For the last few weeks, following the issue with my Jeep, I've had a myriad of follow up triggers. The day following the issue, I woke up feeling like I had been in a car accident. I had body aches, tight shoulders, a massive headache, was very tense, and emotionally numb. I slept a good portion of the day and made an appointment to see the chiropractor.
By the second day after, I woke up feeling less tense, but very confused and very emotional. Something had stayed with me here, but I wasn't quite recognizing any of this as triggers at the time. I knew that the smell of the fuel, the sounds of the truck, the whole experience was a major set of triggers, but I was not recognizing that my body was going through a car accident all over again.
My accidents had taken place in the Fall, sixteen years ago in cool, damp weather. My body remembers what my mind cannot. For those who are new to the idea of PTSD, it is part of us forever. We cannot eliminate our life experiences, but we can put tools in place for when the storm blows in.
A Marine friend of mine asked me how I was doing and I simply gave him a "hanging in there" kind of answer. He inquired a bit further and I gave him a roundabout answer that I was struggling since I had the issue with the Jeep. He reminded me of the pictures you see in this post and the last. These are real photos taken in Arizona this summer when I got caught in a nasty summer Monsoon storm, unexpectedly while hiking. How I feel in those photos is real too. I was terrified being out in the wilderness like that in the crazy summer lightening and the wind, my gosh the wind was unbelievable. I had gone hiking with my photographer to do a project I will be posting on my Peaceful Warriors Facebook page. It was a perfectly beautiful day until the storm rolled in and the most mysterious, ominous clouds followed. I was terrified to climb back down from the mountain ledge we were on, but we knew we couldn't stay in the cave after dark, so we had to make a move to get down. My body was so tense, so tight, and I seriously wanted to cry. My head was pounding so loud, I felt like I could hear it. It was raining. I was wet, cold, and scared. I held onto to the ledge, putting all of my body weight into it, begging the wind to stop, and when I made it across, I sat with my photographer huddled in a little nook of rocks. I held onto her and told her I was scared. She said, "I'm not scared. We will be okay. We just need to let the wind settle a bit before we turn the corner." So she let me hold onto her as my insides shook.
She took these photos on the hike back down the open dirt road. I have never seen clouds like this in my life and I just needed to stop for a minute. It made for great pictures, but when I got back to the timeshare I was staying in, I sat and cried my eyes out from the sheer stress of it all. I just wanted to go home and make how I was feeling stop.
So getting back to my Marine friend, he sent me a message this week and said, "Your life is like Arizona and all the things, beautiful things you do for people is your mountains, trees, and colors, but triggers will come like a storm. It will pass and you will be just as amazing, if not more after the dark."
My storm blew in this Fall, much more intensely than anticipated, but I am weathering it one day at a time and recognizing how far I've actually come. It isn't going to control me the way it has previously and maybe I needed this reminder of just how many tools and people I have at my disposal to help me through it. Thank you to my Marine friend for his words of wisdom. This is how Peaceful Warriors was started because of people just like you stepping up to show me the way.
Visit my Facebook page to see the evolution of this experience. All of the photos in the photo journal were taken in a single evening. You will see how it starts out in radiant sunshine, smiles, and hopefulness, only to turn to a dark, ominous storm that changes my entire demeanor. I didn't care anymore about how the photos looked. This is the truth of what ptsd does to me. It wears me out, wears me down, and brings me to my knees. The pictures are a visual reminder that although it has that power, I have come too far to let it keep me there.
Compliments to my amazing photographer, Janise Witt, for her passion, courage, wisdom, and insight. She too is a survivor of a car accident and has turned her life towards photography as a way to help lead, guide, and support others. If ever in Sedona, look her up. She does hikes, meditation, and photography as a special package just like she's done for me. www.photographybyJanise.com