I'm trying to pay attention to what is happening, because the whole process is fascinating. I want to remember. I want to write it down, so maybe those that aren't as far along or who can't pay attention or who don't want to write about it, can read about it and have some understanding if they're anything like me.

I also wonder what I will think of all this if I ever come back and read it.

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