It’s time the truth comes out. I say this because I can’t do it on my own and need to be held accountable. As I’ve stated in a previous post, I stopped using drugs November 21, 2017 after 35 years of heavy non stop daily use.
When I stopped using, all the memories and the trauma that I had been repressing for so long came welling up out of me and I didn’t know how to deal with it at all. I was already in therapy but it was still too much for me to bear. I was in and out of the mental hospital because I was extremely suicidal. That’s all I could think about. I didn’t feel like I deserved to live. I was tainted. Some of the things I was forced to be a part of and participate in, no human, let alone a little child, should ever have to endure. I was defeated, broken and ashamed.
I did several weeks of a partial hospitalization program learning different skills like DBT, CBT, mindfulness and distractions to help deal with the flood of memories. I started journaling every single memory and passed it on to my therapist to hopefully set me free of the pain and the burden of holding it all inside of me. But nothing seemed to work. The more I tried to let go the more it seemed to grasp hold of me. I don’t know if perhaps I was afraid to let go because these are my secrets and they are what make me me. I don’t even know if that really makes sense at all to anyone but me. Perhaps I feel like I would lose my sense of identity if I let go. I honestly don’t know.
I managed to stay clean for 6 months. 6 months of grueling flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks. Until I couldn’t take it anymore and I started drinking and using again. But in my broken brain it was okay Because I didn’t go back to my drug of choice. I decided to use something much worse. I picked up heroin. I went from just trying it to full on withdrawals if I didn’t have it.
I broke down a few weeks later and told my therapist. She recommended I do detox and rehab. Which I did. 7 days detox and 14 days in residential treatment. I was proud to be clean again. Then it started all over again. The flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks. This time I tried to ignore the memories. I stuffed them in my “vault” and locked them in.
I was amazed, it seemed to have worked!! I was clean and I was trauma free. I was starting to actually feel like a normal human being. That awesome feeling lasted about a month until the vault broke open and the nightmares began again.
Perhaps out of weakness or laziness or just plain old defeat I picked up my drug of choice again. Everything went back to my status quo. I’m no longer suicidal. No more nightmares, flashbacks or panic attacks. My therapist said I was starting to stabilize. All is good, right? Wrong!
Now my health is deteriorating again. My blood pressure is off the charts. If I keep it up I’ll have a stroke. My kidneys are failing again. I’m having palpitations regularly. My CHF is acting up again and I’m swelling up with water.
I need to STOP and I’m too afraid to!!! If I don’t stop I will die. If I don’t deal with my trauma, it makes me suicidal and I will die. I need help. I’m afraid of my past and afraid of my memories. I somehow need to muster the courage to face it all head on. It’s time for me to stop running and hiding from it and deal with it.
I know I can stop using,, that doesn’t seem to be the issue. what I need help with is facing my trauma. What has helped you guys face your trauma? How did you face your trauma without losing control? How did you get the PTSD symptoms under control?