Thursday, October 17, 2013

PTSD, part 1

It's amazing how fast time flies when you aren't miserable.  I've already been home for almost six months, and tomorrow will be four months since I started my current job.  It seems every weekend we have a plan - going to an event around town, going to a party, or hosting brunch for several friends.  Our Sunday brunch tradition is back in full swing after a year hiatus - in a switch-up of roles from Turkey, I'm now the primary cook, and Eric and friends handle the clean up.  That means I get to finish the mimosas - oh, how hard is my life.

We've settled into the neighborhood and know most of our neighbors.  We have our routines: buying vegetables at the farmers' market every Sunday, CSA delivery on Thursday after work, and baking most weekends.  Some good friends from Turkey moved in a block away from us, and my best friend from high school lives a twenty-minute walk to our east.  I didn't get furloughed, Eric has a new, more interesting job, and we're all in good health.

Things are going well.

I struggle with PTSD - I'm formally diagnosed with it now, which shouldn't surprise anyone.  I'm a lot better than I was even two months ago; I went to a crowded bar for a party on Saturday night and stayed for three hours, when over the summer I would have had a panic attack within 15 minutes.  I'm still waiting for how I feel about my PTSD to solidify into something I can write about; writing is very therapeutic for me, but when it comes to something this personal I don't think I can write about it until the time is right.  It's still too raw.  I can talk about the daily grind with people, and in fact I like to do so, because it both helps me come to terms with it and it also makes people aware that PTSD is a disease you can't see but whose effects linger for a long time.  I don't really care if others want to be educated, if someone asks, I tell them.  :)

What I can say is that everyone's PTSD is different, but that all of us who were in Libya last year are still suffering in our own way.  The biggest help for me - outside of my therapist, who specializes in treating Vietnam veterans and Holocaust survivors - has been hearing that everyone else who went through it with me are suffering too.  It sounds morbid, but sometimes it's just really, really nice to know that you're not alone.  I know that every time I have a bad day, when something triggers me that no one else would even notice, I can call a friend who was there too and who gets it.  I don't have to explain why it's traumatizing for strangers to ask me for quotes for their latest partisan rant about who's at fault.  I don't have to explain why I can't bear to watch the news in America anymore, because of the sheer idiocy of the public debate over Benghazi.

I'm tired of other people trying to fit me and my experiences into their narrative.  Any story I tell no longer becomes my story, if it's taken and used for someone else's gains, and I don't want to be used.  I live with my memories every day, and I don't want them and the memories of others who died or who continue to suffer to be disrespected.