My skin is crawling. I am awake. No, my mind rests in sleep. My body will not be still; it yearns to move, convulses in response to the defibrillation rocking my body, rocking on waves. The electric system in my brain falters and sparks, electrical cords encasing me in a womb of wires spitting images. Do I cut the red or the green to escape? I contemplate, and then there is darkness.
Drenched in sweat, I jolt from sleep, my heart racing, my skin still crawling. The nightmares are increasing in frequency. I warm the shower, strip to nakedness, and step over the edge of the tub into its basin. The water drenches my hair and washes away the salty residue upon my skin. The shower head holds pressure upon my scalp. Pressure. My head held in place. I taste the saltiness of the sweat clothing my body and gag. I gag and gag as the shower continues to run, the contents of my stomach threatening mutiny. Finally the gagging subsides, and I allow the water to flow, to carry away the saltiness and cleanse. Pruned fingertips turn the nob to off and the water ceases to flow.
Trauma poses a challenge to intellectual capacity, and a greater challenge to the brain’s propensity for emotional understanding. Post traumatic stress disorder. Seeing the letters strung into words on my after visit summary posed a challenge to my psyche. I carry an intellectual understanding of trauma. An event happened that has triggered a litany of effects. But emotionally, I am swimming in the deep blue.
My eyeballs betray me. Stop showing me those images, I warned you. I did not pay the admission fee. The anxiety and angst swell and crest as waves in my empty stomach. I claw at my eyeballs, scratching the retinas. The pictures stop with the swiftness in which they appeared. With equal swiftness, the monster appears. Watch out, for none are spared.
There is a diagnosis of acute PTSD, meaning it may resolve, and also chronic PTSD, which lingers indefinitely, my psychiatrist explained to me. My right hand extended and contracted around a plastic squishy toy I had bought at the Dollar Tree to relieve stress. Extend and contract. Extend and contract. I agreed to return in a month.
The empty bucket has made home in my gut, and I cannot seem to fill it, despite earnest attempts to add substance to an emptiness seemingly interminable. I throw in long-depleted cartons of milk, egg shells, empty oatmeal boxes, a half-drunk canister of orange juice, but nothing amasses to the amount necessary to ease the pain. I pick garbage from the street, go to parks and dig through bushes, finding cans of beer and bottles of soda pop. Despite quantity, insufficiency prevails.
I ask myself, why such hesitancy? I divulged the revelation of my newfound cognizance of my empty attempts to fill the naggingly hollow bucket. I am doing it wrong, I told her. Why such hesitancy? I have been inhaling with a stutter. I smoothed a honey lavender balm on the back of my throat so maybe I will breathe with ease. Why have I hesitated to act in the direction of my wellness?
Daily I pick the garbage from my bucket. I try to not litter inside the receptacle, but cluttered littering is inevitable. As I discard trash, I remind myself, hesitancy will not heal, but only hinder health.