Learn Your Crew - A PTSD Story {TW}

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

Happy Monday!!! We made it another week and that's a blessing for sure. With all of the deadly tornados through our country over the weekend, my little empath heart is hurting but, I all weekend long I've been on super high anxiety thinking about the upcoming weeks, I'm a mess from Christmas through February every single year and here's why.


*** TRIGGER WARNING, THE BELOW EXPLAINS IN DETAIL A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH GUN VIOLENCE/WITNESS ACCOUNT OF MURDER ***


Almost two decades ago, I witnessed the murder of a friend. A victim of unnecessary gun violence in downtown Baltimore, you never think something that crazy will happen to you, especially at 18 years old. If I could best describe the situation, it would be raw, guttural, uncontrollable emotional chaos. I'll never forget thinking it was balloons popping, being oblivious to what was happening for all of MAYBE 3 seconds before everyone around kind of forced me to get down, when I stood up, I locked eyes with my then boyfriend and saw him sobbing and knew something was REALLY REALLY wrong, he didn't cry let alone sob, let alone IN PUBLIC. I remember the night in spurts, I don't remember running over to them but, I must have because I can't transport, I had our friend's blood on me before the night was over. I remember seeing the color literally drain from him as his soul left his body that night and I still will never forget collapsing in a dimly lit, narrow brick hallway in that club when that detective told me he "didn't make it" while he was trying to question me. I knew but, you always have hope until you don't anymore. I couldn't focus on anything he was saying to me until I heard what I already knew, I'm one of those. GIVE ME ALL THE HORRIBLE DETAILS NOW, never leave me to assume because I'll spiral and it will be the absolute worst-case scenario and you know, I never thought about it until this exact moment but, maybe that all started AFTER this and it's just my response NOW. PTSD affects your memory as well, I don't remember whole parts of my life anymore, it's scary sometimes.


I've had plenty of experiences that preverbally speaking brought me to my knees but, that one, that one right there LITERALLY brought me to my knees. This was the shit you see in TV shows, sometimes it STILL feels like a TV show that I remember that way to distance myself from the reality of the experience when the memory gets too heavy. It wasn't a TV show though, it was the reality of the cruel world we live in. It was, quite frankly and with great disgust, for NOTHING. The experience that changed so many lives in an instant, changed some of our brains due to the trauma of the situation and the years of survivor's guilt, happened for almost nothing.


After the funeral, I couldn't go back to his grave. Again, that's just my defense mechanism. I act like it doesn't exist, people, places, things, anything really. If it hurts enough, I cut it out, maybe to a fault. It took me until this past summer to go there and I nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to find it because I convinced myself that I was a HORRIBLE friend for not knowing where to find this grave that I blocked out of my memory just to get by for well over a decade, the AUDACITY of my ass. I don't know what I did to deserve the rad people I have in my life but, a dear friend really came to my rescue that day and found the location and text it to me and I was able to find it that way, I've been back a zillion times since and wish I would've spent more time there sooner. Now I'm rambling.... per the norm!


There are SO many people out there who know me and say I share WAY too much of my life and, hey, it IS MY life isn't it? I've learned over time that sharing the really ugly experiences in my life have helped at least one other person overcome something they are struggling with, and it also helps remind people that it's okay to be flawed and fucked up. Normal even. It's all about how we come out of it but, it's not easy for people who have had their brain transformed due to trauma. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the over activity of the parts of our brains that process fear, due to experiencing a traumatic event or series of traumatic events. I could be going about my day and hear a balloon pop and instantly spiral in my head, sometimes you'll be able to notice and other times I just seem like I'm being REALLY stand-off-Ish...it's not you it's me, lol! Even just loud unexpected sounds will do it. Fireworks have gotten to be tolerable without incident over the years but only when I'm expecting it, 4th of July, New Years, etc. but, living in Baltimore City isn't doing me any favors because these assholes like to shoot off fireworks randomly year-round. And FORGET trying to get people to understand who don't live it, "It's just fireworks, she was fine last year!" okay, well THIS MOMENT I'm trying not to hyperventilate so leave me the fuck alone, JUDGEY JUDGERSON. I just want everyone to please take two seconds out of EACH DAY to work on being a little more considerate of the needs of other people and educate yourselves on the mental health struggles of the people you love the most or claim to. It really makes a difference and gives you the ability to be compassionate and patient and understanding when you'd normally be like "WTF is wrong with her?!".


With New Year's Eve coming up, I just really urge people to keep people like me in mind. Don't change traditions for us, just be vigilant when someone you care for seems off and is in need of extra support. We have real reason to be "irrational" because the "what are the odds of that actually happening though?", ACTUALLY happened to us. I suffered with anxiety disorder for as far back as I can remember but, PTSD has also kicked that into overdrive, mixed with ADHD and abandonment issues, I'm a whole ass head case for real. It is what it is, my therapist is happy with me. I had a conversation recently with a close friend of mine about the topic of anxiety and we're going to link up on a topic I didn't even think about soon regarding anxiety and mental health but, that's a rambling sesh for a different day!


Here are some links to check out if you or someone you know suffers from PTSD, as well as some awesome ways to be the change and give back


I truly hope that this helps someone struggling with PTSD or struggling to understand someone WITH PTSD because we do also know that it's not easy for the people around us either but, we do appreciate the compassionate people of the world. If it's annoying for you, imagine living it, worst part is it isn't even something genetic or anything we asked for, it's already not a fun club to be in and you'd be surprised how many times I've heard "there's nothing wrong with her!" in my life and it makes me lose hope in humanity a little more each time I do, just kidding, kinda.

Anyway, learn your people and be patient when they need support. All that for that one point, you're welcome!


All my love and kindest regards this week,


Colleen

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