New Found Energy

close up photo of grey illustration

Looking back on yesterday, I think it was my most active blogging day in the history of my blogging life. Something about starting to rhyme things again seems to have struck a chord in my imagination. I say again because there was a time when I would rhyme things all the time. Back in the days of old, before life and family took over. Well, really, it was not only life and family but a lingering problem that was misdiagnosed for 40 years of my life. Just three years ago, I was diagnosed with hyper-vigilant PTSD. For the previous 40 years, this issue had been treated as ADD. From the age of 5 until just three years ago, I was always on some kind of stimulant medication to treat ADD or a tranquilizer of some kind because of my outbursts of anger. Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, Klonopin, heavy doses of Hydroxyzine, Buspar, and a few others. There was nothing much fun about any of that. Deep down, I knew what the problem was, and this was not the answer. Fear held the real answer at bay for too many years.

The answer is and always was PTSD caused by abuse as a child. Abuse that I had hidden locked away, in a little box, deep in the back of my brain. As far back as the animal-level protection instincts will go. Pushed back in a tiny little dark corner, never to be seen again. Unfortunately, as life goes on and the stress of working and raising a family stack upon thy shoulders, the little box in the corner starts to leak.

It leaks this darkness, this evil, the putrid stench of things that should not be. The leak penetrates your brain, your thoughts, your everyday life, all day, every day. Like an oil drilling platform leaking into the ocean. Eventually, the blackness consumes everything. Every part of your being, every thought, every sight, every sleeping moment. So many that suffer from this consume all of their energy to plug the leak, hide from it, deny it, ignore it, but eventually, the enemy wins. The crash happens. Nothing matters; everyone is out to get you, everyone wants to hurt you, everyone is looking at you, everyone is chasing you.

Waking up in a cold sweat at 4am having a panic attack. Screaming at the top of your lungs, why am I so miserable all of the time. This makes no sense. You know it’s not right. You should not feel this way. You tell yourself you don’t have to feel this way. The darkness gets heavier as this is an illogical loop that should not happen. How can you know you should not feel this way while knowing there is nothing you can do to stop it. It is really like the darkness controls the show, and you just get to sit back and watch.

This is anxiety driven by hyper-vigilant PTSD. This is not a joke. The problems started to worsen as the stress of living life on my own and raising a family grew. The end result was a full brain misfire and total disassociation from my own being. That is a scary thing. To literally feel as if you are floating above your own body, looking down at your own state of misery.

Up until this point, I had avoided doctors of any kind for many years unless absolutely necessary. Dealing with anxiety anyway, I had a severe distrust of everyone. Since nothing they had tried in the past had worked, in most cases, made it worse, why try again. But at the urging of my wife, I went on the hunt for a doctor. After all of the money and time wasted on doctors and medications in the past, I found the best therapist that finally helped me work through this problem at a local free clinic. I could write a book on the history and the therapy sessions, so we will just cut to the short version. With the help of a wonderful therapist, Elizabeth Osborne, we rooted out the abuse issues. We started on a therapy course to ease my mind and learn to deal with those past abuses. You have to bring the bad memories and feelings to the front to deal with them, no matter how hurtful they are.

I was on Zoloft for about 6 months to break the really bad cycle I was in at that time. That was almost 3 years ago. I have not taken any medications in the past 2 years.

This post is skewed from its original intent, but I feel strongly about this, and sometimes my feelings take over my posts. Anxiety, even today, is still scoffed at by some. On the level that I and many others deal with anxiety, just a tip, most couldn’t handle it. When the anxiety takes on the extremes of hyper-vigilant PTSD, the beast becomes stronger. See, our bodies are prepared to fight 24/7. We are always sitting on the trigger. It is a constant stream of adrenaline. This is scientifically proven. And even the slightest little thing like being startled can set off the whole chain reaction. Sometimes you recover in a day or two, sometimes a month or two. But through all of that, we put on a false smile and try our best to make it through the day. In many cases, no one knows, except to berate you for being anti-social or an underperformer.

Now that was a lot about me and my situation. But there, of course, like always, is a message here. You can recover. You can beat that anxiety. It took me until I was 44 years old to finally come out from behind that defensive barrier that I had built for so many years and experience life again. Imagine things, rhyme things, paint things, sing things. Even if you can’t sing, sing anyway. If you cant draw, draw anyway. If you think you can’t write, write anyway.

You have dealt with anxiety your whole life. There is not one damn thing another person can say to or about you that your mind has not already told you. You are strong. You have lived with it for this long and probably held a job and acted normal. But there comes a time when you need to be you for yourself and deal with the things that are eating you from the inside, no matter how much it may hurt at first. That is the only path to freedom.

In most cases, you did nothing wrong. Your mind just tells you that you did. Well, tell it that it’s wrong, especially in cases of abuse of any kind. The abuser and your mind will convince you that it was your fault. No matter the age, race, sex, or creed. This is a problem everywhere. Don’t believe it.

I have been there. I have walked that path. I still have bad days, but I know how to deal with them now. Don’t be afraid. Just do it.

I believe this release and actually dealing with issues that caused the anxiety is what has now freed my mind to be imaginative and playful as I should have been as a child, instead of always being in a defensive posture.

Have a Wonderful Day

–Bryan Vest

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