This will likely be a rambling post. It’s been gnawing on my brain for the past several months and is proving to be very stubborn.
For years, I’ve been searching for some advice, some morsel of insight, anything a person could offer about living with PTSD. There are so many articles and yet they all share the exact same non-wisdom. It’s frustrating to say the least.
Articles from supposed sufferers offer up tidbits that you’ve likely heard from every person with an ability to empathize even a tiny bit – though most of the advice is generally useless. Even the books on the subject offer nothing more than the free articles posted everywhere on the internet. I should know – I own all of the most highly rated and regarded books.
I should have known better, in all honesty. Self-help books are a joke and the ones on PTSD are not any better. If you want an academic understanding, the Dummies’ guide will give you that. If you want a practical guide on dealing with it, well, you’ll just have to keep a diary. I’m not kidding either. The best method I’ve found was keeping track of what seemed to work for me and writing it down so I could refer to it later.
It is incredibly patronizing for people writing articles and books to suggest things like “stay positive” and “talk to someone you trust”. Those who deal with a particularly stubborn case of PTSD or who just haven’t had much treatment yet know that positivity has nothing to do with what your symptoms choose to do and talking to your family can render them with a form of Secondary PTSD. Depending on a person’s emotions when they’ve been burdened with being your go-to person also proves challenging for recovery. If you have a fight with them, then what? If they leave your life, even on good terms, then what?
My struggle is in dealing with the change in perspective. The onset is so subtle that it always takes me a while to recognize it. It makes everything seem so much more hostile and aggressive than it was a week ago. I start feeling cornered by confrontational people and I avoid situations or even lash out. This makes whoever I felt was aggressive confused because they weren’t trying to be aggressive. It also leaves me feeling exposed and humiliated, not to mention out of my own control.
How do I deal with it? I try to remind myself that it isn’t real. I try to do reality checks to figure if the person actually was being aggressive or if they could have just been in a bad mood. I hesitate to say this works because of how difficult it is to function with this. My eyes are seeing the wrong thing and I have to use a cane to feel my way around, but the fact that I can see SOMETHING drowns out what my cane feels out in many cases. You can’t turn off your perception without some kind of drug. Not even meditation will do it.
I’ve been looking for a better way to do this because I’m not feeling any more confident or capable with my methods alone. People are eager to give me advice, seemingly unaware that their advice is almost always near-sighted, insensitive, or even downright dangerous. Prayer is a frequent piece of advice given by people who want to believe it actually helped them. There was a time in my life that I tried that to, somehow, quietly thinking about how much it would rock if you were cured doesn’t result in a cure. Similarly, talking about my feelings often results in me feeling a whole lot worse and another person feeling overwhelmed.
You got it.
To the point that I’m often uncomfortable.
As it happens, my PTSD just doesn’t want to go anywhere. I’ve tried just about every kind of therapy available short of electroshock therapy and MDMA-assisted therapy. I’ve also done group therapy and even charity work as a form of therapy. Nothing has even taken the edge off.
I wholly sympathize with people who use drugs to cope with this. I can see the appeal in it.
It’s frustrating because nothing I’ve tried has seemed to make a difference. I refuse to believe that I’m a weirdo who is stuck with worse PTSD than the whole planet. It’s not true. It can’t be true. Yet, there are so many of these stupid articles about stupid quick fixes that are supposed to work like magic.
Either the articles are full of delusional ideas that won’t work for most people or I’m defective somehow.
Intellectually, I know that I am not. I know that’s how snake oil vendors work. They offer something that sounds like it would reasonably work (as they pitch it) and when you say it doesn’t work, they can fall back on the argument that you did something wrong. You took the wrong dosage. You did it the wrong way. There are enough people who so desperately want it to work that they will believe it is working themselves. Intellectually, I know this could be happening. I still can’t help but feel like I’ve been left behind. If these people claim that they had PTSD symptoms that got better using these run-of-the-mill methods, then how come mine haven’t changed at all?
Life is a constant balancing act. When the people around you want you to get better and you just aren’t, they get frustrated. People eventually lose interest. It’s because of it that it often feels like I’m racing the clock. I have to find something that works before… I don’t know. People lose interest? I descend into the kind of madness that makes me pop on half of a white mask, take up organ playing, and stalking?
I don’t know how well any of these new treatments actually work, but you can bet that I will jump on that bandwagon the minute it gets close enough.