Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Better, But Not Cured

After a few months of EMDR and therapy, my PTSD is remarkably well controlled. My triggers have a much smaller, more manageable effect on me now, and I can often breathe my way through a problem. My therapist has graduated me from weekly sessions to a follow-up in a month to see how I'm doing then and evaluate whether we need to continue treatment. I can finally think about my traumas without reliving them, without having panic attacks, and without losing control and running to the nearest bar for comfort.

That being said, one of my biggest triggers is a particular name. A man who assaulted me, who threatened me, who harassed me, and who tried to break into my home. Hearing his name, seeing it in print... It gets me all worked up and defensive. I can't even speak the name. I've tried, but the sounds won't come out. His name is my biggest trigger...

Sadly, one of the people I've met online who I'm supposed to meet in person (the one I was going to meet yesterday, although there was a last-minute change of plans, as neither of us felt well enough for the outing--it should be noted, I felt sickly because I'd been up all night/morning after a nightmare about one of my assaulters--further evidence I'm not cured), shares a name with that bad man of old. I see it every time I chat with him online. For the most part, it hasn't been an issue, but yesterday...

I don't know what it was. Perhaps it was that I just saw it so many times throughout the day. Perhaps it's because I could hear the name in my head when I read it on the computer screen. For whatever reason, it triggered an attack. It was very slow coming, starting with unnoticeable rise in heart rate and anxiety, and eventually culminating in full-body shakes and an inability to breathe normally. I actually had to take an anxiety pill last night just so I could catch my breath.

This was an isolated event. It doesn't happen every time I'm exposed to one of my triggers (unlike before), and it was very gradual. If I'd been paying more attention, I could probably have stopped the symptoms before they got so extreme. In any event, it's a sure sign that, while I'm much better, I'm definitely not cured. I may never be. I may be living with symptoms of PTSD for the rest of my life... The important part is that I learn to control them, so they can't control me. The men who hurt me no longer have the power in my life; I do. I've taken it back, and I refuse to let go.

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