PTSD?!?

I’m about six weeks into the right dosage of Pr0z@c, and things are leveled way, way out with my depression. Anxiety, though, that’s still a thing. In fact, I have to stop my brain from spinning itself into a tizzy with fear of ever falling into that deep a depression again. My main symptoms are panicky moments during the day, and some serious sleep disruption due to hypervigilance.

I saw my psychiatrist on Monday, and he asked if I’ve struggled with sleep all my life, if there were things when I was young that might have contributed. I was thoughtful – believe it or not, I just never considered how my childhood might have contributed to my sleep issues. I’ve always figured I’m just a light sleeper. After some questioning from my psych, though, I’m realizing that I developed that as a child, when I would wake up and hear my parents arguing, or when I’d be at some gathering with lots of people around, and didn’t feel safe. An uncle molested me on two occasions while I was sleeping, and I woke to his groping. When I was raped, it was out of a sleep. I slept lightly so I could be awake quickly, and ready to deal. When I listened to my parents argue, I would lie in that liminal space of not wanting to hear them and wanting to know what was going on so I could maybe fix it. Honestly, it was just a small bit of my convo with the psych, but it’s the piece I’ve been thinking most about. He left it at, “You may just be wired for hypervigilance due to your childhood. We’ll work on it with medication and therapy, but there may always be a part of your brain wired to be alert.”

The past few days, I’ve been thinking about this hypervigilance and how it sits in my body. How it sits in my mind, ready to be triggered into defense by any ambiguous experience. It’s insidious, pervasive in my waking life too. I’m constantly waiting to be attacked. If I hear my name – or even THINK I hear my name – in a conversation, I become convinced it’s people who are somehow displeased with me. I examine every action around me to judge whether or not there is a threat to my physical or emotional health. Often I act preemptively defensive. I’ve gotten better at hiding this as I’ve gotten older, but the response is still there. And it’s not just emotional. The muscles in my ears tense, as if in response to some primitive and long-since evolved ability to move my ears to hear better. I get a kicked in the gut feeling. My hands shake. I’ve always known I over-react to things, but I never thought about why or that it might be reasonable.

What the ever-loving fuck??

First of all, how did I miss such a big thing? This has impacted nearly every relationship I’ve ever had, at least the ones that mattered. It has ENDED some of them. And the whole time, I’ve assumed it to be some character flaw, some kind of self-inflicted pain, something that just happened because I was defective or lazy or incompetent somehow. I’ve always carried something of the first sentence I ever said to a therapist, “I’m here because I’m a bitch.” What I meant was, I’m here because people think I’m too intense and because I overreact to things. I’m here because when those things are happening, I’m really terrible at not showing it, and it looks a lot like anger.

My therapist today said that maybe I have some PTSD. I immediately rejected that. I told her, “Other people have had experiences that were much worse than mine. I think of people who’ve been to war when I think of PTSD.” She said, “With PTSD, there’s a relationship between your biology and the events you’ve had.” I was still trying to wrap my head around it, because my symptoms just didn’t jive with what I was thinking of with PTSD. And after a little research, I can see why. I have a strong level of hyperarousal, but that’s about it. I don’t have the flashbacks, and while I do have some pretty gnarly hypnogogic hallucinations, I don’t really have excessively bad dreams. Still, those hallucinations, that sense of something lingering? That’s sort of a hypervigilant/hyperarousal thing too. When I followed the link to read about hyperarousal, THAT’S when I had the dumbstruck moment I’m sharing with you, because it fit to a t, and I can’t believe I haven’t explored it more. I’m usually too busy trying to explain how I’ve already dealt with all my childhood shit. Rosemary says it comes back, kind of spiral-like. Argh. Can’t I just be done??

The good news is that, as I said at the beginning of this post, the depression is SO much better. Now that I’m sort of out of the hole, I can’t even believe how deep I was in it. I’m still working on it, and I’ve even gone so far as to get the lightbox I’ve been so skeptical of. I have it on every day I’m at work, for the whole day. Do the vitamin D too. So hopefully, adding something to help with sleep (traz0d0ne, which is also an anti-depressant), will help with the anxiety piece.

And how’ve YOU been?

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