Every couple of weeks, I hit a wall. This wall being a stretch of time where I am so overwhelmed and uncomfortable with my body and the memories it holds that I want to crawl out of my skin. This week is that week for me, in what seems like a never ending cycle of relatively content stretches paired with absolute disgust with my body. The following are some abstracted and raw images that attempt to explain my experience these past few days with these PTSD symptoms.
Flashbacks: It was cold, bone cold, so cold that all things seemed to shut down and I wasn’t sure. Sure about the day or the time or whether the cloud of breath illuminated beneath the street lamp was mine. It was silent, a facilitated silence so that each moment appeared erupted in a cluster of noise. Noise, which began within the center of my chest as the thumping of my pulsing blood, escalating towards an explosion. Noise, which left me as a collection of shattered pieces ricocheting across the winter night at a deafening volume and whose sparks were extinguished when met by the icy ground. I became a shower of bullet casings, shot from somewhere deep inside, a part of me that violently objected to the spaces my mind wandered. But, the only evidence of the explosion being the cloud of warm breathe as the smoke of shots fired, lingering in this cold icy air.
Dissociation: I don’t look like much of anything and that’s a start. It’s hard to find a blank slate, but when I look in the mirror I see nothing. My freckled face and pale white skin become a still hollow casing, which is holding up the illusion that I too am a person. No one is aware of the imposter I have become, of the zipper that starts at the base of my neck. This is a costume for my performance, that condones me as you and you and you. I am just like all of you when walking down the crowed, bustling streets of this grey city, but simultaneously I am not. The zipper gives way to the truth that lies beneath this cracked and fragile façade testifying that I am, in fact, a shattered, scared, bruised, and ugly mosaic of past experiences. Unzip this costume and there beneath my tapped up, molded illusion of perfection lies a small, frozen child. Ice surrounds her, ice has become her and to attempt to move her would be to risk shattering her into a million hollow pieces.
Nightmares: When I hear the knocking on the door, soft and urgent, time stops and I am sucked into a whirlpool whose current pulls me into a dark, cold drain. Falling and falling, my stomach becomes a part of my throat, sitting where my esophagus meets my mouth, preventing my voice from calling out for help. I am gone, that much I know because the sun is gone and the lights are turned off and my heavy eyelids have closed with the weight of a thousand bricks. Locked and loaded, my fingernails transform into ten long, sharp blades scratching at my chest at an attempt to penetrate my fragile soul. My body doesn’t work because my mind won’t allow it. Prison, that is what the paralysis of sleep promises. Limp, helpless, paralysis becomes a familiar presence. One, where circumstance is the fugitive and the night is the culprit.