Friday, June 18, 2010

Everyday Life with PTSD

There are some things in life that time can not diminish. I'm finding that Post-Traumatic Stress is one of these things. I've spent a lot of time and energy over the past year or so working on my triggers, learning to feel safe and to trust again. There are however, moments when try as I might it comes crashing in on me. It happens in ways and circumstances that I just can't predict and work towards overcoming.

Yesterday I received a Canada Post notice in my mailbox. For the normal person this is a small matter of curiousity and possibly excitement. Who doesn't like getting mail? Instead I started to feel anxious and panicky. I wasn't expecting any packages- I hadn't ordered anything recently. A closer inspection of the notice indicated that it wasn't a package at all that I was supposed to pick up, but instead a letter. This set off more alarm bells and general waves of anxiety.

Instead of thinking logically about what the letter could be I immediately jumped into wild speculations of something from my stalker or something to do with him. I couldn't help myself. I felt sick to my stomach and refused to face my fears straight on by picking it up that afternoon. Instead I waited to talk to Quiet Confidence that evening before I decided what I was going to do. After talking me down a bit and reassuring me it was fine I agreed t0 go the next day to pick it up. If it was a plain envelope that didn't give me any clues of its origin I'd wait to open it until later when I would be at QC's house. It seemed like a rational, sane plan but I was still really worried. I spent a while that night fretting over the letter and what the hell the stalker could possibly want from me after all this time. Fear is a real and powerful emotion.

This morning over breakfast it came to me in a flash of insight what was waiting for me at the Post Office. I had gone in about a week ago to apply for a passport and it was supposed to be mailed to me after processing. I was told it wouldn't be ready before the end of the month so I had completely forgotten about it. Once I realized what was going on I started to tear up in frustration.

This summer is the 5 year mark of when the whole stalking nightmare began. I had hoped that after 5 years I wouldn't be bothered by it all, and the PTSD would be just a distant memory. It frustrates me that it still crops up. I'm beginning to think it will always be a part of me, even if it is only in the occasional relapse or situational episode. I hate that the unexpected sends me into a tailspin. I hate that I can't handle surprises. I hate that I can't answer the phone if it's not a number I recognize. After 5 years I still hold my breath for a second before I open up my email. There are some days when it makes me uncomfortable to go outside the house in public, so I hide out at home with the doors locked. I know that this is not a normal way to live.

Despite all of this I think I've made a lot of progress in the past year. I can generally recognize when I'm heading into trouble and take steps to alleviate the symptoms of my PTSD. Instead of being in the throws of an episode for weeks on end I can generally keep it confined to a couple of hours if I'm lucky or a few days if I'm not. It helps a lot that Quiet Confidence knows about it all and can sometimes tell if it's PTSD or something else bothering me. Having a supportive and understanding partner has helped me to build the safety net I need to function as normally as possible. I just wish I could handle being surprised a little bit better than I currently do.

No comments: