I felt so much, I started to feel nothing.
Sam DeSilva has been blogging about PTSD since being caught in the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia. More of his writing can be found here.
I felt totally numb today.
I didn’t sleep at all last night. The past few days have been rough, but yesterday was way too intense. From the moment I woke up, I was an absolute mess. There were parts of the day when I couldn’t stop crying. I feel slightly embarrassed about having written a tearful post, but it was the truth. The one thing that helped me through my PTSD treatment was being true to myself while reflecting on how I felt during the trauma of the tsunami, and how I reacted in the aftermath.
Not being able to sleep isn’t something new to me, but it hasn’t happened in a quite a while. I think part of me was too anxious to let myself sleep, because I didn’t want to have another insanely traumatizing dream and wake up in a state of fear. It’s beyond draining when sleep doesn’t offer any therapeutic benefits but traumatizes you to the point where you wake up a wreck and feel considerably worse than before you fell asleep.
Despite being shattered, I’m happy I didn’t sleep.
I was physically exhausted by sunrise and my emotions were totally numb by that point. I soldiered through the morning until about lunch when I passed out in the car while on the way to Colombo. I dreamt about police custody which is another repetitive dream that I have but it is better than reliving the trauma of seeing the dead who were scattered across the island.
It’s still hard to process, although it was horrific to see each new dead body as we covered more of the island. After a while, you got kind of got used to it and got on with whatever you were meant to be doing. I don’t think walking past the same dead bodies continuously throughout the day should ever be something someone should get used to, but after the waves of the tsunami hit the island, those who stayed on the ground to help were all exposed to this nightmare scenario for more than 24 hours, until the navy/army arrived, and we and all the other survivors left the island.
I managed to block out most of it, but there are still some faces of the dead that will never really leave me. It’s really messed up, but despite being madly in love with my ex-fiancé for years, I can’t really picture her face as clearly as the French girl in the room below mine who I tried to grab and save when the first wave “took her”, or the face of the dead pregnant girl who another group found later in the day. Sometimes, I’d be in tears thinking/writing about them, like yesterday but today has been the complete opposite. I feel numb to it all.
I’m going to see a PTSD specialist tomorrow, I need to speak to someone.
Being here in Sri Lanka is different from last year. Last year, I came here for a week to see my grandfather for the last time before he passed. That trip hit me hardest the week after returning to Chiang Mai, Thailand. This time, I have been facing up to what happened on that Christmas holiday five years ago, which literally destroyed me after returning to London. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to feel comfortable talking to someone new, I’d much rather see Dr. Wild who treated me back in the UK, but she’s not here and I don’t need to go through this on my own.
After breaking down emotionally yesterday, I promised Matt (my best mate from Seattle who’s been a rock for me the past few years since leaving London) that I would, at least, give it a try. He’s seen me go through the ups and the incredible downs and convinced me that I need to find a better baseline than how I have been feeling, especially since returning to Sri Lanka this time.
Although being emotionally numb is easier to manage than uncontrollably bawling my eyes out, I don’t think it’s healthy to be able to think about the saddest, most traumatic experiences of my life and feel nothing like I have today.
Tomorrow might feel like another hardship, or even a step back in terms of reaching out for help again, but I know it can’t hurt and hopefully might help me reset myself to be able to move forward with a better balance and greater strength.
Hardship often prepares ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny—C.S Lewis
I wrote the post “This is a low” in about 10/15 minutes, it was raw and from my heart. I didn’t have to think about it, it just came out naturally, if that makes sense. After tweeting the link, I had a heartfelt twitter conversation with Adnoto Libero. I don’t often get into long twitter conversation where I just open up, especially if I’m struggling emotionally, but I’m thankful I did because it really helped me gain a better perspective.
I hope by sharing it you’ll better understand my journey and why I am so grateful to the countless people from all around the world who like Adnoto Libero who have reached out and genuinely helped me through the “dark times”.
This article originally appeared on PTSD Jedi
Photo credit: Getty Images