Wednesday, January 27, 2010

losing time

This started out a comment, but became a post. The time-wasting thing is weird...partly, I've had to learn to give myself some space to waste some time on having fun and stuff like that that I used to think I did not deserve. But the losing time thing was a real problem for me for a long time -- still is in some ways.

I used to be in this weird form of denial about it. I would have dissociative, losing time, flashbacky stuff happen all the time, but as long as I was the only one who witnessed it I could pretend it was not happening, or I was just faking or being "dramatic." Denial runs very deep in my family!

Anyway, eventually, I started losing time so others noticed and I had to make up stories to cover (should sound familiar to anyone who has or had an addiction that is trauma-related), but ultimately, it spilled over, or I finally decided I could trust my partner of many years and what had been my own private nightmare was all of a sudden shared. Instead of leaving me in disgust, she said "oh my this is terrible." She recognized what was going on with me as similar to what another set of trauma survivors (women who have suffered domestic violence) whom she was familiar with go through. This set us off on the slow process of learning almost from scratch what PTSD is. I thought she would leave if she discovered how "bad" and "crazy" I was inside my head, but instead, sharing what was going on, even though it kind of spilled over rather than being a conscious decision on my part, began the process of recovery for me.

My ability to trust others was so damaged by the various traumas I have alluded to in this blog that it was nine years into our relationship before I trusted her with what was going on inside me. I really thought I was to blame for it all, and that I was just crazy or defective, and I had been burned so many times on trust issues I was extremely wary. And I was fortunate to find someone who saw things for what they really were instead of just being freaked out and leaving.

I guess the moral of the story for me is that when I am "losing time" it is a good idea to run it by someone I trust. That is hard for me, because I used to trust people who had not earned it and I got burned all the time.


  1. I can relate to this post very much. I wonder how long it took you to accept the diagnosis of PTSD? It has taken me years to finally understand, accept, and trust that is what I have.

    I still find myself 'pretending' that I am okay when inside I have lost time or feel completely overwhelmed.

  2. I had no idea what was wrong for years. I just thought something was undiagnosably wrong with me. Finally getting diagnosed with PTSD after years of mis-diagnosis and outright therapeutic abuse that I have written about elsewhere on the blog was an amazing relief for me because though it is truly horrible, it can be managed and treated to a degree. So for me the diagnosis was a big step forward. Where I experience trouble is when I doubt the traumatic nature of what happened in order to seem like I can control what happened. In other words, if it was somehow my fault then it was within my power to control. Only it was not and it has taken me years to learn that. Now I am a littler gentler on myself, but that has taken a long time. I still get overwhelmed, but now more by stuff in the present than the complete onslaught of flashbacks and dissociation I used to experience.

    But to answer the question you asked, I latched on to that diagnosis like a drowning person to a lifesaver, but it took nine years of losing time and pretending I was ok as long as no one else could see before I got that diagnosis, so maybe our processes are a little different that way.

    Thanks for writing.

  3. Wow,
    What a blog site. I have been living with PTSD for over 20 years. Much like your story it is a long grueling one. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. To speak specifically to your "Losing Time" topic, I too have been struggling with this for about the last year. I too have a job that also allows me the freedom of wasting time. Most of my time is spent dealing with flashbacks. When I am not having a flashback or recovering from one, I am trying to figure out how not to have them and why I have them for seemingly no reason. It is a big viscous circle. On occassion I get a 3-5 hour period that my mind is clear and I can produce something. Mostly I shoot for an hour or two in a day that I can remain focused. I often look back on a day and wonder how I could waste so much time. The flashbacks seem to be one of my biggest demonds. I have tried tactics such as "To Do" lists and putting the easy items first. Some days I put a spin on my routine just to try and get a different outcome. Some days it works some it doesn't. I do get overwhelmed quickly. I am currently just trying to accept it for what it is....whatever that is!! It is difficult to do as I would consider myself at one time an overachiever (PTSD and all). I guess some time you slam into the brick wall and it takes a few bumps before you get through. You would think that after so many years I could figure it out "this time".Any thoughts on how to prevent or change "losing time" would be appreciated.

    Thank you for your blog. It is easy to think that you are alone in this PTSD nightmare. In some strange way it is good to know someone else understands what you have or are going through.

  4. Hi Anon,
    sorry for the lag on posting your comment. I got behind. I still struggle with it, but it seems that if I am doing the things I need to do for myself, which are not always what others or my employer think are best, I tend to do better. I also think losing time is related to dissacoiation which is one of the hardest things to deal with in my experience. It is a strategy for coping by splitting off from yourself, and it is a very effective survival tool in the short run, but PTSDers get stuck in it. So part of the answer is to find new ways to cope with stressful situations. EMDR, which I should write a post on sometime, has been somewhat effective for me once I got stable enough to do it.

    I feel a little like I am giving advice here instead of telling my experience, because I still lose time, just nowhere near as much as I used to.

  5. ummm, dissacoiation = dissociation :)

  6. is it possible to live in a semi-dissociated state and not realize it? maybe thinking its your life?

  7. Time LordJuly 12, 2010

    This is my view of time.
    Time in the physiological sense stopped for me when I received the last assault on me, which led to PTSD. It went over the cliff ahead of me and I never got it back.
    Day time, (the clock or watch), makes perfect sense and I use that to get around, but don't ask me how old I am or what i did last year because I could begin to tell you.
    I've accepted it now and I feel better for not fighting it.

  8. Hello,
    Thank you so much for your reflections, research and courage. As a fellow reader wrote, i want to hug your blog!
    it was so so so helpful to come across your site. i recently started experiencing the full-body flashbacks and pseudo-seizures.
    i feel very held by a number of healers who have helped me get to this point, so i am lucky. i also witnessed someone I care for deeply go through a PTSD related episode, so there's been something of a preparation. Your blog helped release much of the guess work and fear around what is now unfolding.

    In the words of Joseph Campbell:
    "We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us — the labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world."

    Thank you for being a Hero.
    with much gratitude & warmth,

  9. My version of time loss is much more blippy.

    I liken it to windshield wipers going wipe-wipe-wipe, currently cleaning my brain of those pesky things like...oh, conversations...What my spouse just said to me in a it seems like she just walked off with no communication...

    What were you saying again? Better write it down...on several pieces of paper, so I don't set them down without realizing it...

    I find this darkly funny...Very adaptive too. I was verbally abused a lot as well as a bunch of the kind of early-learning experiences that require this adaptation.

    So eventually just not hearing what people said was very useful.

    Also getting cleared-where I just set something at...the Random Setdown. *Facepalm*.

  10. Mine is more like windshield wipers, getting rid of pesky things like the beginning of someone's sentence, or where I just put something.

  11. just posted Wendy's and "Hylie"'s comments, and the windshield metaphor is awesome. I just finished checking my email and found something I had wiped away/forgotten has reached the crisis stage and spent some time trying to fix that mess...finished and there is the windshield metaphor, which made me lol, even though I know from experience it is dead serious. Thanks for the image you two.

  12. I am a 49 yr. old woman. I was sexually abused from the ages of 6-12, anywhere from once to five times weekly, spanning those 6 years. My main perpetrator was a brother, but my step-grandfather was also inappropriate, but only with his hands and tongue. Of course I developed maladjusted coping skills and by 15 was a full blown heroin addict. Growing up in NYC during this era I lost a large percentage of childhood friends to homicide, overdoses and AIDS, in that order. I got clean at 22, got therapy, discovered the terms incest victim and incest survivor. At this point in my life I was still a social person, I had and made friends easily and don't remember having panic attacks, flash backs, bouts of agoraphobia, social and general anxiety... After relapsing back into drug addiction in my late 20's I experienced gang rape, abduction, torture, repetitive terrorization (predominantly by the Crips, but also by ritual abuse). There are episodes I still have little memory of, but many physical as well as psychic scars from. One of the frustrating things that occur for women and children like me is that people either don't want to believe that human beings can inflict these atrocities on the weak and vulnerable, think the victim is making things up for attention or believe us to be delusional. I suppose I am now considered mentally ill, having been diagnosed with PTSD, bi-polar and anxiety disorder. I do not believe I would be suffering from any of these things including, possibly, drug addiction if it weren't due to the learned helplessness and loss of self control abuse victims feel after multiple traumas One of my perpetrators was a wealthy business man who, as my boss, became obsessed with me. I had never believed in the concept of people actually worshipping Satan, and still have a hard time discussing this stuff with people, including therapists, because of the feelings of it all being some nightmare. I promise this is the truth, bizarre as it may seem. It may be put in more perspective knowing that these instances occurred in Los Angeles. At any rate, after being held captive, drugged with Ketamine, raped repeatedly and burned with various instruments for 36 hrs. I escaped. Out of the 13 people involved, I knew only one; my boss, whose name I would love to write here, but whose wrath I still fear. I am proud of the fact that I returned to my work place, days later, after recovering my ability to walk (wounds still open, but bandaged). I waited until my "boss" was alone and proceeded to beat the crap out of him. Among other things I tied him up and made him smoke a pack of Newport cigarettes, back to back, knowing he'd stopped smoking 20 yrs. previously. I ended up going to prison for assault with a deadly weapon, where as none of the charges against him were ever brought to trial...Here I am, 18 years after leaving prison and L.A. behind me. I have struggled to get and stay clean and am writing this after a significant amount of years clean and sober. I have a wonderful, non-abusive relationship with a man (also in recovery from addiction) and a home in the country where I am SAFE , 4 cats who are my joy and solace, and yet still suffer from chronic PTSD. It SUCKS! I hate being frozen and trapped in my own body. I cannot enjoy life the way other people do. I find it hard to leave my house on the most awesomely beautiful days. My anxiety is a living hell and I still have no idea how to stop the memories, the nightmares, the feeling of being an outcaste, emotionally unstable and basically broken, unsalvageable and alone in a hostile, violent, unfair world. My saving grace is that I somehow still believe I will be healed...and in some small ways I have. PS I would love to try EMDR

  13. Gracious! What a horrible and difficult experience. Thank you for sharing it and I hope you get some relief. I do believe your hope in healing is well placed!