Last week I left work at noon; barely able to get to the car without the waterfall of tears starting. The tears overtook me quickly. Looking back, I probably had less than two minutes from being into anxiety mode to full melt down mode.
The tears flowed and my body quivered as I drove myself home. I had been three years since my body gave into my PTSD so strongly. Curling up in the fetal position in my chair, it didn’t take me long to figure out what was happening. My coping skills weren’t working and my PTSD was once again controlling my reactions to my world.
My journey from domestic violence victim to survivor is in its twelfth year. I’ve made huge strides in my recovery over the past five years (aka nervous breakdown year), yet the anxiety within my head has never completely calmed down. But this past weekend, for one of the few times in my life, I felt totally connected to my world for a beautiful five minutes.
One of the goals in my recovery has always been to obtain the calmness and peace God offers to his children. Psalm 29:11: “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.”
As I mentioned in my first blog post on tackling depression after abuse, in order for me to overcome the deep dark depression that overcame me as I ventured out into the world without my abuser telling me what to do, I found reaching out to professionals extremely helpful. I’ll be the first to admit, for the first few years of my recovery, I thought time alone was going to heal the horrors of my past. But, time along proved to be an insufficient way for me to destroy the emotional turmoil my abuser had caused in my thoughts.
I am the first to admit I have double standards on my anxiety level when I am late leaving the house. If being late is due to my kids (rarely my husband) not being on time, my internal anxiety meter goes from 1 – 10 within two minutes. After two minutes being late from my designated departure time, I am huffy and feeling disrespected. Rarely do I care about my children’s “excuses”.
Domestic Abuse Anxiety
My first memories of overwhelming domestic abuse anxiety occurred after I was apart from my abuser and the reality of all that was happening to my world started sinking in. This new emotion provided a furiously new feeling of incomplete inability to function, think, focus, make decisions, be a single parent or co-worker. The new feeling overpowered me like nothing before. It wasn’t like the anxiety I felt throughout the abuse; the anxiety I experienced during my abuse never kept me from being able to function. The unpredictability of my abuse kept me functioning in a chaotic state to make my abuser happy. This new, post abuse anxiety was significantly different and overwhelmingly debilitating.
For the first few years post-abuse, I believed my anxiety provided me with my will to fight. I considered my anxiety a meter that guided me to decide if I should fight or run. In the absence of any other decision-making method, I allowed my level of anxiety dictate how I should handle a situation.
Importance of Prescription Medicine
For the longest time, I misunderstood the importance of my anti-anxiety medicine. I was concerned that as a daughter of an alcoholic, I was trading my alcohol addiction for prescription medicine addiction. The devil’s voice in my head had a field day convincing me that I was trading one addiction for another. I felt defeated and weak since I was unable to handle this anxiety issue on my own.
What I now realize is how far from the truth this is. My anti-anxiety medicine restores a chemical imbalance in my brain. Years and years of abuse re-wired my brain’s ability to function. My medicine is required to boost chemical imbalances in my head thus allowing me to function in this world.
Dreading Sunday Nights
I used to dread Sunday nights. There was something about the weekend ending and the work week starting that created an anxious, stirring emotion in my gut.
Sunday nights without my children were even worse. I found, during the days leading to a Sunday night empty nest, that I would save tasks for these lonely nights. Somehow the Sunday night “to do list” always involved doing things I didn’t particularly enjoy, like going through the mail, changing sheets on the beds, or cleaning bathrooms. These tasks are challenging any night of the week, but especially tough in the quietness of the empty house.
Hi, I'm Sue
Welcome to my blog! I served twenty-one honorable years on active duty, living a double life of capability and accomplishment in the service while enduring brutality and abusiveness in my twenty-one year oppressive marriage. Today I'm happily married and have three children who are my inspiration and motivation.
My goal is to help combat the lies of abusers with the truth of God. I hope you find my words to be healing and helpful through your own life experiences.
Being separated from my abusive husband didn't make me a domestic violence survivor. It surely didn't release me from the grip of his brainwashing control and the innate power he had on me.
Read the full raw story in my new book, Rock Bottom and Faithless.