Doing alright now

I’m doing a lot better now. I think I was having an episode of PTSD. I can tell the difference between that and regular anxiety.

Yesterday I cleaned out Arabella’s room. That in and of itself is very triggering for me. I am happy with the end product, but still. In her room I was reminded of something rather innocent, little flavored drink jugs my mom bought me as a treat for going to the store with her. Arabella had some in her room.

What it triggered in me was the memory of going places with my mom and brother Matt. My mom rarely took Matt out in public alone. She also wanted him to be included in everything a normal kid would do. Since I liked to go to the roller rink, Matt should go too. It wasn’t just that but my mom didn’t like to leave Matt at home by himself without someone watching him.

Trips out with Matt usually included Matt attacking someone. We tried to be hypervigilant of the signs and get him out of wherever we were, but sometimes that was just not possible. Sometimes we had to stake out the place for little girls. We tried to find places where they weren’t. Or if we saw little girls, we would have to leave. Matt heard voices that told him to attack them. Sometimes we would hold his hands, mom on one side me on the other. If we held his hands, he couldn’t use them.

Most commonly, he would grab little girls by their hair and pull. Sometimes he would hit or kick them. We would have to try to pull him off of them while their parents screamed at us. Fun times. One time he was terrified of men with beards and would throw huge tantrums where my mother had to hold him down in the store. Sometimes we had to abandon our cart and go home. Sometimes Matt would attack us on the car ride home.

I was triggered and went into a prolonged state of terror. I think it was the perfect storm. Stress from family coming for the holidays. I became extremely agitated. I paced the floors. Despite the sleeping pill, I awoke in the middle of the night panicking.

Here is what happened to me today. I felt incredibly terrified, in fight or flight mode. My mind was racing very fast but my body felt sluggish. I had a hard time keeping a coherent thought. I was hyper-vigilant to every noise. I thought I would scream if someone touched me, expected or not. I became paranoid. I thought I heard fighting in another room. I was worried I had to protect my daughter Angel from harm. Was she in danger? Neutral expressions were taken as a threat.

I was in intense terror. It was different from a panic attack in this way. There was no build up, panic attack, and then relief. It was a continuous level of heightened terror. Once I was aware of what was going on, I had to calm myself by telling myself that I was safe, everyone else was safe, and things were going to be okay and if they were not I could handle it like I’ve done countless times before.

My brother Luke is on his way here with his family. He is trying to beat the storm. We are going to make some burgers tonight. I’m going to have my son and his girlfriend over because my son will most likely have to work tomorrow doing snow removal and miss most of the party.

I am safe. I’m not responsible for anyone but me. I can’t fix the things that are broken. I have to take care of me. Sometimes I have PTSD. It just usually doesn’t hit me this hard.

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