It’s a Friday night and I have the time and freedom to go out and do whatever I feel like doing. Thing is, I feel like I’m trapped in a cage. “Why?” You might ask, my reasoning: PTSDMost people think of a soldier or someone who has served their country during time of war when the subject is brought up. The truth is anyone who has experienced a traumatic event, can suffer from the effects of PTSD.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
I have a few events in my life that I would consider traumatic for myself but one in particular stands out and really did a number on me. (See Wrong Place, Wrong Time for more of my story)
I didn’t devolve any characteristics of PTSD right away and when i finally did, I didn’t even realize it was PTSD. It wasn’t until after I started to change my life around for the better and started to really take a value and appreciation to my life here on earth that I started to experience the disorder; I however chalked it up to anxiety, depression and being over worked or just too much going on in my life etc. Actually, almost ten years after my trauma I saw a councillor (for many reasons) and it was only then that he had pointed out to me that it seemed I was suffering from what was called Post-traumatic stress disorder. There are different types of PTSD, unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay with my councillor long enough to figure out which ones I was suffering from exactly and why at that time, but through my own personal reasearch I have found a bit more understanding to it.
A couple of years after I was beat up I realized I wanted more out of my life…I deserved more and only I could get it for myself. I started to get myself out of the ghetto scene/area and cut almost everyone associated with that life out of my own. I went back to school and graduated, was renting a place and had two jobs and a boyfriend as well as new friends! I was making something of myself or at least trying to. I was still struggling with alcohol at times but had my life under much more control than the previous years so I was content. It wasn’t until I had a party at my house and drugs were brought in that i started to feel really anxious. I realized it was because I was an addict and needed to be away from that kind of stuff and lifestyle and had those people removed from my life. All better right? A month or so goes by and my boss likes me and thinks I’m a really good worker and offers me extra hours on the weekend evenings. “No problem!” I remember saying enthusiastically and joyfully because first I needed the cash and secondly it made me feel like a valued employee considering other staff members were having their hours cut. I was so looking forward to the new changes in my life and was appreciating the positive around me. Things changed very quickly after that first evening shift when I had to catch the bus by myself after dark. I didn’t understand it but I was getting more and more anxious when I had to go out alone at night, especially a weekend night when partying and drinking was heightened. After a bit of time I started to link up certain associations or events with my anxiety and just started to omit them from my life. As a result I no longer worked evening shifts unless I had a ride back home at the end of the night, or I wouldn’t go out after dark unless I really had to and never did I go alone.
To be continued…