PTSD: What It’s Like

I wrote a longer post about having a panic attack as someone with PTSD today. It’s not something I write or talk about often, but after this year, I’m realizing I probably need to share more of what it’s like, what it’s been like, how you learn the shape of your own trauma, how you negotiate with it.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Today’s panic started around 2:30. It’s just past 6:30 now and I’m coming down which is why I’m able to write about it. I’ve always wanted to and I honestly don’t know (also don’t care) if this explains how it works. This is just my version of PTSD; everyone experiences it differently.

In this case, too, there was resolution to the thing that caused the panic within an hour of the stimulus that set it off.

So: panic stimulus – stop breathing – stomach goes weird – fingers go cold – head comes off.

That all happens in about a minute.

I had a reason, an actual direct cause, to stop panicking maybe a half an hour after that.

Yet here I am, four hours later, typing this because I can’t get back to my work because I can’t focus. Because once it starts, you’re kind of just a passenger while the whole of you goes off the rails for a while. You wait. You watch symptoms once you’ve learned them – and that takes years – and you do the things that help a little, whatever they are, but mostly it’s just about passing the time until the brain can wrest control back, once telling yourself “you’re okay” actually starts to sink in.

So yeah. That’s what PTSD is like. I’ll be a little weird the rest of the day, a little queasy, a little angry, a little jittery. Eventually I will tell myself it’s okay to go to bed and I’ll take a pill for it, the kind I have an “as needed” prescription for, and mostly I’ll wake up feeling like myself tomorrow.”

You can read the whole thing here.

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