You would think celebrating your child graduating from kindergarten would be an exciting thing to witness. For those of us with PTSD its anything but exciting. Sitting in a room full of people watching their little darlings graduate is nothing that even resembles fun. It’s excruciating. By the time its over and you’re able to leave, you are simply grateful you survived without having a panic attack (assuming you actually did so).
This shouldn’t be a matter of survival. I’ve faced scud missile attacks, I have worked in too many mass casualty incidents, you would think I could handle a simple graduation. The fact of the matter is, I cannot. Being in a room full of people terrifies me…..me, the person who used to thrive on being the center of attention, the person who was in theater, choir, and the dance team. The person who had no problem whatsoever getting up in front of people and give a speech and actually enjoy it. That woman is gone. In her place is a woman who begins to tremble at the idea of being in a crowded room, who can’t walk through a grocery store by herself. I have spent quite some time morning the loss of the woman I was not so long ago.
You see, when you’re exposed to a traumatic event, something in your brain begins to change. When you are exposed to multiple traumatic events it only serves to alter the brain further. The way information is process is now different. Our primal brain has been awaked and everything becomes a question of survival. Emotions don’t process correctly and often begin to express themselves at inappropriate times (like being fearful in a room full of kindergarteners and their parents). There is no reason for the emotion, for feeling like you need to react as if you were in peril. There are many coping techniques that you can use, but there are times when even those don’t work. Today was very nearly one of those days.
I hate that I can’t even enjoy my daughters graduation. I hate that we couldn’t stay until they were ready to leave. But I had to leave and I had to do it ‘NOW’. I will admit that I lasted much longer than I thought I would make it. When I arrived I made a point to speak with the school nurse. You see, all morning I was feeling feint and wanted her to know that if it happened, I did NOT need an ambulance, I simply needed a quiet place to calm myself. I also spoke with the principal. She gave me her seat against the wall and slightly away from the crowd. That probably helped me more than anything else.
These next 16 days can’t pass fast enough. Knowing that at the end of my training at K9s I will have an additional tool to aid me in recovering parts of my life is what keeps me going right now.