PTSD has changed how I feel and act emotionally. The effects of the traumatic events I sufferred cause symptoms I have discussed in previous blogs such as withdrawal and subsequently isolation. Most of these symptoms are due to constant re-experiencing of traumatic events which cause the sufferer to want to avoid reminders of the trauma. This is because it causes increased anxiety and hyperarousal. This may also include flashbacks, feeling like your suddenly back in that place, in my case seeing the horrific aftermath of blasts and gunshot wounds. Mutilated corpses both young and old of varying nationalities, mangled or missing limbs.
On a completely different course the other traumatic experience relating to my PTSD diagnosis caused the same sort of symptoms. The trauma of sexual abuse, the smell or feel of the man at such a young age as I was, touching me in places I should never have to experience as well as making me touch him. This trauma which I tried to surpress for years was reawakened following counselling for combat PTSD. I guess the fear I felt in Afghanistan triggered a similar feeling I had as a child. The constant worry that something bad was going to happen and I would have to carry out some awful intervention like waiting for the radio or alarm to go off for a job, trying to stop a wound from bleeding, putting a hole in a child’s ribcage and putting my finger in to try to re-inflate their lungs. Being under fire and having to shoot my weapon in anger, having to sit next to a man while he touches you in your ‘privates’….its all the same feelings but for very different reasons.
So I received a phone call from the detective dealing with my child abuse case tonight. Having been on leave last week she only found out about my abusers death today. She was as shocked as me but also worried that I hadn’t received the closure I needed. She informed me the crime had been put to his name but the case was now closed. You know the feeling when your planning to go to watch a massive fireworks display and your all excited for the spectacle to start (except not for me anymore). Your all stood there in anticipation, someone starts to light them and then pfft – what a let down!! The rain starts, no big bangs, just a slight fizzle as they go pop. Well that’s how I felt after the phone call. I knew last week it wouldn’t go any further but having heard it tonight “CASE CLOSED” was a touch of reality.
I have now decided it’s time to try to let it go. I’ve received the closure I needed but it feels like a bit of an anti-climax. It’s all I’m going to receive so I either shape up and move forward or I fall backwards. The second option is an absolutely no go so I guess it’s time to crack on.
Due to my experiences I have always struggled to source and maintain relationships of any kind. I have had a couple of relationships where I have been completely closed, emotionally shut down only allowing them to see what I wanted them to see. Those relationships soon fizzled out. I then let only 1 person in 100% but I got scared. We then got back together a couple more times but I scuttled back into my own little world, running away from the best thing to happen to me. I have tried another couple of relationships but my ex fiancè left me when I shut down. I shared so much but it was thrown back in my face in the worst possible way. I retreated to my pit, lifting my head a couple of times but not daring to pop out; worrying I may meet someone new, daring to allow them to chisel away at my wall only to suddenly emotionally switch off subconsciously and without warning. How can I put someone else through that? How can I expect someone else to understand that all will probably be great until we become intimate, then as if someone has flicked a switch in my mind I switch off. Then gradually I back off until the relationship no longer works.
I need to try to break this curse on my subconscious mind. Both these traumatic events caused, and in some cases still cause anger and irritability, guilt or self-blame, depression and hopelessness, suicidal thoughts and feelings, feeling alienated and alone, and not forgetting the physical aches and pains that come along with all that. Avoidance and withdrawal are two of the major symptoms of PTSD I suffer with. I find it easier to shut myself away rather than risk putting myself out there. Sadly this leads to a loss of ability to be around people. I feel a detachment from others, like an emotional numbness. To get through this and try to drag back some form of living, socialising and meeting someone who is patient enough to be with me, hope needs to be a necessity. To be fair it’s the only thing I have left. I don’t want to be defined by my illness. I no longer want to hide behind my wall. I want to meet someone who can find my inner emotional switch and repair the faulty switch…..