This was a few weeks after the burns. The burns on my feet and leg were healing but my hand was failing to get any better. I had spent weeks on and off strong painkillers. The only way I could sleep at night was to lay with my hand over the edge of my bed, with a towel on the floor to try and soak up all the liquid which would drip out. If I tried to sleep with my hand in the bed not only would there be a mess but even a simple thing like the weight of a blanket would cause so much pain it would wake me up.
Perhaps part of it was my own fault I didn’t consistently take the pain medication partly because I didn’t like the way they made me feel, partly because I kept getting such conflicting advice from doctors about the addictive nature and long term use I was afraid to use them for more than a couple of days at a time.
After months of treatment for my hand I was a mess. Following one painful and disheartening dressing appointment I was driven home in the car in silence. I was in shock. I got in and deleted all the photos of the burn (This was rescued from a previous what’s app message to a friend). Little did I know that day was the start of a further downward spiral into PTSD.
I struggled on for weeks trying to live as normally as I could. I remember failed attempts to meet with friends. (On the one occasion bailing on a very dear friend just as food arrived at the table, saying I was sorry I felt ill and had to leave). I recall pacing back and forth in my bedroom saying I felt lightheaded, had pins and needles and was about to pass out. I remember drinking orange juice like there was no tomorrow because the acidity and sweetness some how helped with the sickness. I remember laying awake for hours in the middle of the night.
I stopped socialising, stopped enjoying life. Once the bandages were gone, I returned to work and managed to preserver through the day, forcing my usual positive nature to surface. But once again the days were an effort, a fight just to get to the finish. Sometimes I would be sat in a meeting assessing the exit options of a room and the excuses I would give if I had to leave. With the unseen overwhelming sense of illness enveloping me. I didn’t believe it was my mind I thought there was something physically wrong with me and I repeatedly visited the doctor trying to find the cause.
But dam I was lucky, firstly that the burns weren’t worse and then secondly that with some great support I got help. I was diagnosed with PTSD and though my journey is far from done slowly I am starting to feel like I am winning. I am learning the movements of the enemy, I know the warning signs, I have tools and defences I can mobilise.
Not only that but it is fair to say before the burn I was happy, but I coasting in life. I wasn’t striving for my dreams (I didn’t even remember what my dreams were), I wasn’t investing in being a better person. I was satisfied, content.
The PTSD though reminded me there are so many other people out there in the world struggling. It has ignited a desire to help. If I can help just one person, one person that like me grew up in unusual circumstances, someone that feels alone or is spiralling downwards or perhaps someone like me that has settled for regular happiness instead of the extraordinary, then the PTSD was worth it.
The other thing the PTSD and continued self-development have reminded me is to strive for my dreams. I think before I was afraid, afraid that I would try and fail. I listened to those voices to much that suggested my desires were unrealistic. But who is it to say? Who decides what’s realistic? And why should we aim for realistic anyway? And if I try and fail at least I tried.
So, what is my long winded post trying to say;
Don’t settle – Even if you are happy, could you be happier?
Don’t give up on your dreams – Simply knowing what your dreams are and knowing you are trying to reach them is exciting and liberating.
Don’t take for granted what you have – Times are tough, but how ever hard they get you will ALWAYS have something to be grateful for.
You are not alone – so many people have told me about their own struggles now they have heard about mine. I never realised that so many of the people I admired and looked up to struggled at times as well.
After all of this and more I am committing to trying to live my best life and hoping to help someone live theirs too.