Living with post traumatic stress disorder is something I tend not to think about. When I do it makes me question every action with a specific question in mind: am I generalizing every situation and reacting to previous traumatic experience? The answer I always come up with is: no… I don’t think so.
When the trauma was still fresh and the court case was just settled the UPS man at the door would make me jump. My mind was constantly bombarded with images, memories, while I was awake or asleep. Sometimes these images played in my head like movies except I couldn’t find the remote to turn them off. Other times they flashed across my inner eye like still-images played by an old-school projector. No matter where I was or what I was doing my thought process would be interrupted by waves of emotion, like I was reacting to a situation that happened only yesterday, timed to TV commercial like frequency.
The trauma lasted a constant of 10 years with no breaks. It washed over our lives like the ocean on the beach, ebbing and flowing in intensity. When the tide was out life was okay, great even with happy family moments. With the tide was in the only solace was the comfort of close relationships, music, and (as I discovered later) food. I never tried to let myself (consciously) process anything that went on in life. I didn’t think I had the time or the space. Survival was most important and I could always deal with processing later.
Although life was hectic I never remember a deep concern for myself. I considered myself an expendable nurse tasked with offering comfort and advice when needed. Not that this was ever considered a burden. I never blamed anybody for what happened, not even the abuser. If anything happened I would wonder if it was my fault, something I must have done to cause such situations, maybe even karma. This act of taking responsibility extended out from myself to anybody around me. Their actions would become my own and guilt would soon follow.
After almost two years from the Krakatoa event that broke the camels back, life has become better but not in an explainable way. It’s like asking a blind person to describe a color, or for somebody to describe what it feels like to breath. You’re experiencing it, you can feel like something is there, but it’s not painful like an open wound. It more feels like a bruise beginning to heal.