Pushing through trauma. Trauma layered on more trauma. Decades of trauma.
Brain shuts down. Eerie quiet and an empty space inside where my thoughts should be. Ears ringing. Body feels heavy and difficult to move. Words come slowly, sticky in my mouth. Sometimes movement and speech is impossible. Days blur together. Conversations become difficult to follow. Confusion. Short term memory loss.
When disassociation is the only way to get through the day. There isn’t even enough energy left to panic. When stress is something that can’t be changed, when there is no solution, when the fear is overwhelming and I am helpless. Panic is scary, but there is motion there and emotion. The blank space is less human somehow.
It’s not a choice. It’s like a switch is flipped. My brain says “NO!” That’s enough, time to quiet down. Anxiety becomes a physical reaction rather than worries, feelings or thoughts.
I feel like a zombie. I’m walking around, doing day to day tasks. I know from experience though that I’m only part there. I know from experience that days or weeks from now my memory of this time will be divided into two extremes. Traumatic memories, seared into my brain for life…and blank space, nothing, no memories at all. Part of the day will be remembered for ever and part of it…it’s like it never even existed.
When stress levels are chronic and traumatic memories from the past are re-enacted in present life, new traumas in the present are linked in the brain to old traumas. They are no longer separate events. The brain stores them all together and confirms the facts as PTSD knows them:
“You are not safe”
“You can’t trust anyone”
“Nobody believes you”
This shifts along into another layer of faulty PTSD thinking:
“You are fat. Your body is disgusting. Your stomach is too big”
“Nobody likes you. You are bothering people with your existence”
“People think you are doing a bad job. People think you are not capable”
“You are letting everyone down”
“It’s all your fault”
In a way the thoughts and the blank space are flashbacks. They are here, in the present moment, and they are flashbacks to times similar to this one. The past and the present are linked in PTSD. Like invasive vines taking over the brick wall of me.
I can’t cry. I have to feel safe to cry. There are no tears in the blank space.
I shrink away from being touched. I jump and startle.
What I want most is to be held. To be comforted. To be kept safe.
What I can’t do is let anyone close enough to do this. The blank space is so large, the buzzing is so loud.