I touched briefly on PTSD in Part 2, but I didn’t really do much to communicate what that physically feels like (tl;dr – it’s suffocating).
It started off slow at first, a hint of emotional discomfort every now and then, whenever I’d let my mind wander back to surgery. Remembering how hard everything was and how scared I was of the pain. Then it started to snowball – thanks to the bionic heartbeat.
As I mentioned earlier, the bionic heartbeat is what drove me to seek out biofeedback in the first place. And while the biofeedback is helping me to process the PTSD (along with so much more), it’s also bringing up all the fear and pain and sorrow that has been stored in my heart and my body over the last two and a half years. That might not sound like a good thing – it’s definitely not a fun thing – but it is for the best (I’ll elaborate in Part 3).
For now though, I’m in the thick of it. The bad parts come in bursts of uncontrolled sobbing. It’s as if I’m reliving every moment from my diagnosis through the end of my physical recovery. When it was happening to me in real time, I was so overwhelmed that my brain made a command decision to triage and only think about things I could act on. That’s why I threw myself into understanding the science of what was wrong in my body and how it could be repaired. Anything that didn’t pertain to that or the logistics of planning for surgery and recovery got filed away to be processed later. And later is now.
So I find myself back in time, re-experiencing everything, with the added bonus of being terrified even though it’s all over and done with. I get triggered by almost anything sometimes: hospitals, wheelchairs, scars, other people’s trauma/pain, and all that other fun stuff I listed in Part 2. In fact, writing Part 2 was itself a trigger. One I’m still recovering from.
Filling the gaps between the sob-fests, I have a never-ending tightness in my chest and an ongoing inability to take a deep breath. Like being on the verge of an anxiety attack all the time. Okay, maybe not all the time, but more often than not over the past few months. I get caught in vicious feedback cycles of trying to take a deep breath, not getting one, and then wanting one even more so that I try again and again. Over and over, with no luck. I’m not seeking more oxygen, but rather the relief you get from taking a really deep breath. I want it so bad. It feels like I get 90% of the way there and then my chest tightens and my airway closes off. And it’s so insanely frustrating not getting that last 10%. (There’s nothing medically wrong with my airway, it’s just a stress response to the PTSD.) Adding this to the bionic heartbeat makes me want to scream. Constantly.
The good news is, the more I cry and the more I feel, the less stored up stress and emotion there is to come out. So for now, I have to welcome every tear and every scream and FEEL ALL THE FEELS.
Easier said than done.