An Open Letter to PTSD

It has been a while since I last posted an Open Letter post. The truth is, they take a huge amount of energy to write. That being said they are some of my favourite posts to write. I find it mostly therapeutic but I also know how many people they have the potential to help.

SO, next up in the firing line is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, more commonly known as PTSD. I used to think that only soldiers returning from the army could get it, or at least, that is where I first heard the term. However, as a result of my childhood experiences (read about that here) even today, somewhat five years later since the last event, I am reminded of it nearly every day. Here is my letter to PTSD.

PTSD,

You are a funny one aren’t you, you’re always there, ever present, but at the same time perhaps the least of my broken brain worries. It’s weird, sometimes I even forget you exist. There I am feeling unbreakable, like no one can ever stop me. Then, out of no where there you are. Like a bulldozer to an old building. Out of no where, you bring me [no, tear me, unwillingly] back down to the ground.

I think shouting or sometimes even raised voices are the worst. I remember, at 16 years old, every night I used to sit at the top of our stairs [just hidden enough out of the way], with my make shift bed of a pillow and blanket, listening. Just listening. Every word, every slam, every crash. I wouldn’t sleep until he did. Often, I would leave my ‘camp’ and run down stairs and try to diffuse the situation. I felt fearless, I was never scared, no words, actions or threats scared me. It was like a rush of adrenaline seared through my veins and I was ready for action. I was always on edge too, if there was no shouting it felt wrong.

Today

However, now, I get that same feeling. Even though I am safe now, any kind of raised voices or cross words gives me that same adrenaline rush through my body and I feel like I need to protect myself. That’s when I realise, I know longer need to be like that. That’s when my heart fills with sadness and my eyes with tears. PTSD, that’s you that does this to me.

I think my next ‘stressor’ as I like to call it [is that even an official word] is alcohol. Specifically drunk men, or red wine. Red wine is the worst. Of course, in a rational mind I understand that not every man who drinks red wine is a mean one. But that doesn’t stop how it makes me feel. If I was a cat, in this situation every heckle on my body would be standing on end. I have to buckle up all of my anger towards red wine and force it to stay in.

The smell is the worst. I remember two things very vividly in my head. The first was during-traumatic event, the other many months after.

The Triggers

The first, was just after I had phoned the police on my Dad. He, as per usual was drunk out of his mind on red wine. Somehow he had found out what I had done, the panic went through his eyes like a deer caught in headlights. Yet, instead of accepting his faults he did one thing that I will never forget. He got right in my face, put his hands tightly around my neck and looked me straight in eye. His words?

‘I’m going to fucking kill you’.

I think he was trying to intimidate me by doing that, but it just made me more angry. Fuelled by the fire ignited inside me, I spat back at him through gritted, hatred teeth, ‘GO. ON. THEN.’ Thinking about it now doesn’t really bother me, but the smell? Red wine, every time I smell it now, I remember that exact situation. The smell of his breath as he told his own daughter he was going to kill her.

Unexpected reactions

The second, not long after we got away from him we were at my Grandparents house. I think it might have been Christmas time. My Mums now husband, was drinking red wine. CUE: Tightening my emotional buckle around all emotions related to red wine. He was a bit tipsy, but I was coping. Until, someone accidentally knocked the whole bottle flying. Red wine everywhere. It was like an explosion went off in my brain. I could no longer contain my hatred for wine. I shouted, screamed and burst into tears. PTSD, that’s you that does this to me.

I have many other stressors, but the last one I am going to talk about is sirens and police officers. I had never had many [if any] dealings with the police growing up. My first, when they came to arrest my Dad for being an all-round prize dick. I don’t really remember feeling anything that day. It was all a bit of a blur, in they came, armed, as that was the nearest response vehicle, and I was SO relieved. Firstly to have survived the previous 10 minutes [the longest of my life] but also because it felt like the end. The end of a very hard few years – how wrong I was. But at that point, I felt courageous.

A few months later…

Fast forward a few months, which is odd because it felt like much longer. The above event was in October and the last was in April. I was at home, alone, having finally got my life somewhat on track, back at college. I was about to put some washing on the line when the door bell rang [Cue: first stressor – doorbells] I answered it straight away, for some reason I didn’t even look to see who it was first [which I had a lot of the last few months due to fear that my Dad would find us].

I just opened it. The otherside? Two police officers. [Cue: second stressor – police officers] They both stood just inside the door, refusing to say anything. I offered them tea, I offered them a seat, I quizzed them about why they were there. Nothing, they wouldn’t tell me anything. Why? They were waiting for my Mum to come home, they were waiting to tell us that my Dad has ended his life.

I remember that moment so vividly. I didn’t cry, I didn’t laugh. I felt nothing. Nothing except the most overpowering feeling of guilt, like the whole thing, a whole life ended. Just like that. That was my reality. 

Now, every-time I see a police officer or hear a siren, that’s what I am reminded of. Thoughts so vivid, and so strong, yet to anyone else, a bystander, a friend, and family member would have no idea. No idea, the thoughts contended with each day. Hey PTSD, that’s you!

Today

Nowadays, I am lucky, over the past five years these thoughts and feelings have been easier to manage. It’s not always perfect but that’s just life. I am such a firm believer that the challenges you are faced with in life, you are faced with because you have the strength and the courage to get through them. No one can determine the outcome except you. Therefore, you will never ever know what someone else has gone or is going through. Never judge, question someones actions unless you have worn the very same shoes they’ve walked in.

Have you experienced or know someone who has been effected by PTSD? I would love to talk about it. Equally, if you have any questions about my life, experiences or how I have learnt to deal with things just let me know. I am more than happy to talk about it.

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28 Comments

  1. August 13, 2018 / 8:59 am

    Really proud of you for being able to speak openly about this! This was so well-written, you really could feel the emotions behind the words. x

    • GraphicsBySoph
      Author
      August 16, 2018 / 7:40 pm

      Thank you, for reading Keeley x

  2. August 13, 2018 / 11:04 am

    Wow Soph. You went through so much but I’m happy to read you are slowly coming out onto the other side and so proud to know you and read your story on this. I’m sorry you went through so much.

    • GraphicsBySoph
      Author
      August 16, 2018 / 7:40 pm

      Thanks Melly! x

  3. August 13, 2018 / 5:04 pm

    I’m so proud of you for writing this, I still can’t fathom what you went through but to see being so open and so strong about something so heartbreaking is utterly courageous. ❤

    • GraphicsBySoph
      Author
      August 16, 2018 / 7:40 pm

      Thank you💖

  4. August 13, 2018 / 5:20 pm

    It’s so wonderful that you can share this. It’s so beautifully written. I know it seems like a whole lot to overcome it. But I hope that each day that goes by is a little easier than the last 💛

    • GraphicsBySoph
      Author
      August 16, 2018 / 7:40 pm

      Thank you x

  5. August 14, 2018 / 6:59 am

    Very poignant, raw and real!

    Thank you for sharing your story! The telling of your story and your experiences will help others realize that they are not alone in the struggle. You are very brave!

    • GraphicsBySoph
      Author
      August 16, 2018 / 7:41 pm

      Thank you so much, your comment means so much to me! x

  6. August 15, 2018 / 9:41 am

    Such a real and beautifully written post! You are so inspiring for sharing your story so openly, must not have been easy.

    • GraphicsBySoph
      Author
      August 16, 2018 / 7:41 pm

      Thank you! x

  7. August 16, 2018 / 7:15 pm

    Such a brave and beautifully written post! Well done for being so brave and open about events which have happened to you!
    I’m so proud of your strength!
    Well done Soph!

    Claire xxx
    http://eclairscares.blogspot.com/

    • GraphicsBySoph
      Author
      August 16, 2018 / 7:41 pm

      Thanks Claire for reading x

  8. brooke
    August 16, 2018 / 7:30 pm

    You’re so brave for sharing your story Sophie! You should be so proud of yourself, I know I am💖

    brooke x
    http://www.brooke-pearson.co.uk

    • GraphicsBySoph
      Author
      August 16, 2018 / 7:42 pm

      Thank you Brooke!☺️x

  9. August 16, 2018 / 7:31 pm

    I will always admire your incredible strength, Sophie! After all that you’ve been through, to be able to share your experience (in such a raw, and beautiful way) to help others takes incredible courage. 💛

    • GraphicsBySoph
      Author
      August 16, 2018 / 7:42 pm

      Emily, thank you so much for this comment❤️x

  10. August 16, 2018 / 7:44 pm

    I’m really proud of you for speaking out about it and for not giving up, I’m sorry for what you’ve been through but the best is yet to come I promise.
    wish you all the luck and the happiness in the world ❤️

    • GraphicsBySoph
      Author
      August 16, 2018 / 8:51 pm

      Thank you so much! x

  11. August 16, 2018 / 7:50 pm

    You are able to put togethee your thoughts and experiences so incredibly well, this was a beautiful and very important post. Well done for being brave lovely, Mol x

    • GraphicsBySoph
      Author
      August 16, 2018 / 8:51 pm

      thank you for reading and your kind words x

  12. August 16, 2018 / 8:31 pm

    You have got strength beyond anything I could ever imagine. You’ve been through so much at such a young age, and you’re coming out the other side 10x stronger, well done lady x

    • GraphicsBySoph
      Author
      August 16, 2018 / 8:51 pm

      thank you so much x

  13. August 16, 2018 / 9:07 pm

    I don’t even know you, but I’m so proud of you! Your such a courageous brave and inspiring young woman, and you should be so proud of how far you’ve come. What great writing x

  14. August 16, 2018 / 9:15 pm

    I can’t even imagine how much it must take to write something like this, so I’m glad you find these posts therapeutic! It was so well written and it’s incredible of you to share your story x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

  15. August 16, 2018 / 10:00 pm

    This is so beautifully written!

  16. August 17, 2018 / 7:32 pm

    It was really brave for you to talk about this. I’m glad that physically you are in a better situation, and I know that PTSD won’t just go away in an instant. However, I hope that overtime it becomes easier and easier to cope with red wine and drunk men <3

    Jas xx

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