Today I am meeting with an old high school friend for lunch, one I have kept in touch with for all these years. I am sitting at a table waiting for them, surrounded by a see of lunchtime patrons enjoying time with their friends and loved ones.
As beautiful as a time they all appear to be having, the byproduct of all their commotion is reverberating right through to the core of my PTSD.
My PTSD shot off like a track star at the starting line of a race when I first entered the restaurant and was met with a blood-curdling scream from the mouth of a toddler.
Instantly triggered and with nowhere to go because my dinner mates have not yet arrived, I am trapped and must deal. Can I though? Voices are coming from every direction and effectively making every individual conversation a foreign language to me ears, stimulus overload.
The busy of this establishment, that is also blessed with a severe echoing quality, one that intensifies the chatter, is the reason this blog post was born; it wasn’t only because it sprung the idea to life, but rather, it’s an attempt to centre myself, so I don’t tell everyone to quiet down. (With choice language). I also have no qualms about plugging my ears, how it looks be damned.
…… A few days later. The above paragraph was the final one written in the restaurant because the friend I was expecting arrived and I had to stop writing. However, by the time he’s shown to the table, I was shaking and shutdown. So much so, that I remember our lunch in tiny fragments because my mind was too busy dodging the overstimulating reality that surrounded us. The pieces I do remember were when I forcibly allowed my mind to be venerable enough so as not to be robbed of the entire dining experience with this old friend.
Although I was able to physically make it through the entire ordeal, my mental illnesses are still a very formidable foe and like a game of mental tug of war, I found myself being drug over the line throughout the entire experience. Fortunately, I can pull myself back and be present. Sadly, I am not where close to where I need to be to fully appreciate life in a more normal sense. I am only at the point where I can, with great difficulty making it through the chaos that a packed room full of people and their collective conversations create.
There was no escape and there seems to be no escaping the anxiety and the real-time PTSD triggers. But dammit, I will continue plowing down the road to mental wellness and I shall overcome; even if it’s just long enough to see an old friend.
I am a mental health advocate and mental health blogger. I Have my own battles with mental illness and want to share my story.
"Telling my story of my mental wellness journey, hoping that it will help others along the way."
View all posts by Jonathan Arenburg