Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Trauma, The Amplifier in My Body
Trauma really does a number on a person. I’ve read a lot about the effects of trauma on the brain and the nervous system of a trauma survivor. And it’s almost impossible to really describe it to someone effectively who has never experienced what it’s like to live with PTSD. The best thing I can come up with is that it’s like having an amplifier buried in your body. And any kind of sensory input gets fed directly to this amplifier and it gets processed at about a gazillion times of what it actually is. Whether it’s visual, or sound or often even physical touch.
You know how it feels to your body when you are at a concert, listening to some band that is really jamming, the sound is cranked and you can feel it through your whole body? And then after you leave the concert and return to the outside world, your body is still experiencing the sensations of all that amplified sound? That is pretty much what it’s like for a PTSD survivor with sometimes what other people would think the most mundane experiences. There is an amplifier and it exaggerates every sensory input until the whole body is vibrating with it and it takes a while for the body to rid itself of this overload.
Of course the problem is that it doesn’t take long for a person who suffers in this way to realize that not everyone around them is experiencing things the way they are, are not suffering in this same way. And so you try to hide this from not only yourself but also from everyone around you. Often people will try to numb themselves through drugs or alcohol, many for years and years, just to get through life. Just to hide from what is going on inside. But it is really hard to hide from something that affects you so profoundly and so often. And what starts to happen is that you start to avoid people and places that are going to cause this kind of thing to happen to you. The ones you know about, anyway. And then through a survival process that you are often not even aware of, you start to eliminate more and more people and places until you are pretty well isolated from life, period.
Trauma places this amplifier in your body and it is really really hard to get rid of it once it’s there. Some of us have never really known anything else, we’ve always had trauma and we’ve always had the amplifier. But after so many years of dealing with it, we run out of coping methods, or we get kicked in the ass by the coping methods that we came to depend upon, and then we are left with trying to find a way to deal with life, without those methods we have always needed just to get through.
It’s a tough spot to be in. And lucky for us, there is help for us out there now. There are people working very hard to find ways to help us heal from this part of things. I haven’t actually started on this leg of the journey yet. I think it is coming soon though. I think I’m getting to the place where I will be able to take it on.
Life is waiting for me. And I want to live it without the amplifier in my body, another freedom I want real real bad.