Breakdown


Over the past year I’ve spent time at a psychiatric hospital. The PTSD became debilitating. By the time I entered the hospital, the major depressive aspect of PTSD took on the appearance of Schizophrenia. I wrote this piece in an attempt to understand and come to peace with the events leading up to the hospitalization.

I’m not safe. I clutch the cool stainless steel kitchen knife in my hand, pause, take a deep breath, and walk through the living room. I hear something at the door. I stop, stare at the front door, and hold my breath.

I’m convinced that my husband has dealings with the Mafia. I run up the steps and slam the bedroom door behind me. Lock it. As I sit on the edge of my bed I can feel the tension running through my body. I’m awake yet it is like I’m sleepwalking through the days. I haven’t been able to sleep well in a month.

In a week I’ve lived at a friend’s house, my house, and one night at the Red Roof Inn. My husband and I argued. My grandmother had died a few weeks previously. My PTSD was interfering with every aspect of my life. Everywhere I went, I couldn’t escape my past, my baggage. I had embarrassing moments at work.

One day the math teacher asked me to sit at his desk and operate his PowerPoint for him while he taught. I sat down, zoned out, and could hardly follow the directions the teacher gave.

“Go up. No, down a little bit.” After what felt like hours, the blood stopped pumping through my ears, and the PowerPoint stopped at the correct spot. The twenty teenage eyes in the room stopped staring at me. As I sat down at the table with my student, I felt the energy drain out of me.

I hadn’t bathed for a few days. I stopped noticing my hygiene or lack thereof. My body and mind screamed for sleep, yet I was afraid to shut my eyes. The clock inches past 2 a.m. I have to sleep, but I can’t. No one believes me. I could be killed at any minute, I fret. I lay my head on a pillow, but my eyes remain wide-awake and my body is on alert. I’m hypervigilant.

Underneath it all I’m exhausted. In my traumatized mind, I’m convinced someone or something is going to harm me. I find underwear thrown on the ground, in my bed. Hours tick by, then days. I wait for the sound of the siren. I write. I hit the delete key. Not a dam bit of it seems to make sense.

5 thoughts on “Breakdown

  1. You’re a brave survivor. Hugs to you.xx

    • bdlheart says:

      Thank you so much! I’ve been on here around a year, but typically few people leave a comment. It is so encouraging to hear someone say this. I was able to read some of your blog at work.. LOVE it!

  2. Alaina says:

    Wow. This is AWESOME writing.

    Your ending especially blew me away:
    “I write. I hit the delete key. Not a dam bit of it seems to make sense.”

    • bdlheart says:

      Thank you! I really needed some positive feedback this weekend because I’ve hit that spot where you feel yourself slipping. I’m going to put one foot in front of the other though. I beat myself up often and am very critical of myself. It is a wonderful feeling that someone is reading this and connecting with it and believes I can write. My self-esteem has been beat down throughout my life so I struggle to think I’m good enough. Working on that issue. Not sure about getting basic things done around the house. If I get up shower, go to work, eat, and come home and write a little then it will be this week’s version of a good week. I’m hoping next week’s version is a little more green, a little less gray. Ready for spring flowers and green grass.

      • Alaina says:

        I struggle a lot with getting basic things done around the house, too. Which frustrates the heck out of me, because my surroundings have a strong effect on my mood. Calm, clean, pretty surroundings make me feel better, happier, and more peaceful inside, while messy, dirty, ugly surroundings tend to bring me down. My husband, who has PTSD from combat, struggles with getting things done like I do. He went through an eight week in-house PTSD program at a VA hospital several years ago and he says they were told that having trouble keeping up with basic chores is a common problem with PTSD.

        One thing we’ve noticed is that when we relax and accept ourselves, accept each other, and accept our surroundings as-is, we seem to have a lot more energy for getting things done. Maybe that’s because we aren’t using up all our energy fretting about what isn’t being done?

        What I said about your writing being awesome – I really mean it. Your writing is so awesome that as I was reading through your posts, I actually felt a few twinges of envy. Which is really rare for me! I am an avid reader, as my husband is, our house is full of books. Reading has been my number one favorite pastime since I was in the second grade and started reading everything I could get my hands on. Usually when I read something that is well written, I just enjoy it, period. But your writing is so evocative – oh man – what I wouldn’t give to write like that!

        Many years ago I went to a writers conference in Chicago. Along with our entrance fee, we were required to submit a short essay on any topic we chose. There were hundreds of participants at that conference, from all over the United States… and my essay was chosen as “the best.” I was blown away with shock. What a wonderful ego boost that was!

        But your writing is much better than mine, in my opinion. I can’t wait to read your book! Speaking of which, I would love to be one of your beta readers, if you want. Even the most awesome writer can benefit from having their work proofed, we are too close to what we write to adequately do that for ourselves.

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