Since the events of yesterday something has changed. Something is there where there wasn’t before – an anger. However, this isn’t the usual fleeting flash of emotion that soon simmers away to nothing, this is a(n uncharacteristically) stagnating, lingering state (of almost… fury) that does far more damage to the mind that stores it (unfortunately mine) than it ever could to the people at whom it is generated, and who brought it into fruition. It is raw and ugly and unmanageable, but it is the only thing I am capable of feeling; on the occasions when it briefly wanders elsewhere, I feel nothing in its place. I am numb. I am emotionally exhausted. And beyond fighting any more.
I see no point in discussing the conversation that started this, the frustration and hopelessness that brewed to this anger at the unhelpful way I was spoken to, the way it was made perfectly clear to me that my words did not matter… The way that my involvement and any power over my own care were suddenly both things I could only dream about, thanks to the words of somebody who knew (but clearly did not understand the ways in which, or particularly care) that this would be a major trigger for my PTSD, because I had explained it to her. She made me feel like any future failings of my body were entirely my fault. She refused to shift her advice and my heart splintered before her. She didn’t care. She knew better. I hold her fully responsible if this doesn’t work, and yet I know she will blame me. There should be no blame. Only help.
I have never cried like I did after that. I try to think forward to who I might be able to turn to instead but she has turned my mind against them all, it is scared to meet the same resistance. And then the anger kicks in, in place of the hopelessness. My heart swells with it and forces it through all of me seemingly in place of oxygen, because there is an almost physical aching that pools briefly within me before dispersing. Anger is an ugly emotion I am not proud to display, and yet today I cannot shake it. Today, it is ever present, and it has to be, because it is fuelling me. Without it, I am the empty, beaten shell that I was last night.
I stayed up long after my family went to bed. In fact, I never went to bed. I drank beer to dampen the flames of despair engulfing every thought, in an attempt to salvage myself from the wreckage that is forming around the skeleton of the brain functions I need to survive (see, I am definitely Icarus. Stupid. But I think I earned it). I watched Family Guy. I fell asleep, eventually, with my dog curled up on me (since I got home he refuses to leave me at all… Again… But that’s another story.)… Once asleep I have a vivid nightmare where I am back on a children’s ward, and a doctor sits on me to put medication through a cannula in my foot without my consent (the cannula isn’t in the vein, because she’s already tried to flush it, but she continues anyway). I tell her no and shout for the nurse stood right beside me, but nothing happens, and the doctor pins me down and I fight and fight.
There are a series of recurring nightmares in the library that PTSD has built for me. Last night it started with this one, a snippet of the time I was legally assaulted by a doctor as a young(ish) teenager. She pushed 10ml very quickly through a cannula that wasn’t in a vein despite my protests, insisting I had lied because she never missed veins, and inducing a ridiculous level of pain and a huge lump on my foot in the process. I then bleed everywhere as I ran painfully out of the room, and couldn’t wear socks or shoes or walk properly for a significant portion of the day (which isn’t one of the nastiest or worst experiences, but induces the same panic, fear, and hurt as it did when it first occurred each time it is relived, and leaves me with the same sense of vulnerability afterwards. Wow, when I write it out, it sounds so pathetic).
I wake with a cold wet thing on my nose, and open my eyes to find myself staring into a pair of big brown labrador eyes – we are nose to nose. I hear the thump thump of his tail. He knows. He is used to this. There are tears on my cheeks because these dreams make me cry even in my sleep, even this mild one where the terror is nowhere near normal. I am shaking. I probably kicked him off of me in my sleep, but he stands over me now, and I know he will have nudged me patiently until I woke. He worms his way under my arm and nuzzles into my neck. He puts his paw on my shaking hand. I burrow my face into his fur and cry. When I loosen my grip on him and calm down, he nudges my head up and licks the tears from my cheek, stares into my eyes for what feels like an eternity, and leans back into me, gently nudging my chin until I let him snuggle back under my neck.
This happened multiple times, and each time I turned the TV back on and tried not to let my mind drift to the events of yesterday or the events of paediatric wards (some of the medical treatment I received was disgusting and extremely damaging, to the extent that I can’t talk about a lot of it but could take out a few law suits. One time a children’s hospital messed up and I ended up on a ventilator as a result, then had to have emergency surgery, but they didn’t have time to wait for a general anaesthetic, so they did it while I was awake which would have been ok but the numbing thing wore off because it took a lot longer than they thought and for a few awful seconds I could feel every snip and pull and movement and feel my own blood pooling against my skin… Not to mention bullying from staff, bitterness directed towards me in one hospital because of the protectiveness of my consultant, bitching sessions nurses would hold with me about other members of staff and even other patients and parents which made me feel insecure and meant that other staff members tried to blackmail me into telling them who had said what… Ok, this is not meant to be a post about my PTSD. Oops).
I hadn’t had so many nightmares in one night for ages, but the thing about PTSD is that they don’t stop when you wake up. Flashbacks peppered the periods in-between sleep, but they aren’t like dreams… They are like reliving it all over again. My brain doesn’t acknowledge that they are just memories, it can see and hear and smell and it responds in exactly the same way it did the first time, with the same terror… A fight or flight response. And I know why it was suddenly so much more frequent. Because of yesterday. Because yesterday refreshed the fear of being out of control in hospitals again, of people messing with my life who seem to have no regard for it. So I drank beer. More than I should have. I didn’t know what else to do. I clung to my dog for dear life, and each time I looked at him he was focussed entirely on me. Can dogs worry? If they can, mine did. There was definitely concern in his eyes.
The final (sort of) nightmare was waking this morning to find my mother stood in front of the sofa I had fallen asleep sitting on (thankfully my dog jumped off at the sound of her voice or I’d have been told off for letting him onto the sofa), saying, “We’re out! And Dave’s resigned.” I somehow knew that by we she meant the UK; that by out, she meant out of the EU, and that she was talking about Dave the prime minister (as he is known in our household), not our neighbour. I’m not sure what I expected to happen, but I was too exhausted to have any emotional response. I had barely managed to sleep, I didn’t really have any idea how much time had passed, just that I needed more sleep. My dog curled up on my feet, I explained to him some politics, and then we both fell asleep together again.
Today I finally went back to see next door’s puppy. He is no longer a puppy, more a small giraffe (seriously, he is all legs). He flew at me peeing himself and he was so gangly he couldn’t control all his limbs as he charged at me. It was so cute and hilarious and I had so many cuddles and it was amazing (except maybe the pee, that was touching because hey he was happy enough to pee but… It was pee).
To distract myself I tried to come up with a name for the clothing company I am planning on starting (I’m serious about selling t-shirts over the summer, London living isn’t cheap, service dog training and stuff won’t be cheap when I eventually get a puppy, and I don’t want to ask anyone else for financial aid). I tried to claw at normality. But eventually my day deteriorated into having a labrador permanently glued to my side/ asleep on my feet/ asleep on my lap, sleeping a lot, ordering takeaway, and seeking out a cider.
Whatever this post was, you will be relieved to learn that it is over now. I guess this all needed to be let out, so thanks for putting up with it. The blogging community is awesome, thanks to all of you who have liked and commented (ever, but) especially over the last few days. It means more than you’ll ever know and I genuinely can’t thank you enough.
I talked about my PTSD. Whaaaaaaat. I don’t normally do that in any sort of detail at all.