The long-term effects of PTSD

It’s been almost a month since I was hit by the car. But the effects of it are going to be a part of my psyche for a long time to come.

One of the many things I am working out with my therapist is trying to find the meaning in all of this.

That is NOT saying, “everything happens for a reason.” Because that’s bullshit. She is trying to say, “find YOUR reason.” An experience, any experience, is never meaningless.

Experiences teach us. Good or bad. Success or failure. Experiences provide information we didn’t have before.

This was a bad experience. Clearly.

What did I learn? What meaning am I finding from this experience?

I still can’t answer or process those questions.

Four weeks later, I am still struggling with my trauma responses. I am able to leave the house, finally. With the help from my therapy tools, I am finally able to cross the street (any street, but THAT street is the hardest). I can be out and about.

But I still can’t go outside if it is dark out. Nothing I have tried to do has managed to break through the fear that is going out when I might not be seen and bad things might happen to me.

I feel dumb, a lot, when I look at these fears and both see and KNOW how they are responses to the trauma I experienced and I’m reacting quite normally.

I experience frustration during those moments. Anger with myself. And anger with the person who did this to me.

That’s normal. And I know that processing these thoughts and emotions lead me away from anger and frustration. I begin to feel relief. And pride. Acceptance.

Until those emotions pass. And then they’re gone.

I know that there are always risks to anything I do. Things could happen anytime, anywhere. Risk exists.

I consider those risks every time I do something. Sometimes consciously, and sometimes not. But there are always considerations. The more the potential for risk, the more safety precautions I take.

But I followed the rules that day. I did everything right.

I’ve crossed that street nearly every day for the past nine years. I am not doing the math that tells me how many times I’ve crossed that street. But, in all those times, I’ve only been hit once.

Knowing this was the result of a single mistake helps a lot sometimes. I know that, for the most part, people follow the rules.

And yet, my cost/benefit scale has changed.

I feel like I lost my strength. The strength that I got when I traveled to India by myself for three months. The strength I got when I left my job at Tufts to take my new job (that, may I remind you, I only managed to be at for TWO FUCKING DAYS before the trauma from this accident forced me into medical leave).

Healing from this kind of trauma isn’t something I’ll succeed at on my first try.

I know that. I’ve experienced PTSD in the past. I know this is not easy.

I have to accept that.

I have to see this as me trying. At me learning something every time I try, and fail. And, I know that I will do that. I know that I will try. I will fail. I will learn. I will try again. I might succeed or fail again. All of those will teach me new things that help me the next time I try.

This process is going to take a long time, I don’t want to accept that. I want to say, “I’m strong. I am successful. I am healed.”

I want to say, “this is over.”

But, I can already tell you, it never will be.

I just have to keep trying.

Trying is hard.

Here. I will leave you with a picture of my newest plants. Cacti know what hard is like. They learned how to adapt. Maybe that’s why, when I saw these, I immediately felt a connection to them.

Or maybe I just thought, PRETTY! And I am just making shit up to excuse why I bought more plants.

I don’t know. All I can say is, I saw them and knew… Mine.

So smile. Enjoy my new cacti. Cause they are what has been making me smile on days I don’t want to smile.

Published by loribarett

Coffee addicted charismatic geek with a penchant for tattoos, books, and listening to people tell their stories.

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