Through the Looking Glass: Life with PTSD
I haven’t blogged in awhile. Three months to be exact. In my last post I was two days post op from my fistula repair surgery.
I’d assumed that after I healed from the surgery I’d resume running and feel like my old self again. After all wasn’t this whole fistula business what what holding me back from being the runner I use to be? It was a convenient little lie that I’d been telling myself for months.
If you follow my blog you know that I was stalked by a mentally ill stranger for several months in late 2015/early 2016, you can read about it here. As a result I’ve been diagnosed with Complex PTSD, think PTSD with extra symptoms for added fun. Go big or go home I guess.
PTSD rewires your brain. A simple notion to comprehend and absolute hell to live. It’s like slowly drifting through the looking glass and waking up one day to realize that nothing is what it seems. Things you use to enjoy hold no interest for you. Everyday sights and sounds can send you spiraling into an anxiety attack with little to no warning. The characteristics you defined yourself by, hardworking, driven, organized, motivated, no longer apply to you anymore. You’re angry for no reason. You cry for no reason. You can’t sleep. All you do is sleep. You feel like you’re going crazy. Other people think you’re going crazy. And after all, we’re all mad here.
Just when I thought I was getting a handle on all this bullshit I got sick. From May to September I had four surgeries to diagnose and correct a fistula, WTF: What the Fistula is Going On?!? and You Have a Tube Coming Out of Where?! some up this experience nicely. Since the fistula wasn’t brought on by Crohns my surgeon thinks it may have been brought on by stress. My counselor agreed.
My running went on hiatus.
For months I begged my counselor to help me find a way to be the person I use to be. His answer was simple, I’d never be that person again. What I’d gone through had changed me. One thing it didn’t change was my stubbornness. I railed against him. Told him he didn’t know what he was talking about, that he didn’t know me. I’d willed myself to run 12 marathons, I could will myself back to who I was.
My denial turned to anger. I was furious that this asshole took my life away from me. I spent many therapy sessions radiating with anger about this. I was willing to concede that I’d never be the same but I wasn’t willing to accept it.
Meanwhile summer slipped into fall. I deferred my Wineglass marathon registration to 2018, adding it to the heap of other races I didn’t run in 2017.
I continued to think that once I healed up things would go back to normal.
I’d forgotten that I was on the other side of the looking glass.
I resumed running but on a if I felt like it basis which was odd to me. Normally I’d be training for something and if I missed a workout I’d beat myself up about it. Now I was running 1-3 times a week with no rhyme or reason and I was kinda happy with it.
During the writing portion we used prompts to do free writing for a certain amount of time. I kept turning to the theme of change. I was startled to discover that I was ok with not being the person I use to be. This was news to me.
I’d been viewing never being the same as a bad thing, but maybe it’s not. I didn’t lose who I was because of my trauma, I evolved because of it.
I look back on my former self now with curiosity. I can remember the person that was obsessed with running but I can’t relate. Some days it feels like looking through glass at someone that can’t see you back.
And I’m ok with that.
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland