Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Am I Blue?

Lauren Bacall has been in my head all day.
It's a Billie Holliday tune I first heard in this Hoagy Carmichael rendition in To Have and Have Not, probably my all-time favorite Bogey and Bacall film.  The words of the song (a man who's done her wrong) don't have anything to do with my funk..... or do they?  I'll let you decide after you finish this.

The events of last week blew up in my head last night.  For no reason on God's green earth, I decided to be furious with my boys for talking about the NBA on our usual, Sunday night, phone call.  I could feel the rage boiling up inside.  Little bits and pieces emerged first; head shaking, muttering, mumbling got no response.  I made my feelings known, fury was unleashed, anger unfurled, accusations hurled.  I was outside looking in, as my mouth was spewing vitriol.

Such is life with PTSD.  It appears randomly, set off by loud noises or skinny white boys in hoodies, or with a definite cause, like Senators who don't represent me, like stumbling unwittingly onto a picture of carnage, like watching a young man mourn the loss of his town, his friends, his co-workers, his home.  Whatever the origin, the results are invariably the same. One of us is screeching while the other stands there, bombarded by nastiness.  

It's the most out of control I've ever felt.  I knew I was creating chaos where sunshine and laughter had existed a moment before.  I was incapable of stopping myself.  It was just there, a burning triangle resting on my breastbone, pulsing and growing hotter with every passing moment.  It was fueling the darts flashing from my eyes, spurring me on to an anger I didn't know existed within my soul.  

Poor TBG was on the receiving end.  Rightfully, he was furious.  This came from nowhere and it felt awful.  He did the only prudent thing - he fled the scene.  

Once the major explosion passed, my insides and my outsides became one, again.  My heart was not filled with fury; it was ripped raw by the passion of what had come before.  It's a physical ache and an emotional ache and it's an awful, empty, hollow, lonely place that's left behind.  I took responsibility for the attack, I agreed with TBG that certain things should not be foisted upon those who care for us, who have our backs, who are there when we need them the most.  I know that.  PTSD seems not to care.  

Apologies accepted, hugs exchanged, tears wiped and noses blown, the evening was a series of What brought that on? conversations.  It was hard for me to concentrate on the triggers; my soul was bruised.  I don't like being mean to the people I love.... and I include myself in that group.  I spent the night trying to forgive myself for breaking apart.  PTSD respects no boundaries, pays no attention to what is needed in the long run.  When it's ready to explode, it explodes.

Living with that fury is, perhaps, the hardest part of recuperating.  I can predict that my hip will hurt after two hours in a restaurant chair.  I know that my body will rebel if I take a day away from my rehab routine.  Without analgesics, it is a certainty that my parts will begin a conversation with my nervous system.  These are things I can anticipate, things I can expect, things I can control.  PTSD is another ball of wax, entirely.

I thought I was doing fairly well last week. I took action and encouraged others to do the same. That's always my first step; "What do you think we can do about that?" was my go-to query as a practicing social worker.  I surrounded myself with those I love.  I participated in activities and exercised and read and wrote and through it all, beneath it all, behind it all, bile was building up.

I was snippy for no reason and, when asked about it, I turned the other cheek and agreed that I'd misinterpreted the situation.  That went on, intermittently, all weekend.  Should I have seen the ultimate blow-up in these mini-attacks that preceded it? I didn't.

Instead, I shrieked and sobbed and admitted aloud what I'd been holding in all week - I am very, very sad.  I spent the week watching my friends lobby Congress, telling their stories and achieving nothing. I knew I was not ready to join them in D.C. Somehow, I thought that by keeping my distance and reducing my activities to phone calls and emails and blog posts I would be protected from the emotional baggage they carry as they walk the halls of the Senate.  Turns out, that was a false assumption.  I had my own sorrows to add to their frustrations. In its own way, it was overwhelming enough.

Athletes were blown up and another slightly built young man will spend forever in a cell and the whole thing is living in my head.  I avoided the graphic images... and was blindsided by Sports Illustrated's photo of a man with severed limbs.  I'd love to close my eyes and see something else, but I can't rid myself of the picture.  Worse, it sends me back to my own hospitalization, to the pain and the fear and the immense sadness. I'm not sure where to stash these thoughts.  My head is, suddenly, not big enough to encompass them.

I'm not alone in this funk.  TBG is walking around with a dazed look in his eyes, too. Sometimes, the world is just too much.  Am I blue?  You betcha.

20 comments:

  1. I so love your honesty. It's hard to admit to being a b***, isn't it? Of course, you have good reason to be one, now and then. I'm glad your guys have the hearts to understand...and forgive. I hope you manage to forgive yourself, too. Hugs to you and your sad heart. Sometimes it all really is just too much...even without the PTSD.

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  2. I am so sorry. Be easy on yourself about the meltdown. Hugs to you and to TBG.
    xoxoxo

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  3. I'm with you feeling blue. I'm exhausted and all I want to do is go home to a dark room and cry. I feel like we have all been working so hard to make this country better and yet no one is listening. I'm furious STILL with what happened last week.

    PTSD is a bitch. You have every right to lash out. No one can fault you for that. I'm sending hugs your way too.

    I'm going home from the office. I'm just too down today to focus.


    Megan xxx

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    Replies
    1. You worked so hard, Megan. It's awful to have it come to naught. But now, we have a list of those who heard and those who didn't listen... their time will come. For now, take care of YOU.... or, as TBG says in moments like this, "Change your body chemistry. Work out!!"
      a/b

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  4. PTSD will jump up and bite you when you least expect it. I burst into tears the other night while doing the dishes, suddenly the horrific fatal car accident I witnessed 2 years ago appeared in my head, every moment from impact to court date just played in my mind. What set it off? My husband said the news was discussing a bad accident and I must have heard that from the corner of my ear. That and all the current tragedy just put me over the top. I'm okay most of the time, but I never know when it will hit me next. Take care of you and TBG, hugs help the most I have found, so go get a big one from your sweetie.

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    1. I laughed a little last night and it stopped me in my tracks.... it was the first smile in a week, I think. Hugs do help, Ellyn. It's the little things that send me over the edge, too....
      a/b

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  5. I am so sorry this happens. It just sounds awful. Sending hugs as well.

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  6. My late first husband had PTSD as a result of his service in Viet Nam. I can't recall if you mentioned it, but I hope that you are going for counseling.

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    1. I have all the help I need.... and still it's there. Knowing I'm not alone helps, too.
      a/b

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  7. I believe you have a right to blow up like this. You, and those around you, don't like it, which is as it should be, but you have the right. I'm glad you do have people around you who love you, PTSD and all. I recently attended a workshop on PTSD and other stress related issues. It was very short and certainly nothing very deep, but it gave me insight I had not had before. Hope you can find more to smile and laugh about. That was one of the prescriptives offered by the therapist.

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    Replies
    1. Forgiving myself is the hardest part. Being kind to myself is necessary but not easy. Laughing works... but finding the smiles is not as easy as it used to be. It's a good prescription, tho.
      a/b

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  8. God, that must be so hard for you, and I'm so sorry.

    I read that veterans who have lost limbs are visiting the Boston new amputees to encourage and counsel them. Hope they add PTSD counseling too. The vets have (too much) experience with such things, and are bound to help.

    Your anger at Congress is well placed, and I appreciate your work last week to make it easy for us contact our representatives.

    Hugs to you.



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    1. It's hard, Annie, but knowing there are people out there who care eases the aches... somewhat. LOVE that the vets are going to the hospitals in Boston; hearing from others who have been there/done that helped me a lot. Glad you liked the links; I worry that I am too strident, sometimes, but I don't know what else to do with all this anger and fury.
      a/b

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  9. I really have nothing to say different than the other comments - except that you are NOT too strident. Adding my cyber hugs and good thoughts with the others.

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    1. Thanks for reassuring me that I'm not becoming nails on a chalkboard to my readers' ears. I worry...... you make me smile <3
      a/b

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  10. Just now reading this... I trust that you have read this item (posted last Thursday) from the most trusted news source on the planet, The Onion.

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    Replies
    1. OMG.... "to hell where it belongs..." OMG. You'll see a link to this on Friday's post.
      Thanks. It helps to know I'm not alone.
      a/b

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