The more amorphous the symptom, the more frightening I found it. The
worst, though, was the detachment I felt toward the people closest to
me. When I wasn't having a symptom of some sort, I felt numb -- it wasn't
just that I had a hard time feeling love and happiness, I also couldn't
feel anger or sadness. I was just there.
I found myself wishing that I were still covered in bruises the way I
was when I first left the hospital (from the multiple injections, IVs,
etc. that had to be put in pretty roughly because of my edema). When I
looked hurt, at least, it was obvious that I was hurt. But without physical signs of a trauma I just looked like me, even though I felt more damaged than ever.
There's no real cure for PTSD, though there are various kinds of treatment. The only one that worked for me was time.
It's been about a year and a half since Layla's birth; my PTSD, while
still there, has gotten manageable. I have nightmares and don't sleep
through the night very often, but the flashbacks and panic attacks have
mostly stopped. I also get the occasional intrusive awful thought, but
unlike before when I fully believed the horror was real, now I have a
parallel line of thinking that reminds me of the truth.
My relationships remain strained -- I've neglected friendships, those
close to me have struggled with how best to help, and some simply can't
understand why I can't get over it already. But I've also met people
with similar problems, people who understand and have made the numbing
solitude of not trusting your own mind a little less lonely. I'm
grateful for that.
I know now that the core of my trauma was the realization that life
is out of my control. Life is unpredictable, scary, and sometimes tragic.
Believing anything else is a false comfort. But I actually find solace
in letting go. It lets me see the world more clearly, value my
relationships more deeply and love the people around me more fully. In a
way, experiencing my mind responding to trauma -- though scary and core
shaking -- was freeing.
When I was a kid, maybe nine or 10 years old, my father pulled me
aside during a family vacation to talk about swimming safety before I
got in the ocean. He told me not to ever fight a strong current. You get
too tired swimming against it and that's how people drown -- better to
swim with the current toward shore, he said, no matter how far down the
beach you end up from where you started.
I'm still swimming -- but I'm not drowning. And though I know once I
hit shore I'll be pretty far away from where I'm started, I feel OK about that. I'm not the same person I was before and I don't think, if
given a choice, I would want to be.