The Last 5 Percent

The Last 5 Percent

I like to think I’m 95% recovered from PTSD.

At my worst, I was afraid to leave my house. It took pep talks and bribery to get me out the door, even to go to the grocery store. Panic attacks happened almost daily, and my resting heart rate was around 100 BPM.

Now, I can go months without panic attacks. I’m never afraid to leave my house. I can do things I used to be afraid of (eat peanut butter, put my head underwater, …) and my brain isn’t cloudy most days.

But there are things I still can’t/won’t do, because they give me a lot of anxiety and/or cause panic attacks. I don’t like loud, crowded bars and I hate scary/violent movies. I ran out of The Girl on the Train in hysterics.

I function pretty well. I can navigate daily life and am pretty happy and healthy right now.

But there’s still some work to do, and some reminders that I’m not 100% better. The other day I saw a glass on the ground. At first I didn’t think anything of it, but as I got closer I started shaking. There was a dumpster 20 feet away, and I casually threw up as I passed it.
I thought “that was weird” and went about my day. That night I couldn’t sleep and I was having bad nightmares about being tied up & tortured.

I woke up and remembered what it was all about. My attacker threw a glass on the ground. He looked at me, holding a couple shards, and said “sometimes, I just like to destroy something beautiful”. I didn’t realize until much later that he was talking about me.

So yes… seeing an abandoned glass on the sidewalk caused me distress. But it was short lived, and I recovered quickly. Even a year ago, it would have taken a couple days to recover. 2 years ago it would have put me on edge for a week.

At my worst, I was about a 50 on the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale.
When I told my mom (who is a nurse) she said “wow. That’s bad.” I’ve never been so embarrassed.
I spent countless hours in therapy, learning coping techniques, and changing everything about my life.

Almost 5 years later, I would rate myself at a 95%. That last 5% though – it’s hanging in there for dear life, and it’s almost as stubborn as I am.
I’m know there are treatments available (a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and therapy) but I’m not sure if it’s worth it. Some of the therapy techniques, such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing), requires you to relive the trauma over and over until you are desensitized to it. Medications can take years to determine the right dose of the right drug, with nasty side affects. I just don’t know if it’s worth it for me at this point. [This is a personal decision, not a recommendation for others in their own unique situations]

The process of digging it all back up will be treacherous. And for what?  To be less upset by what happened to me? It WAS bad. I almost died. It’s ok to think of it in those terms.


So 30%, 50%, 90%, wherever you are – it’s Ok to be there. And it’s OK if you’re not ready to put in the work.


Keep Talking, Keep Sharing.
-Elizabeth

Author

Elizabeth

Elizabeth

Hi! I'm Elizabeth, a blogger on When You're Ready.org I spent 2 years struggling with PTSD and panic attacks following a violent attack. I want to use my experience and my voice to raise support for others. I desperately want to make the world a safer place for girls and women, especially my two little sisters. Keep talking, Keep sharing. When You're Ready, I'll be here.

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