Push the Stress Deep. Post traumatic stress, AKA PTSD is known but not well understood in my opinion.
We hear of soldiers that return from war, survivors from kidnapping and domestic abuse victims than can all be considered to have this disorder. What does it mean? How does it show up.
In my “Push the stress deep” series I will share how post traumatic stress appeared for me because I feel it is important to understand this disorder as we are caught up in our social media that seems to only brag of wonderful lives and events that never show us as marred or defective in anyway.
One of the first impacts that abuse had for me was trust. I didn’t trust anything man made. Elevators, bridges, bungee cords, airplanes and fast moving cars.
Of course I had to cross bridges, ride elevators and get on planes but the entire time I was in a state of panic. To look at me you would think that I was in line to be executed because my rapid heartbeat, sweating and shaking would give me away. No one really questioned it either. It was just Ramona being weird.
You see I recognized in my perception that many people rode elevators, crossed bridges and got on planes without incident, but that wasn’t my mistrust. My mistrust was that the plane was safe as long as I wasn’t on it. I totally trusted a plane with my daughter on it alone or even if I was with her because God would look after her, but not me.
It was God in my mind that was targeting me. If something bad was going to happen, it was going to be me.
I nearly drowned when I was four, I was nearly killed in the Miami riots and I was kidnapped while passed out drunk in a car parked in front of a bar. I escaped all these near death experiences but I never felt safe again.
While I have undergone much therapy it took forever to shake the fear that I was riding on borrowed time. Sometimes I felt like I could cheat God from removing me from this earth by not getting on the plane, staying on routes that wouldn’t force me over a bridge and taking the stairs.
I wasted much of my time in panic attacks and looking back I realize what a waste it was and how harmful it was to my health to spend so much time in “fight or flight” mode.
Many of these fears have subsided as I have gotten healthier but last month I drove to New York City and I took the back roads to miss any major bridges. I did however have to drive through the Holland Tunnel which wasn’t so bad. I felt so brave that I decided to take the short way home and go for the bridge but I chickened out at the last minute and rerouted with my GPS to go the back way halfway home.
I got off the freeway and thought I would miss any major bridge. I was wrong. About a half an hour off the highway I hit a major bridge. I am 53 years old and as I approached this bridge my heart began to race, my hands were shaking so bad that I could hardly hang on to the steering wheel and for the first time in a very long time I was loosing control over myself. I prayed to God the entire crossing to keep this bridge in tact until I reached the other side. Once I crossed it I was forced to pull my car over in order to get myself together and calm.
You see PTSD is treatable but some trauma never leaves you. While you may not have the luxury to avoid all the stimuli that causes it to reappear, through recognizing it you can survive. In the past I would have driven 500 miles out of my way rather than cross the bridge. So I have grown and that is important.
For all of you that have experienced stress that has traumatized you for life I advise you to get help. Through professional help and exercises learned in therapy I no longer have to live on the edge of death.
Please join me again as I will talk more about PTSD and some of the personal impact it has had on me