It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve written on any of the books I’m currently working on. In fact, these words are the first I’ve written since June 25th.
One of the things I struggle with most in my little corner of public life is the balance between being authentic and being too much for most people. I know from past experience, most people do not know how to handle my disabilities and mental illnesses, so I hide the symptoms of them, most of the time. Today I want to talk about one of my mental illnesses and the symptoms that go along with it.
I haven’t been able to write in weeks because my neighbors started popping fireworks two weeks before the 4th of July and didn’t stop until two days ago. I have C-PTSD, and while I didn’t develop it from the sound of gunfire or war around me like a lot of veterans do, that doesn’t mean I’m not affected by loud noises.
C-PTSD is a more severe form of PTSD. Most people with PTSD have one or two traumatic experiences that caused their diagnosis and symptoms. The therapist that diagnosed me after years and years of misdiagnoses estimated I have over one hundred. Living with C-PTSD means I am always on edge, always waiting for the next thing to happen. Mine developed before I was a year old, so for me, there is no before and after. I have no memory other than living this way.
I’m not writing this for sympathy, so please save your “I’m sorry’s”. I don’t need them. I’ll be okay and I know that. Why am I writing this? Because I’m so tired of hiding these symptoms. If I lose fans then so be it.
I knew this trigger was coming. It happens twice a year, around the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve. Where I live fireworks are legal, so people start setting them off weeks in advance. So instead of dealing with them for a couple of days, I can have to deal with them for up to a month. It’ll pass, but it’s hell on earth until it does.
What’s it like? Every time I hear fireworks, I jump from the sound, adrenaline shoots through my body and my brain starts playing back images of my life. I lose track of time and my current location. Sometimes I lose track of my age too. This isn’t just a symptom when I hear fireworks, it is one of my most common symptoms of C-PTSD and something I experience quite frequently. Fireworks are just the trigger I’ve chosen as they are fresh in my mind. Triggers don’t have to be a sound. They can be a word, a feeling, a smell, a location or even just a feeling.
Even after the initial trigger is gone, the symptoms take several days to completely fade. Every time I’m triggered again, the cycle continues. Over and over until I have a trigger free day, when I finally get a reprieve.
Years of therapy have taught me how to pull myself out of that state of mind, but when the trigger doesn’t end for weeks it can cause me to bounce around like a ping pong ball. One minute I’m okay, the next I’m not.
I’ve been struggling to put together this blog for about a week. Every time I started to write it my anger would take over because I was still triggered and that was not the kind of blog I wanted to present. I want to be honest about my symptoms, and anger is a big one when I’m in a triggered state, but I don’t want that to bleed over into my writing. So while I will mention it is a symptom, I will also do my best to keep it from coming out publicly.
So that’s why I haven’t been able to write lately. That’s the reality of my life right now.
This is me being authentic with all of you.
Life is hard, but we get back up and we keep going. Giving up is not an option.