My 10th PTSD Anniversary (CW: sexual assault)
Just over ten years ago, on Oct 12, 2012, I was robbed, beaten, and nearly raped in the alley behind my apartment. I still have a faint scar under my left eye where my attacker hit me with the butt of his gun.
I won't go into the whole story again, what happened, how I got away, etc. etc. because after ten years, the details seem...weirdly irrelevant somehow? It happened, I lived, and now here I am.
You may have picked up on the fact that it's now a month after the "anniversary." It's not that I completely forgot about it, but it did take me a bit longer to remember the exact day. Progress, right? Yes and no.
You see, ten years later, my PTSD just looks very different.
I no longer have severe, prolonged panic attacks. I can travel alone. I'm less likely to freeze when someone walks up behind me and I can go into dark alleys by myself now (I still try not to). A lot of the outward signs of trauma are gone.
Instead, my post traumatic stress has simply become part of who I am now. A smaller part than it used to be, which is good. But it's a problem in a different way.
Today, my PTSD looks more like media sensitivity, a low tolerance for tension, insomnia or lethargy, mood swings, and a strong need for privacy.
I avoid most shows, movies, and games depicting sexual violence, lots of blood, assault, stalking, harassment, and most other violent crimes. Even the good ones. This can include authentic depictions of PTSD or mental health issues. I read the plot and reviews of every movie or show before I watch it and usually get my husband to screen media ahead of time.
If a movie is building up to a big moment or I'm stuck in the middle of a very awkward dinner, I often have to remove myself before side effects (stomach aches, headaches, panic, and nausea) set in. Also not great at haunted houses. And I still zone out completely.
Basically, after ten years, my PTSD is harder to explain.
My point here is that mental health issues don't always go away. Sometimes they settle in your bones and stay there.
The reason I didn't think much about the "anniversary" this year is because I was busy dreading a time that always fucks with my PTSD: daylight savings. I love fall, but late October to mid December is one of the roughest times of year for me. I don't like the dark and it gets harder for me to function when I can't be outside and active. I'm more sensitive to triggers and my depression becomes more invasive.
Here's the thing: I can be a happy, content, well-adjusted, healthy human with PTSD (and anxiety and depression). All those states and moods can co-exist. It just gets a bit crowded sometimes, that's all.
So that's ten years down. Let's see how the next ten go.