Just for today

The PTSD brain can be hard to trust when it gets jacked up. It just takes off down the road like a scared chihuahua. Too many things become anxiety producing and stressful. You become hyper-vigilant, and immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion in too many scenarios. In the far reaches of your mind you know that every situation in your life cannot possibly be this dire. But when your brain is amped up on PTSD fear it can be increasingly difficult to conjure up the objective and reasonable side of your brain. And with a certain amount of this hyper-vigilance, it does not take long before the dark veil of despair becomes a fixture over your head. 

It works like this: First comes hypervigilance, then indefinite despair that is difficult to kick. You want to just shoo it away, but like an incessant weed, it comes back. 

There are intermittent moments of hope, such as those fleeting moments with friends at breakfast, or the renewed energy from that breakfast that makes you think you can do some baking today. You head to the grocery store to get items to attempt a straight-forward recipe for gluten free donuts. But after trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond and the grocery store you find yourself seemingly glued to the seat of your car. You feel too heavy to move, and you know the floaty feeling is settling in. You make a phone call in order to reach out for help, but there is no answer. So, you turn up the air conditioning to try to jump start yourself out of being stuck. But you just get cold, you’re still stuck. You read your Facebook feed, and then your emails on your phone. Finally, you resolve to get out of the car. You have to plan it out in your mind: all the moves that will get you out of the car, and into the apartment. Your skills as a stage manager in college come in handy for this exercise. 

Finally, you come inside the apartment and throw a leftover quiche in the oven for dinner. The gluten free donut recipe now seems like a far-fetched fantasy. 

Somewhere in the back of your mind you know there are good reasons to keep going, keep trying. You decide that just for today you have to trust that those reasons are real and worthwhile. Otherwise, there is nothing else. 

Today is better than yesterday

Integration, apparently, is moving along. I’m not completely sure how, nor can I even coherently explain it. Two nights ago I lost a lot of time, and the nightmares were ridiculous, and lengthy. I did not wake up yesterday until 1:53 p.m. When I finally woke up I truly no longer wanted to be on this earth.

I think Doc must have been in a bad place as well because when I called him he asked, “Are you safe?” Well, as safe as one can be with a mind that likes to switch off to different channels. He then asked, “Do you need to go to the hospital?” Once I answered those questions sufficiently enough he was pretty much done. No, I don’t need the damn hospital, just a connection to a human being that can tell me that what’s in my mind is not real. I just needed to talk to someone that was not in my nightmare, someone that can tell me that the world is not as scary as it is in my brain. I just needed to hear another person’s voice so that I know that I am not truly alone in this world, that Armageddon did not happen and I didn’t make the cut. What I needed was someone to convey to me that it’s worth finding that shred of hope, like an umbrella tucked into the backseat of your car that you suddenly remember in the middle of a downpour, and it’s worth cashing it in today because tomorrow will be better. Not all days will be like this, some will, but not all of them.

As usual, no one else was available. Instead, I found hope in a diner meal of roasted chicken, potatoes and chicken gumbo soup. Then, the bookstore was the final refuge for us. We stayed until they closed for the night as I was terrified to be home alone. But the night was better than the previous one, and today is still lonely, but, somehow, more hopeful. Not sure how, but I’m not questioning it. I’ll just take it.