Behind Me, Always by Agie Mañego (Staccato)

27 Mar

“Someone’s behind me,” a sentence I often repeated when asked why I walked with my back against the wall. All throughout the day, I would walk that way around our old two-story house in Pasig. I hated being alone in a room and would always run towards wherever I felt safest – which was, generally, with anybody else in our house.

 

Except for that lady that stood outside my bedroom one afternoon – whom I mistook for my yaya (whose voice I heard outside of the house a few seconds later).

 

I’d cry. I couldn’t sleep.  If ever I did get sleep, I’d wake up in the middle of the night – scared.

 

Nobody believed me when I said I heard whispers at night. That whoever that person was, he stood by the side of my bed one night. That I woke up in the middle of the night, because it was so humid, to find someone – or something – walking towards my bed.

 

Nobody believed me until someone decided to lock my brother up in his room. The house keys unlocked the knob but the door wouldn’t budge. Nobody believed me until mother heard those whispers too. She didn’t believe me until, one night, she prayed because the whispers were bugging her. She prayed but she couldn’t finish the usual prayers we should know by heart.

 

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you… Hail Mary, full of grace…. “

 

I’ll be honest and say I don’t remember much of it. My dad and I just got into the topic again after I started having nightmares again. Nightmares that, according to dad, periodically come back. He’s the one who has paid attention to when I get nightmares. He remembers those days I couldn’t sleep back in our house in Pasig.

 

He’s happy that I don’t remember everything else – and, in a way, I am too. But the nightmares would come back (even if I feel a little bit like I did those nights back in our old home). Nightmares where I’d wake up at exactly the same time, screaming, heart racing… Panicking.

 

Dad said I was traumatized (he believed that I’ll always panic whenever I was left alone, that I’d always have nightmares, that, maybe, I’d always be wary of my back).

 

I don’t really understand much about being traumatized but, seeing as we talked about anxiety disorders in psychology class, I wanted to associate what I have (whatever it may be) with one of these disorders.

 

One of these disorders is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. It is said to be a “psychological disorder that develops through exposure to a traumatic event.” And event such as, say, wars, or abuse, or maybe even having been in an accident.

 

There are, also, multiple symptoms that show that a person has PTSD. They vary, of course, but, in general, the symptoms include having flashbacks. Some even are constricted of the ability to feel emotions and tend to distance themselves from anything that remind them of the trauma. Some suffer excessive arousal (not that kind of arousal), making them more alert, for lack of a better word. More jittery and jumpy. Others experience difficulties with memory and concentration. Another would be feeling apprehensive and, lastly, having impulsive outbursts of behaviour.

 

Obviously, there’s definitely a difference between PTSD and the “normal response to trauma.” With trauma, you get better eventually. Of course, at first, you may feel a little jittery, have nightmares but, as I said, you do get better eventually. With PTSD, the symptoms don’t just disappear in a few days, weeks, months, or years. It could even get worse (maybe even to the point of feeling a little suicidal).

 

Have you ever experienced something that scared you so much it left you wide-eyed at night? Have you ever gone through so much pain to the point that you just can’t get back up on your feet?

 

Will you be able to cope…?

 

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I still feel that person behind me.

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