‘It’s as if a crowd on a distant hill are shouting frantically, yet I can’t hear in the wind.’
Generally, I don’t apply the word ‘disability’ to myself as I don’t find it helpful. It’s even arguable whether I’ve contributed to the ‘invisibility’ of my conditions – through my own conditioning as a child, my fear of being judged, my shame and my own attempts to ignore my symptoms into submission.
To offer some context, the Equalities Act (2010) describes disability as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on one’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Some conditions, such as cancer, receive immediate disability protection; while others, such as mental health conditions, are dependent on severity.
My own willingness to reveal my mental health struggles has been proportional to how safe and accepted I feel with people. A series of traumatic incidents culminated in me experiencing some PTSD / complex trauma, depression and anxiety. Trauma had previously lay dormant in me for many years though I had depression and anxiety for decades. I mostly kept this knowledge to myself and a select few.
Below, I describe some of my ‘invisible’ symptoms.
One of my trauma symptoms creates a ‘frozenness’, a split from myself and a numbing to my own feelings. It’s as if a crowd on a distant hill are shouting frantically, yet I can’t hear in the wind. I feel nothing. Event and feelings won’t even speak to one another.
Other times a swirling mass of dizziness swims frantically in my head and increasing tension draws my attention inwards.
Ungrounded, I don’t notice. I no longer feel my clothes on my skin.
‘I’ve experienced in society a desire to judge or exclude that which it doesn’t understand. Those who have been most supportive for me have simply listened without judgement or professional bias.’
Sometimes, when in a group, I begin to feel ‘invaded’ in a way that scares me. Visually I begin building walls around me to keep myself safe, but they don’t work. I start to panic at my inability to keep myself safe and slip into feeling overwhelmed.
Hyper-vigilance means ‘on guard’ and, like the stiffness of a sentry, it’s not easy to feel relaxed around others while unconsciously assessing them for potential outbursts or difficult behaviours.
I’ve touched on some of my inner world which only ever needs compassion, acceptance and respect. I’ve experienced in society a desire to judge or exclude that which it doesn’t understand. Those who have been most supportive for me have simply listened without judgement or professional bias.
I wonder if you could you offer that kindness to someone in your own world today?