So, I've had ptsd for a while now. Since the accident 9 years ago.
I was moving when I got hit from behind. Like all my stuff was packed I. The back of my truck. And then my whole life just exploded.
For a long time I thought my brain was broken. Like wtf was wrong with me that I could survive so much. So much neglect, abuse, just all the shit. All the very personal, directed at me shit. But a random asshole from outta nowhere hits me and my brain starts to crumble? Like it was so impersonal. Random as fuck. Why is THIS the thing that breaks my brain?
And so I felt like that for several years. Ashamed of my PTSD. Ashamed of being triggered. Ashamed that I couldn't just handle it. When I get stressed out I stutter. Loud vehicle noises would send me into a panic. I'd have to pull over just to calm down. My brain was so fucking broken.
I explained it to my T. My absolute confusion. The accident wasn't personal. It didn't stalk me. It was a random as hell thing. Why did it effect me so much?
She had a theory. Your ability to handle stress/trauma is like a card table. The stresses that life throws at you are objects coming down a conveyor belt. At the end of the belt the object falls into the table. Sometimes they are many, sometimes few. They still land on the table. Eventually the table is going to break. Can you just blame the last object, or was it the gradual accumulation of objects over your life time?
My takeaway was this - even traumas I thought I was past can still be there under the surface. New traumas echo old traumas. I need to give myself some time.
So, I was talking to my sis last month about this and she had a very different interpretation of why the accident effected me so deeply. Basically here's the theory - all of the other abuse, etc WAS personal. But it was also predictable. The csa, domestic violence, physical, mental, emotional...all of it was something I could reasonable brace myself for. When I was around someone who was abusive, I had built up a kind of tolerance to that treatment. It was something I knew how to survive. Yes, personal. Very personal. It was happening to me. I was being abused by people who knew me. I knew what I had to do to survive it. I mentally built up a kind of callous to it.
But then you see the accident. Totally random. Completely unpredictable. Driving along fine one minute and being slammed into the next. I had a split second warning, a white van zipped up fast in my side mirror, and then BOOM! My whole life exploded.
The highway patrol said if I'd been unbuckled I wouldn't have made it. I'd probably have been thrown through the windshield. My top half anyway. If anyone had been in the back seat they wouldn't have made it. The truck bed was pushed into the cab. I was lucky.
But I didn't feel lucky. I felt deeply unsettled. I could feel the target painted on my back.
My sis said that in the months after the accident I called her often to just cry. To cry about how if I'd had my kids in the truck they'd be dead. I was going through a rough custody case at the time. My ex would regularly not allow the kids to be with me. We'd gone to court so many times. He just kept ignoring the custody schedule. So back we'd go. I missed them so badly. I just wanted to spend time with them. I just wanted them with me. But if I'd gotten what I wanted I would've lost them. If they'd been with me they would've died.
She said look at all the other stuff you lost. Your job. Your mobility. So many things. So the theory here is that the reason the accident effected me so much is because it wasn't personal. I couldn't predict it. And in the span of a few seconds it changed almost everything about my life. I didn't have a callous built up to deal with that. This was unlike any of the other traumas I'd faced, so how could I?
One of my PTSD triggers is moving. I recently moved again. The stress (on top of all the other stress from covid...the US politics shit show...dealing with a chronic illness flare-up that tanked my mobility) was so bad I was having anxiety attacks what seemed like constantly. One night I woke up and didn't know where I was. It was pitch black and I tried to roll over to get up and banged my knee really hard and it hurt so fuckin bad and I was panicking because I didn't remember where I was. It took me quite a few minutes to calm down and remember that I was at my house. That I was there and ok and safe. Still didn't feel safe. Felt like I had a target on my back. Felt awful. So I turned on the light and threw up from the stress of it all.
I feel like I should have a better ending than just that. That was like 3 weeks ago. I think my sis has a point about the unpredictability being so traumatizing. And I'm fully moved, thanks to my awesome sis and cousins for supporting me through that. I was an absolute wreck. And my fam was understanding. I was a sobbing stressed-out mess. So anxious I had a headache pounding behind my eyeballs. So sick I threw up a couple times. But I owned it. I didn't play it off. I was too busy feeling my feelings to be ashamed of having them. I didn't try to hide my panic. And it's gotten better lately. At least the moving stress has.
Covid's still here, people are still acting like idiots in the name of politics. But I survived the move.
Ok, that's all for now.
Take care of yourselves and each other,
Edited by RubyRosie