Going into the lockdown my post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has started to show it’s ugly mug again. The trauma I experienced was seven years ago. I spent three months in hospital and was in and out of critical care three times. I am obviously really thankful for this, because it saved my life. But it has left me with mental scars that I will probably never fully recover from. I thought I had recovered. I thought that finally that door was closed and it was all in the past. However recent events of the world have triggered a lot of unhelpful feelings. Because the trauma was a medical thing, it has been impossible to escape. I have had it rubbed in my face every single day for the last three months while the world has been dealing with Coronavirus. It’s on the news, it’s on social media, it’s all people seem to talk about. The terms that make me feel extremely uncomfortable, death, ventilators, breathing difficulties, critical and intensive care are terms that we are hearing every day. I had learned to accept these terms for what they are, just words, words can’t hurt me. But over the duration of the lockdown these words have once again become attached to negative feelings. I can’t just see those words as letters on a page as I could at the beginning of this year. I see those words and I feel anxious, extremely uncomfortable, slightly sick, my neck and throat feel horrible and I feel dread. Once again my PTSD has been chipping away at me, twisting my thoughts and growing by the day.
Now as a country we are at the point where we are able to try and go back to normal. Mentally I am at the point where my mind is starting to play new games with me. Before my PTSD was all low mood and anxiety symptoms. There was only one physical symptom which was a horrible, tight feeling that I get in my neck and throat. I put this down to being on a ventilator, I remember starting to come round while the tube was still there. In the past I had to be really pushed in terms of my PTSD to trigger the throat and neck feeling. So the majority of the time I didn’t have any physical symptoms.
This last few weeks the PTSD has taken a change of direction and started attacking me physically. I get the feeling it wasn’t getting enough attention from me before, so now it has found a way that will really scare me. Last week I had what I think was my first and hopefully only panic attack. I called an ambulance convinced that there was something dangerously wrong with me. I felt like I wasn’t breathing properly, my chest was going really tight and my heart was racing. I was convinced that there was something really wrong. When I got to the hospital they checked me over and luckily everything was fine. It’s baffling to think that everything felt so wrong when there wasn’t actually anything wrong.
The night after my panic attack at around the same time I got the horrible feeling in my neck again, worse than it ever has been before. It felt really achy at the top of my neck and under my chin, along my jaw line. My head was trying to convince me that I wasn’t well, but after being at the hospital all night the night before, I wasn’t falling for it again. I know my neck is my weak spot with the PTSD and I knew I was OK. They did every test they needed to at the hospital and told me that whatever happened, it was nothing dangerous. The next day I woke up and my neck was absolutely fine. It was obviously another game that my mind was playing.
The attack really shook me. I have not been so out of control of my own mind since I was in hospital seven years ago. For quite a few days after the panic attack I was in a bit of a daze. I couldn’t stop worrying in case it was the start of regular panic attacks. The more I thought about what happened, the scarier it seemed. I was so grateful that there was nothing more serious wrong, but the thought of having more panic attacks was definitely not good either. My PTSD is getting to me in new and scary ways and all because of the lockdown and coronavirus. I really don’t think it would have flared up again if it wasn’t for that. Not so soon after finishing my therapy anyway. I only finished it in January this year. In March my PTSD started to creep back as we went into lockdown.
One week later
Looking back on the last week I am seeing things a lot more clearly. The three days following the attack seemed like my mind was lost in a thick fog of PTSD, and I just wasn’t feeling myself or able to see my way through it. There was more PTSD me there than there was real me. There has been a lot of talk about peaks recently in relation to the virus, well at that point I think my PTSD had reached it’s peak. I had the attack, I got stuck in the fog and after a few days at the top, the fog has completely cleared. I feel more myself now than I have done in weeks. My boyfriend suggested that maybe everything had just built up over the last few months and I had finally reached boiling point. Maybe I just needed to boil over and explode and now that I have, maybe everything will keep getting better. I am on my fifth day of feeling fantastic and I really think and hope that he is right about this. Maybe it’s not the start of new and scary things. Maybe I just reached my peak and something had to give for me to come back down. Until this week I hadn’t realised how much i had not been myself. I knew I wasn’t great but it’s one of those things where you don’t realise how unwell you are, until you start to feel better.
xx ❤ xx