My Brain Won’t Turn Over

Hopefully this little handheld gadget that serves as my only internet access these days will neither freeze nor crash as I write this.  It has a penchant for doing that.  More than once I have had a post nigh well finished, and the dern thing goes berserk and I lose it.  The post, that is.  Well, yes, I have thought about throwing the dratted Galaxy Tab on the floor and grinding it into powder with my heel (shades of Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird”), but that would mean no internet at all, so I exert a great deal of self control and don’t do it.

But that’s just an excuse, isn’t it?  The real reason I haven’t been blogging, or writing anything at all, is that my brain is quite empty.   Frozen, perhaps, like an old engine that just won’t turn over.  I need a tune-up.  Points, plugs, oil and fluids changed.  Maybe a new starter engine.  A solanoid.  Distributer cap.  But I’m showing my age now.  New cars don’t have any of those things.  It’s all electronic.  It’s all computers.  Tiny little brains scattered about under your hood, all working away in unison to make your internal combustion engine combust just right.

Maybe I’m using the wrong kind of gas. 

But this evening, while doing three days’ worth of dishes and decontaminating the festering trash can, I started to hone in on the all-too-familiar feeling of numbness, distance, non-existence.  I’m having word-finding problems tonight, so I can’t even give you the proper word to describe it. 

I do remember the first time it happened to me, though.  I was nineteen.  It had been two years since I had returned from my stint as a teenage runaway.  I’ll write more about that later, but not now.  Suffice it to say that I experienced horrors that no child should ever have to face.

And one day, two years later, I found myself feeling numb.  Totally numb, physically and everything else.  I could not feel my feet.  I thought I was dying.  I called an ambulance and was taken to a hospital, where I found that I could not speak enough to tell the impatient young male doctor what was wrong.  He discharged me, and I stumbled home in the dark cold fog of the Gloucester night.

Many years later I learned that this was an acute attack of PTSD.  It was a true flashback, since the strategy I had learned, while living on the street, was to leave my body, whenever someone was doing something unpleasant to it.  The difference was, that I was actually feeling the numbness. 

I’m not sure what is triggering this current attack.  I know I’m not over it yet.  I don’t have time right now to take a few grams of Ativan and crawl into bed with the covers over my head, which is what would make me feel better.  So I guess I’ll soldier on.   Now where did I leave my spark gap gauge?   Probably next to the timing strobe.

Leave a comment


  1. Stay warm. Hang in. It gets better.

  2. Out of fuel? It’s easy to get tapped out. Maybe you have a leak.

    Take some time in the garage. Get a tune up. There’s no shame in that.

  3. One of the things I hate most about PTSD, one of the first things a good friend who also suffers from it told me, and one thing that (oddly enough) I have made uneasy terms with is that you may never know what causes an episode. I have been able to pinpoint the trigger for my most recent one, but there have been plenty that I had no idea from whence they came.

    Feel better, dear heart.

    • Thanks, Ruby, Lulu, and Trevalee. I’m feeling better now. Now the problem is picking up the pieces. When I get one of these episodes, I dissociate to the point where I literally lose a piece of time. From the outside, apparently, no one can tell that there’s really nobody home in there, despite the fact that the lights are on. I just now checked my snail-mail box. It was jammed full of important stuff. I’m searching through piles of cast-aside papers and unpaid bills to hopefully find all the SSA paperwork that I have to take to the lawyer next week. G-d only knows what else I have neglected to do, or have done without being aware of it. Argh. And I know what the trigger was. It’s an old, old story. Oh well. One good thing is that my service dog will not permit me to go catatonic the way I once did. If she notices that I haven’t moved in a while, she will come and sit right in front of me and stare at me. If that doesn’t work she’ll bark. She’ll do whatever it takes to change my state and get me moving. She’s a treasure. I highly recommend psychiatric service animals.

  4. bessie minette

     /  September 10, 2012

    It’s reading other people’s experiences with the “little” things that help: the rest of the world just doesn’t get it, why things haven’t gotten done, or why I can’t even find the paperwork, and there’s no way to explain it to them.

  5. Yes, it really does help to have community when you’re struggling to make sense of your life. Sometimes when things get chaotic, or worse, when things grind to a stand-still because I’ve fallen off the balance beam, I get feeling a bit desperate. Then it’s good to read what other people have shared and know: I’m not the only one. Take good care, Bessie Minette!


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