Living with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is like having a well-armed bank robber stuck in your body 24 hrs/day. The “money” he steals from you is your freedom, energy, future, pride, time and confidence. Can you imagine? You’d like to get into a relationship with someone, but just the thought that you’ll ruin it somewhere up the road, or it won’t last anyway, is enough for you to turn away any possible suitors. I know better than to write novels as quickly as I do, but the chance that I may not live to see tomorrow means I have to quickly hurry up and write, edit on the fly, and hope what I publish on the internet is as good as books that took years to write.
PTSD doesn’t allow you to get close to anyone. How can you when you’re capable of such little trust? Is that guy trying to hurt me? Maybe. Is that woman trying to hurt me? Could be. Should I trust the smiling man talking to be in the mall? Probably not; he may just be looking to empty my wallet of every penny in it.
Time is one of PTSD’s bigger thefts. It tells you to forget about acquiring long-term housing, like a mortgage or beach-front property. Why should you? Something bad will happen and send you back out on the street anyway. And with me, I’ve spent so much time on the street that the thought of moving into a place is really not first and foremost on my mind. As I’ve said in the past, I’ve been undomiciled more than I’ve been domiciled in my life. Maybe I was a stray cat in one of my past lives, digging through garbage cans for my breakfast, lunch and dinner, constantly being chased up trees by the neighborhood canines.
I’d sure love to know that I have the time to write a novel the best way I can, but good ol’ PTSD would never stand for that bit of courtesy. Why should it? It doesn’t consider my writing as important as, say, constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure I’m not in somebody’s cross hairs.
And I don’t want to be homeless anymore. I can’t stand it. Last week I smashed two windows of a bank to get myself sent to jail because it was freezing and I had no place to sleep. (I’d accidentally locked my keys in my car – and my car was running all those three days I was incarcerated, too!) The judge said, “Eh, you’re not a criminal. You’re just crazy,” and released me. Maybe he’s right; maybe he’s wrong. I’m no criminal? The PTSD bandit in my head begs to differ, but then he thinks that he is me. My PTSD is me. That can’t be true. I hope not.