The last two weeks I haven’t posted. I haven’t cleaned. And self-care has been a difficult struggle. My “silent stalker” has been haunting me at night, when I wake, and while I attempt to get out of bed. My room is a mess, my memory is shot, and I have lost the ability to express myself through words. So who is this silent stalker? PTSD. or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
For whatever reason my mind has been severely compromised by this invading stalker the last few weeks. I’m an adult who sleeps with blankets, stuffed animals, and with the light on because of the severe nightmares I experience. I wake up crying or frozen in fear more times than not. For this reason my body tries every strategy to stay awake for as long as possible so that it cannot be invaded by the thoughts and memories of the past. The feeling is overwhelming:
You’re trapped, strapped down, eyes forced open to stare at the movie screen replaying scenes from a horror film that was the last two years of your life. With every scene you witness your body experiences the emotions, sensations, thoughts, and feelings that it did the first time you witnessed it. When you wake up you are frozen with fear, literally. You can’t move. You stare at the wall only to see the same scene that played all night long. Your mind convinces you “if you move you’re dead” because that’s what happened in the movie that was your reality. Even though you don’t see anyone in the room, you know that as soon as you move someone’s going to beat you. You reach for your phone to somehow bring yourself to reality but stare at it as if it’s some foreign object you don’t know how to use. You finally bring yourself to focus enough to turn it on and find the person that always helps you out with these nights but your mind and your fingers aren’t connected. Your mind dictates the words to text “Rough (stop) Night (stop) Terrified (stop) Help (stop)” like someone who’s still learning English. But your fingers can’t figure out how to move, your mind can’t remember how to spell. And you don’t remember who this friend is that you want to text. You just know that you need to text them. You are completely trapped, held prisoner against your will by your mind.
I’ve spent countless days in this prison. I’ve been told that reliving the trauma is your minds way of healing itself. Like an infected cut–the trauma that caused the cut hurt, but in order to heal the cut has to be cleaned daily. You have to continue to open the wound and clean it or you will lose that part of your body permanently.
Along with the difficult time sleeping I have been jumping through the roof (or so it feels). In order to overcome the trauma I’ve received from men and get back to being me (someone who has more guy friends than girl friends) I have been hanging out with a few guys. One of them is more of a touchy person than the other and enjoys moving hair out of my face, poking my sides, and giving hugs. All normal friendship gestures. However I’ve noticed every time his hand reaches for my face I flinch, duck and cover, attempt to block his hand, and brace myself for the impact of the blow I expect to receive from him. All of this happens in a split second before I can stop myself. The same thing happens when me moves too quickly. It’s my automatic reaction that my body had to learn while living with my abuser. That reaction saved me from a lot more pain and injury. However it has no purpose anymore.
I hit my breaking point Sunday. After almost a full week of complete isolation (not leaving my bed). I pushed myself to go to church. But afterward I fell into the same thought patterns that always plague me after a week of little sleep, nightmares, and other reactions to trauma out of my control. I felt so far from God, abandoned by Him and everyone else in my life. My last ditch effort to help my mood and get out of the depression was to listen to music, sit in the sun, and spend time with God. Once again it changed my life. I spent the rest of the evening confident in the fact that God hasn’t abandon me. He like the Footprints in the Sand poem says was carrying me through the difficult week because without Him I wouldn’t have made it through.