25 October 2009

Which way, sir?

I know that a support network is essential-- you probably do too, because every decent article explaining what PTSD is recommends that you have a good support network. What makes a support network a good one? I find some comfort in knowing that however messed up my emotions and thoughts get, there are others in the world dealing with the same thing. It's a reminder that it's not my fault, I didn't choose this, it's not just me.

There is, however, a line that I am hesitant to cross. Who do I trust to tell, when I'm at school all day, that I just need to get outside for a few minutes because the constant noise and crush of people are getting to me? Is it that guy I see in the hallway-- that guy that I know is a veteran, who's probably seen far more action than me, and who probably has PTSD at least as bad as me-- do I tell him? Do I expect him to-- what, exactly? Understand? Help? Save me? Tell me a story? Get me a cookie and some milk?

I'm trying to move past the past, not replay it. I'm trying to move on, dammit.

Maybe it's just that I don't want to trust someone else with my weaknesses and issues. I don't want to bother them, I don't want them to think they have to treat me differently, I don't want them to consider me based on that... I want to be considered for who and what I am, but who and what I am can be a little scary at times, and certainly hard to explain at other times.

I want to be past this, but I don't have a definition or a frame of reference to know when that is. I know how (usually) to deal with the PTSD, but I don't know if or when or how to stop "dealing with the PTSD". What is healed? When does the road end, and when do you find yourself merged onto the highway you're supposed to be on?

I wasn't issued a roadmap, compass, or GPS that tells me any of these things.

(Side note: I'm waiting for word on being accepted, or not, at a major university. One could argue that such acceptance would be proof that I've improvised, adapted, and overcome-- so I'm quite stressed about the word that comes down. Acceptance means that everything I've done has been the right thing. Denial means I have to scrounge, scrape, and fight a little harder for a while. Lots riding on this.)


  1. Hi there-- I followed your comment on my blog over to your blog here. You're right, your experiences as a veteran with PTSD seem quite similar to my experiences as a survivor of sexual assault. I've met a few vets here on campus, as they are also part of the organization for PTSD support we have here (DartHeart, which is intended for college students and is starting to spread through different college campuses).

    I honestly don't know what to tell you about what being healed from PTSD means either, but it's certainly a question I've thought about. I'm certainly not 100% healed-- I still get triggered, and I have episodes of depression or anxiety and I do think about what happened a lot. On the other hand, I've returned to school to finish my degree, and I started my blog to try to bring awareness to the issue because I really want to *do* something with my experiences.

    I'm not sure survivors with PTSD ever fully heal from their experiences. I like the imagery you brought up when you mentioned merging onto the highway you're supposed to be on. I think that's what happens; we eventually return to the highway everyone else is on, but maybe we get our own lane. It's definitely a lane where we don't have to pull over to the shoulder if our car breaks down, because even if we stop right in the middle of the lane, someone also in our lane will help us along until we can get our own car moving again.

    I really like your analogy. Would you mind if I wrote an entry about this on my own blog? I can link to this entry here if you like, or I can keep you anonymous.

    PS- Good luck with your college application! Hope everything goes well.

  2. I wouldn't mind a bit; a link back here would be most appreciated.

    Thanks for the well wishes and kind words. I think the application will go all right, but it's the waiting that's tough. Many things on hold waiting for the answer.


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