Falling into a Crisis

Mental health crises are an inevitable part of the course when you live with the after effects of trauma. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), or EPCACE (Enduring Personality Change After Catastrophic Experience) as they are now calling it is something that is an everyday part of my life. As with most things, some days it’s bad, some days it’s alright and some days it’s average.

Some days however, it gets bad and then it stays that way. Well, it actually gets worse. You see, I get exhausted from a lack of sleep, from being constantly on edge, and from fighting to stay in the present day rather than slipping into the scary past. When I’m exhausted I can’t manage those symptoms as well so they get worse and I in turn find them harder to manage. At that point I spiral beyond “bad” and into crisis.

I’m in the crisis spiral again right now. I know the drill, take whatever drugs you need to ensure you get some sleep and rest. Do whatever you can to isolate yourself from sources of stress. Once I’ve got the rest it’ll reduce the severity of the symptoms, and I’ll have the strength to manage the ones that remain. It’ll all be easier. Right now it doesn’t feel like it’ll ever be easy again of course, that’s the problem. I’m struggling to have faith that things will ever feel better, and for all I tell myself that’s part of the viscous cycle I can’t quite grasp that it is. This time, my mind keeps telling me, it’s different. This is the time you don’t get better, this is the time you get drowned by it all.

It’s scary, and it’s stress inducing. I can’t really describe how horrible constantly re-living or re-experiencing of trauma is. The closest I can get to it is that it’s like a memory but not one that you can look at objectively. There is no mental distance, you don’t get to remember back to the time and think “Oh that was so nasty” then feel sad/angry about it because it is an upsetting memory and that’s appropriate. This doesn’t feel like it happened in the past, it doesn’t feel like you are remembering anything. It happens now, like a fresh wound, the skin on your back literally feels like it is blistering in response to the burns, your head feels like it is cracked and bleeding and you can’t understand why there is no blood when you touch it. There is no distance, no room for contemplation; you are being hurt right now, this very second death feels inevitable and like it’s only a few heartbeats away.

There is a tremendous sense of isolation when it happens, I feel like I can’t reach out because no one will understand. On top of the fresh trauma of feeling like I’ve nearly been killed there is the confusion of coming back to ‘reality’ then realising that it’s not happening and I’m on a bus and people are looking and it’s 2017 but my throat still feels bruised and the adrenaline is still coursing through my body. It’s scary because you’ve lost control of your consciousness for a while, it’s embarrassing because people are looking at you like you’re potentially dangerous or a drama queen, it’s painful because you’ve somehow smacked your head trying to escape the danger you were re-experiencing. You’re hurting, and although you’re surrounded by people you are alone.

That’s the big bit for me, regardless of the people around me I feel alone. I feel disconnected from others. I don’t feel like it’s possible to glean any emotional support from my support network because I’ve decided they don’t understand, and until I can let myself do that I know the struggle to get out of crisis will be gargantuan. It’s the hardest thing to let others in and accept their support when you are terrified of them hurting you. The hurt is normally accidental, after all I’m a big bundle of exposed nerves and it’s hard to get close without knocking some, but it’s still hurt and I want to avoid it at all costs.

I’ll find a way out of this crisis regardless of my feelings at the moment. One thing re-experiencing being the victim of attempted murders has taught me is how much I don’t want to die deep down. I’m a fighter at my core, I’ve survived, and I’ll keep doing it. My only hope is that I can find away to survive more comfortably in the future.

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