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Posts Tagged ‘c-ptsd’

your-brain-on-cptsd

It feels much worse than this.

I’ve been feeling pretty shitty for a few days now and not really knowing where it was coming from. Here’s what’s tough about C-PTSD and starting therapy for it–you know something is wrong, so being depressed, or what have you, is expected. It doesn’t make it even a little bit tolerable, but it is expected. The trouble is trying to figure out which of a thousand things it could stem from. For me, at least, it’s very often almost impossible to tie it to one thing, and without being able to do that, I feel completely helpless to address it and work through it. So, I’m just completely overwhelmed with this bleak, worthless, piece of shit feeling.

Well, Father’s Day, obviously, right? Am I upset about the father who consistently told me how lazy and stupid I was, or the one who wasn’t around 98% of my life and showed up just to tell me: 1) that he didn’t actually think I was his daughter, and 2) he’d rather have been able to talk to my sister (whom he believes is his), but he didn’t have her contact information? Both? Great. So, let’s say that’s bothering me…

…except that it’s probably also the stranger online that “complimented” me on my “gut” the other day. You, relatively well-adjusted person who thinks I’m probably just weak as fuck, would probably blow that off, because who cares what a stranger thinks? My conscious, rational mind says that too, but here I am a few days later, without even thinking of that guy, except I am thinking “I need to never eat anything again.” What? Just because of some idiot online? Of course not. I weighed 99 pounds when I graduated high school at 17. Throughout high school, I was called “anorexic.” I worried about my weight and was very self-conscious about my appearance. I ate everything I could fit in without puking, but nothing worked. At home, my very overweight mother and older sister treated me like the enemy. They acted as if my life was somehow blessed to be perfect because I was skinny. All of my social and psychological issues didn’t matter, nor did the fact that I wasn’t thin. I was grossly underweight. I suspect a normal parent would have looked at her 17-year-old, 99-pound daughter and thought, “Christ, is this a medical issue?” Especially when that daughter is crying and drinking protein shakes all fucking day, trying desperately to put on a few pounds. But no, while I did that, I was verbally abused and treated like shit. My dad? He said it was my fault. He said I’d have a normal weight if I stopped “eating shit all day.” “Shit” was protein shakes and pasta. A lot of pasta. Whatever the case, no one thought to take me to doctor. And when my metabolism shit the bed when I was 23, I piled on about 50 pounds over the course of 3-4 months. I was horrified. It didn’t help that when I went home to visit my family, my mother and sister made fun of me, welcoming me to their social hell. They thought it was funny. They started calling me “fat.”

So, yeah. “Nice gut,” the guy said. I am 41 years old. I weigh about 137-138 pounds. I’m 5’6″. I work out 5-6 days a week, an hour to an hour and a half per day. And I’m thinking that I should never eat anything again. So, okay, that’s what’s bothering me…

…except I got a text today from the cat shelter saying they want to have a new person join me on the days I volunteer to clean there. A couple of the things I like about going there is: 1) I’m just surrounded by cats (who aren’t calling me lazy, stupid, or commenting on my gut), and 2) quiet, alone time. It was good and therapeutic for me, since I’m having such a tremendously terrible time with people lately. But now, I guess I’m supposed to drive 45 minutes one-way once a week to spend 2-3 hours engaging in uncomfortable small talk with a stranger. And by “engaging” I mean “white-knuckling it,” and by “uncomfortable,” I mean, “I’d rather slit my wrists.” I’m not exaggerating. Just thinking about it pushed me into an anxiety attack. Right now, I’m trying to figure out a way to get out of it. The thing to do is to just be honest, but, let’s face it: Who wants to tell someone they don’t know very well that they can’t come in anymore because they’ve gone through so much fucking trauma in their lives that the idea of having to spend a few hours with a stranger every week makes them think dying in their sleep would be preferable? And sure, I can go on and on about this shit here, to the faceless Internets. But it’s different when it’s someone who don’t know well and you have to see them, even just sometimes. Because after this, I’ll never be able to be around this person ever again without assuming she thinks I’m a fucking nutcase.

And all I can think is: I really liked going there and seeing the cats. I liked the cats. Cats are good. People are not good. I will miss them.

So, I’ve pinpointed by problems, right? Good. Except…it doesn’t even fucking matter. I have no idea how to actively address any of it. I often feel like I’d have been better off without having figured out what my problem is. Sure, I’d have kept going through life experiencing shitty emotional flashbacks and hating myself, but even then, there seemed to have been reprieves. I had coping mechanisms, healthy or not, and they got me through. They were stepping stones keeping me out of the lava. Now it’s just lava, all the time.

Once you figure out it’s C-PTSD, there’s no where to run. And the episode I had a few months ago–there’s really no getting over all of that. It didn’t just rip off some scabs; it ripped off my skin. I can’t come back from it. There isn’t any kind of going back. Everything terrible that’s ever happened to me is no longer occupying some bullshit closet in the back of my brain. It’s all up front and inescapable, and it’s triggered by everything. Literally everything. From the shit I mentioned above to things like: articles of clothing, places (for instance, cabins: I can’t go into why, but any cabin will do–actual cabins, pictures of cabins, the word “cabin”–that is one example out of an endless supply), certain objects, sometimes just shapes or colors, smells, times of day, my own body and face (seriously, try that one on for size), everything. All of this and more will trigger feelings of deep loneliness, abandonment, self-loathing, etc. and these things roll over into a sort of numbness, which is really just a blur of everything until it becomes indecipherable, which seems to stay settled in this extremely nihilistic enveloping cushion of depression. And then I start thinking that this will never end–this cycle of feeling okay for a handful of days, and then, exactly what I described. It is going to keep happening, over and over, and this will be the rest of my life. And then I want to kill myself, because this shit isn’t living. It’s unbearable. And it’s not fair because it’s not my fault and I didn’t ask for it.

You might think I can just smile, or think positive thoughts, or whatever. Like all the super-awesome memes say. Happiness is what you make it, right? You just have to decide to be happy. Do you actually believe that shit? Well, if it works for you, that sure is nice. But that doesn’t work for people like me. These feelings, when they come, they don’t feel like they’re coming from any particular place in you. It really feels like something unconnected to you that is happening to you. Something that is completely out of control. Imagine having this stranger in your real life who is ten times your size and strength, and who, without any warning whatsoever, comes out of nowhere and beats the living shit out of you. Like, really beats you absolutely bloody, and then he disappears. He is never apprehended, never punished. And you don’t really know why he does it. In fact, you have no idea why. Maybe he sometimes kind of looks like your mom, or dad, or sibling, or friend, or ex-, or just some nobody. When he’s somewhat recognizable, you think maybe you know why it’s happening–because maybe your mother treated you like shit. But see, that’s not even the reason, because when you’ve been abused and neglected from Day One, from before you can even remember, you have never known why she treated you like shit to begin with. And chances are, you’ll never know. But your infant brain was wired to believe it was your fault. So, this guy who beats you and gets away with it–you hate him, you don’t really know why it’s happening, but God, you hate yourself for it.

And frankly, if you don’t nod your head immediately and know exactly what I mean, then I don’t think it’s anything you can ever understand.

But this is where I am right now, here on this fucking Father’s Day. Social media isn’t an option for distraction because it’s just a sea of love for fathers everywhere. I hate my biological father. And while I loved my step-father, I can’t deny that he was verbally belittling and verbally abusive (and yeah, maybe you thinks that’s not a big deal, but I already had so much going against me at that point, it’d have taken a feather to knock me down). And he’s dead anyway.

I don’t know how to process this. Any of it. Any of the deep-past, the recent-past. A lobotomy at this point seems like a viable, reasonable, more pleasant option. I’m not joking.

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