I have a diagnosis.
Frankly, I don’t know how or what to feel about it.
I’ve been in free-fall ever since I saw the lady who wrote this letter; almost 4 weeks ago now. The occasion was an assessment for trauma informed therapy. It was the first time I had spoken to a professional about some of the stuff that’s been bothering me since first I asked for help. I felt detached from the events I described to her. It was the way I’d been raised.
We all ‘knew’ it was ‘us against the world’, so no matter what we did, shit was going to happen to us. Might as well suck it up and whatever happen, do not show anyone you’re hurting. Always smile. Always show strength. Doesn’t matter if you’re screaming inside. Pain? Sickness? It’ll pass before you turn into a boy – my Mum’s stock phrase. She ‘knew’ something was seriously wrong with me if I was quietly whimpering and not making a fuss. Just telling her I felt ill or was in pain was met with dismissal.
I told the therapist who did the assessment about one of my earliest childhood memories.
I was about 3 or 4 years old. We lived in a high rise block. Mum was depressed, and spent most of the time in bed. I was left to my own devices during that time.
I keep seeing this image of me walking into her bedroom and her just being zonked out.
It haunts me. The feelings of being lost in that big, concrete lump of a flat, and never being allowed out except with Mum, who was unconscious during the day and only came to just before Dad came home at night. There was no one else in that flat. Just me, from the moment I woke, until Dad came home. No one to help me wash and get dressed. No one to feed me and make me a drink. No one to play with me. No one to take me outside and help me socialise. Just me, a record player with fairy tales set to music, a blackboard with chalk, and a cuddly monkey.
I told the therapist some other stuff. Quite a lot, actually. I’ve been getting some visual flashbacks of things that I have absolutely no recollection of, and it is quite unsettling.
We did this questionnaire she mentioned in the letter, and it was virtually tick, tick, tick all the way through. She said then that I probably have PTSD, and I felt a bit relieved and elated at the time, but ever since then, I’ve gone into free-fall.
At its worst, it felt like this.
Depression drags you down, below the surface. The wounds of trauma rapidly fill up with the icy water, and you go completely numb. You still notice your friends and loved ones being in distress, but you have this big lump of ice inside of you. You cannot respond.
Soon, you become rooted in your inertia. A thick sludge washes over your feet. It is a rich feeding ground for all sorts of bottom feeders and other muck to cling on to you and drag you down. Before you know it, you’re trapped. Its wrapped itself around your limbs and neck and you’re firmly entangled and victim to the adrenal tides.
It is every bit as horrific as it looks, and then some.
This state had me frozen into my own body for over a fortnight. I wanted to write. I wanted to draw. I wanted to scream; do anything to get out of my head, but I couldn’t. I ended up having arguments with my loved ones, and messing up my self-care plan.
Thankfully, I did recognise something was up.
Equally thankfully, I have an amazingly supportive employer who is fully on-board with supporting me in this challenging journey.
My first PTSD pre-counselling session came round quickly, and it knocked me sideways. So much so that I got a call from one of the group leaders afterwards to check in and ask me to go see my GP. Work gave me the day off; no questions asked.
And now here we are. Meds doubled, and with a formal diagnosis in my hand. At least I;m writing and drawing again. And feeling some movement again. And although I am quite scared about what terrors I may uncover during the road ahead, I am equally determined to proceed.
I’m done with fleeing and freezing. I’m not a helpless child anymore. I’m safe; I have people around me who love and respect me. It’s time for me to look after my inner child.