“That’s Just My Life”

Time for a brief life update. As I’ve mentioned previously, the second half of this year my subthreshold PTSD hasn’t been giving me a hard time. In addition, the “Me too” movement doesn’t seem to be negatively affecting my mental health much and nothing has really changed since I “came out” as a survivor on Facebook — which is a good thing. I wanted to just acknowledge it and move on.

So I did go about six months without having a moderate-severe “PTSD” episode, but I’ve still had a handful of them in the last few months:

My first disruptive episode in six months happened in November. Earlier in the day, I realized that I was anxious for no good reason. I was having a really good day and was feeling well-prepared for the three exams I would have the next week. My guess was that the stress from this crazy semester was catching up with me. I was getting close to burning out, and the self-care I was doing just wasn’t enough. I called A (my boyfriend) to kind of vent and make plans to relax with him this weekend. An hour later he calls me again and says “You’re getting a massage.” He seriously scheduled a 90 minute professional massage. And also bought me fancy chocolate. I think I’ll keep him.

So now that we have the background out of the way, here’s what happened with the episode. I went out to my car late in the evening to move it. Very suddenly, I was back in 2012 — the night that I was sexually assaulted by P. I felt the fear and betrayal as vividly as I did that night. I froze in my tracks. Soon I forced myself to get into my car where I cried it out and waited for the episode to subside. It wouldn’t respond at first even when I reminded myself that it was five years ago. I think stress made me susceptible. There was nothing that should’ve triggered me. I’m not really sure what caused it.

Another time I was triggered recently was when I was napping and my friend touched the side of my ribs to wake me up. She’d forgotten momentarily that getting touched there sets me off. She has some PTSD symptoms herself, so she was great at handling it. She wanted to bring me to a quiet place to unwind — a good idea, but I couldn’t move. So she just sat next to me and rubbed my feet while I wrapped my arms around her. I was fine in a matter of minutes.

A few weeks later, a patient reached up and bumped me really close to my breasts during an appointment. I literally had no reaction. I love it when that happens!

Then, last weekend, I went to a blues dancing party. Overall, it was a fantastic night. The only issue is that people were touching the side of my ribs more than usual as we were dancing. And a dance-friend of mine discovered that my waist is ticklish. He kept on aiming too high when trying to poke-tickle me. I wasn’t comfortable enough at the time to tell him why it’s not a good idea to touch me there. I just tried to act normal and he seemed not to catch on.

And finally, I got triggered earlier today. I get triggered a bit almost every time I have a dental appointment. Ironically, I’m starting to have some mild dental phobia about that. Go figure: a dental hygiene student with dental phobia. My classmate was cleaning my teeth and accidentally bumped my chest. I didn’t see it coming, so I got super anxious. I had to stop the appointment for a couple minutes as I tried to breathe deeply and calm down. A few minutes later, I was me again. It’s so lucky that I bounce back so quickly these days. My classmate know that I have PTSD symptoms, but he still felt pretty bad for causing me to have an episode. “It’s okay,” I said. “That’s just my life.” Maybe I’m just feeling this way because things are going so well lately, but I think I’m starting to accept PTSD as my new normal. It’s obnoxious, but I can handle an episode every now and then.

Well… apologies that this probably isn’t all that interesting of a post. I just like chronicling my progress. If you made it this far, thanks for caring. 😉 I hope I’ll continue to have more boring news. When it comes to this blog, boring is a good thing!

If you’d like to read my backstory, click here.

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