The Struggle with PTSD

When I was a little girl and very scared of what was happening in the night, I would hide under my blankets, sure that they were some sort of super power that coated me, protecting me from the world. I remember feeling so hot that it was difficult to breathe, but still I stayed under those blankets, afraid to move. I was so sure that if I moved even an inch, I would die. I would cease to be who I was right then in that moment, and I could not lose who I was there in that moment, because it was all I knew. 

I know this must sound strange – very strange to some of you, but it’s true. I remember it vividly. I still have those thoughts sometimes. Let nothing change, because I will lose a part of me, and I don’t know who is coming next. I’m not schizophrenic, though it probably sounds that way. 🙂 I’m talking, of course, about fear – fear of being hurt, of being abused, of being somehow “found out” (that I’m not as perfect, happy, or together as I seem to be). I do not want to leave this moment because in this moment right now, I know exactly who I am, where I am going, and what is happening to me. I do not want to lose control of my body, my mind, my emotions, or my choices. Sometimes I do not want to be loved, cherished, or held. I do not want to be a friend, a sister, a wife or a mother at other times because that may alter who I am in this moment. I am living, stuck in fear and it drives me absolutely nuts inside because I know that this is not the life that Christ has called me to. This is the life that Christ died to save. And here I am, wallowing in mud like a pig in a sty. I am the prodigal son who has not yet learned that he should quit eating the slop and go home to his Father. 

There is a party waiting for me. Angels will sing and Christ Himself will rush out to meet me. But I am not yet ready to go. I don’t want to lose who I am in this moment. 

It’s not that I think I’m all that great – I don’t. If you ask me what my flaws are, I’ll give you at least a dozen examples before I’ll allow you to momentarily interject. All the while, I’ll be thinking, “oh my God…what if I forgot something? I’ll be found out. I didn’t clean the toilet this morning. Shit. I screw up everything. I’m so damn lazy.” And I will have missed everything you said. When you’re done talking, I’ll smile and thank you, through a tear stained face because somehow a very small part of what you said did get through – but not really. I’ll forget it soon and cover it all back up with the muck again. Fear always wins. Because I let it. 

It doesn’t feel that way sometimes though. I do feel Him – Jesus. I do feel Him talking to me, surrounding me, embracing me. I feel Him changing me, growing me, urging me onward and forward. I think I’m obeying Him, but I’m never quite good enough. He’s so lovely, that Jesus. 

And there it is – the ugly, ugly truth. Welcome to my brain. I want to smash these thoughts, destroy them, delete them, but I know I can’t. I shouldn’t. Because they’re not just my thoughts. It’s not just my ugliness on display here. No. This is not a cry for help, though I’m sure it looks like it. This is a reminder that you, the abuse survivor who is trying so hard to be strong – you are not alone in what you’re thinking. This is a reminder for the soldier fresh out of battle (or maybe you’ve been home awhile?) are not suffering alone. This is a reminder for hurting souls everywhere – these thoughts are thought by countless others and when you think absolutely no one else understands what you’re going through, remember this: That is a lie. I know. And I’m sure there are others out there who know, too.

This past month has been so hard. For those of you that aren’t aware, I have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). (I’ll post a link at the bottom of the page, for those who want to know more about it.) PTSD comes with a whole host of issues and problems – flashbacks, anxiety, dreams, inability to cope with loud noises (so much fun dealing with that one, with little ones running about), irritability, anger, memory problems, and a whole host of other issues. This week alone, I’ve dealt with all those symptoms…and more. I’m tormented by the abuse from my past, and it’s almost as if I can never, ever, ever escape it. It’s happening all over again…except…it’s not. I’m not there anymore. No one is hurting me. I’m safe and I’m making my own, healthier decisions. I’m not a kid anymore who has to hide from the boogeyman, but yet – I’m still in hiding. I’m convinced he’s coming to steal something from me and I just cannot run fast enough to get away. I am fighting something completely invisible and non-existent at this point, but I will never stop fighting. 

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12 NIV

 

I remember some of those nights under my blankets in bed. I had one recently. There was absolutely no one else in my room and nothing was physically out of the ordinary. Anthony was downstairs on his laptop doing school work and the girls were sound asleep in their beds, with both pets shut in their room.  Of this I am completely sure. Yet, as I lay under my blankets, praying to God to heal me, I felt something sit on my bed. I felt a heavenly presence surrounding me. Something inside me was very, very scared, but I knew it was Jesus. I had called Him and He came. I closed my eyes, and I saw an image of my beloved sister, Melissa who passed away in 2003 very suddenly. I saw her comforting me and stroking my hair. She was whole and healthy and beautiful. I prayed and cried some more. I begged Jesus to leave because I was not worthy to have Him here. I was so scared He would take my life, sinner that I am. He did not. He breathed life into me. He breathed Truth into me. 

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

Colossians 1:13

 

God reminded me that I am beautiful and that I am not trash, but the King’s treasure. I am not a dog to be abused, but the daughter of a King. What happened to me was not my fault. I had no choice in the matter. I was a child. My innocence was stolen, not by a man, but by a power of darkness that lurks in this world, tormenting what belongs to God. 

You are not alone, survivor of abuse, fighter of PTSD. You are not alone in your fear, in your fight or your compliance. You can stand up and kick that devil in the throat and shut him up. You can get mad. You should get mad. Very, very angry. And then do what a very wise man taught me to do today. Count backwards, breathing deeply as you go. And then you tell that devil that you belong to Jesus. This is not his space. Fear does not belong here. And then drop kick that sucker right to the floor and smash him. If you’re any good at visualization, you’ll know what I mean when I say it feels so good to hit Fear right where it hurts. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – you have to fight this. You can’t give in to the Fear. You have to give this to God right when the devil tries to give it to you. You weren’t meant to walk this path alone, and you don’t have to. God has been reminding me that I am not alone, and this battle is not mine to fight alone. He’s been reminding me how special and amazing I am, and that He’s right here with me. When I struggle and feel like everything I am doing is wrong, He is right there reminding me that everything I’m doing is pretty right, actually, and He’s so glad I’m there talking to Him. Engage Love in a conversation and don’t allow Fear the chance to speak his mind. Even a whisper from Love can drown out the screams from Fear. It’s a reminder that I often need, and I’m sure you do sometimes too. 

A very controversial verse that Christ has placed on my heart is this: 

He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.

 

Luke 17:1-2 NIV

I know that it’s not my fault that I’m suffering right now. I know that Christ will win this battle for me. I just need to press into Him and trust Him. I am not the prodigal son who needs to come home, nor am I wallowing in the mud like a pig in its sty. I am a daughter of the King, who has been pushed, against her will, into the mud, and I am reaching up for my Father, for Christ the King, for God the Holy Spirit to come and save me. And He will. He always does. 

 

LINKS:

*PTSD: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20022540

**http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/symptoms_of_ptsd.asp

***http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml

 

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