PTSD is (usually) not what you view on a colored screen. Most often, it is not a violent reaction to others or anger at the world. Though I can’t speak for everyone because, like any other illness, it’s something that is different for every individual person, I can tell you what it has been & is still like for me.
PTSD is jumping whenever something sudden occurs, sending lightning bolts through your nervous system. It’s intense terror at the silliest of things (triggers) from mundane everyday objects that, because of your trauma, mean something entirely different for you. It’s not being able to drink what was once your favorite alcohol because you were drugged with it. Green apple has never tasted the same. It’s, in one of your darkest moments, buying a fifth of that alcohol flavored vodka & calling your grandmother to tell her you are going to kill yourself & you are sorry. It’s having to take a leave of absence from your job while you pull yourself back together with everything in you, hoping your life can become something close enough to okay. It’s nightmares-oh, the nightmares. Dreams that stem from the darkest parts of you that were pushed down so long, screaming & demanding that you deal with them. It’s having to keep oranges in your freezer because you need to hold them on the back of your neck, or to your face while you try to ground yourself. Show yourself on a very literal level you are not where you were a few years ago. It’s having a recording of your therapist telling you you’re not where you were when these things took place, you’re safe now. You are hundreds of miles away & you are, finally, safe. It’s not being able to differentiate, for the longest time, what is safe & what is now. It’s being re-victimized. It’s reading a self help book & book after book on rape and PTSD. It’s reverting back to starving yourself like you did in third grade because it’s something you can control. It’s something you know. It is safe. It’s wanting to disappear because the people who should’ve taken care of you didn’t. It’s hating yourself for what happened to you. It’s paying thousands of dollars a year to see a treatment team that entails a therapist & nutritionist. It is flashbacks….flashbacks that take you back to specific moments no person would ever want to have to see again….over & over. It’s not being able to have sex sometimes, even when you may physically want to. It’s not being able to give your hubby a BJ because it was your abusers favorite forced activity. The initial stage of what would happen over the course of a night. It’s terror. It makes things that are seemingly okay feel as if they’re of the utmost danger. It’s being afraid to walk to class in a bad part of town because a few men everyone else in your class can seem to ignore have catcalled you more than once. More than once because they can see the vulnerability. You wear it like a scar & they can see it. You’ll cry after catcall, afraid of what could’ve happened & then feel like even more of a freak. It’s locking your doors & being filled with fear every time you get in or out of a car, weary that there will be someone there unexpectedly. It’s not being able to take a drink from everyone & pissing them off because, “it’s free.” It’s anti anxiety medication. It’s feeling forever flawed because you were victimized by two different people. It’s panic attacks….lots & lots of panic attacks. It’s freaking the fuck out whenever you have to go to a gynecologist because you’re afraid of having a flashback &/or dissociating. It’s being afraid that everyone around you will think you’re crazy. It’s being afraid you are crazy.
That is PTSD.