I have been away. A long time. I came back tonight to Sins of the Eldest Daughter because some of my words came back to surprise me in the form of a poem I thought someone else had written. But I wrote it. I wrote it while I was healing. I wrote it as I was ripping apart. I didn't realize I could write like that-- still write like that-- I've been so focused on being head down and in the work. A long time.
Healing is time and energy intensive. Healing is tedious. Healing is terrifying. Healing is an eclipse of life as we once knew it. Anyone who's had a body part broken or torn or cut into knows what I mean. Psyches are no different. And because healing is terrifying and tedious and time consuming, I have not been writing-- not on this blog nor The Movie Lovers blog-- because I have been healing; I said that already; I'd like to be done saying that. And so I came to full-military-brass attention when I clicked on Sins of the Eldest Daughter and found healing waiting for me here. I thought I came to create a new post, but instead I found a post already written. And waiting. A post written today. Exactly one year ago today, I typed up a quick moment-to-moment experience of life as I have known it and left it here. Sometimes healing is a surprise.
Here's what I had to say.
PTSD is a funny thing. And by funny I mean fucked up in the most inexplicable Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-the-Terminator way. If you've never hit the deck in the middle of a sunny day for no damn reason anyone else can discern, then you'll never understand this brain disease. But I'm going to try and explain it anyway.
Listen to the song linked to the title, Everybody Out of the Water:
There’s too many bodies
There’s not enough room
God help me
And God help you...
That you hear
Ringing in your ears.
The bombs that the burst in my brain aren't real and neither are the bodies, not in the way the bombs and bodies of a soldier's flashback are. I didn't see people blown into their constituent bits. All the bodies, all the parts, are mine. All explosions are mine. All bone shattering is mine. I am the ball in play and the machine. I am the bells and whistles. I am the flippers, the lights, and the wizard, and the game doesn't end until the ball falls into the drain, but the whole aim of my wizard brain's game is to keep the ball in play. It may take just seconds, but believe me when I tell you, it is endless.
But you won't know that. Why?
Because you won't see me dive for cover, not on a sunny day nor any other. You won't see me disappear, though I do, right in plain sight. You might hear me make an excuse, something plausible. You might notice I'm not around as much as I used to be. What you don't know, what you won't see, what only a rare few have witnessed and then only on the occasion I chose to let them in, is me: talking talking talking to myself alone, a Gollum who scrabbles and scuttles across the floor; me clutching a bombed out rag of a monkey, trembling and rocking like a child, even though I'm not; screaming, you won't hear me scream. Like a child, I have pillows. And because I have pillows and a stereo and a brain that works well enough to understand consequences, my neighbors don't hear me scream either. I tell the doctor it is the Edvard Munch of screams, which is appropriate. To scream on paper or canvas is to scream silently. Sometimes the sound becomes, well, sound. Loud. Vesuvian. And while I can't control when that happens, I've learned to read the signs. Like a seizure, these screams have a kind of aura, a brief period of time-- a feeling, a fullness, a Jack-becoming-the-Giant moment-- that directly precedes them. I have time to shove something in my mouth before the sound erupts-- it's over in seconds. As with anything that shatters, the clean up takes a bit longer. You might see that, even though I know how to cover well. We all know how to take cover.
For me, a PTSD event, with or without the fireworks of a siren scream, is not much different than a marathon or a stroke. It's an event. It leaves me spent and disconnected, mind and body in a slag heap. Now tightly pack that sound and fury into a parachute, and cram that parachute silk into the space of a skull so small that no matter how hard you pull the ripcord the rescue never inflates. This is your brain on PTSD.
And then there's the rest of my life: the tedium after the terror.... Soldiers call it the hump. The hump is the day to day after day after day business of marching on a mission. The mission is life. Legs are moving, lungs are breathing, eyes are scanning the ground the horizon the ground the trees the horizon the ground, as minutes and months pass by. The mouth takes in food, the bowels excrete waste, and in between the two, the heart pumps blood. The hump is the set point for everyday. The hump is the set point for my not-healthy-but-not-sick PTSD brain, the brain formed in childhood, the only brain I get. The hump is not the same as living. It is the business of maintaining life. It is the respirator. The feeding tube.
"We're wasting our time."
"Sorry guys. She's just grown more and more disconnected from reality as time goes on."
But I am built to live at high amplitude.
That's where it stops, this post, written a year ago and left to wait; dangling from the concept of high amplitude, hanging as a live wire just above the pool, reminding me that what breaks me also makes me. So.
I'm here. I'm awake. And what I know is this. What I am and who I seem to be look different only if you've missed the arc of the story. With PTSD punctuating my days, I lose the arc of the story-- my story-- over and over. Look back, though, and there it is. February 2010: Been Crazy, Bought the T-shirt, Making Copies to Sell. That's where I come out as bipolar. Then there's July 2013, the only post for the entire year: Freedom Letter. That's the place where I come out as someone who's not bipolar at all, just a woman living in a most inexplicable Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-the-Terminator movie in which that thing the doctor calls Complex PTSD is yet to be fully studied and understood. Oh.
I'm not crazy. I'm awake. I'm stretching my wings and waiting for my superpowers to kick in. And the badass theme song. Everybody out of the water.
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