Confession of a Trauma Victim

Confession of a Trauma Victim

The days are longer in the summer, and for me that means a bit more freedom. One of my triggers is night time. It really sucks too, because I swear to God, I used to be a night child. I loved everything about walking out at night, and feeling like a dark cozy blanket with starts, gets laid over the earth. I felt more charged and alive at night, than any day in the sun.  Its sad, but now all the night brings me is anxiety. I have other triggers too, like, certain areas of the city, or even alcohol and substance abuse; mostly though when someone is drunk and loud. I just feel like the intoxicated person could do anything at any moment, and things can turn sour fast. These things have hindered me quite a bit if I’m completely honest, but I try to do things out of my comfort zone still, because I need to try and live MY life.

So not long ago, my friend asked me if I wanted to come over swimming at her place, and use the sauna. I really needed the heat therapy for my neck, as I have a permanent neck injury, due to being beaten up so bad. The very first thing that came into my head was, what time is it now? and how much time till its dark? followed by the feeling of severe anxiousness in my chest, and then slowly mixing up my lunch in my gut. Brain to Alice! BREATH! I take a breath, figure out the time, and since the sun doesn’t go down till much later in the evening, I agreed to go.

I try to turn things around in my head and well, not trick, but almost re-wire my brain and say to myself, that I’m not anxious, I’m excited to go out with my friend! Yeah that’s right, excited! We both used public transportation to get to her place and you know I had such a good time and I was so glad that I had gotten out. Its almost a feeling of accomplishment for me, when I stay out past a certain time too, even if the sun is still out. I had about an hour until it started getting dark out, so I started wrapping things up with my friend. I hadn’t had the best experiences in that area as well, so she gladly walked me to my bus stop (decreasing my anxiety by 50%).

I saw my bus coming and hugged my friend goodbye, and as I took in a deep breath, I again felt pretty good now. I got on the bus smiled at the bus driver, walked over to a spot by the window, and pulled out my book to read for the trip home. I remember thinking to myself, ‘See Alice, you went out, you had a great time, you are on the bus safe and sound, and on your way back home’. I was totally relaxed as i started into my book.

It was only two stops later, that I heard a loud and inebriated voice come up from the front of the bus. Two drunk women pleading with the bus driver to let them on the bus, even though they had no fair to pay. I could hear my voice in my head yelling, ‘NOOOO NOOO PLEASE NOOO’, while simultaneously assuring myself, its okay mind your business, and read your book you’ll be fine.

A flash of me walking down a back lane, going home from work, music blaring in my headphones, and then THUD! something crashed down hard on my left shoulder blade area. I immediately looked to see if a something was thrown at me, and pulled out my earbud and heard screaming. Looking up, all I could see was some girl yelling, and hanging from the passenger side window, and getting back into the vehicle.  My heart was racing so fast, the sound of blood rushing in my ears, made it hard to hear what she was yelling. Then they turned at the end of the back lane, and I ran the short bit home, in case they came back around.

I’m back on the bus, and immediately pull out one of my earpieces, so I can hear in case anyone tries to attack me. I can tell my senses have been heightened, because I’m feeling extremely aware. Even though I’m looking down at my book, I can see through my peripheral vision, they are walking toward me now, looking for a spot to sit. Of course with my luck, the two sit across from me and slightly behind me. Honestly at this point, I’m just trying to breath and not panic.

Just as I’m trying to assure myself, that they are probably just trying to get home safe, like me, one of the women starts yelling. She literally is trying to pick a fight out of no where, and starts yelling racist things to the bus driver, who just let her on the bus for free. I couldn’t believe the nerve of this woman, but then remembered the alcohol, and intoxication. My chest was so tight, and at this point my stomach was being held by a fist of anxiety. She starts yelling at other people on the bus, at everyone now even taking racial shots at me. My fingers were white gripping my book. My legs felt non existent.  Honestly it felt as though my legs where made of jelly, and from the waist up it was all concrete, and coursing through my entire body was a bolt of electricity. I tried switching up my thoughts from fearful to something else, but then it just turned to rage. Complete anger, and I found myself picturing me kicking her ass! That thought right there freaked me out, because I hate fighting, its another HUGE trigger for me.

Should I get off the bus, and risk being stuck out here in the dark ,around possibly more intoxicated people? should I just sit here? What if they target me, and get off where I get off, and then try to fight with me? So needless to say I was a mess at this point. I don’t know what I would have done, if the bus driver hadn’t stopped the bus, and had security remove them. For the next twenty minutes, I would keep trying to read the same sentence over and over, all the while reminding myself to breath and that I’m okay.

That event isn’t, and hasn’t stopped me from going and doing things since, but it was really hard to sleep for a while ,and made my anxiety worse for a bit. Its such a slap in the face, when things like that happen to me, at least that’s how it feels for me. Like I’m already trying really hard, and then people have to go and make it harder for me. I can only focus on me though.  I can only continue to move forward from what had happened to me, and try to learn from it and be as patient and positive with myself along the way.

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Acceptance

Acceptance

So, as we know from reading my previous blogs/stories, I suffer from PTSD, but I also have anxiety and depression. YAY a tornado of crazy mixed feelings! I’d apologize for making a joke about it, except that I try to find the humor in things (even if it is a little twisted) because it helps me deal with these issues. People hear depression and instantly, the snap judgment of “Debbie downer” comes to play. They hear anxiety and its “crazy/high strung Alice.” PTSD!?!?! “Paranoid and can’t let go of the past”I’m here to say, they are WRONG! Not on every level because yeah depression is a downer, anxiety does make you feel high strung and at times “crazy” and well, lets face it, PTSD even to the sufferer feels like they are trapped in the past.

 

I still live my daily life like almost every other “normal” person (what is normal anyway!?!?!). I wake up, I get my day ready, I plan my events and I go about my life. It may take a few mantras before I can physically get out of bed, I may also have to rearrange my schedule so I can have someone come with me to an event because my social anxiety gets unbearable at times but I make it work. Most of the time you wouldn’t even know I’m suffering because most of the time its done in silence.

 

I’ve learned to keep some things to myself as I’ve started to overcome some of my issues, but that’s not to say that I don’t speak up or share my feelings with others; I’m just cautious of who I share it with. I have come to realize that if I dwell on my issues or share them with the wrong sorts of people, I tend to get worse or drown in my own feelings and then it becomes almost impossible to get out of. Then the harsh talk comes in “Alice, all that hard work out the window, good luck getting back up now.”

 

Now, in my life, I strive to accept myself for who I am and surround myself with those who accept me for who I am as well. Positive and empathetic people for the most part because, isn’t that what we all need? Those are the people I can share my concerns or feelings with, because its a release of all the bottled up feelings I have to hold in when I’m around people who don’t understand. I try and stay focused on the good things in life but I also let myself be sad when I need to be. I let myself stay in when I don’t feel comfortable being in the public eye and when I’M READY to share my feelings or get out into the world I can do it with a bit more ease and comfort because I can feel supported. Not just by friends and loved ones, but most importantly by ME!
-Alice 

PTSD and Me: by Alice

PTSD and Me: by Alice

Fighting was a common practice in my life. I’m not sure if I actually enjoyed it or if I was just conditioned to feel gratification from it. Either way, I enjoyed watching fights, like physical ones. I respected the sport of it as well whether it be boxing, martial arts or UFC style. I could appreciate the dedication to it, the strength and the control that one must have to be a good fighter. Anyhow, back in my early 20’s my boyfriend at the time and I would have people over for pretty much anything. Just to party, watch a game, or to watch the fights of course! It was also much easier having events at my house because of how uncomfortable I would get being out late at night. The irrational thinking would come in, like, “what if we get kicked out and stuck outside and jumped on our way back home?” or “what if someone we don’t know shows up and starts a fight?” These things were things that had happened to me the night I was badly beaten up. So naturally those were the anxieties that would fill my head and I would never end up really enjoying myself on my outings.

Back to the fights!!! So, people are coming over and I’m getting pumped for the company and the excitement of the fights right!?!? At least that’s what I thought I was feeling. I took a couple of hoots to help me chill a bit before company showed up and continued getting ready. I felt better. Now the friends are all here, there’s a good vibe throughout the house and a slight buzz of excitment in the air. FIGHT! *DING DING* everyone starts cheering and yelling while the two fighters are sizing each other up. I don’t really know what happened but I started feeling really panicky as the fists were flying but it got really bad when one fighter was on the ground and not doing so good. An elbow from his opponent came crashing into his face and he looked like he was no longer on this planet after that. BOOM! I’m on the boulevard and they are pulling me to the curb. I’m fighting for my life. The fighter has to be sure and wait for the ref to call a K.O and hits his opponent again in the face with his fist this time and blood spews everywhere. BOOM! I made it away from the curb but realize I’m on the sidewalk now with my cheek pressed against it (my thoughts: I’m going to die) here comes the foot… *Bright lights* I look around me seeing everyone yelling in excitement that their fighter of choice had won. *Gasp for air* realizing I was having a flash back and stopped breathing for a moment I try to regain my composure but I can’t. My hands are not only shaking but are cold and clammy. My chest is so tight and I can’t help but feel the tears sting the back of my eyes in complete embarrassment.

As I left to use the washroom my legs felt like jello and cement all at the same time. The second I was alone with the door shut behind me, I broke down alone on the floor. I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way. I mean, I know what happened was devastating to me but that was over 5 years ago now! I have watched fights since then, heck I’d even been in fights since then. I don’t think anyone even noticed my reaction to the fight, but i still felt so embarrassed with myself. I felt silly and weak. This wasn’t me, this isn’t me! I’m strong! What the hell! I stopped watching the fights after that night. I never wanted to feel that way (vulnerable) ever again or have anymore flashbacks. The flashbacks feel like dreams/deja vu for me because I know after the incident happened I can remember most of what had happened and then it just sort of goes away, like erased from my memory and then when a trigger arises the BOOM happens and I remember it all over again.

Until next time…

Alice’s struggle with PTSD

Alice’s struggle with PTSD

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…

Wrong place, Wrong time

Wrong place, Wrong time

The following is a short story from my friend Alice…..
Have you ever saw something that just absolutely made you snap? I mean really snap, like you don’t remember what you did next. I did, and I didn’t even realize it was happening. Before I start my story let me just say that I grew up in a home with violence and abuse of all kinds. Yelling and hitting someone was very common in my household whether it be coming from a parent to another parent, a parent to their child, or the siblings to each other. Needless to say growing up wasn’t a point in life that I can look back on and reminisce about “the good old day” like most and I got into drugs and alcohol in my early adolescent years; which again, needless to say, didn’t help matters.
Now, not to get into my childhood right at this moment but onto another important story. My wrong place, wrong time story. It was literally just that too. I had been at a party that a bunch of kids from my school were at in the neighborhood I grew up in. Seems all fine, (other than the fact that we are all under age and getting wrecked off booze and pot; while we are on the topic, might i add that alcohol is never a good mix to heated emotions and teens have plenty of this) until a certain group shows up, uninvited at that.

So much of that night is either hindered by the booze and/or being high or just the fact that I deep down don’t want to remember it but I just remember seeing this guy beating up a girl. It was actually an acquaintance of mine. In that moment right then, the last thing I remember seeing was my dad hitting my mom. Cut to a couple of hours later and I open my eyes only to see bright light cascading down onto me. I can feel someones hand holding mine. I look over to see my “mom” (amazing woman who took me in when I was 15 and always supported me and loved me for me) sitting beside me. I don’t remember what she said but i felt more at ease having her with me laying in the hospital. I asked to use the washroom and was helped over to one, not really noticing my current state but more so my surroundings. I knew something was wrong with me because first off I could barely make out the words coming from my own mouth when I was asking for the washroom and secondly i couldn’t move my neck when trying to look around. Shutting the door behind me i slowly turned myself towards the mirror and was completely dumbstruck. I didn’t recognize myself AT ALL. My hair was like a trolls roughed around and knotted and i realized the reason I couldn’t breathe through my nose, was because my lip had swelled right up to my nostrils. I started to panic seeing blood that had once poured out of my nose and mouth and immediately started to observe myself better noticing my swollen eyes to match my nose and mouth or the rest of my face for that matter. It was like right then and there I started to sober up and feel the pains (not entirely sure as to why it was hurting in some places) starting with my head. I could feel lumps and bumps all around and then BOOM! I recalled a bottle crashing on the back of my head. BOOM! A foot coming down towards my face. Eyes close. “stupid little bitch!” one of them screamed at me and then BOOM! Pain in between my legs. I open my eyes, feeling the burning of tears now coming down my face and onto the open wounds I look down at my body. Bruises already started forming on my chest by my breast and ribs. My sister’s new jeans she let me borrow for the party are now torn and blood stained. I remove them and notice my thighs are swollen and red where I was kicked and stomped.

My body suffered a lot from the beating and I’m paying for it more now than back when this happened. Now diagnosed with multiple chronic disorders/illnesses due to it, it only adds to my frustrations at times. Turns out I jumped in and beat up the guy who was beating on that girl. I obviously then got a vicious licking in return by 3 guys in front of, not just kids from school but really close friends as well. I felt a bit of panic after the attack for maybe a week but it quickly went away when I started using drugs and masking my fears and issues with blow and alcohol frequently. There is so much more to this story, although this is all that needs to be told right now. This my friends, is where most of my PTSD stems from. – Alice