It’s important to remember that PTSD isn’t just an illness experienced by veterans. PTSD can result from years of traumatic abuse, sexual abuse, and other things that can scar a person for life, such as a car accident or the loss of a loved one. I have PTSD from years of several kinds of abuse.
For the longest time, however, I didn’t take my diagnosis seriously because ‘I’ve never been to war or in the service.’ That line of thought caused the utter horror that PTSD is to fester until it finally went full-blown in 2020 due to isolation. So we need to clear up misconceptions.
Not talking about the many ways PTSD can manifest and come about causes victims of it, who only see one experience, to suffer longer and harder than they need to. If you have experienced real trauma, I urge you to get help by at least talking to a counselor.
PTSD is often waved off by people who think it is just an illness from being in the service or being involved in war, which is dangerous considering what it can do to your brain.
Symptoms I experience:
Poor short and long-term memory
Suicidal thoughts and attempts
Visual disturbances like hallucinations
Night terrors and disturbing lucid nightmares
Flashbacks of traumatic events
OCD and cyclic thoughts of self-hate and self-blame
I have never been to war or gone into the service. I experienced trauma from an early childhood age, and continued to experience repeated and prolonged abuse — sexual, physical, and mental — for many years. I received a PTSD diagnosis as a teenager for the first time.
PTSD with any cause, no matter where it came from, is a horrific diagnosis in varying degrees, and we need to raise awareness for the wider scope of it to save people’s lives. Misconceptions cause people to suffer in silence and denial like I did.
I wrote a blog entry about what my experience was like with PTSD while being isolated for the majority of 2020 here: Living alone in 2020.
I hope we can continue to have conversations about PTSD and it’s roots, which is, ultimately, trauma from any source. If you’ve experienced intense trauma, or trauma of any kind that is disrupting your life, please seek out help. A trusted counselor can help you figure out if you have PTSD, what the source was, and to help you cope and possibly recover from it. You may need a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication if it’s extremely disruptive, and from a personal account, medication can make your symptoms much more bearable so counseling can work.
A good starting place is 7 Cups, where you can search for a therapist or someone experienced who can listen and guide you in the right direction.
Byleth stood from the rock on the cliff, smiling before looking down at me. The sunset seemed so close yet so far away, and it painted his face in a warm orange as his eyes flashed crimson.
My breath was shaky as I averted my gaze. I brushed some of my brown hair behind my ear and realized I’d started trembling. The ethereal, dreamy tones of ‘Like Lust’ by MOVEMENT did nothing to calm my nerves as I’d hoped. I was still glad that Byleth brought it into being. Everything in that space was of his will according to my wishes, and it was more than I could have asked for. He always did more for me than he had to. “Yeah, it calms me. Usually.” I chuckled.
Byleth noticed my shivering, and it wasn’t a chill. The temperature was an ideal warmth. “Sweetie, you’re shaking. I thought you wanted to make out?” He laughed to temper the mood, but quieted just as soon and sunk to a knee before me. He took my hands away from my face and neck where they were rubbing the skin with anxiety. “Why are you shaking? It’s me.”
“I’ve had this problem lately. You know.” I chewed on my lip.
His hands moved with mine as they trembled, and he squeezed. “Are you afraid to be intimate with me? You never were before.”
“No, I know. It’s weird to me, too. But since my PTSD symptoms have been so bad, it’s all coming back. The trauma is coming back and it’s like muscle memory.”
“It’s not just that,” Byleth soothed. He slid a finger beneath my chin and lifted it. My eyes had gone dark. “You have this other problem. You have such a negative image of yourself you can’t even let yourself enjoy simple pleasures. But let me show you something, sugar.” The fallen angel king stood and slipped his red jacket off, and then worked at the buttons on his white button-down.
I glanced down to see that he was aroused and looked away as my face grew hot. “You can’t possibly be turned on by me.”
He quirked a brow and dropped his shirt. “Are you telling me my body is lying?”
“No, but you’ve told me before that you can make your body do anything you want it to. So, I guess, maybe you’re just making yourself aroused to make me feel better.”
Byleth sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Do you remember when we first met? When I asked you to lie in your bed and it was the first time we slept together?”
“Yeah.” I held back a laugh. “You said I was a science experiment. That a human’s inner workings were interesting, or something like that.”
“Yes.” He crossed his arms and shifted his weight. “But you’ll remember I was turned on then too. I didn’t even know you, dude. So what reason did I have to fake it for a human — which is a species I don’t often give a shit about — that I barely knew?”
“That doesn’t explain now.” I hugged myself. “I gained a lot of weight. When we met I was skinny.”
“You were ill. You were anorexic. I’d rather you not have an eating disorder. It’s not hot when you’re practically dying.” Byleth grabbed my arm and pulled me up.
I stumbled and grabbed onto him as I collided with his chest, and I looked up. I often forgot just how tall he truly was. He could carry me around like a doll if he wanted to. He was so warm in a way that was comforting, and I nuzzled his bare chest. “I want to do things with you, Byleth. I really do. I’m just scared.”
He pet my head with a clawed hand. “What are you afraid of, sugar? I’ve always been honest with you. I’ve never lied to you.”
“No, you haven’t.” I looked up into his red eyes. Maybe it would be alright. “Can we take it slow?”
He snorted. “No, we have to get this over with quickly. Of course we’re going to go slow, you goof.” He snapped his fingers and pointed to the ground. “Now lay down.”
I turned to see a thick white blanket on the ground, and I sunk down onto it. It was cool and felt like soft cotton beneath my fingers, and I fell forward. I could have slept for an entire week. It wasn’t in Byleth’s plans though, and he dropped down onto my back, hovering over me. A shiver drifted over my body as Byleth breathed against my neck, laying kisses behind the hair he pulled aside.
“Are we going to do it this way?” He chuckled. “A bit primal, but I’m up for something different.” He coaxed me up onto my hands and knees and ran his hands up my shirt and around to my scarred chest. “Yes, now I can touch your chest without you objecting.”
“Because it’s fine now.” I bit back a smile. “Those things are gone.”
“You’re a proper man now.” He hummed as his fingers traced my scars, the sensation strange as they remained numb. “But you’ve always been a proper man.”
I smiled and rolled over to look up at him. I didn’t want our first time in a while to be all hands and knees. I wanted to watch him. Observe his supernatural beauty as he willingly came to me. Desired me. It was still foreign to see someone with a desire for me that was honest. One that was truthful. Nothing else mattered. Byleth knew how to work with me and my trauma, and he always made everything feel amazing in the end. He wasn’t selfish. Nothing was expected.
“You’re really staring, sweetie,” he laughed. I realized it too and hid my face behind my hands. He moved them aside. “No, none of that. Do you really want to block out my glory? I mean, I am gorgeous.” He flipped his shoulder-length blond hair as he sat back on his knees, and I laughed as I watched him in his glamour. Everything sobered when he reached for the waist of his bell bottoms. “But I want you to see all of me. No matter how shy you might be or how much you feel like you don’t deserve it.” He flicked open the button and slid the zipper down. “Don’t you look away. I’m giving myself to you because I want you, and I won’t let you believe otherwise. You’re stronger than this, and I know you are. I know there’s a sexual creature underneath somewhere because I’ve seen it in you before, sugar. Let him out.”
I tried to still the trembling in my limbs but became frustrated instead. I loved Byleth — every part of him. The brattiness and the sarcasm, and the offensive humor. The huge ego. The perfection that was him. Dark Lord in Hell, I loved him just as much as I loved Lestan — more than the air I breathed. My stomach fluttered with butterflies any time he spoke or looked my way. He was just so…
Byleth smirked and snapped his fingers as he took in my silent adoration. Nothing covered his toned body now, and he stared down at me with confidence as he hid nothing from me. Not even his love for me, and it was apparent in the way he remained still despite his truest desires. He was patient for me. Silent for me. Waiting for me to say it was okay.
“I love you, Byleth.” I reached out with a trembling hand to take his, and I pulled myself up to melt into him. I squeezed my arms around my king and a calm washed over me. All tension left my limbs and I hummed with happiness as his arms hugged me close. He rubbed my back and kissed the top of my head.
His voice was calm. “I love you too, sweetie. And don’t you forget that.” He pulled away just enough to lift my chin, and he lowered his head to capture my lips.
I’d forgotten what his kisses felt like. Tasted like. A moment of doubt and self-loathing surfaced and I faltered, but Byleth slipped his hand to the back of my head and took my breath away. When he finally drew back, he licked his lips with a forked tongue. His golden horns glistened in the forever setting sun of our fabricated escape.
I’m still learning to write eye-catching summaries of my books, which I’m sure is one of the biggest challenges of any writer. I’m continuously learning how to navigate this world that I’d only ever dreamed of dabbling in before. I’m also finding that this whole thing is ten times harder than I’d ever expected it to be, and I still have a long way to go in becoming a seasoned ‘know-it-kinda’ on the subject when it comes to writing well and publishing.
Luckily for me, I managed to get in contact with a great editor. This has brought both feelings of elation and horror, and you probably can guess why. It’s certainly kept me busy and on my toes, and I’m judging myself much harder than I ever have. This has hurt me in some ways since my writing has slowed to a crawl due to that inner critic, but it has also allowed me to take this as a serious business. I’m not just writing stories in my bedroom as a teen anymore to make myself laugh and to cope with life.
I’m writing stories as an independent adult in his living room to make myself laugh, cry, scream, and cope with life.
In that sense, I decided to jump on board again with Camp NaNoWriMo to help me finish my beast of a book. At first, I was working on something mostly for fun. Then my current project fell back into my lap, and I was ready to throw in the towel with Camp NaNo. I had to do some digging and realized what my biggest issues were in my personal life, what really has been eating away at me to make me so angry and itching to scream about something, and I’ve dealt with some of the biggest triggers and worst symptoms I’ve had in a while with my broken brain.
And all for the sake of this beast of a story I just have to tell. A story I’d been telling wrong from the beginning. I’d been focusing on the wrong traumas — the wrong triggers to my upset. What I really needed to write about to make this book shine (for lack of a better word), was the one thing I often tried to bury. The horrible thing that I thought I knew inside and out and I’d moved on from. And so, my original novella is turning into a much more important work lived vicariously through two of my muses, or rather, two of my alters who have given me permission to slay this beast that they also understand too well. One of them was protecting me from it for so many years, anyway.
It’s finally time to write the darkest and most honest book I’ve ventured to write. There are two intersecting stories in it that constantly weave together in some way, but only one is based on the actual experience I had in a relationship. The other, while my alter’s story entirely, is one I can sympathize with in terms of how I think about myself and how I cope, rather it’s unhealthy or not.
So I changed my project on Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m behind by about 6,000 words, but if I bust my ass I can make up for lost time. To be fair, I’ve had to push through the depression, the PTSD episodes, and the dissociation I’ve been dealing with to come to terms with the subject of the book, and by proxy, part of my story. Maybe it wasn’t good to go digging for memories that were locked away and kept from me for good reason, but if my spirit guide, Daro, allowed me to get as far as we did with it, then I trust that I’m ready to do this. I’m 30 anyway, and I’m not about to spend the rest of my life wondering what’s got me so… bleh (and that’s putting it very lightly).
In an attempt to finally purge the rest of the gunk sitting in my subconscious, and maybe raise some awareness and find catharsis for myself in doing so, here is the summary I jotted down on the Camp NaNo site for this book (title to be determined):
Shame is a ghost in your peripheral in a dark room. It is the tarnish on a soul of silver that we keep hidden in hopes no one else will see it. We hope our neglect of it will never have to come to light and it can remain as it is — imperfect but intact, and intact is the most important thing.
Or so it’s thought.
Lestan has been alive for over three hundred years. Tetsu, merely thirty-three. Yet, they both have something in common that neither delves into.
Lestan is always playful, upbeat, and loves wholly and honestly. To see him sitting in a cafe’ on a hazy night, his eyes dark and his skin translucent from not feeding for days, is something that would be enough to raise concern.
Thankfully, Tetsu is there to bring him out of his misery and the vampire starts to feel more like his old self. That is until a specter, or hallucination, leads them both off into the woods. Neither can see what the other is after, but they both know they can’t ignore the force coaxing them further away from safety.
After disappearing from reality entirely, or so it seems, they are met with the tarnished fragments of their souls wandering through an ever-changing maze, and a mysterious blind figure seems to be guiding them through it all. And it is neither here nor there, but one thing is certain.
We can’t run from things forever. We have to seek out the worst of our pains and confront them head-on and be beaten down by them — become masochists until we finally see the truth we’ve buried for so long. And the truth can sometimes reveal what monsters we truly are.
So there it is. A basic bare-bones summary that can’t possibly do the Hell that this story is justice. And it is very much a Hell that I have to keep revisiting, but in the end, when everything is out, it will be for the better. Maybe someone can relate to it someday and find comfort in knowing they aren’t alone. Or maybe I’ll just be revealing a part of my life and myself that I really don’t like.