Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not something that only affects people in the military. It can affect anyone, and it’s a lifelong companion. Sure, you may learn to live with it, but it affects every waking moment, every decision, every occasion.
I’ve had PTSD since I was 11 and witnessed a traumatic incident that involved a shooting of a family member and a hostage-like situation over 14 hours. I recently read something that said PTSD is like having the worst day of your life playing over and over and over in your head and not being able to find the remote to turn it off. That’s exactly what it’s like.
Anything can trigger a PTSD event. How far are we ever really from having one? Probably just on the verge at any given moment. Normally, my events don’t occur often anymore, and when they do they are acute for about three days. A couple of months ago, I suffered a serious episode that lasted nine days. The episode was triggered by my daughter telling me she was going to have a surgical procedure…the removal of a cyst…and they found her iron was low. I panicked. I was terrified. This episode sent me back into therapy.
My new therapist is amazing. She’s the best one I’ve ever had. She gets me.
PTSD is not like it’s portrayed in the movies. I can work. People don’t know I have it unless I tell them. It annoys my kids sometimes, but they have come to terms with it. PTSD does limit my life – or rather I limit my own life because of the PTSD. I freak out when I’m in the car because I’m afraid every car on the road is going to crash with me. I have severe stranger danger. I don’t trust anyone. I don’t commit easily. I’m hoping to work through some of these things with the therapist. The older I get, the easier it is to talk about this.