I hate horror films. When you watch them your stomach jumps and your heart skips a beat because of the combination of cinematography, music, and visual effects. That specific feeling you get during horror films is something I am accutely aware of. I live with it every day.
I see things you don’t see. It’s not because you can’t see them. It’s because they’re not there. I like to call them unfriendly reminders of past struggles, but known to you as hallucinations.
My hallucinations are a product of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Most days it’s manageable; even though, they pop up frequently throughout the day. I have become so accustomed, I can go about my day, carry on a conversation, go to work, read, shower, cook without anyone realizing I’m hallucinating. Every once in a while, I will jump a little. If you don’t know me well, I will blame it on hair tickling my neck or having a chill. If you know me well, nothing is said because it doesn’t need explaining.
At it’s best, my hallucinations don’t affect my life. They’re just visual. They’re more frightening at night when lights are dim because it’s harder to convince myself it’s not real. At it’s worst, my hallucinations are paralyzing. During these episodes, fear takes over. I can’t move. I can barely breath. I am completely vulnerable which adds another dimension of fear and paralysis. At their worst my hallucinations transform from the solely visual to audible and sensory. When it’s bad, I can literally feel hands touching me and my body being torn apart. I am forced to relive the memories I would give anything to forget.
I struggle with my PTSD. I have to live with it. It wasn’t something I chose, but it is now a part of my life. I have been very lucky to surround myself with people who are supportive and helpful through my struggles. God knows why they would ever CHOOSE to be a part of my life after dealing with their first episode, but for some reason they have stayed.
I have a hard time sleeping most nights because my dreams aren’t dreams. They’re memories. Sleep isn’t always restful. It can be torture. I have woken up being held down hearing the words “It’s ok. It’s me. You’re safe. It’s me. You’re safe.” I don’t know what happened. The only thing I know is I wake up terrified. A feeling in my stomach I can’t explain. My whole body scared. But I don’t know why. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know anything. When I finally actually wake up: I’m in my bed. My best friend is holding my hand, looking at me, and scared for me.
It’s hard living with PTSD and all that entails. In my opinion it would be harder to watch someone go through it. To watch them struggle to breath. To watch them huddle in a corner. To shy away from me. To jump away when I try to be cute and playful. I can’t imagine how much it hurts to know that I triggered an episode or to not be able to touch them. To have to sit and watch and do absolutely nothing. I can’t imagine watching someone go through something like that. But my friends do. They have and they are sticking around knowing there will be infinitely more episodes to follow.