PTSD and Depression; Facing down my demons

Before I begin, I will be repeatedly posting important information throughout this blog post.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the suicide prevention resources page at https://www.sprc.org/.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Put this number in your phone! Write this number down! Put it on a post-it to place on your fridge! Jot it down on a white board! In the emergent state when this is needed… in that haze and dark cloud, you LOSE your ability to THINK and FEEL, and EVERYTHING requires a HUGE amount of energy to attempt.

I am doing this blog post because someone out there needs to know that she/he is not alone. Maybe it isn’t you feeling this way (and I hope you never do) but I would greatly appreciate if you would be willing to share this out during this holiday season (at the time of posting and in the future).

——

I have a great ability to remember my past, especially my long-term memories. It’s a blessing and a curse because…

I have PTSD.

Matt-Alameda

These are raw, intense emotions from my childhood and they force me to tread carefully… kinda like Bruce Willis tiptoeing around broken glass in the first Die Hard movie or like Cobb in Inception being secretive about the memory of his wife. Although I usually do a decent job of not letting the mask slip, with the stresses of Physical Therapy school, these demons grew in intensity to a point that was almost uncontrollable and almost unbearable.

At the time of writing this, my next clinical internship will be in a Pediatrics outpatient setting, meaning that I will be working under supervision with kids. I would hope that it goes without saying that I need to be at my best… and control my demons… for the sake of the kids.

Again, before I delve deeper…

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the suicide prevention resources page at https://www.sprc.org/.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Put this number in your phone! Write this number down! Put it on a post-it to place on your fridge! Jot it down on a white board! In the emergent state when this is needed… in that haze and dark cloud, you LOSE your ability to THINK and FEEL, and EVERYTHING requires a HUGE amount of energy to attempt.

——

I decided to do something about these demons while practically telling no one. There was a week period between my first clinical internship in Las Vegas and the beginning of my final coursework at Touro University Nevada in Henderson. I saw a chance to try something I never did before but… little did I know how foolish I was.

For the first time in my life, I decided to completely rip the mask off instead of silently suffering. I had COMPLETELY let my guard down and allowed the darkness to seep in with all its intensity. I vividly remembered everything in an attempt to purge myself and share those stories in this episode of the Capable Body Podcast. There is a part of me I never tell anyone about… that drives my intensity but steals away my genuine smile and empathy. It’s a part of me I tried to seal off for a long time …and why I’ve only had one girlfriend. I don’t care if this sounds crazy. I know it is. I am extremely fortunate to have great influences and to have worked through things to calm it down. It was so intense and driving me to paranoia that I… admitted to my faculty advisor and professor that I was trying to kill myself by whispering in her ear during her going away potluck party. It really was THAT bad and I am glad to say that I am much better now despite the work in progress with more to be done.

So… how does it feel? Again, before I delve deeper…

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the suicide prevention resources page at https://www.sprc.org/.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Put this number in your phone! Write this number down! Put it on a post-it to place on your fridge! Jot it down on a white board! In the emergent state when this is needed… in that haze and dark cloud, you LOSE your ability to THINK and FEEL, and EVERYTHING requires a HUGE amount of energy to attempt.

——

So… what happened?!? What did I foolishly overlook? I shared my stories and thought that all was good but… I couldn’t pull myself back out this time. I couldn’t swing back to “everything is okay” mode …at least not instantly. I knew what this meant but… nothing could have ever prepared me for what was next. I don’t care if it sounds crazy and I don’t care about “portraying myself as a hero”. I just want to share vividly what occurred.

I faced the Devil himself. I faced the Darkness …almost like Perseus going in to face Medusa but… I was completely unarmed and completely powerless.

It was like sinking… slowly… in quicksand… in a dark, dark room. Yet I was almost incapable of any cries for help. Every action required every ounce of energy to squeeze out. It was the WORST feeling in the world and I couldn’t even EXPRESS how I felt while in that state.

The Darkness steals your soul, cuts you off from your memories, and cuts you off from your ability to think. It makes you powerless and feel like a shell while denying any opportunity at feeling happiness EVEN when you know for a fact that you should, such as the joy of a friend finally getting into Physical Therapy school. It is SO powerful and came close to convincing me that the REAL me was a mask.

Unfortunately, not everyone comes back out and survives. I’ll share another story but first…

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the suicide prevention resources page at https://www.sprc.org/.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Put this number in your phone! Write this number down! Put it on a post-it to place on your fridge! Jot it down on a white board! In the emergent state when this is needed… in that haze and dark cloud, you LOSE your ability to THINK and FEEL, and EVERYTHING requires a HUGE amount of energy to attempt.

——

Matt-RC-Carl

This is a photo of me with my cousin Carl (on the right; not blood-related but my aunt’s nephew) and my childhood friend RC (on the left; who I met because of my aunt’s daycare center and who was honestly more of an acquaintance but I’d like to honor his memory as a friend if that’s okay). Unfortunately, RC took his life  several years ago.

Before I go into the story of the moment I learned about his suicide…

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the suicide prevention resources page at https://www.sprc.org/.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Put this number in your phone! Write this number down! Put it on a post-it to place on your fridge! Jot it down on a white board! In the emergent state when this is needed… in that haze and dark cloud, you LOSE your ability to THINK and FEEL, and EVERYTHING requires a HUGE amount of energy to attempt.

——

I was working as a Rehab Tech at Mercy Retirement & Care Center and covering for my boss for the very first time. It was a big moment for me. I was extremely nervous because I did not know if upper managment was going to say anything or if I would make a mistake. I did what I was supposed to do and more (if needed). But then… I got a text while I was working in the office. It was my mom. She shared with me the news.

RC wrestled with bipolar disorder… and drugs and eventually took his own life.

I didn’t know how to think or feel or respond. I was going to ask about a funeral but… that’s not really what happens when you are Catholic. I just… kept going on as usual until I could process things. I won’t go into the details of what happened next but… I hope it’s alright if I share the rare moments when I had a chance to see RC.

Before I end this post with how RC influenced me…

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the suicide prevention resources page at https://www.sprc.org/.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Put this number in your phone! Write this number down! Put it on a post-it to place on your fridge! Jot it down on a white board! In the emergent state when this is needed… in that haze and dark cloud, you LOSE your ability to THINK and FEEL, and EVERYTHING requires a HUGE amount of energy to attempt.

——

That photo of RC and me was the last time I saw him. In all due honesty, I was… extremely down during that time because I had recently graduated from college at UC Irvine and moved back home. My plan was to save up money while having my sights set on getting into Physical Therapy school. When asked about my plans, most of my family had that tone with a subtle ounce of doubt but… when it came to RC, he genuinely encouraged me, especially when I doubted myself. I am proud to state that I am extremely close to making that seemingly impossible dream a reality.

In the past, there was something that RC and I deeply enjoyed… running. We went to different high schools and were not in the same division despite living in the same county so I rarely saw him. However, he did a race that I never did at a time when I was completely and utterly humiliated. Mt. SAC (San Antonio College) was the mecca of Cross Country meets for runners in California. Like I mentioned in a previous blog post, I was a leader without a title and worse… reduced to a cheerleader while my mom (who was extremely busy working two jobs to support me while there were times when I would study at home alone in high school) offered to do the long drive from the San Francisco Bay Area down to an inland area near Los Angeles for the sake of the team. My brother was livid when he found out how things went down during my senior year when I should have had a shot at that starting line. What gave me hope was learning that RC was there as well. I had a chance to watch him race but, more importantly, I had a chance to chat with him serendipitously when we made a pit stop at In-n-Out Burger in Valencia, CA. He always tried to make the world a better place. If there is anything I would like to do, not just to prove that I am truly worthy of that varsity letter from high school cross country but to honor RC’s memory, I want to earn my keep by earning a spot at the Boston Marathon, which is the mecca of distance running events. I know I have it in me. I ran a marathon before but was extremely disappointed in myself. Here’s to changing things for the better no matter how long it takes.

Last but not least…

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the suicide prevention resources page at https://www.sprc.org/.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Put this number in your phone! Write this number down! Put it on a post-it to place on your fridge! Jot it down on a white board! In the emergent state when this is needed… in that haze and dark cloud, you LOSE your ability to THINK and FEEL, and EVERYTHING requires a HUGE amount of energy to attempt.

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