If I had to pick a word to describe my usual state of mind, it would be “confused”. At the risk of sounding melodramatic or even cliched, it has been the events of my life that have caused this permanent state. What I’ve been through have left a hole in me that needs filling, and I seem to be lacking the skills to be able to fill it. That said, it happened when I was 19- although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was a baby. I’m 25 now, and still a baby. I still don’t know how to cope- do you blame me?
On more than one occasion I’ve been “diagnosed” with PTSD. Yes. It’s been confirmed. Way back when I was seeing a counselor where I used to live, I’d been sloppily describing my thoughts and feelings as best I could during our sessions. Feeling disconnected from the world, like I was underwater, not remembering things correctly, having a new, misconstrued sense of time- that was gist of what they call dissociation. I remember it had been going on for a few months, all while I was still grieving (which hasn’t ended even today), and attempting to manage an estate (and remember, I was nineteen), when he pulled the DSM (the Bible of mental health professionals) off the shelf and showed me the criterion for post-traumatic stress disorder. My eyes scanning the page made me feel heard. In a sense, I felt relieved. Ironically, reading something that I “had” listed in the DSM made me feel less crazy.
Part of me thinks it’s over-simplistic to keep referring to this as PTSD. Thats like taking a big, messy closet full of clothes and trying to fit it all into a tiny suitcase. There’s just too much to fit. If I really fold and stuff and cram though, I can get most of it in there. Such a label makes it one thing- a single entity- rather than the disparate mish-mash of memories and thoughts and emotions that it really is. It keeps me from having to explain to other people, and it also keeps my brain from having to try so hard to make sense of it all.
As confused as I always am, at the very least I’ve been given a label. Obviously I have no familial home-base to identify with any longer. I am no longer in a steady relationship (for reasons also relating to my circumstances, which I might talk about some other time if I feel like it). Where do I call home? Who can I be? I have yet to find someone who has gone through what I’ve been through, events so terrible and rare that that I can hardly talk about it with anyone. That makes me deeply alone. At the very least though, I can feel less so and more normal by being able to identify with the PTSD. It’s mine, but also that of others, people who I do not know. For that, I am granted a (somewhat shaky) sense of comfort in the midst of unknown people suffering though various traumas. Despite the shakiness, I can still bask in a tiny glow of comfort and relatedness, and feel more normal and less confused.