PTSD, Eleventh Excerpt From Eliza Player’s Memoir

Written by Eliza Player on Tuesday, 03 April 2012. Posted in Voices in Recovery

PTSD, Eleventh Excerpt From Eliza Player’s Memoir

I cannot really pinpoint exactly how or when the anxiety really began to settle in.  I think I had hints of it all along, like the spacing out at various intervals.  Like the tunnel vision and the memories that flashed back and forth on the walls of those caverns in my mind.  Then, one day it just seemed like something was building inside me that I could not control.  And it manifested as anxiety…and insanity.  Unbearable uncomfortableness.

I had been on methadone for several weeks when the anxiety really manifested.  Liam and I had become accustomed to drinking every night in New Orleans, and we continued that tradition with several of our newfound comrades in Rhode Island.  I was no longer nodding out in public from my dose, and maybe the methadone was what kept the anxiety at bay for a while.

I could not concentrate on my thoughts.  And it seemed like my heart was racing.  I could not sit still, as hard as I tried.   I sat down on the couch.  I turned on the television.  Flipped through channels.  Too fast to really see anything.  Too fast to really even catch a sound bite.  Just various images.  Flashing images, of all sorts of things.  Flashing across the television screen, as I flipped faster and faster.  Trying to avoid the chaos.  Flip, flip, flip…the sound of television static clicking between the flashing images.  Flashing images in my mind.  Friends.  The color blue. Johnny.  Also blue.  Linda.  Howling like a fucking cat.  Flashing images of water.  Just look the other way.  Just pretend like you are watching the television as you flip, flip, flip.  The sounds drove me crazy.

Thoughts flittered.  Birds flapping their wings, pounding my brain with the sound of flutter.  Maybe I could read a book.  Opened up the pages, they felt rough in my hands.  Close the cover, smooth to the touch-as I fingered the image of Anthony Keidis on the cover.  Smooth cover.  Rough pages.  Uneven on the edges, when I run my hands along the sides of the closed book.  Smooth cover, smooth and shiny, slipping slightly beneath my fingers.  Open the book again.  Read the first page.  Read it over again.  Read the first paragraph.  I didn’t know what it was about.  Read it again.  Uncomfortable.  Stand back up.

I walked around that little living room.  Again.  And again.  I walked out on the balcony.  The air seemed to be a little colder.  And I was really nervous.  My heart pounded all the time.  I could not sit still, while I spent as much time as I could chain-smoking cigarettes.  Liquor.  Liquor.  The pills did not really seem to be working, anymore.

I took a couple Seroquel.  Was I building a tolerance to these things?  I took several of the small ones.  I waited.  Still nervous.  Sit.  Stand back up.  Walk to the kitchen.  Open the refrigerator.  Look inside.  I saw everything.  I saw nothing.  Thoughts of cigarettes, the need for something screamed at me in a rushed and hurried pace.  Thoughts of vodka.  Cheap vodka.  The cheap and flavored kind.

The pacing.  Pacing back and forth.  Pacing back from one bedroom, to the next.  Then around the table, and through the living room.  Pacing through the kitchen, before I started the circuit all over again.  I wanted to cuddle with the new kitten Liam brought me.  But, I could only hold him while I was pacing. Back and forth I wore a hole in the carpet.  Back and forth I wore a hole in the linoleum.

When Liam woke up each morning, I was chain smoking.  I was pacing back and forth, smoking and drinking if we happened to have any alcohol in the house.  This was generally how my mornings went in Rhode Island.  Get to the clinic.  Come home and smoke, drinking if I could.  And then I smoked some more.  And I paced, and paced, and paced.

I remember trying to go somewhere in a car with a few people we met there.  We were not going far.  The sun was setting as we climbed into the car.  I was already leery of the trip, as my anxiety had been looming over my shoulder for hours now.  I had not sat still, I was twitching and pacing and shifting.  I remember looking in the back seat, and it looked really small.  My nerves were screaming, and everything around me distorted by the fast pace of my insanity.

I had not been in the car two minutes when this sinking feeling crept up on me.  I had to get the fuck out of this car.  My leg bounced up and down, and my breathing got harder and harder. It was like there was no air in the car.  I could not breathe, my insides screamed something to me, and I knew I could not sit in there much longer.

“Pull over, pull over.  I have to get the fuck out of this car.  Pull the fuck over,” I freaked out.   The driver pulled over on a small country road, and I got out.  I had to get out.  I walked in circles, and I shook my hands and flailed my arms.  Liam was out of the car, pleading with my insanity and me.  I was determined to walk.  I could not get back into that fucking car.  No way, I said.

I had no idea where I was.  I had no idea how far it was back to the apartment, and I had no idea how to get there.  The others were going somewhere, and I did not want to trouble them.  Go on about your businesses.  I just had to walk.

Liam eventually talked me back into the car, and they agreed to take me home right away.  I sat crouched down in the back with my head leaned against the bottom of the glass from the window.  The glass was cold pressed up against my skin.  And my whole body was crawling with anxiety.  I moaned the entire way back, sometimes even adding a helpless wail.

In those days, I could not write.  I wanted to at times, as ideas swirled all through my confused and cloudy head.  Sometimes that is when the best ideas come down upon us.  I could not hold the pen steady enough.  It was one of the most bizarre things that happened to me.  My hands were so shaky and I was so infused with this anxiety that it was rotting in the pit of my stomach, and even if I could have sat still long enough to write…my writing was no longer legible.   I saved some of the scribbling’s from that time, and it still haunts me to see that penmanship on the paper.

I could not sit down long enough to eat a meal.   I always sat my plate down and tried to sit and eat.  Sometimes, I could.  But, as the anxiety built and built…I usually paced.  And paced.  I would get up from my chair after a bite or two.  The anxiety called me to get the fuck up.  I left my plate where it was, and I circled the table, taking a bite each time I passed, making my rounds.  Round and round the table, taking a bite on each passing of the plate.

People did not want to hang out with me.  I made them nervous with my pacing.  I was constantly in and out doors.  I would often groan from the uncomfortable insanity of anxiety.  I have never experienced anything so bizarre.

I talked to several counselors at the clinic.  They assured me anxiety was normal after going through something like Katrina.  But this was not normal.  This was fucking debilitating, and driving me crazy.  I was sleeping okay, sometimes, because the methadone could always lull me to sleep.  The constant influx of vodka also eventually took hold each afternoon, helping me to relax for spurts of time.

About the Author

Eliza Player

Eliza Player

I have been writing as long as I can remember, even carrying tattered notebooks with me through the streets and strip clubs of New Orleans, in the midst of my heroin addiction. I lived a life saturated in heroin until Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, leaving me to fend for myself, eventually facing my demons and coming face to face with my addiction. I have been clean for five years, and since then I have become a mother, graduated college, and started a writing career. I have a B.A. in Mass Media Communication, with a minor in Journalism. I have also written one published book, Through Both Hell and High Water: A Memoir of Addiction and Hurricane Katrina, which tells the story of those dark days I spent in New Orleans after the storm, battling with addiction amidst a natural disaster. I am the blogger and news curator for RecoveryNowTV, and I love sharing the stories of the world, as well as my own personal journey, with my readers. I hope that my words can touch others out there, struggling with addiction.

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