PTSD: Driving

I wasn’t going to blog about this. I created a thread about this over on Wanderlust, a new message board. I just needed some kind of input, but I’ve not received much. Robin tweeted me that I could email her about it, and she brought up an excellent point:

Wow. I personally think you could do a lot of good by blogging about this, because (and I don’t mean to sound over-dramatic) you never know if someone will stumble across it and then, after reading, possibly understand why a PTSD-afflicted person in their life might not be able to just do normal things (such as driving). I think you worded everything very well here. But these are just my thoughts.

I blog about my PTSD and MDD and other forms of health, and my experiences, because it helps me and it spreads awareness. So why wouldn’t I blog about this? Because I don’t want to come off as whiny or lazy or unappreciative? Yes, that is exactly why I didn’t want to blog about it. However, I have certain things that interfere with me having a truck and driving. I have people offline who see my “decision”, or “choice”, to not drive as pure laziness, or quite simply me refusing to be responsible and having priorities. The whole point of me starting over on 6birds and blogging about my life the way I do is to share my experience with mental health with others.

Blogging helps me, so I do it.

I can’t drive. I’ve mentioned this so many times. To mention it offline to people would simply put me in a place of awkwardness, and possibly even make me feel as shitty as I felt last week. I have PTSD, which is the abbreviation for post-traumatic stress disorder. I have flashbacks and hallucinations, and I zone out for hours, only to snap out of it and be totally unaware of what I am doing, where I am, how I got there and/or clueless of what I did in that time period. I have a horrible memory; my reflexes are totally whack; I sleep for many hours unable to wake[1. You want me to use an alarm? Oh, but I do. When I’m sleeping, I’m sleeping so deeply even that doesn’t wake me. And I set my alarms five minutes apart.]; I fall asleep and have nightmares, or flashbacks, of past events; I am easily startled — even if you’re near, even if there is a lot of noise, even if I really shouldn’t be; everything triggers re-experiencing, even the least expected things.

I can’t drive. I refuse to drive. The last time I actually drove on my own, I wasn’t aware that I was about to literally drive straight off the bend rather than turning on it like usual. What stopped me? I didn’t, and still don’t, want to die lost. If something — anything — had happened to me, no one would have went looking for me until I’d been gone about a month or more. No one. No one would have noticed anything had happened, because that area was literally mostly trees, and I wouldn’t have been discovered for who knows how long. Aside from people not being able to find me, I don’t (and didn’t) want to die while PTSD and MDD made/make the decisions for me. They rule my life.

Normal day-to-day activities may include driving for some people. I can’t do normal things, because I’m not mentally stable. I’ll admit to it. Last year, I didn’t want to admit to it. Since my diagnosis, I’ve realized that I need to start understanding its existence and that it cannot just go *poof*! To not think about it would merely make it worse. I have to think about it, because it’s there. I can’t pretend it’s not there. I tried that, and I felt as if I wasn’t in my own body — I felt as though I was watching myself from the outside.

I realized I needed to quit my job that evening when I got home. I mean, I had tried to kill myself. I’m not driving — and I refuse to drive — because I don’t trust myself. Just under half a year ago I was self-harming. It hurts to know that your family finds you to be this weird, lazy, irresponsible person. It hurts like hell. No one offline is supportive. They say I need help, but I’ve no clue as to where to look. When I bring up wanting to get help[2. Because I do want to get help.], it’s shrugged off. “But I think that if you get out more and maybe get yourself a little job, you’ll forget about it.” I did that in 2011, and I almost killed myself in 2012. My emotions repeat themselves each year based on the events that happened. I have a horrific flashback that has been haunting me since a certain doctor’s appointment that is so unnerving that I just need to SPILL to someone, but I don’t for the fear that it may be true.

I feel as if the only way people will realize that I’m not deliberately doing this to myself is for me to get so bad to the point that they’ve no other choice but to get me help. Maybe it’ll open their eyes.

I don’t want to do it, but I can’t afford the $400 insurance. My dad won’t pay it again since I haven’t driven it; I haven’t asked, but I doubt I’ll be shocked by his response. Toto’s my first-ever vehicle. However, no one offline understands the struggle. I have to give up something I love the most. It’s sentimental. Who knows how I’ll ever be able to get another vehicle? My dad saved up money for me to get a vehicle, and now I have this mental illness shit they find to be surreal, and I’m probably seen as ungrateful.

And I’m just crying. I’m crying because no matter how truly grateful for it I am, I’m still seen as the girl who wouldn’t get a job in high school because I couldn’t bear the stress and/or the girl with the forgetful memory and the tantrums. I cry because I had so many high hopes for myself, and things weren’t supposed to make me get here. I cry because this is not the life I wanted for myself.

So I have to sell it. I have to sell it, and even the person offline who has the most experience with trauma thinks I am purposely putting everything at the front of my head. You’re supposed to understand… how could you?

The time I had the most courage to explain to my dad what was going on with me, he knocked me down before I could even finish voicing the thought. Even if you don’t want to believe it happened, it happened. Shit happened to me, and it can never be annulled. It haunts me every minute of every day.

And because the people who need to the most don’t understand it, I’m just forced to stay lost.

If I knew I could sell for enough money to pay for it just to buy some time, I would. However, I seriously doubt the possibility.

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Not driving is definitely the correct answer!

I’m not sure how much would sell for, but there are lots of words that end in “ously”, so I suspect that you would be able to sell it if you tried. Have you tried putting it on a domain marketplace?

@Stephanie, I don’t really want to sell it unless I absolutely have to, though. 😡 I have considered it, however…

Dayum. I personally do not know anybody with PSTD

Oops accidently pressed enter. Um, where was I? Oh yeah, I don’t know anyone in real life with PTSD so I was never aware of how bad it could get. It never really occurred to me that you had such a severe case of PTSD, to a point where you can’t drive. Damn. It sucks that your disorder has limited your ability to do “regular” things. =(

Do you think you’ll ever be able to “overcome” your disorder(s) and eventually be able to drive?

@tiff, I’m not sure. However, I like to think I will.

Dealing with a mental illness is painful and often a lonely process. I’ve had traumatic experiences in my past and I’ve dealt with depression, severe anxiety and I’m pretty sure I have a bipolar disorder. After three years of wanting to make an appointment with a psychologist, I finally did and I have my appointment this Friday.

I’ve been part of a mental health non-profit organization since 2011 and it has really helped me understand about different mental illnesses and knowing that I’m not alone.

I applaud you for talking about this, it’s not an easy thing to do, especially with all the stigma surrounding any kind of mental illness. I definitely understand your situation, I’ve had similar experiences while driving and with other day to day activities. Just know, if you ever need to talk to someone, don’t hesitate to contact me *hugs*. We need to bring more awareness about mental illnesses and try to stop this awful stigma about them.

Struggling with mental illness is so lonely. Not only are you trapped inside your mind which is persistent and it’s very difficult to escape. What also makes it difficult is that these people feel like they can’t talk about it, that it may come off as whiney. It’s so difficult.

I think you’re doing a wonderful job bringing more awareness to this. It’s a really tough issue for those who suffer from it and for those who don’t.