Why PTSD Can Be So Isolating

PTSD can feel like an endless hell. Sometimes it’s such a horrible and painful experience that you can see nothing else. Sometimes it retreats to a dull roar in the background, but leaves your field of vision clear. Sometimes you get sucker punched. Sometimes it’s all three at once.

I have a prevailing belief that were I to let the real pain show, to reveal the horror that my mind becomes and to, just for a moment, stop hiding what this really looks like for me, that no one I know would be able to tolerate it. That even those closest to me would recoil and flee instead of staying with me to hold my hand while I fight on. So I fight silently, hoping and praying that over time the bad days will be fewer and farther between and the worst moment will dull and not be so horrible.

I had a mental crisis last night though, which wasn’t too surprising given how stressful things have been for me (I’ve been seeing the physical effects, and was starting to be concerned), but it came fast and unexpectedly anyway. I had a series of panic attacks when I woke up yesterday, and toward late evening what had been a calm day blew up into crisis. I don’t even know how to describe it. If you experience PTSD you know, if you don’t may I say with all authenticity and no sarcasm or envy that I’m glad? I hope you never know. But maybe sometimes it’s like every part of you is screaming at full blast while all of the lights are flashing in a tornado of negative and horrible, and it only happens inside your head, and you can’t make it stop, you can only wait it out and hope you’re able to sleep it off. Sometimes I get emotional and cry, but I deal with it by myself and usually alone because I’m pretty sure no one else could stand it when I have to deal with that. A lot of negative emotions come up, I have a hard time processing thought and speech and sometimes I experience anger bordering on rage, so I usually am keeping all of that as contained as possible. I don’t want to hurt anyone or myself. When I was in therapy my therapist once mentioned that I am the most controlled person she has ever met. I’m sure that has some downsides, but it’s what is.

I decided to do something different and reach out to my partner for help last night. That didn’t go well. Despite qualifying that I wasn’t ok, and doing my best to try to communicate what little I could, and process the grief from that episode (I’m coming up on a few weeks that have held a lot of trauma for me over the years, and despite my attempts to face this year head-on, I was still surprised by the grief I was overwhelmed by last night at the loss of a friend last year that had suffered brain damage from a car wreck the year after my wreck), he was not able to understand what I needed, and was not able to support me, and the attempt didn’t go well, and I felt unsupported and isolated and like he was not willing to accept the full scope of me, which includes an endless battle with PTSD.

I was ready to go home to heaven last night. Not at my own hand, but I felt that if I were to have gotten a terminal medical diagnosis last night, I would have welcomed it. That may be hard to understand, and it is not a desire to end my life, which I am grateful I don’t experience, rather it’s being weary of the battle. I fight hard every day, and I’m tired. I don’t have the support I need, and I’m tired. I’m making major life changes in an attempt to reserve my energy a bit, because I’m so tired. I’m not ready to give up, I’m just tired of fighting, and I knew without knowing that the next few hours were going to be bad.

Not only were they bad, my attempt at seeking help went so poorly and was so poorly received by my partner that he decided he didn’t want to discuss it, or see me today. He didn’t even see the worst of it, he announced he didn’t want to sit on the phone through silence and would rather go to bed as some of the worst waves were rolling in, and I abruptly hung up, not able to deal with that.

Y’all, that hurts.

He’s upset with me, not giving me any grace for the state I was in and not willing to acknowledge what I’ve supported him through. If beauty can take your breath away, so can pain, and all I could do in response to his text messages (he declined to talk on the phone) was to curl up and try to sleep off the initial shock.

I start a new job tomorrow. My schedule is impossibly busy the next two weeks. My partner, the person I thought would support me, doesn’t want to spend time with me today, hasn’t seen me since earlier in the week, and “wants space”. I don’t even know how to process this.

I’ve tried to sort this out this afternoon, but I just don’t know what to do. I’m trying not to let this experience reinforce that belief that no one will support me if they see how bad it really is for me, but it’s hard to not feel isolated or to further isolate myself. If I’m not going to be supported, why put energy anywhere but myself when I am going to need it all? I feel like I’ve been punched, I’m stunned and can’t breathe and can’t quite process what hurts the most. It all hurts right now, and…I start a new job tomorrow. I’ve done so much work toward re-learning how to be excited and celebrate milestones and look forward to new things rather than approach them with a sense of dread and impending doom. I’ve been knocked on my ass by a person I had expected to happily spend the day with, who will support neither my mental health battles nor important moments in my career.

It all feels wrong, and out of character, but I can’t dismiss this. I did that in a previous relationship. I dismissed how often he sabotaged me on days that were important for me, how often he withdrew support at critical moments and then blamed it all on me. How often he turned his behavior into a fault of mine, a lack on my part or dismissed me as too demanding. I was constantly caught off guard, constantly confused and did not realize I needed to leave before it was too late. This feels like that, like something I have seen before, like behavior I know all too well, and finally have the ability to recognize.

It’s horrible to have your world blown apart the day before you’re supposed to start something new and great. It’s horrible to have worked so hard to build a better life only to have part of that blow up in your face right as you anticipate some happiness. It’s horrible to work so hard to change your mindset, to learn to trust and to address your broken brain, only to have an experience that reinforces the negative. That’s really the hardest part of all of this. I don’t want to give in and re-build the walls. I don’t want to be jaded and close myself off again. I don’t want to rail against humanity and call names and point fingers and declare it’s not worth risking my heart ever again. None of that helps me.

I still don’t really know what to do. I’m still kind of stunned and unable to process what just happened in the last 24 hours. I’m concerned about getting a good night’s sleep and being mentally prepared for tomorrow. I’m concerned that I may have just been sabotaged by the person I thought would support me. I’m concerned I won’t be able to handle the next 2-3 weeks. I’m concerned about a lot of things that I did not anticipate having to be concerned about.

So here’s hoping I can remain calm, begin to process, keep trusting myself, be wise and show up tomorrow as a whole person who is wholly committed to doing the best she can.

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5 thoughts on “Why PTSD Can Be So Isolating

  1. I’m sorry that you’re struggling with the crisis, the day-to-day tiresomeness of ptsd, your partner, and the stress of your new job all at once! That sucks that when you were vulnerable and tried something new and asked for help from your partner, it went poorly. I know you mentioned yourself that him not supporting you makes you feel like no one can handle how bad it really is for you and you don’t want to fall into that, and I just want to be another person here encouraging you to keep reaching out and trying! I am sure you will find people who can be supportive.

    Personally, I’ve felt like therapists have been able to handle things the most, perhaps not surprisingly. Even good friends of mine have not responded how I wanted them to, and I think part of it might just be that trauma is, by definition, A LOT, so sharing stuff related to trauma can be a lot for the people you’re sharing it with, even if it’s a watered-down version or just the footprints. And trauma reactions can be confusing and even surprising and scary if you don’t experience them yourself or know someone who does or are just a 110% open minded, adaptable, empathetic, and kind person. Communication and letting things out in small chunks instead of all at once has been helpful for me.

    I also totally understand having doubts about the relationship and his ability to support you, though, especially given similar struggles in past relationships! It’s okay if it takes you some time to process things. You can focus on one thing at a time (e.g. your job tomorrow!!!) and come back to dealing with these other things.

    I’m also really sorry that you lost your friend. That’s awful, and I expect both triggering and very sad.

    I also understand the feeling of being okay with death if it happened. You’ve been fighting so long and hard and want a break! I’d keep an eye on those thoughts if I were you though because, in my experience, they can sometimes escalate to more dramatic/dangerous thoughts. Just something to be aware of / keep an eye on, I hope I’m not scaring you or anything!

    I hope your job goes well tomorrow!! It seems like you’ve been preparing for it for a while, and I’m sure your hard work will pay off. There may be challenges that you didn’t expect, but you are capable of dealing with things and adapting and will get through them!

    Thinking of you! Good luck with everything! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is the most supportive thing anyone has said to me in a long time. Thank you. It’s so nice to have someone hear you and understand.

      My partner and I worked it out, a lot of his response was being upset with himself because he felt inadequate to support me. We have a long way to go to work through that, but his (valid) point was that since he’s never seen how bad it can be for me before, he should get more than one shot at being there for me. It was a tough conversation, but I’d rather learn to communicate better through all of this than ignore it and have it continue to be an issue with other people because I’ve been avoiding the problem, not addressing it.

      I had an awesome first day of work, but I’m worn out, and am glad I assumed that might be the case so didn’t plan anything this week but to come home and rest.

      Thank you so much, again, for your support, I don’t have adequate words but I am so very grateful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awww, I’m so happy I could give you some support!! 🙂 ❤

        Ah, I can see how could feel that and how that response would not help you. I think that's brave of you to try to work through it and address the problem!

        Woo-hoo! 😀 That's wonderful to hear that your first day was so good. And you even anticipated your needs and planned for being exhausted?! Amazing!

        I hope work continues going well! Good luck with everything! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

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