Content/Trigger Warning: This post includes triggers for PTSD resulting from sexual violence. While it is the focal point of this post there will be NO details about the incident. This is just me, a survivor, expressing how I am feeling after being triggered. I will do my best to give warning to areas that might bring more vivid reminders.
So, to me it's no surprise that April, the awareness month for sexual violence, I start having my flashback nightmares, aka, night terrors. In my opinion, this is one of the worst ways to be reminded of your trauma aside from having to be where it happened. Sometimes night terrors can be random as hell but sometimes, when you think about it, even the smallest detail could have been your trigger. Others, you thought you might have dealt with your trigger but that night, days. weeks, or even months, later you're it hits you. This post's title was inspired by an organization called Red my Lips that encourages people to wear red lipstick for sexual violence awareness month to spread awareness and speak out against victim blaming a problem many survivors face once becoming public about their assault.
Do you remember when you were little and you had nightmares that you swore were real? You swore there was a monster in your closet or underneath your bed? Night terrors are like that but on a totally different level. DETAIL WARNING They feel so real, my poor dad, because I was flailing and kicking so much one time I clogged him in the face while he was trying to wake me. It's been 7 years and yet as hard as I try, I remember every last detail and in my dreams I am unable to distract myself for going deeper into it. I feel everything physically, I can recall and relive the whole experience in extreme details.
These last few months I've had night terrors and an increased in how often and how much thinking about my trauma. Not dealing with my past might be the reason some of yall might be thinking. Not exactly, I've seen sexual assault specific counselors, I've accepted what has happened to me and for 3 years I have been able to live my life without it consumed by my trauma. I'm not a woman hiding behind her laptop blogging about her problems, I am publicly open about my trauma in my personal life too. So what gives? PTSD is a life long conditions, as long as I live, my trauma will always be in the back burner somewhere ready to pounce no matter how well I'm dealing and that is another fact I have to accept.
I know the culprit of my night terrors though, at least, the cause of tonight's. You see, these last 2 night my family and I would be watching tv and the show would involve sexual assault. Now, for the past 3 years I've been able to I guess, "push through" the unexpected plot of sexual assault but about a month ago this became difficult. So what happens? I shut down. Like many people who deal with PTSD I want to deal with it on my own, my stubbornness has me trying to just push through the scene. Part of my mind tries to concentrate so much on what just happened and the other part is trying to get myself to think of anything but that. I try to remain my composure, act as if I'm just really into whatever I'm doing on my phone but my parents notice. They change the show, make sure I'm ok, and out of not knowing what to do, we just watch whatever else we just put on. "It's stupid," I think, "I've been fine for so long why is this bothering me now?" More anger and frustration settles in.
When my PTSD becomes more difficult to deal with, without even thinking about it, my body does what it can so it doesn't have to sleep at night. IDK if it's because my trauma took place at night but me, coping, and night time doesn't mix. One of the few perks of bed rest, I can just sleep during the day without it affecting anything. Unfortunately, coping at night sucks because if you actually feel like talking to someone (which is rare) the likelihood of there being someone is slim.
DETAIL WARNING So what happens when you wake up? Somehow, despite already having this happen in your dream, everything comes flooding back yet again. You're drenched in sweat, hyperventilating and disoriented. So you're stuck trying to calm yourself down while processing. It was a dream, it wasn't actually happening in that very moment, you were asleep on your bed, you're at home, safe, and sound. (And if you're not safe and sound please seek help!) If you haven't passed out from all the crying and hyperventilating hopefully by now you're starting to calm down. Emotionally you start to feel drained and for me, I'm just so deep in thought I don't care to talk, eat or sleep.
The "it's just a dream" is a load of crap because it's not. Yes, right then and there it wasn't happening but it has happened there's not much more to it. You see, when you're having difficulty with PTSD it's like you're in a different dimension, anytime you're triggered it's like you've gone through the rabbit hole. You become so focused on it, you get stuck on repeat. Previous thoughts, feelings, questions, doubts, etc. come flooding in.
Sorry if this post was just a bunch of rambling nonsense, I just felt like I had to write and post this. Maybe this was just something I needed to do for myself but hopefully, it helped someone out there. Things will get better, and if they aren't you fight for it and make it happen. Once you have dealt with everything and have better times it will come back to you and you will have to face it all over again. I'm sorry it's that way, you never did anything to deserve this, but your battle has made you a warrior. You are not a victim and you are far from alone. Now listen to this song, cry your eyes out and fight on!