PTSD is a term heard often on military installations around the globe. It can be seen on the banners "got nightmares?" with information on whom to contact if you do have the PTSD. I'm not sure many of us fully understand what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is in fact. Many go undiagnosed. For me it was diagnosed once the rape kit was sealed up and sent out to the crime lab that awful night of December 2002. I too was sealed up and sent off but it was to see a shrink in the crime victims unit. I'm sure I had PTSD before that night as I lived in a very abusive relationship for eleven years.
"What is PTSD?
What is PTSD? (PDF)
Anyone who has gone through a life-threatening event can develop PTSD. These events can include:
- Combat or military exposure
- Child sexual or physical abuse
- Terrorist attacks
- Sexual or physical assault
- Serious accidents, such as a car wreck.
- Natural disasters, such as a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake.
I awoke early this am to a nightmare. A PTSD Nightmare. This time I woke up gasping for air and in a panic. Once I realized I was no longer in the nightmare I was able to gain control of myself. There are times I awake from the nightmares angry, crying, screaming or like this morning gasping for air. Not all of the nightmares are about the rape sometimes they are about the abusive eleven years of my past.
I'm still not sure why I stayed.
It had to be fear.
I knew that some days I had to be extra careful especially when he'd start drinking as soon as he would get home. When he'd drink anything could set him off. Usually he'd make sure to hit me where clothing would cover but, towards the end of the relationship he got sloppy. I had to avoid my own mother for a couple of weeks until the bruises healed enough so she wouldn't get suspicious. I was totally dependent upon this monster. I had no sense of self worth nor the understanding that I could leave. One day I learned to fight back. That was the day I escaped from that relationship. I filed an Order of Protection with the court, of which he violated. He must have had good lawyers because they always let him go without jail time.
Unfortunately, for me it wouldn't be the last time I'd be sexually, mentally or physically abused. No that last time was in December 2002. But that final time wasn't by my ex. That final time was by a friend, someone I thought I could trust. I was a fool.
I've had therapy and therapy training. I've learned techniques to cope with the situations when it feels as though it might bring on an episode during the waking hours. When I'm awake its so much easier to get that grasp on reality. Its when I'm sleeping and the nightmares creep in that I feel helpless and hopeless. Thankfully over the years the nightmares have been less frequent with only one or sometimes two a week now. Time does heal some thing but not all things.
Now I tend to live by my own motto of "Life is what you make of it." When I get up in the morning I set goals. No, not goals like I was training for a marathon but simplistic goals of keeping my guard up but not to a paranoid extreme.
I could have gone into more detail, a lot more detail about the PTSD nightmares but I'd rather not give any of you readers a nightmare.
It just feels good to be able to write about this in my blog. It does sadden me to think that a few of you might actually know how this feels. I'm sorry too that you know because it doesn't ever go away. PTSD affects more than just the individual it affect the families too. Our loved ones don't want to see us suffering from ghost images of memories past. The loved ones would rather have something tangible to fight as would I.
On an unrelated side note....soldier co-worker refuses to clean weapons. My spouse told me, just this morning, the reason stated was that "doesn't want to get toxoplasmosis". You cannot get toxoplasmosis from cleaning weapons unless they are in the cat's litter box when you clean them. ......Hope this gives you a good chuckle after the above seriousness.
Thanks for taking the time to read my madness.