PTSD: it’s a funny thing. I had just come from a relaxed evening at an organisation’s office I do some work with. They call the sessions ‘Chill and Chat’, just to emphasise how ‘chill’ my evening had been. With a half hour walk home ahead of me, I was triggered by several large groups of men coming from a football match. Now we all know how rowdy they can be after matches and often intimidating. When you’re considered an “attractive” person by most, you have a tendency to attract the unwanted attention of said men. This can be especially terrifying to any woman walking by herself when it’s dark out and for me? Well I’ve had my fair share of men trying to grab me, follow me, assault me and even once a close call with kidnapping. Naturally, those kinds of situations send my PTSD on a bloody field trip! Now of course I’m used to living with my PTSD, I get into triggering situations all the time. Unfortunately, it’s just a part of life for people like me. I could have gotten home without even hint of a breakdown, just a little more hyper-vigilant than usual for the rest of the way. But, the reason I am writing this is because of the next thing I encountered.
There are always a lot of police around after footy games, enough to put me on edge a little more – but generally you never see where they’re going to. I can deal with that, as soon as the blue lights are out of my view, I can relax. This time, I was fortunate enough to watch the police van come speeding past and come to a halt just 10 metres before me followed by another police car. Note that this was not a violent arrest, in fact it was actually just a teenage girl walking down the street. I’m baffled as to why she was even put into cuffs.
Just 6 months ago I had a run in with the police myself. My abusive ex-partner called 999 reporting god knows what because I had discovered he had been cheating. He of course did not want to deal with my reaction. Admittedly, I was drunk and not a very happy bunny. It was not necessary for police to be involved in this situation, it had no where near escalated to such a point that they should be. Still, I found myself being restrained and in handcuffs by the end of the night – the lead up to that is a story for another time. As someone who has been abused her entire life, by family members, ex-partners and also whatever guy who decided I made an ideal victim to their desires, being restrained is an extremely traumatic experience. This has left me with yet more trauma for me to process.
So back to my walk home, I see this teenage girl getting arrested. Bare in mind that also, just 5 minutes previous, I had that lovely experience of bumping into what felt like an endless stream of drunken men. After my incident still being so fresh, this was one trigger I have not yet mastered the art of getting on with. Having being triggered so soon before also added to my difficulties. I found myself spending the rest of my walk home trying my utmost hardest to keep my breathing in check in fear of a full blown public meltdown. I could not let those tears leave my eyes. It is imperative that you do not appear weak, after all my hyper-vigilance meter was set to 100 and those who appear weak are certain targets!!! After a lot of digging nails into palms, looking back to check for predators and walking at an unusually fast pace, I made it home. I was safe. I get inside my flat, at this point a little sweaty, and the first thing I do is take off my coat and check my makeup. The first thing on my mind was checking my outfit and makeup because there was someone at the session I had a little crush on. Not that I had just dealt with what felt like an eternal and horribly traumatic 30 minutes. That is why PTSD is such a funny thing.