Category Archives: PTSD

Wanton Destruction

One of the themes of my teen years was the destruction of the things I treasured. It was a particularly nasty way of getting at me – I already felt pretty worthless, and destroying the things I loved made me feel even worse than I already did.

I don’t remember individual events much any more – the days all run into each other, the various forms of abuse melt into an amorphous blob of misery. I can’t tell you if the day the photographs from my school play were ripped up and left on my floor was the same day that my baby blanket was tossed into the bush below my house, left to rot in the treetops somewhere. I can’t tell you if the day my deodorant spray collection was emptied was the same day that my nailpolish collection was opened and emptied into its container, which was a gift to me. It all just blurs together.

There’s one day that’s burned clearly into my mind though. I was given a pink lip gloss in a heart-shaped container for Christmas one year. I loved it, and used it very sparingly so that I wouldn’t run out. One day, I came home to find that my sparkly lip gloss had been used to write ‘slut’ on my mirror.

I was thirteen or fourteen years old. I had never kissed a boy. I had been indoctrinated into the idea that even kissing a boy who wasn’t serious about me was a sin against god. And a slut was supposed to be the worst sort of woman, a woman who had no respect for herself and no respect for god.

I was made to clean it off before my father got home to see it.

Running Away

When I was maybe fourteen or fifteen years old, I ran away from home. Life was just intolerable, and I had to get out. So I managed to stay home from church that day, and I packed my bag with a jersey and a water bottle, put on my most comfortable shoes, and I walked out.

I walked about 15km, to a friend’s place. I hoped that her family would give me shelter, maybe they could help me get out of the hell that home had become. But they weren’t home that day. My feet hurt. I went to the local playground and I cried.

I didn’t know what to do next, but I felt like I had to keep moving. So I walked back. It took me a bit longer than the walk out. I went to the playground closest to my house. It had a little hut right at the top. I figured that would be a good place to sleep.

It was summer, and it had been a hot day. I didn’t realise how cold the nights felt after a warm day. The playground I was in didn’t have much shelter, and a cool wind had me shivering. I hadn’t eaten all day.

I decided to seek shelter with a family friend. The kids of the household were not far off my age, and they knew about the abuse. Maybe they would help.

I knocked on the door an hour or two after midnight. They were still up. The elder daughter wrapped me in her arms and made me feel safe.

I told them everything, how I was being abused, how I needed to get out, how I had already tried to kill myself once because it was just so bad. They listened. And a couple of days later they sent me home.

I tried to get out. I tried to get help. And I was returned to my abuser over and over again.

It Makes Me Angry That Anyone Still Has To Fight This Battle

Mental illness is different from many other illnesses, and for one sad reason – because people just don’t accept that it’s real, or worthy of the term ‘illness’. It’s all in your head, you can think your way out, I have bad days and I get over them, you should too.

I cannot think my way out of my illness any more than someone in a wheelchair can think their way out of it. What goes on in my head is just as real as what happens to the body of a diabetic or a cancer patient, and at times it can be just as crippling.

I am giving my life my best shot, and every time someone discounts mental illness for any reason, it hurts me. Every time someone tells me that I need to get over myself, that I’m being selfish, that I need to harden up, or that I need to stop doing this to the people I love, I know of one more person not to trust. I will think less of them for thinking less of me over something that is out of my control.

I did not choose to be abused. I did not choose to have my mind crumble under the pressure of a life that didn’t do me many favours. I’m making do with a damaged mind. And I do not deserve to be discounted because my scars are not physical.

A New Leap Into the Unknown

Today was another meeting with my psych, and a new medication, after the last one gave me the wonderful gift of hyperprolactinaemia, which can apparently increase your risk of various girly cancers and osteoporosis. Not a fan of those things, so we try again.

I’m being started on buproprion, another antidepressant, this time affecting norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake. It’s a completely different mechanism of action from anything I’ve tried, so this really is a step into the unknown.

Additionally, I’ve been started on vitamin B supplements, after my blood tests showed a relatively low level of vitamin B12 in my blood. Not deficiency-low, but low enough that supplementation might help. It can’t hurt at least – B vitamins are water-soluble, so any excess will just be excreted.

All in all, I have a bit of hope for a different outcome, combined with a general weariness with this entire process. I just want to feel normal and well again, and it’s wearing me down to be battling with trying to find medication and therapy that might help.

Flashbacks

Today, when it was time to start making dinner, my partner wasn’t in a good mood. This happens sometimes, to everyone. But what was interesting was my reaction to it.

I’m not good with tension, but I’ve never really analysed my reaction before. Today, in light of the diagnosis of PTSD, I thought a bit more about what was happening inside me when there was tension around me.

I tend to withdraw, and I get very quiet, and try to get on with what I’m doing with minimal noise. I realised that this is a throw-back to my early teens, when it was dangerous to disturb my stepmother if she was moody. I learned to be as quiet and efficient as I could be in hope of not becoming the subject of her ire.

I still do this, and I still feel all the fear that I did back then, even though I know I am safe now. There’s no logic to how I feel and react. I’m safe, I’m loved, and I’m never going to be hurt the way I was back then, but the experiences of my youth have coloured how I deal with my world.

Asking For Help

I was abused as an adolescent. Even when it was happening, I knew it wasn’t normal, but I was scared to ask for help. Reading this¬†reminded me of the only time I ever tried to get help.

I was maybe fourteen. I’d done¬†something wrong the night before (I don’t remember what, but I think it had something to do with washing my clothes) and it had lead to a beating. This wasn’t common – most of the abuse was psychological and emotional – but it did happen now and then. I ended up with a line of bruises on each side of my spine, where my stepmother punched me. She was smart – she never hit where it would be seen while I was wearing clothes.

What she didn’t know was that I was one of the few girls my age that wasn’t ashamed of their body, and so I would just strip down and then kit up for PE. That day, I lifted my shirt over my head and squeaked a bit in pain. A friend who was changing beside me looked over and saw the bruises, and that was it. I was taken to see the assistant principal, and made to tell her what happened.

The next bit it a blur. My father was called in, and he made excuses for my stepmother. My little brother was picked up from school, by one of my teachers I think. There was a lot of fuss going on . . . and then nothing. We were taken home by my father. Nothing further happened.

I was terrified. It had taken all my strength to tell, and nothing had come of it. And now my stepmother was furious. She didn’t beat me again, but for weeks afterward she would terrorise me in whatever ways she could come up with.

You’re supposed to tell when bad things go on in your life. If you tell a teacher they’re supposed to make you safe. But no-one made me and my little brother safe.

I’m left with PTSD from what happened to me in the five or six years between when my father married and when my stepmother threw me out. I don’t remember much of it, but sometimes, I’ll do something, or see something, or smell something, and it all just comes back. It paralyses me.

I asked for help. I did what I was supposed to do. But no-one took it seriously enough to make me safe.

Screaming Panic

I was feeling very wound up this evening. The sound of cutlery clinking as my older daughter set the table was enough to put me on edge. I don’t know why, but I was feeling very much on edge.

My younger daughter dropped her hairbrush on our wooden floor, and cried out a little with surprise. My reaction was way out of proportion – the sudden noise started me screaming and hyperventilating. It took me a couple of minutes to calm myself.

I don’t know why this happened. Nothing like that has ever happened before. I’ve always squeaked and jumped when there are sudden noises, but I’ve never had such a bad reaction before. It scared me and my family.

I wish I understood what happened. But I have no idea. I hate not understanding myself.