For the last couple months I have had a lot of PTSD symptoms- flashbacks, anxiety, and nightmares. I've been waking up about 3 times a night, sweating, panicked, and sometimes crying. The dreams are usually about my brother; often my dad is tormenting me. As you might imagine, anything that messes up your sleep takes a toll during the day. I've been using coffee and sugar to keep awake, which has led to stomachaches. It's a downward spiral. I also haven't been eating well because I've been unable to keep my apartment clean, including the kitchen, which forces me to go out to eat, or survive on energy bars and dry cereal. I’m at the point where my digestive system, under its current level of (emotional) distress, can't handle meat (besides seafood) so that means my diet is now excludes dairy, gluten (bread, pasta), and even chicken, definitely beef and pork. I am so intimately aware of how one's emotional state affects the body, and the stress of the PTSD is the reason my digestive system is so delicate. There's only so much crap my body can process.
Today I am having a good day, though. I woke up this morning nightmare-free (at least as far as I can remember), got my laundry done before 2 pm (practically unheard of since I have to drag it to a laundromat and I usually procrastinate all Sunday, sometimes until the following Sunday when I am running out of socks, underwear, and pants), and went to hockey practice. The last activity kicked my ass and I am totally sore, but happy. I think part of my success today was driven by a major accomplishment last night- I washed most of my dishes. I'm battling with the chaos of my apartment. I am by nature an organized person, but one of my defensive strategies is messiness. It might seem strange to attribute my adult behavior to my childhood experiences, but PTSD is a strange thing and emotionally, I'm still there. In my childhood, that is.
When I was young, as meticulous and orderly as I was, my room was a disaster. Like, you couldn't walk through it (except me) without tripping on things. If you saw how neat and detailed I was at school, you'd probably be surprised. There was a reason for it, of course. My dad wouldn't come in my room, during the day when he was yelling at me, or at night after my mom went to sleep, when it was messy like that. It was a magical, protective barrier, like a moat. I resisted mightily (passive resistance, that is, direct was not an option) when my parents tried to get me to clean my room. When they did succeed at getting me to clear the floor, it was either back to the disaster by nighttime, or I slept in the closet.
I feel like my life has collapsed in on itself, so the distinction between my past and my present is barely there. At least, in my mind. My subconscious is bleeding into my present consciousness, hence the nightmares and flashbacks. For all intensive purposes, I am living in the past. I am experiencing it every day. The chaos in my apartment is both a defense against the emotional assault I'm under (especially at night, when my dad visits me in my nightmares, and my brother tries to help me in a way that only accentuates the tragedy of how I wasn’t able to save his life and how we have both failed to get beyond his abuse), and an act of passive resistance. Not a practical one, but an understandable one. I am both trapped in my childishness and overcoming it. As bad as it is to live with these intrusions from the past, they are happening now because my mind knows I can handle them. I am finally far enough from the trauma, and old enough and stable enough to carry on with my "normal" adult life while reliving this. My apartment has become symbolic of the disorganization of my emotional life, and at some point, when I'm ready, I will clean this apartment and the nightmares will stop. Not necessarily in that order.