PTSD suffering is invisible. I am not invisible.

Amazing how my world can change, literally overnight. How is it possible to go from teetering wildly and feeling so wild and unsettled one day to feeling strong and balanced the next?

PTSD rocks my boat. With so many years of chronic childhood abuse stored in my head, triggers are basically every where for me. I often feel like one those tiny baby bunnies I see all over now, so fragile, hopping along a path that I can’t see the end of, and hoping not to get swooped up and destroyed by predators. Once in a while I must get off the path and hide myself until the path is clear. I used to stay hidden for years at a time, and then it changed to months, and now it is only days.

I see this progress so clearly now. I’ve never gotten far from my path at all. My survival instincts used to take over completely. Now I feel when they kick in, a trigger gives me a terrible anxious feeling, like something horrible is about to happen, like I am walking across an old, frayed rope bridge with lava flowing underneath. I have rarely been in an actual life or death situation, but PTSD makes my body and mind (and soul??) believe that I am in eminent danger.

I am getting better at recognizing the body signals and stopping the spiral into darkness. I am getting better at asking for help. Yesterday I reached out to Hubby, my sis-in-law, and my blogging friends. I was honest and said I was feeling anxious and lost. I was heard, validated, and supported by each person. This helped me to understand my reaction and see that it made sense to feel this way, that I had been triggered, but that nothing was that bad, not really.

This is so important to understand, and I completely get this now. This next line makes the last decade of my life make perfect sense.

PTSD suffering is invisible. I am not invisible.

For years I thought no one helped me because I was invisible to them. Worthless. Inconsequential. A bother. A fart in the wind.

Now I know that when my world goes all wonky bonkers, that unless I cry out “the sky is falling!” NO ONE BUT ME KNOWS. What? How could this be? How could no one be able to see that my world is crumbling and nothing makes sense? How could no one hear the blaring alarm bells in my head? How could no one see the tension and pain in my muscles? How could no one hear my heart beating and leaping out of my chest?

Simple. Because unlike how our abusers raised us – we are actually unique and separate human beings. I used to think I was transparent – different from invisible in an important way. I had no sense of self and no boundaries. I thought my AF knew my every thought and feeling, and controlled them too. I was nothing without him. He made me need him.

I have finally realized that others see me as calm, quiet and A-ok most of the time. They can’t see or hear or feel my manic thoughts, my dark thoughts, my suicidal thoughts, my panic, my fears or my pain. And if they have never experienced it, telling doesn’t do much good either. This is not like stage fright. This is not like being rejected for a date. This is not like grieving for a lost loved one. This is probably not like anything they have ever felt. This is a short circuit, a function that used to save our lives and lingers now as a malfunction because we can’t locate the stop button – the go button is hard wired in our brains and nervous systems.

I am learning how to re-program this function, but it takes trial and error. I have to evaluate each social interaction and recategorize it based on reality, not based on my fear of what could have happened. Children do this, when they hide in safety behind mommy’s legs with new people. We think this is cute and endearing in a 4 yr old, not so cute in a 34 yr old. I never had anyone safe to hide behind and tell me who to trust. Even worse, the ones I was supposed to learn that from violated my trust, making the world seem untrustable at my most fundamental core.

So I will trust my body when it feels uncomfortable. I will reach out to others that I do now trust, and hide behind them until I figure out if it is safe or not. I am ok with this. I don’t have to have all of the answers right away – I have an entire childhood and adolescence worth of learning to do, but I am confident I can do it and emerge one day as functional. I may be 104 yrs old by that time, but I am happy to think of it as learning, instead of my burden. I love learning and will do well by reframing this.



7 thoughts on “PTSD suffering is invisible. I am not invisible.

  1. I love the way you analyze and reframe the insanity so it makes sense. I never thought about PTSD being invisible while I’m visible. Go you!

    • Thanks. Trying to make PTSD just a part of my life, not something controlling my life. I’m learning my own reactions and starting to figure out the reactions of others. Trying to approach the world with curiosity rather than fear.

  2. You and I are so alike, I learn from you in very important ways. I wonder, do you realize how important your journey is to some of us who come here to read. Yes, some of us have walked the path before you, have figured out triggers and responses. But even while we may have figured them out, you are doing amazing things, I know I celebrate with you but also learn.

    Thank you for being so willing to put yourself out here.

    • I am honored to read this from a brilliant and strong women like you. It gives me strength to think my words are helpful, that my path helps me grow and others learn as well.

  3. The most articulate discussion of the dilemma, both internal and external, and the absolute importance of not hiding, but including the people closest to us. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Reblogged this on Living is Not Mental Illness and commented:
    This post is so articulate and dead-on about the challenge of embracing the ways mental scars flare, and how to integrate the awareness in the larger canvas of our lives–the world where people who love us dwell–that I simply encourage you to read it, and share it.

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