This morning, I awoke gritting my teeth as usual. I hugged an imaginary baby-Wendy and my jaw relaxed. It’s ok, baby, I told her, you’re safe. I believe that the gritting (what is called broxing) began during my surgery for pyloric stenosis as an infant. Gritting certainly makes sense if I had not had anesthesia, which indeed I may not have had in 1952. I have broxed all my life, and no dentist has ever helped me make sense of it. On the contrary, many dentists have blamed me for wearing down my teeth to the point of cracking my molars. Bearing down, clenching my teeth seems like a reasonable response to not only unbearable pain but the terror that one might literally split apart.
Then, making my bed, I had a PTSD moment. In tossing a throw pillow onto my bedspread, it reversed and the white of the pillow showed through the slit in the center of the pillow case. I gasped inwardly, a subtle response. There was my belly split after the operation. There I was, open and vulnerable. I rushed to the pillow and flipped it quickly over. How many of these moments have I experienced unawares over a lifetime? Understanding these types of responses, from the subtle to the more obvious, gives me back power over my life.
Perhaps PTSD rules part of many of us, regardless of whether we have been able to receive therapy.
It affects us all differently – I’ve never broxed but my wife does despite having no identifiable reason for PTSD. But when it comes to reacting to certain words, a certain turn in a conversation, and something like that split in the pillow case… the adrenalin pours through my body, my heart leaps, the sweat breaks out, my pupils dilate, I see images!
Isn’t it frustrating to understand so much of this but still not to be able to sleep at night?
But understanding and communication have helped me greatly to live with myself and I’d wish just the same for you, SeaCreature!
Thanks for another honest and succinct blog.
As I read through the previous two posting, I wanted to see what could possibly happen if left untreated. I saw a symptom that I have that could be PTSD related. At times I notice myself unconsciously and unintentionally clinching my jaw and grinding my teeth. Another thing which I am assuming might be the result of PTSD is how I sleep. I could be deep asleep but It seems like I could hear everything. The slightest noise, even the cracking of the floor three rooms away and I am sitting on my bed fully alert.
Yes, Farhad, you are on to something. What do you think might have disturbed your sleep?