I am constantly on high-alert. I am (painfully) aware of things that other people don’t notice, or don’t think twice about: sounds, people, cars, everything. I know that is related to my PTSD.
In some ways, it benefits me. I had someone following me in the dark a couple of weeks ago and I noticed right away and took action.
In other ways, I can do without the hypervigilance. It’s tiring. I am constantly questioning every little noise and every movement. It makes it impossible to focus.
You would think that, with being so aware of my environment at all times, I would be aware of what is going on within me. If I know the outside, I should know the inside, too. It seems like common sense. It seems like it should be that way. But it’s not for me.
Yesterday, I was putting labels up at work. I started noticing splotches of reddish-orange. I thought it was just marker or something, so I tried to rub it off, but that just seemed to spread it more. Then I noticed my hand, which had the same color splotches on it. Then I noticed my finger, entirely covered in it. It took me a minute to realize that it wasn’t marker on the labels. It was me.
I was bleeding. Profusely. I didn’t even notice I had cut my finger. How, I don’t know. I didn’t feel a thing. No pain. Nothing.
I could understand if this was a one time thing. I could rationalize it by saying that I was just too tired. But this wasn’t the first time something like this has happened. Years ago, I leaned over a burner while it was on and burned my abdomen. I didn’t feel anything. The only thing I noticed was the smell of my burning shirt. I’ve injured myself countless times and not felt any pain.
Why can I notice everything going on outside me, but I can’t notice anything going on inside me? I notice the blood on the paper, but not the cut on my finger. I notice the smell of burning fabric, but not the burns on my skin. It doesn’t make sense.
It scares me. How can I know when something is wrong if I can’t feel anything?
It frustrates me. People ask me how something feels and I just don’t know. Isn’t it hot in here? Well, I guess it is hot since you asked. But I have no idea. What does this pillow feel like? I don’t know, but since I can see that it’s silky, I’ll take a guess and say that it’s soft. I use context clues so I can seem normal. The truth is I really have no fucking clue how anything feels to my body half the time.
It worries me. You could cut the head off of my body and I feel like I’d still function the same. I don’t feel connected at all. There is no mind-body connection here.
I feel like a robot. Robots can’t feel, and neither can I.