I spent most of my life avoiding this problem; PTSD. I didn’t even know it existed for a long time, and then wouldn’t have known it was associated with any kind of trauma other than war vets.
I guess when I was a teenager, maybe 15 or 16 I started having flash backs. They were really strange though; I knew they were memories but they were more like remembered emotions and the contexts in which they arose, not so much memories of events or places or people. They were really disturbing, I didn’t know *what* they were but knew what they meant. I would try to ignore them, smoke more pot and sleep more frequently. They didn’t come up too often.
I moved out at 19 to a new city, away from my family, and this was a HUGE shock. I was unprepared for the loneliness I experienced, the total isolation. I had been isolated most of my life, but this was different because I was LITERALLY alone. No friends. No family. Just me, a job I slowly grew to hate, and a host of anxieties and sorrows I was ill equipped to deal with. Eventually I had a boyfriend. And the intrusive feelings started.
He would touch me with sexual intent and I would freeze and in an almost child like voice I would think but that’s not what I meant! I didn’t mean for this to happen! As though I could really be responsible for someone else’s responses to me. It was deeply disturbing and eventually we broke up. Some time went by and I was dating again. After a few months, I began to have extremely intense, intrusive, clear visual, full body rememberings of what had happened to me. I would suddenly be screaming and crying and pushing him away, utterly incapable of explaining what was going on, how I was feeling, why I was suddenly in a full blown panic when seconds ago I was enjoying myself. And they just wouldn’t stop. Eventually we broke up.
This pattern continued with each relationship I have had and I have pinpointed exactly when these intrusions start – 6 months into the relationship.
It took me a few years to realize I (probably) have PTSD. I’ve not been officially diagnosed, but it sounds about right.
I am thankful my PTSD does not include lengthy periods of remembered trauma. I’m thankful that for most of the time it is well under the radar. I’m thankful that I am at a point now that I can start recognizing the signs of the response happening and take control of the situation. And I am thankful that I have found great counselors and support people to lean on and learn from over the years.
A very simple meditation a fellow survivor offered to me is one that I have recently found invaluable; it’s great for being in the moment of a flash back, and it’s great for this relatively new experience of anxiety I seem to have encountered too.
(Inhale) I Am
I use this frequently. As soon as I start to feel something that might be fear (I’m not the most in touch with my feelings) I begin that exercise and within a few moments I generally start to feel a little bit better.