Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Thursday, April 01, 2010

It's all about Denial

(Michal, I owe you an email. Over the weekend).

I think that there is more to the whole "this is PTSD which I don't really know how to handle" thing. But this is so complicated.

I've had the diagnosis for a very long time. As I said, it just doesn't come up as an issue much, compared to the other things. Also it's not something I talk about much because it tells too much. If you have PTSD, and especially if you have PTSD and talk about your father being out of your life because he wasn't "very nice", then there's one thing for people to assume. And there are other assumptions about PTSD that just feel too private. I don't talk to anyone, ever, about being sexually abused, aside from the few people who know for specific reasons (ie they treat me for something). So about the only time I give the diagnosis is when I'm facing something like a gynecological exam, where I will write PTSD in big letters all over the place with asterisks referring to the place where I explain what helps me cope.

It's not that I don't admit I have it, or that I look negatively on people who do. I think though I have always been reluctant to think about having it, because I have felt that if I have PTSD then I haven't won the battle against my past.

Tonight was more troubling symptoms as I was in a store and a child was crying and a father being very mean. Another thing I hate about PTSD is the terminology, like "flashbacks", I guess because that's never been particularly meaningful to me. I guess it seems too peppy and fast for the moments when I relive some horrid part of my past. But there I was in that store listening to that man be so mean to his little girl, and not succeeding in getting away from them, and I kept remembering how whenever we cried in public my father would threaten to "give us something to cry about" and then hold us up so everyone could see who the misbehaving child was. And sure enough he did that to me. It probably had happened before, but this time I was old enough to be completely humiliated and my innate shyness made it even worse. The worst of it was that I don't think I was even really misbehaving, just being impatient about being in a glass outlet store where I couldn't touch anything or move freely. And sometimes with my father we weren't allowed to talk either and that probably was one of those times because that's a pretty good recipe for meltdown with any child.

I realized, and I do think this is a good realization, that partly I am so extremely stressed because I've never really just dealt with PTSD all by itself before and I don't know how. I know some things, but not how to deal with so many things reminding me of my old life all at once, much less the whole re-experiencing the feelings part.

I think when you have lived with illness like mine for so long it's pretty natural to not trust feeling good. I do now, I genuinely expect to feel good tomorrow and next week and next month. At the same time I get scared when things don't "feel right". Which seems like a pretty natural reaction. I think that when you are dealing with a recurrent mental illness it is very hard not to watch all the time for the other shoe to drop. And so now, even though this is not the 2nd shoe, it scares me that is could be. It reminds me that shoe can drop again. And that frightens me. I think I'd almost begun to think that it couldn't until I had to go off my antidepressant last fall. And that re-aquainted me quickly with my illness and the horrible things that go with it. Even with being cautious and aware of anything signifying change, and even with the general idea I have of what really bad illness is for me, my mind erases so much and blurs what is left that finding myself there again, and in ways worse than ever before, made me very aware that things can fall totally apart in a matter of days or hours, reason or no. Which means that every symptom is scary because what if this is it?

So I guess that the job for the next week is to start to believe that this is NOT bipolar, this is NOT the beginning of falling apart (something I have special reason to fear as I know that from here on out severe episodes will hospitalize me because of how limited we are with meds outside the safety zone, and probably because I've proven myself to be more suicidal than we knew before. I know I will take suicidal thinking more seriously and Dr. Mind certainly will and he was already quite serious about it.)

For now the job is sleep. And after tomorrow I have to work in only 2 places again! Yay.

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