PTSD Fears: When "Bravery" Doesn't Seem Like an Option by Dear Cookie Monster

PTSD Fear: When “Bravery” Doesn’t Seem Like an Option

Dear All of you,

Here’s my (Twenty-Three, age 23) answer to the writing prompt.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? What can you do now to make this a reality?

I’ll do the same thing Ana (age 25) did yesterday: list my fears, how I handle them, and how I want to handle them differently.

My fears, in no particular order:

  • Never being able to go back to my college because I can’t handle the stress
  • Having to go to a community college instead
  • Having to live at home forever because I can’t take care of myself
  • My (sort of) ex showing people the crazy text messages I sent him while I was psychotic
  • Having to work a really low-paying job because I can’t handle the stress of getting an advanced degree
  • People (especially at work) learning I’m bipolar
  • People (especially at work) learning I have an eating disorder
  • A bunch of PTSD fears that Ana (age 25) has, but MUCH worse:
    • Police officers
    • Hospitals
    • Loud noises
    • Being trapped
    • Being approached by strangers
    • Being watched (while walking, taking public transport, etc)
    • Public transportation
    • Being detained or arrested
    • The wind
    • People finding out where I live
    • Having another psychotic episode
    • Not being able to sleep and becoming manic again
    • Panic attacks
  • Eating in front of people
  • Dolls
  • Boats

How I handle these fears:

  • I write, hoping I might be able to turn that into a career so I wouldn’t have to work a “crappy” job
  • I force myself not to think about the future so I don’t have a panic attack
  • I binge when I can’t force myself to not think
  • I work 2 jobs so I’m at home as little as possible
  • I don’t tell people anything personal about me
  • I avoid things I’m afraid of
  • I listen to audiobooks and music when I’m outside
  • I take medication for sleep
  • I take public transport as little as possible
  • I don’t eat in front of people
  • Stopped talking to all friends & using Facebook

The base fear: psychosis

I’m terrified it will happen again. I’m also scared that it’s ruined my life forever and I will never be able to get over that.

If I wasn’t afraid I would…

I have no idea. I can’t picture not being afraid. Disregarding my fears seems like suicide – they protect me from bad things happening. At this time, I didn’t necessarily recognize that I was doing anything that needed to change – my only concern was protecting myself.

There were, however, still healthy things I did despite fear:

(Already listed, here explained)

  • Worked 2 jobs: exposed me to people, loud noises, walking outside
  • Stopped purging, which made going back to school possible
  • Wrote fiction, which gave me an outlet
  • Ran, which gave me an outlet and got me outside (albeit when it was dark)
  • Listened to audiobooks, which gave me a healthy escape

Here’s some perspective from the future:

  • Graduating from college, even though it was with an “easier” and “useless” degree was still a huge accomplishment
  • Thinking your current “crappy” job is beneath you is quite snobby. It’s giving you character, a slice of humble pie, paying the bills, and helping you gain independence from your family – for which you should be immensely thankful.
  • Your old life is indeed “ruined,” but you now have the opportunity to build a new life. You also can one day pursue that advanced degree if you want – but hopefully after you’ve built up your strength and recovered a bit more.

OK, that’s it for the writing prompt. Ana (age 25) mentioned yesterday that we should include a short (key word) life update with each letter to create context, so here we go:

Life Update:

The phenomena of the more I lose weight, the fatter I think I am has begun.

I looked in the mirror today and my face felt like a big blob of dough and my stomach a thick slab of blubber. At least I’m aware of it.

I just got a bunch of freelance work where I can just sit at home in my pajamas.

This further drives down my motivation to find temp work where I have to physically show up – which I desperately need to do to stay healthy. The offer I got turned out to be for February, and I’ll be in a different country by then, so I have to start a fresh search.

I have somehow continued to not binge.

I have no idea what day I’m on, but it’s definitely been a week by now. I actually do know how I’ve stopped bingeing, but it’s too long to explain here.

So: maybe we should have a weekly recovery tip?

Even though I often feel like I know nothing and am terrible at recovery, I’ve actually come an extremely long way. My perfectionism tells me I’ve not progressed at all, but that simply isn’t true.

Posting recovery tips would also greatly help me remember what I’ve learned. 

I’ve learned a ton of helpful things from therapy and eating disorder treatment. I actually spent about 7 months at Castlewood, which is one of the best treatment centers in the US.

Just some food for thought.

Cheers,

Signature: Twenty-Three (Dear Cookie Monster)

Twenty-Three (age 23)

P.S.

These letters are becoming extremely long. Brevity needs to make a comeback.

 

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