Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PTSD and Me

I'm going along just fine, having an ordinary day.  Suddenly I'm flipping out, stomach aching and armpits sweating, as I tool along 2 miles under the speed limit behind the idiot in the car in front of me. Does he not see that there are 100 yards of empty road between him and the car in front of him?  Does he not see that the light is changing and we'll sit at the corner forever until we get the green?

I get past him, not really cutting off the bus in the right hand lane, and I'm first at the intersection. NPR is giving the traffic report instead of telling me a story and I'm furious.  I'm only going to be in the car for 13 more minutes; don't waste my time with useless drivel.  The reporter returns and tells me that Zuccotti Park has been power-washed and the tents can't go back up and some fool is screaming about changing something but I'm not sure what it is because the blood is rushing to my ears and I can barely hear.

Such is life after trauma.

Waiting for Gabby's interview was stressful, watching it was tearful, and the day after has left me raw and exposed.  Our stories are so similar that her revelations feel like my own.  When I share my thoughts with you they are my thoughts and only the ones I filter get through to you.  Last night, Gabby pointed to areas that are still tough for me.  She looked awful and bruised and "beaten up" in her husband's words and I look at my own suffering spouse and he's not on Douglas right next to me... he's back at the hospital looking at me, entubed and bloody.

For me, the hospital was a safe though sleepless place.  I was scared but I was in the right place for any problem I might encounter.  Everyone was nice to me.  Everyone was worried about me.  I was drugged.  When I was discharged I could feel every mile away from its security blanket  falling away from me and leaving me bereft.

Those who love me and saw me in that first week have a very different experience of the place.  Those who saw me when I came home have no experience of it at all.  Everyone with whom I might possibly find companionship has a different experience and none of them are mine.  It's a very lonely place to be.

I feel sorry for myself because I'm limping and I'm mad at myself because I'm whining.  I want to visit G'ma but my hip hurts so I drive by and don't make myself get in and out of the car and walk down her hallway and reply when she asks me why I am limping.  I feel guilty, then I'm aggravated, then I'm furious.

There is laughter and there are tears and there is stress - that's life.  This is something entirely different.  This strikes at the id, the scary piece that runs out of control and puts me in places I'd rather not go.  Mine runs in the lane next to my normal side; I feel myself screeching and I feel myself watching in amazement.

It's very odd, denizens.  Very odd indeed.


  1. I react in traffic the same way, and I have not been shot. Maybe we are just impatient, crabby ladies who wish the morons would get off the road. xoxoxo

  2. I don't know if it's actually the traffic, but what's happening inside the car. See... when I'm driving into work or home, thats when I do all of my thinking. My little man is in his car seat watching a movie and I'm off in la-la land thinking about anything and everything. It's actually the one place where I cannot get away from my thoughts. AB, I suspect that's the same with you? And getting around the slow person is your way of trying to not think about anything and everything. When you do... you go to that dark place.

    I've told you how I support a missing child's parents. What sets me off crying about her is an empty car seat. It's the most ridiculous thing, but it's what always sets me off. My heart literally aches when I think about it. I'm sure there are triggers for you too.

    I'm not a psychologist and I don't pretend to know what you are going through. You have gone through something no human being should EVER have to go through. My heart aches for you too because I'm sure many of us wish we could turn back time and undo what happened.

    Sending you lots of love and hugs.

    Megan xxx

  3. And I knew you two would be here, Little Cheese making me laugh (YES I am a crabby old lady... or I was until getting shot made me more peaceful... or so I thought) and Megan, who only knows me through The Burrow, offering an idea that I hadn't considered before -- am I thinking without knowing it?

    Thanks for the love <3
    I'm better this morning.

  4. Ah, PTSD, the gift that keeps on giving...I can assure you, 15 years after my own gun-related trauma, that those reactive miserable chunks of hell-time do fade. But I still go nuts when someone is an idiot in traffic. A lot of my PTSD symptoms revolve around someone invading my personal space. As Americans, we see our cars as an extension of our private domain, and I think that is what triggers road rage for so many of us PTSD club members. At first all the hairs on my body would stand up if anyone approached me from behind or stood too close to me in the grocery checkout line. Now I freak if both dogs and my DH all get in the kitchen when I am in that small space. I would say it might help to get dressed in your visualized warrior woman armor before you get behind the wheel. Create a fun persona--Xena, Athena, whomever makes you smile, and let her be the one to fend off all those crazy id threatening drivers. All my best to you, brave and open-hearted AB!

  5. A world of its own, PTSD is. That lack of control is the worst. I wish I could wish it away for you, for Gabby, for the vets.

    You filter eloquently and effectively. As I just posted on FB, you sounded so sound on NPR today. I was pulling into my driveway, then sitting in my garage having a visit with you. You were right there. You are right here. We are here together.

    Looking forward to GRINning with you.

  6. I was wondering how seeing Gabby on TV would affect you. I was anxious myself seeing her; happy she's alive but angry at what happened to her and to you. And having your id run away? It happens to me from time to time and it's the most frightening thing ever.

    Thanks for sharing your recovery with us, and more importantly, your feelings.



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