Thursday, February 18, 2010

PTSD and I

Written on Tuesday, Feb. 16th 2010

I lost a year of time, roughly. From that year, I can only recall a few memories and those are traumatic to different extremes. My mind has just blacked out the rest. I don’t know if I will ever get that year back. For a long time I didn’t want it back. How much has been repressed and how much has simply been bashed from my neurological system by the horrors…it’s difficult to say.

Sometimes, like on a night such as this one, I sit here and try to force myself to remember. I stare into the abyss for hours, afraid, and yet I hope something will return to me.

Why? Well, it’s been several years now and I don’t want to suffer from night terrors anymore. I don’t want to have my darkest memories come to me when I least expect them and leave me a shocked statue when they recede into those shadowed corridors of my mind.

Betsy Lerner (http://betsylerner.com/) encourages writers to get therapy. I believe that is a good thing. She’s a brave lady.

But I think there is a stigma attached to mental illness, no matter what some people say. I’ve certainly experienced it in my personal life. Betsy wrote about how the publishing industry views mental illness in her book, too. So maybe the smart thing for me to do is to say nothing.

Still, as I left therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) this afternoon, I decided to take start taking some big risks with my life. Nothing ever changes without risk. First of all, I just publicly admitted that I have a mental illness—PTSD.

Frankly, I’m tired of hiding such a huge part of what shaped me into the writer I am today. And I think, even if some agents—and later, some publishers—don’t want to take me on because I suffer from PTSD, then our professional relationship wasn’t meant to be.

When the time comes, I will keep fighting to get my work represented and published no matter how many more obstacles I am presented with. After all, I survived so much in life already, why would I let this stop me?

Another reason I kept quiet…my fear of my triggers. But I am going to have to face this too, if I want to get better. People are going to hit them—accidentally or on purpose--and I will be thrown back… I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I get there.

I suspect hiding the PTSD has contributed to me being unable to completely heal thus far. As with digging up the memories and speaking of them—a challenge of immense proportions—I think getting everything out there is my only choice. The truth is very freeing, I understand.

But, as I sit here and stare at that void, I wonder if the memories I still have will unsettle some things I shouldn’t. Some things I buried probably should not be disturbed, with good reason. I know the therapy sessions are going to nearly kill me, drain me. I suppose I am nervous because I am truly testing the limits of my strength. And no matter what happens, I can’t stop.

Now I ponder how my work will change if I manage to cure myself of PTSD. How will my voice be altered? Will it be a bad thing for my writing and a good thing for me? And is that what I want?

Since I actually ask myself the last question, I have a right to fear testing my strength. For how can I heal when part of me doubts? Maybe some messed up part of me wants to suffer and that’s why so much time has passed? They say people who suffer from PTSD do things like that…

Maybe I am so merged with my writing, so twisted that I would rather remain locked in a world of night terrors and flashbacks than risk letting my work slip even the slightest bit. Oh, I can see myself all right. But I wonder if I will be sabotaging this effort before I’ve begun. And what does that truly say about me?

To be the greatest at anything, you must be willing to sacrifice everything. After all I have endured to this point I am starting to think it might mean I can’t have peace as well. Then I think, that’s just the PTSD talking. I don’t know.

I do a lot of thinking and staring into the abyss of my mind.

Mel

“And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” ~~ Friedrich Nietzsche

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