“I bet you thought you’d gotten rid of me.”

Vera smirks, she perches onto her dusty, tattered thrown. It’s almost as old as I am, because Vera is the name of my anxiety and she’s been with me for as long as I can remember now.

Vera is an elf like creature. She’s tiny and I should be able to fight her, but I can’t and it kills me that she’s so powerful.

Vera is in my brain and in my heart. She’s in my chest and my stomach, my hands, my legs, my eyes. She is wherever she wants to be, and she knows she can take over me.

Vera’s hair is black and matted and her skin is greying. Her clothing is torn and she looks battered after all these years, and all my failed attempts to drown her out. I never succeed.

Vera’s voice is the part that fills me with dread the most. It’s louder than ever now, she demands to be heard. She screams and screams and screams over anything left of the rational thought process I’d tried so hard to build up. She will be heard. She knows how to get to me.

Her voice goes in waves and whirls until it fills my head and I feel it all the way down to my throat, and it’s choking me.

Vera gets angry with me, she’s screaming now. Was I incapable of looking out for myself? How had I let this happen? Why would I put myself in a vulnerable position? She says that now she’s back to protect me, to stop harm from coming my way.

Vera clicks her wicked fingers, her long black fingernails are touching my own and now suddenly, there’s pins and needles. I can’t feel my hands, and then it’s my feet and I’m trapped.

I’m stuck and I can’t get out and I just sit and I listen to Vera punishing me.

I let myself get like this.

This is my fault.

Why hadn’t I been afraid?

Vera asks me what’s wrong. When I won’t tell her, she yells at me. She yells at the top of her lungs and although she’s so small, her roar makes my whole body shake and I can’t stop.

I tell her what’s upset me, begrudgingly. She shakes her head and glares at me with bloodshot eyes, her pupils a sea of blackness into her dark soul. “Your fault,” she shrieks.

Her shrieking brings a tear to my eye, and another one, and another one, and another one, and they won’t stop and it could be hours before they do and that’s the scary part.

Vera wants more answers and she knows she’s got control of me now. She knows I can’t give in and give her the rational answer, even if I want to.

“There’s no point.”

“You can never fix this.”

“It can only go wrong.”

“She hates you. Why shouldn’t she?”

Now she’s clip-clop, clip-clopping on my heart with her spikey leather boots. She’s kicking and she’s thrashing and now she’s down on all fours and I swear this is the time she’s going to give me a heart attack and I’m going to die.

Vera screams that everyone is out to hurt me and that everyone secretly hates me, and I wonder if she knows how much I hate her now.

Vera flutters down towards my lungs and my stomach churns and she smirks at me. She knows that she has me under her spell now, and she’s cackling. She tells me I’m worthless and she asks me a question,

“Why would anyone want to be around you?”

She screams and screams and screams, and she won’t stop and I can’t think and she’s tricked me once again.

She knows she’s the winner; she’s always the winner.

She squeezes my lungs and a heavy black cloud weighs down my chest and my throat closes up and I can’t breathe anymore. I’m hyperventilating now and I can’t make it stop and all I can hear is this screeching inside of my head,

“This is your fault.”

“You’re so stupid.”

“You’re pathetic.”

My ears are ringing and it drowns everything out. The sound of my friend trying to calm me down and the rational thoughts are all washed away with every breath that I struggle to take. I know she’s won, again.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

Then sometimes there’s a thud, and my exhausted body collapses onto the cold, hard floor. Often it feels like the easier route because for a moment my eyes black out, and I can’t hear, and I have peace for just a few moments. Its peace, all the same.

And eventually the short staggered breaths even out, but the tears keep flowing and my body is full of this emptiness.

Now Vera is staring, beady eyed at my hunched over limp, lifeless body and she shakes her head and asks,

“Who wants to deal with an anxious mess like you?”

She turns away and I think that’s the end but somehow, somehow in between my sobs she finds the space to hurt me one last time.

Vera squeezes me tightly, her claws digging into my skin so hard that her words are left like tiny scars on my arm. She says,

“Don’t let this happen again.”

Now I’m alone with my thoughts, and Vera’s words keep swirling through my mind; I know she’s wrong but she always manages to take over me. Vera knows I’m afraid of putting myself into a position where she’ll come back again. She knows I’ll avoid facing my fears.

She knows she’s the winner; she’s always the winner.

What It’s Like To Live With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: An Anonymous Story

What It’s Like To Live With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: An Anonymous Story

PTSD is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The name is very straightforward as it happens after a traumatic event that caused a great amount of stress, however dealing with it is the least straightforward thing in the world. PTSD symptoms are very similar to depression, anxiety and paranoia. The only thing separating it from those mental illnesses is the fact it was caused by an exterior problem and wasn’t just created in your own head.

I started to suffer from PTSD when I was 16 after a very traumatic attack. At that time I didn’t know what was happening to me mentally. I put it all down to the fact that I had been through something horrific and that it would go away soon, but it just got worse.

The first signs that I was suffering from this were the stages of self-blame and suicidal thoughts. But it was still early days, just several months after the event, so I was still hopeful that it would all just go away.

I found myself in a new relationship around this time too and a war began to start in my head. I had the problems PTSD was causing me present all the time, but I had the persona I had to create to seem “normal” to this new person in my life. I thought this denial of what had happened and what it was doing to me was helping.

Opening up to him about the event was very difficult and I deteriorated even more after that. I didn’t have to hide the panic attacks, the bouts of anger or the periods of bad days. Not having a reason to control them made them spiral to a point where I considered suicide.

I started counselling with a person who specialised in the area of the trauma I experienced, and she told me that many people who experienced what I did suffer with PTSD. I have never looked for medical help, and maybe I should. I have been dealing with the disorder for almost 3 years now and it’s been a series of ups and downs.

At the moment I am dealing with triggers and the episodes that come with them. Throughout my journey I have experienced extreme fear in irrational situations, suicidal thoughts, nightmares and sleeping problems, flashbacks and physical memories, extreme states of depression and panic attacks.

Flashbacks are hugely associated with PTSD and my experience with them has been draining. They usually happen to me when I am triggered by a feeling or thought. Sometimes it’s in the form of dreams which are much harder to deal with.

From my experience, this disorder affects so many aspects of my life. I have social anxiety, panic attacks, periods of hopelessness and fear.

It has given me huge trust issues too which affects my relationships and making friends.

To anybody going through this disorder the first call of action should be pin pointing the trauma causing it. From there you can go down whatever route you want. I have never tried medication for it, but I’m sure it will work wonders for some people. Tell the people you can trust what’s going on, because if you don’t they’ll just think you’re being moody or rude to them, when really you’re struggling.

I am still on my journey to acceptance and hopefully recovery from PTSD. It’s a long, long road and it’s far from easy. Dealing with the disorder means dealing with a trauma head on and at times reliving the experience, but in the end it is totally worth it to have the chance to live a fuller and happier life.