Trigger warning for talk about PTSD symptoms and violent threats
When we (By “we”, I mean society at large) discuss the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, people who don’t have it don’t often think of the little ways it can impact your life. I have PTSD, and I don’t usually even think of how it affects me (Which I consider a blessing, there are those who must map out there entire days to avoid being triggered) But when I do get triggered, I experience a particular emotion that nobody who isn’t a professional or a fellow PTSD-sufferer would anticipate: Bitterness.
It’s a particularly awful feeling, a cocktail of resentment, fear, and lingering shivers of the triggering experience. My PTSD manifested when I was 15 years old, after a particularly violent encounter where I was threatened with a baseball bat while the bat-wielder (my mother’s boyfriend) screamed violent obscenities and threats at me as he swung the bat over me, and my mother watched idly by. The combination of her horrible, horrible indifference and my trauma from the fear that I was going to have my skull bashed in meant that for the rest of my teen years, I suffered in multiple ways, some which were clearly related to the violent threats and abuse, some which I had a harder time figuring out until I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2010. Urinary incontinence was one, another was randomly breaking out in tears, I also developed a deep-seated phobia of being yelled at (To this day, whenever someone yells at me, I automatically cover my head, convinced that they’re going to try to bash my head) and I get triggered when reading strongly violent scenes in books.
The books thing is what I am talking about when I talk about bitterness. I still love to read and I am a voracious reader, but now, if there is a violent scene in a book, especially with a blunt weapon like a basball bat, I freeze, and I need to put the book down to process the nightmares that come flying at me from the memories. Sometimes I will get physically sick, or fall into a meltdown. It’s not much (It’s not the only thing, I assure you) but whenever that happens and I simmer down, I’m reminded of how easily I used to breeze through books like this, and I begin to feel a deep hatred and contempt for the man who wounded my mind in this fashion, altering the way I experience something I loved with such a deep, abiding passion. Whenever I read books with violent themes now, I can feel the triggers, but I keep going after as a form of painful catharsis. I figure that if I can purge myself of the triggers in this one situation, I can face the demons which haunt me on a much deeper level in my PTSD, demons which I’ll talk about later. Writing this post tired me out, though it too was somewhat cleansing.