This afternoon, I bundled my daughter up and we walked to the mailbox. This may seem like nothing to you, but for me, it’s a HUGE step. For MONTHS now, I haven’t been able to leave the house (which is a townhouse attached to two other people– UGH ) for any reason other than I HAD to. About a month ago, I made the decision to take my daughter for a walk. We were gone for 45 minutes. Again, this may sound like nothing to you, but every noise I hear, every person I see, each car that passe–, they are all high-level threats to me. It’s hard to go about being normal when you’re constantly on high alert.
While my alert level has not changed from RED to anything else yet, I’m more comfortable than I have been – even if it’s just a little bit – going outside. I don’t like to spend a long time outside, I don’t like to interact with anyone, but I’m forcing myself in small steps to do this.
So why then, was it so much easier for me to board a plane, which I’ve never done before, fly to Arizona, and spend five days there with people I’ve never met face to face than it is for me to walk to the mailbox on the other side of the complex? I really don’t understand, maybe because it was a new experience instead of something I’d done over and over again throughout my life? I’m not sure. All I know is, it seems strange because most of my life, I’ve had anxiety about flying, but it was easier to do that than walk to the mailbox.
I know that I’m capable of doing things like flying and meeting new people, but daily tasks still seem daunting! Every time I walk by the door or the window I’m terrified – but looking out over a plane wing is perfectly fine. I guess this means I need to do more new things, as they seem easier, but the thing I’m really struggling with these days is the daily tasks. They’re the hardest for me.
If you know someone dealing with PTSD or anxiety, just be aware that there are days when ANY form of communication is too much. There’s days when opening the door, or even a text message is too much. Phone calls go to voicemail, texts are left unanswered, and it takes a true support system to just let them be. The most valuable thing to me are the people who understand that it’s HARD for me to be social these days. The ones who understand that I disappear because I can’t handle communication. To all the texts I’ve left unanswered, the missed calls, and the unanswered emails, I’m sorry.
This blog is not just about the victories I’ve had in this journey, but to help others understand exactly what I’ve dealt with and what I am STILL dealing with, even to this day. It doesn’t get easier right away, they tell me. While it’s been almost a year since the home invasion, I’m still struggling with a lot of things on a daily basis, and not many people understand. It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you, it’s that it’s mentally DRAINING to even CONSIDER a conversation with ANYONE. It has nothing to do with any one person individually, and to anyone I’ve “ignored,” trust me, I’m still feeling guilt over not answering. It just isn’t as much as the thought of a conversation taxes me to the point of exhaustion.
I hope that this has shed some light on my evasive behavior over the past year, and I hope that it’s clarified some things for people in my life that may think they did something wrong, or that I just don’t like them. This year has been hard in so many ways, from the invasion, to the financial struggles, to the loss of someone I held very dearly to my heart, and sometimes (who am I kidding – most of the time), the only way for me to deal was to shut down.
Anxiety is real. PTSD is real. Depression is real. For anyone who hasn’t experienced these HORRIBLE, crippling illnesses first hand, you are very lucky, but you also must be understanding of those of us who struggle with them. The majority of days, I feel like getting out of bed and making sure my daughter is taken care of feels like the biggest victory of all. It’s very hard to relay this feeling of accomplishment to someone who has never battled and struggled with these illnesses. Please be mindful that everyone is fighting some kind of battle internally, and just because they may seem aloof or cold, it doesn’t mean that they are, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s aimed at you!