PTSD - 3
Posted by GMGittins
11th Jan 2014

Having PTSD feels like having brain damage. Your brain chooses a traumatic memory and plays it back, forcing you to re-experience it over and over again. It doesn't matter where you are or what you're doing; it holds you in its grip. The memory is more real than reality. Some days I feel as if I'm in a trance as they play out.
It causes a double life. One life is ruled by the memories, and the other is ordinary everyday life.

It's always been like this; I've always known it wasn't right but didn't know what the problem was. I've been treated for depression for over twenty years but the memories carried on fueling the depression. Two years ago, though, things suddenly and without any warning got a lot worse. I couldn't keep the two lives separate any more, and had to stop work. I was a nurse, and loved my work. That, and looking after my lovely family, kept me going.

So, I saw a psychiatrist who diagnosed the problem as severe depression and PTSD, put me on an antipsychotic tablet and the maximum dose of two antidepressants and advised me to keep seeing the psychologist, because ultimately he would be the person who would make the most difference. And she was right. He has quite literally saved my life, in so many ways. The antipsychotic tablet caused the pressure in my eyes to become elevated so I've had to come off it. There is damage to the optic disc which makes me see a small fuzzy area on the right hand side. But honestly, that's the least of my problems.....!

I'm writing this blog because it's helping me to understand that I'm not making a fuss about nothing. That there actually is a problem which needs fixing. And someone else might read this one day and recognise themselves, or someone they know - and it'll help them to get the help that they need a bit quicker than I did.

I'm walking home, from my swim, at my usual brisk pace. I'm feeling a bit light-headed and spaced-out; must be time to eat. What could I have . . .

I'm sitting at the table at home. We're not allowed school dinners so here I am.
"Your mother has left home again."

"You sit there scratching your head! You need a bloody psychiatrist!"
Well, get me one then.

"Just wait there for one moment ... I want to talk to you ... your school work isn't up to your usual standard ... there were only a few sentences in your last piece of work, and you're missing a lot of classes ... there's something wrong, can I help?"

My English teacher is talking to me and looking concerned at me. It's disconcerting. I mumble, "my brain doesn't feel right," and walk off.
(my psychologist says, I would love to hear you talk and talk and talk)

Now I watch myself on a bus going to Chester. I walk around the scruffy areas. I know all the grubby cafes and run-down shops. Nothing interesting. It feels like where I belong. I walk.
I have no identity. How real am I? I exist as simply a mixture. I have his late brother's name but made into a girl's name. Mum and dad are cousins so my genes are not as pure as everyone else's. I've got a double dose of everything. How sick to death I am of that drunken lecture.

I'm sixteen, have been hearing it for such a long time.

My previous English teacher told me I was lucky that I didn't have to take an oral exam in English, because I would fail it.

I'm in the kitchen. It's very late at night. I haven't gone to bed because my dad is giving me a row.
He's standing to the right of me. Very pissed. A disgusting word for a disgusting man. He can't stand up straight. He sways with the effort of shouting at me. The smell is incredible. The loud torrent of his voice gets louder and louder and there is nothing I can say. I am totally irrelevent. I mean nothing. Am I real? Nobody sticks up for me. Everyone keeps well out of his way. Shout, shout, shout. Suddenly, I can stand no more. Something in my head literally snaps. I can sort of feel it go.
I have a kettle of boiling water in my hand. I put it down gently. Without speaking or looking at him, I pick up my old purple mac. He follows me, and kicks me, hard. I land a few stairs up. I pick myself up, and walk out of the front door, close it behind me gently and walk off into the night.
(sometimes I wake up to the sound of that kick)

Two policemen get out of a car and stop me. "How old are you?"
They want to know what I'm doing out in the pouring rain so late at night on my own. I tell them I've just had a row with my dad. Try to act Sensible. Matter of fact.
"What about?"
Why do they want to know all about me? Why do they look concerned?
"My boyfriend."
"You're old enough to be married. Your father has no right to speak to you like that."
Doesn't he? I'm genuinely baffled by that remark. And that they keep looking at me.

(what would have happened if you'd allowed yourself to become upset, and allowed them to help you?)
(I've just never thought of that)
(I just can't imagine that at all)

I walk. I have to ask permission to use the toilet in the hospital because the others in town are all locked. The Sister looks horrified at the state of me. Don't worry, I'm just going. I take shelter under some bushes for a while. The same two policemen stop me again and ask if I'm ok, can they take me home and speak to my dad!!!

I walk. I go to see the horse in the paddock outside of town but he must be sheltering from the rain, I can't see him. I walk.
(my psychologist says I'm still walking, and he's right)

(I could go to my boyfriend's sister's house, I really like her. But ... then she'd get into trouble too)
(So you protected her. You had no-where to turn to)
(well, no - there wasn't anyone ever - it's just the way it was)

I'm in the Industrial Estate. Factories. It's a big area, no shortage of walking space. The policemen stop me again. Are they following me? What for? What's the point?
Gradually it gets lighter and the sun comes up. Cars start to appear. More and more cars. I'm not alone any more. I think how good it would be to have a job and be part of a team, working together.
The police stop me again, it's light now. I'm baffled as to why they're bothered about an insignificant girl walking about.

I walk back into town. I decide to go to the library, where it's warm and quiet. The staff there are nice. But when I get there I feel such a sight, soaked through. I don't feel I can stay there looking such a sight. People will notice me.
So I carry on walking. I decide to return home before he goes to work, so that he knows I'm not scared of him.

"Where the hell have you been?" he tries to seem cross with me but looks guilty. "You've made your mother very worried about you!"

Then my boyfriend and his mother drive up. He hugs me. Dad goes to work.
She wants to know what on earth has happened. I tell her we had a row.
"No matter what happens, he's still your father," she says. What does that mean?

Suddenly, bang, I'm home. In the hall. I'm married to my boyfriend.
Tea or coffee?
I'm blank. Tea or coffee. Where have I been?

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