Hi everybody! I’m writing this post to share some of the struggles I’m facing with my PTSD. Last week, I began having some new flashbacks. That sounds kind of like an oxymoron, but it really isn’t, because my flashbacks are little snippets of repressed memories from childhood trauma. I have been having these flashbacks since I was in high school.
The first time I had a flashback was in high school gym class. We were doing a unit on dance and learning some traditional ballroom dancing. One day, I was paired with a partner who had placed his hand lower on my back than my previous partner, and suddenly, I was transported to another place and time. I began crying and had to sit out of the rest of the class, and I felt like I was crazy. I had no idea what had just happened, only that it was scary and I just wanted to curl up into a ball and hide.
Since then, I have had several others. They came very slowly, sometimes years apart, until recently. About 10 years ago, I had a flashback that occurred more often than others, and I began to suspect that I had been sexually abused when I was very young and had suppressed those memories. I was afraid to go digging into my past to confirm my suspicions, but as time went by and I began learning more about my mother’s past while editing a book that she had written about her life, that all changed. Reading and editing that book for her threw me into, what I like to call “a funk” for a few weeks. I became more depressed, edgy, emotional and scared reading about the things that my mother had gone through as a child and wondering if something had happened to me as well.
As time went by, I learned more about my past from conversations with friends and family members, and finally last summer, I got some information that confirmed my suspicion that I had been sexually abused as a young child. Since then, I have been seeing a counselor and actively digging into my past, visiting places that I remembered from childhood, and the memories and flashbacks have been coming more and more frequently. My flashbacks have been becoming more intense and frightening.
The last few weeks, I have been having two new flashbacks. One of them is not very frightening, but the other is very intense and is triggered very easily. This flashback is part of a traumatic event that I remembered this past fall. It is simply reliving the memory of being grabbed from behind and carried away to a place where I now remember that I had been sexually assaulted. This new flashback and every one that is new and intense put me into another, “funk.”
The last few weeks, I’ve been much more jumpy. I startle when anything touches my back unexpectedly, and even if somebody is standing behind me. Last night my wife was sitting in a chair across the room from my desk facing me as I was sitting at my computer. She was about 8 feet away and even that triggered my anxiety. At night, I need a pillow behind my back so that my wife doesn’t accidentally touch me when she gets up to use the restroom in the night, in addition to the body pillow that I clutch tightly in front of me. I can now calm myself down rather quickly, but it still makes my life quite difficult. I’m somewhat afraid to go into public places lately. Just the thought of standing in line at a checkout counter is enough to trigger moderate anxiety. I make it a point to be consciously aware of who is around me. I feel so bad that I feel the need to protect myself from innocent people like my wife and kids.
It seems like every time I seem to be making some progress and start thinking about going back to work, I have a new flashback and the cycle starts all over again. This month seems especially difficult, and I think it’s because I couldn’t get in for regular appointments with my new therapist until February. I hope that my new therapist can help me find a balance, because I don’t want to keep living like this. I don’t want to be scared all the time.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and never give up!