Not the kind of rollercoaster to ride

My new therapist is not like Eamonn. Eamonn would advise me to be careful about being exposed to places that remind me of traumas. That would include New York City. My new therapist advises me to expose myself to locations that remind me of the trauma. I don’t think my new therapist has had PTSD.

I spent almost two weeks in Brooklyn, and it was too much. I moved my flight back to San Francisco a day earlier because I couldn’t take it anymore. To make a long story short, an article in a news app retraumatized me. It was about the naval ship that was struck by a Philippine tanker off the coast of Japan. Within 90 seconds the cabin where men were sleeping filled with water and seven men died.

Reading a news app is not like reading a newspaper. With a newspaper, it’s easy to scan and skim. If there is something I don’t want to read, I can skip it. But on a mobile phone app, words appear within a limited screen, and one can only swipe and tap to read something else. It’s nearly impossible to skim. The words that informed of the tragedy’s details were inescapable as soon as my eyes glanced at them. Immediately, my brain changed. I had been doing well. I had energy, I had plans, and something to look forward to. But the article triggered something. I lost all will, all motivation, and every ounce of energy got sapped. I went from being full of hope and joy to caring about nothing.

I told my therapist two days later about the article trigger. But unlike Eamonn, she did not question me much about it. Eamonn would have warned me not to use a news app on a phone and that there’s a reason why a lot of PTSD patients don’t follow the news. And he would remind me to be careful. Dr. Z. did remind me to use self-care and to find joy in little things. I started writing down a list of things I appreciate. Maybe if I focus on these things, I can get my brain out of this funk. It’s bad. I can’t describe how I feel, but it’s not good. I’m not happy. I’m not really sad either. I have no motivation and no desire to do anything, except maybe write. And the writing isn’t so great.

What do other people with PTSD do when motivation is at level zero?

The amount of mental energy it takes to do anything is exhausting. I went shopping for food and came home wanting to sit in a chair and stare into space. Instead I wrote down things that I appreciate: community, sunshine, quiet, fruit trees, and walking distances. I also appreciate Instagram. It seems to be the only app that motivates me to do anything. Still looking for motivation to live.

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