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.