Have you ever thought you were going to die?
And I don’t mean the everyday fear of death that all humans experience.
I mean, have you ever faced sudden possible death? Have you ever thought, at any moment, that you may die before the next? Has dying ever been that close to you? Has it ever been that real?
Maybe there was a fire and you barely got out in time. Or maybe, you got T-boned at an intersection and as that car slammed into you in slow motion, your life flashed before your eyes. Some people have drowned and survived. Many have gone to war. Some victims of abuse face fear of death or severe harm on a daily basis. The list goes on.
Some of us have experienced this feeling and some of us have not.
Those who have know exactly what I mean. It is that feeling that, at any moment, that car will hit you or that burning ceiling will fall.
I can only describe it as the most extreme and intense feeling of vulnerability. But not the everyday sort. It is the vulnerability that triggers your wildest instincts — the feelings that your life could end in the blink of an eye.
Many who live with PTSD have this feeling all the time.
My severe trauma
I do not share these details of my personal experience because I want a cookie, or extra credit, or a pat on the head.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the sentiment beyond measure. But for those of us who are — or have ever been — dis-abled, the focus on our perceived challenges, as opposed to our strengths, can be disheartening.
Yes, we all want our resilience in the face of adversity to be acknowledged for the valuable gift that it is. But sometimes, it feels like our work is honored less, the moment people are distracted by our challenges — not more.
However, no-one wants to hear about what PTSD is like from someone who has never, themselves, been through severe trauma.