I suppose I should start with the incident. 26 years ago I was station on a submarine in drydock. During my six months there I was repeatedly subjected to physical and sexual abuse by six men. While this didn't happen daily, everyday I was constantly intimidated and there was no where I could go while on duty where I wasn't around at least one of them. Some people say they never forget the face of their tormentors. Not so with me, I can't remember their faces at all, but the master chief with whom I confided and whom did nothing, well him I will never forget. I was administratively discharged (other than honorable, whatever that means) for reasons that were fictitious. I followed this ordeal with a year of meth abuse.
Now this ordeal for years has always taken a backseat to my more debilitating illness of being bipolar. Delusions, hallucinations, and voices on top of the typical manic racing thought highs and comatose suicidal lows. This predated my military experience so it is wrong to try to tie the two together, although my manic behavior may have lead to me being singled out by my attackers.
Now after 30 years of being bipolar I have finally achieved some kind of stability. I own my condo after spending half my adult life living on the streets living in my delusions. I've learned to hospitalize myself when I start seeing and hearing things that aren't probably there; the precursors to serious mania. I hospitalize myself when I start feeling hopeless and suicidal. I have learned coping strategies to remain productive the rest of the time. I am writing a novel and have a part time online business.
Now I am suddenly struggling with the PTSD and anxiety that is left over, strangely after learning to handle all my other issues this one seems to come out all the worse. My mania used to drive me out of my house and in the public, but without it I find my social anxiety is making me a prisoner in my own home. The panic attacks come out of nowhere, sometimes waking me out of sleep, causing me to pace around my house like I'm possessed, unable to stop.
For the first time in 26 years, with anyone, I discussed the original ordeal with my sister, thought it should help, but it didn't. Reading this site hasn't helped me either. It is full of factual information, other stories, but nothing that helps with the emotional problem I am dealing. This is an disturbing EMOTIONAL problem, facts and stories are not helping. Words online don't help, not for me, not so far. Seeing that others have survived similar or worse problems just makes me sad. I almost have a degree in psychology, humorously my psychological problems are what made it difficult for me to complete it. I know just about every coping strategy ever presented, some work some, some don't work at all. But none of this "data" stops me from waking up in the middle of the night in terror. I might make the panic attacks last shorter times by breathing and all that. But the constant dread of going out and dealing with people, that doesn't go away, sometimes I can overcome, sometimes I can't, but it is always uncomfortable, sometimes even downright painful. Being bipolar and psychotic is much like being on drugs, it distracts from reality. This PTSD stuff was masked by these other mental health problems, so having learned how to cope with them better, this underlying other problem has resurfaced. It is amazing how a 6 month period of my early years has such a disrupting force on my life 26 years later.
I'm a writer, my rather traumatic life history is good for that, one would think pouring these feelings and experiences into my characters would help. Sometimes it actually does, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes I'm my own trigger. I'm not sure even why I am taking the effort to write this post, other than the fact that I'm a bit depressed suffering from self pity. I am good at putting a lot of words onto the page, I guess maybe I just needed, for once on this site, to pour out my story.