Today wasn’t a good day. It began somewhere around 3 a.m., but I honestly don’t know what time it was. The first time I was aware of the time, the clock read 3:15 a.m., Tuesday morning.
My day actually began Sunday at 8:30 p.m. That’s what time I get up for work. I did my job as usual and went home, looking forward to a few days off. I was feeling fine, went to therapy, and did the laundry, but then I couldn’t sleep. I ended up staying awake until about midnight Monday before I fell asleep. Though I hadn’t had any rest, I still felt good and settled in to get some sleep.
At some point in time, I had a nightmare. I’ve been learning how to recognize when the nightmare is a flashback and have been getting better at waking myself up to stop it from happening. Even when I’m not successful, the amount of time from the end of a flashback to getting back to “normal” has shortened and coping has been a bit easier. I doubt this issue will ever go away. It’s something I know I will work on the rest of my life. The coping skills are vital to my progress. Some days, things don’t go as planned.
Tuesday morning was one of my more terrible days. I didn’t recognize what was happening when I was asleep. When I woke up, I was shaking, scared, and crying. For the next few hours, I cycled through this process several times. I couldn’t shake any of it.
By the time I was able to gather myself together, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I was supposed to visit a friend in the hospital. I could barely get off the couch.
Then, it started again. Time passed. I fought some more.
Somewhere around 2 p.m., I managed to get a shower and ended up at Maverick. I stood and stared at the cold, enticing alcohol in their refrigerated cases for several minutes. “This is not what you came here for,” I told myself. I honestly didn’t know what I went there for.
Reciting in my head all the available drinks Maverick had for sale, from beer to soda to bottled water, calmed my mind. I opened the door and pulled out a bottled water. On the way to the register, I grabbed a packet of strawberry Mentos.
I got back in my car and drove home. I left the water and Mentos in the car. I don’t really know why. I just felt like that’s where they were supposed to be.
I put the key into the front door and unlocked the locks. I walked to the couch and collapsed on it. I still couldn’t sleep.
Paul came home from work at 4:20 p.m. He knew something was wrong. About an hour before he came home, I stopped cycling through the process of shaking, crying, being scared, and stopping another flashback. The day, however, was over. I was nearly non-functional and I had to find a way to pull myself together to get to therapy.
These intense types of flashbacks don’t happen often, but when they do, they are devastating. They sap every ounce of energy from me.
As I sat in my therapist’s office tonight, I pulled my legs up close to my body. My dirty shoes, still caked with dried dirt from my hike on Friday, rested on the edge of the sofa cushion. I don’t sit this way, but today it was comfortable. It felt right. It was what I needed to feel safe.
I put the garbage can in the office next to me in case I puked. Another thing I get to deal with when I have a bad flashback is the nausea. Today, the urge to vomit came and went all day long. I barely ate. There wasn’t anything in my stomach to really puke up, but I placed the trash bin next to me just the same.
Words and thoughts were difficult for me, but I persisted. By the end of the session, I felt another step closer to normal. I’m better at 8 p.m., than I was at 3 a.m., but I’m not quite five-by-five yet. I know I’ll get there. It will probably be sometime tomorrow. Today was a more difficult than usual day.
This is me. I deal with this, albeit on a less intense scale, every day. I lost today’s battle, but I’ll be better tomorrow.