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.