I thought I would write a personal entry today on what post traumatic stress disorder is like for me. We all have our own unique experiences in life so my example may not be like others. Besides, I don’t just have PTSD. I have agoraphobia and depression alongside with complex PTSD. My story might be very different from your own. If it is the same as your own, I would like to hear from you.
When I get up in the morning, my goal is to not leave the apartment. I feel safe inside, I have established my own safe house in what appears to be a combat zone outside of my door. I know where my trusty knife is, I know where people will exit and enter the apartment. I will not be surprised by people coming and going. If the shit goes down, I am in a good position to defend myself because this is my turf.
At any moment a loud explosion will go off and shatter my sense of peace. It will cause me fear and anxiety. My adrenaline will pick up, like it always does when there is a explosion. I will have to look around and act quickly so I can see how many survivors there are to this blast and hopefully I will be able to find the enemy that set off this explosion. I don’t have any real weapons though so it is difficult to execute a proper defense. All I have is my pocket knife and this scares me. I wake up in a panic some nights because I cannot find my M-16 rifle. For years it was right next to me, but it has been almost a decade since I have turned my weapon in to the United States Marine Corps armory on Camp Pendleton.
When I am on the bus or train in this city, I am always looking around. Over my shoulder, I take quick glances at what is behind me. When I am not looking over my shoulder, I am looking straight ahead, to the right and scanning to the left. I must assess who is a friendly and who is the enemy. At any moment I will get hit by incoming fire so I must remain vigilant. I just hope this bus doesn’t run over another metal construction plate in the road. Last time it did that, it triggered panic so bad that I was put in the hospital last year. This year’s goal is to stay out of the hospital and I intend to reach my goal.
I hate surprises. I get agitated when accidents happen, when loud unexpected noises are created. I don’t like being surprised by people, phone calls and the like. I haven’t called my family at all this year and I know they are worried. They keep calling me but I don’t pick up the phone. I feel terrible for it but I just don’t want to talk.
When I look at other people, I often see the faces of my Marines amongst the crowd. I’ve been through this for years now and I know that those faces are just an apparition, a ghost of my past. Sometimes it is comforting to see those faces but today it is not. It makes me fearful.
The explosion will come. I know it will. Just like that one night in the desert, where it seemed to come from nowhere. The peace has been shattered but I must continue to fight and protect myself and those around me. The only problem is that there are no explosions here. There is no enemy. There is no cause for concern. This fear and panic is all self created and is crazy to others. So I should keep my mouth shut about this so others do not think I am crazy. I have already been to the hospital more than a fews times and I do not want to go back. It’s scary being there...being held against your will. Having family and friends to come visit you and the whole while feel like shit for being in that situation.
I know I have to get a job soon or there will be trouble. I am living off of my $970.00 disability check in an expensive major city and I am barely making it. Yet I cannot explain my gaps in employment because if I had to be honest, I would have to reveal my disability, my hospitalizations, my medicines, my fears and everything that I want to be kept a secret. My family wants me to ask the VA for more disability money but I am so ashamed. I don’t understand why I have to go through this. I didn’t do anything wrong yet I feel like I am being punished. At times I wish that explosion took my life. I wish my body had been turned into pink mist spread across the desert sand.
I’m not suicidal today and that is a great feeling. Tomorrow the thoughts will likely return but for now I am going to hold on to this feeling and try to get it to stay. I need to keep moving forward instead of treading water in my apartment. I don’t know what I am moving forward towards but I must keep moving.
Some people will read this and think, “What a nightmare.” Well it’s not a nightmare. It is my life. It is the way it is and it is, what it is.
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