I am no doctor or a therapist to comment on PTSD, but I want to share my own experience. I had never heard this term until a few years ago when I went through a trauma and suffered PTSD. It may not be a big trauma for the people around me, but it was definitely a huge one for me.
When we hear the word trauma, we often imagine events like the sudden death of a loved one, a car or a plane crash or something huge. But can we really narrow down the definition of trauma? In my opinion, we cannot. Each individual is differently wired, and so the effects of any traumatic event can be different for each one.
I suffered trauma a few years ago, and it took me almost an entire year to get back to a comparatively normal life. It’s been almost two years now. I feel like those memories are stored in a very different part of the brain. I am still healing, like my therapist says, “Healing is not linear.” Those memories often set me off on a scary loop and shivers crawl up my spine at the mere thought of those memories. Sometimes, it feels like it was a bad dream, and I woke up. I get scared that I will see that dream again, and I may not be able to wake up again.
My trauma was not just another heartbreak; it was terrifying. Each second was torture. I could not breathe; I could not speak or sleep. I went into hyper-vigilance. I lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment. I used to wake up screaming in the middle of the night. The lights in my house were always on. I was scared of each and every person around me. Whenever I saw two or more people talking and laughing, I thought they were plotting against me. I thought I won’t be normal ever again. I was unable to bear any noise around me.
I have no idea how I worked. I remember I was working on two big assignments and I pulled them through with flying colors in spite of these episodes. I gradually healed by the end of the year, there were no episodes by then.
I started experiencing anxiety and flashbacks, followed by difficulty in breathing the following year around the same time. I was regular on medicines, and I had moved on. But I could not focus. I felt like I was falling apart, and everything was happening again as a result of which, I put myself in danger again in July. These were ‘Anniversary Reactions’: on or around the anniversary of a traumatic event, the survivor may experience an increase in distressing memories of the event. I cried for help, but I had no one because all of them chose to keep away from me because of my illness. My only support was my therapist who lives in India. Long-distance therapy definitely helps, but my therapist was a friend to me as well.
It is a new year, and I am a completely different person now. I am hoping I will not have an anniversary reaction this year because that person does not exist for me now, and I’m out of that toxic environment.
So the next time if you see someone suffering or withdrawing from normal day-to-day activities, please do not leave them to rot. Because you might not be responsible for their condition, but you definitely fail as a human being and are a part of their deterioration. And no matter how much time you spend planting trees or doing social work, it does no good when you choose not to help or hold the hands of people falling around you.
And for those who are suffering even the slightest bit of it, I assure you that you will pass through it even if you are alone. Please seek professional help or find your person following the ‘One for each’ technique. Trust me, it really helps. I am always available for anyone in need; you can contact me.