PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is, depending on what version of the diagnostic literature you read either an anxiety disorder or a stress disorder. Frankly that makes about as much difference as knowing whether the dog chewing your face off is a Malamute or a Husky. What matters is that it is a chronic, life-threatening, IN-FUCKING-CURABLE mental illness which kills those afflicted with it an estimated rate -and mind you this number only accounts for military veterans- of one every sixty-five minutes. Let me put that into perspective for you. One of the biggest movies of 2014 was Guardians Of The Galaxy. Between the coming attractions and the final credits TWO HUMAN BEINGS KILLED THEMSELVES . Two people took pills or a blade or a rope or a gun and ended their lives because of it. And the clock keeps ticking and the bodies keep piling up. And again, that’s just the vets. I can’t find any numbers on civilian casualties but at 43 years of age I have personally made 4 attempts at killing myself.
PTSD is the result of trauma. Basically bad shit happens and your brain says “Fuck this, I’m out.” . and for the rest of your life you get a lovely prize package that includes but is not limited to insomnia, nightmares, rage issues, exaggerated response to being surprised. And my exaggerated I mean potentially violent. Y’know that fun game of sneaking up on people and scaring them? Do that shit to a PTSD sufferer and you’re liable to need serious medical attention. Hallucinations, thoughts of harming oneself up to and including suicide, hypervigillance (ie having your head on a constant swivel and pinging on EVERYTHING) and the occasional full psychotic episode are also part of what you have to look forward to. I once believed my best friend was the reanimated corpse of my dead father back to murder my entire family. Good times.
The general affect of the condition is that your brain’s combat control center gets switched to permanent “on” status and dialed up to 11 . And let me tell you, that shit is exhausting . The human body is simply not meant to be on red alert 24/7 and it takes its toll. You get physically and emotionally wiped out but you’re in a catch 22 because that same red alert status makes a decent nights sleep without some form of medication damned near impossible. Which makes you less able to handle the condition when you wake up. Which creates its own stresses. Which makes the sleeplessness worse. It’s pretty un-fucking-merry merry-go-round to be on. And once you have it, you have it . You might not have symptoms for days or months but sooner or later BAM! There it is. Something triggers you. A scent, a sound, a touch. Something activates the illness and you’re riding through Hell on a rusty razor blade. Doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing. The disease doesn’t give a fuck if now is a bad time. Like say you’re at work. Or out with friends. Or driving your fucking CAR. True story; I don’t have a drivers license because I once put two tires up on the curb courtesy of a flashback whilst behind the wheel. So now at 43 years of age my employment prospects are limited to where I can get on the bus among other fun little complications.
So that’s the broad strokes. Bad shit cracks off. Your “fuck that was horrible” cup overflows and as a result your brains personal battle computer locks itself on and spends the rest of your life in the “On” mode. I’ll get into deeper detail for now but that’s a good start and frankly its late and I’ve had shit sandwich of a day hold the bread.
Be well. Be safe. Be alive when the sun comes up. Life is hard but there’s some pretty great stuff in it too. Stick around