My body is sneaky, remembering stuff that my brain has blocked out or let go, especially when it comes to grief and/or post traumatic stress disorder. My experiences link PTSD and grief; they feed each other like the two main characters in Lady and the Tramp.
The Day My Body Sneaked On Me
When my oldest was little and he got the hiccups, he was convinced that his stomach “sneaked on him” to make them happen. Kind of a perfect description of not having control over what our bodies do at any given time.
I woke up to blue skies and sun. I hadn’t slept for the second night in a row, at the same time jittery and exhausted, wanting to sleep but too wound up. It was as if I had chosen to drink a double espresso at 7 pm before trying to go to sleep at 10.
I felt confused, disoriented, agitated. Just off. My brain was full of cotton balls and my eyes stung. I couldn’t remember if I had brushed my teeth – I’m glad that I have a holder for my meds for each day of the week.
Fortunately, I didn’t need to go anywhere until noon. As I left my neighborhood, the driver of the car in front of me turned the right signal on, then the left, then the right, then nothing. “Come on, dude, get it together,” I thought. After hesitating for about 10 seconds, the driver turned left.
I also turned left out of my neighborhood, only to realize that I needed to go the opposite direction. That, my friends, is irony.
The Grief Reminder
As I drove the scenic route to my destination, I accepted that my day was off. I mean, I really like denial sometimes. Like this:
I thought through the usual suspects. Was I having my period? No, I don’t have a uterus. Have I eaten? Yes. Did I take my meds? Yes. Was there some PTSD trigger that had sneaked on me?
Yes, all the classic signs were there. I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t sleep, forgetting words, agitation, feeling isolated. But I didn’t know what it was until I got to my destination and checked my phone. One of the first things I saw was a picture of my father-in-law.
The day was off because it was a grief-i-versary, whether I remembered or not. My body had sneaked on me, taking note that it was June 6th, the 11th anniversary of my father-in-law’s sudden death.
Previous years weren’t as hard. I know for sure that the 10th grief-i-versary wasn’t remarkably difficult or noteworthy.
That’s the thing about grief and PTSD and our bodies. Sometimes they sneak on us.