When people write about mental health issues, they tend to write about the recovery. Overcoming the Obstacle. Informative with a side of inspiration porn. This isn’t one of those posts.
This post is about the things we normally don’t talk about. The moments when you’re wondering if it’s truly worth it. If you should keep fighting. The times when we don’t reach out.
I’ve often thought about how I’d describe having PTSD to someone who doesn’t. There’s a lot of misconceptions about it, especially how it is portrayed in popular culture, so many that I myself failed to pick up on what it was I actually had. It’s not full on hallucinations, at least not for me. It’s more like an echo.
Ever heard that piercing sound that happens when a microphone and speaker become too friendly? The sound that cuts through you and that you try to brace yourself for? Imagine that, but someone shouting weird fragments of the worst moments of your life into that microphone. That’s more what my flashbacks are like. Those sounds seem to come from my bones, not necessarily my brain. Just like really intense sounds, it’s both a physical and mental sensation. It’s overwhelming, very difficult to hide (I literally brace myself against it, you can see it in my jaw), and can come out of seemingly nowhere.
I don’t have those often, but I have nightmares. Multiple times per week. I remember them upon waking perhaps 50 percent of the time. Sometimes I just wake up with my heart racing and a lump in my throat. I’ve been an insomniac since the age of 1 at least. I’ve lived most of my life sleep deprived. Try sleeping three hours per night for a month.It gets to you, quickly.
Yet these aren’t the worst moments. My worst moments typically happen when there’s no one around. After the lack of sleep. After the weird air raid siren thing has caused issues again. But especially after I’ve lost something that made me happy. I guard the things that make me happy very carefully and don’t tend to speak of them. It’s a way to protect it/them, the idea that if no-one knows about your happiness then they can’t take it from you. Sadly it’s not foolproof. I must have a sign on my forehead that says “treat me like shit” considering the liberties people take against me.
Those are my darkest moments. When you no longer have things to fight for. When you’re not just worried about losing the battle, but when you realise that you don’t even know why you’re still in this battle. When you believe those echoes were whispering the truth. When you begin to believe every single hurtful, rude, or abusive thing you’ve ever heard.
This is the point of the post typically reserved for preppy positive thoughts and coping mechanisms. But the thing is, there’s no inspirational quote that helps. No cure. You just have to wait it out.