PTSD by Gabby Shailer

So my physical limitations are pretty straight forward … I need flat. Ideally both in terms of lack of stairs and lack of hills.

My head is less straight forward because of a fun little condition called PTSD. Let me stress I am far from a doctor so all I’m talking about is my experiences. But I’m thinking sharing stories is helpful. Feeling like someone else has a window into what I’m feeling makes the whole thing less isolating .
First thing, trauma responses aren’t just bad feels. There are parts of your brain that are built to get through crisis' that physically get bigger and over developed when a person is faced with constant trauma or just one big trauma. It’s real , no amount of cardio or just getting on with it will make it go away. I bet you will find (as I did ) that when you go to a doctor to discuss you will find what you thought was your unique flower experience is actually pretty typical. But typical is good cause it means there are things in place to manage it.

Dopmine Dressing Gabby with Organic Plaid Spoke Covers

And now… what does it feel like to me..
There’s two aspects that have a big impact on my life. One is  the constant issues. Things like the fact my back always hurts. I should clarify, sometimes it hurts a little and sometimes it’s paralytically bad. I feel like I’m past my acceptable period to experience pain from the stupid car accident so I’m just ment to be ok. So that’s a factor. Not feeling like I’m allowed to be in pain. Beyond that you would be stunned how quickly my brain just breaks down in a bad period. It can be less than a day and I loose all memory of a time without experiencing excruciating pain. All I can think is how I’m going to never leave the house or the couch. That completely hopeless feeling , I can’t explain it.  But it’s a PTSD talking. I’m in complete survival mode. Taking in this all encompassing sadness and checking out of anything that will not directly contribute to getting over this back pain. Well… surviving through the back pain. Not much interested in the time after. All I can think is that I don’t want to die. I’m lucky I have a supportive husband who lets me rest and then kicks my ass out the door. Something about not actually being dead and thus having no reason to act like a corpse.

Which is kinda a lead in to the next point. Beyond the wheelchair, life has not been kind to me. I’ve nearly drowned, hospitalised with glandular fever and a few other things when I was like 4, been electrocuted, fractured my skull and too many serious drug reactions to count. So now I very much believe if something can go wrong, it would go wrong and I get VERY control freak whenever I am in any kind of proximity to the medical profession. You wanna know how bad it gets. I was literally in the wreck of the car accident that put me in the wheelchair and I was bargaining with the Ambo’s about which drugs I’m willing to take. Because the crash was bad. But it always gets worse.  As a result of this feeling, I have avoided medical attention for things that really needed it for WAY too long. I’ve also managed to develop the ability to have the complete crisis in my head before I even think about taking an action. This has caused me to check out of life on more than one occasion, because I’ll just get hurt and then the doctor will hurt me more. Again this is PTSD talking. The part of my brain has developed to a point where if it sees the HINT of a traumatic event it will opt out. If I can’t consciously scare myself out of the situation then PTSD is nice enough to make me physically ill so I can’t face the problem. So helpful like that.

What happens is I get so focused on surviving and then start to detach from the situation. Stop feeling much of anything. Makes it easier to survive .. but it’s not much of a life. The really weird (but in a bad way) thing is that now I feel more comfortable when everything is crazy. Calm is unsettling because I just assume it’s coming. If there’s a spider in the room you want to know where it is right?

About six years ago my detached approach kind of fell in a heap. Turns out at some point your brain just goes snap. The emotions don’t disappear they just go into a drawer and when the drawer is full it explodes and it fricken well did. I developed an eating disorder and just couldn’t really function. I found some good help and support but I’m on the mend now.

So why the share, I’d love to use my life as a bit of a cautionary tale. The takeaways are
- Trauma is real, it’s not something you are making up and you definitely aren’t a drama queen.
- If a bad situation is causing bad feels it’s completely reasonable (and advisable) to ask for help. There is help available everything from your GP to helplines like lifeline.
- it is definitely not just you, reactions to trauma are well documented and the support is there you just need to ask.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.