I’ve been looking for my personal Shangri-La forever. Contrary to what the dramatic wording might suggest, I’m not looking for a lavish paradise of sorts, but simply a place that removes the worst triggers of “fear of fear“. Since my becoming disabled in 2008 on account of my lifelong – not yet officially diagnosed nor treated – c-ptsd, in the ensuing years, I’ve afforded myself the liberty of thoroughly exploring the symptoms which my suffering manifested in hopes of tracing back their sources (on a side-note: I think, I have managed to draw a map of reasons and outcomes for myself that feels accurate and comprises pretty much any trouble I’ve ever had in adjusting to “the norm”). One of the most agonizing day-to-day symptoms are panic attacks. In my case, the first conscious memory I have of a panic attack goes back to around age 9. I was sort of singled out from the family context as I moved into a room, which was one floor higher than where the family lived. Our parents ruled that the room my sister and I had shared until then would became too small for the both of us. They assumed that with me being the older one I would be mature enough to understand and accept this decision. In my typical numbness even then I didn’t even think about objecting, let alone claim a say in this. So I settled in the small room below the roof top and adjacent to a tiny granny flat that we’d rent out on occasion. It was then when I was consciously confronted with my emotional injuries for the first time. Particularly falling asleep at night proved to be a daunting, intimidating process that went hand in hand with disturbing sensations upon release of muscle contraction, nightmares and oftentimes panic attacks shortly after having fallen asleep or sometimes in the middle of the night. The attacks became so bad that I even went downstairs a couple of times to ask, whether I could sleep in my parents’ bed. Pretty embarrassing in hindsight, but simply inevitable at the time. For anyone who has ever experienced an authentic full blown panic attack will know that it stands for nothing else than immediate fear of dying. However, in my case it often morphed into something bigger and worse than simply dying: I remember thoughts and sensations that had me temporarily lose my mind for the duration of the panic attack. Typical thoughts were related to concepts of “eternity” and the inescapability of it or a missing escape from being in the first place. During these moments, I would be very aware of a missing choice over whether or not I had ever wanted to come into being. I guess, these thoughts translate into a profound and comprehensive experience of retriggered helplessness that is likely to come from very early experiences at a Pediatric clinic, which entailed invasive examinations, artificial nourishment, two spinal taps I know of today with one performed near the upper end of the vertebrae, and an overall sense of horrific incarceration. What is more, any physical contact with medical or nursing staff was likely to have been of a painful nature or in the expectance of more pain. I know these things from reports of my parents, who would consult with the leading pediatrician at the time and whom I asked about these things in my self-started investigation into all this. Much later I also had an opportunity of learning to revisit these sensations via clinical hypnosis, the general idea being one of healing and regaining control, of course, rather than revisiting old trauma.
So what in the world has all this got to do with house hunting? Well, in coming back to this and from much painful experience throughout my entire adult life, I have distilled that living in an appartment complex or any kind of situation that involves other parties above, below or next to the rooms I live in, equals triggers. Triggers again equal latent and/or immediate panic that has me on alert all the time. If you’re an individual who is not affected by PTSD or any form of anxiety disorder from it, let me give you an idea of what it is like: Do you remember the most threatening situation you’ve ever come across in your life? Let’s say e.g. a near accident situation in traffic, an impromptu attack by a dog, other forms of sudden threats like e.g. street violence, domestic violence, pronounced sexual harrasment and the likes? Do you remember the intense fear that would set in? The physical “markers” like sweating, hyperventilation, the bowel tract tensing up or other visceral sensations, all of which are part of a fight-or-flight response? Do you recall the discomfort these physical sensations brought about? Now, can you imagine staying in that discomfort all the time with only little, short episodes of relief from that? (and the latter as a result from therapy and/or self-therapeutic efforts, as in: Much work)
Telling from my personal experiences and from some reading up on it, for people suffering from any form of PTSD spectrum disorders, such physical discomfort gets triggered at the spur of a moment and from a wide range of “normal” events, e.g. something falling to the ground and landing hard, a door falling shut hard, loud arguing somewhere nearby, basically anything sudden and/or exuding an air of discomfort is likely to set a full trigger off. For me, in a common rented lodging situation, all these noises and utterances coming from neighbouring parties equal stress and discomfort – I feel tempted to call it ongoing torture (and it surely amounted to that in the flat prior to this one; I wouldn’t want to bet on how much longer I could have sustained impulse control bordering on masochism from suppressing the overwhelming sensations coming from my neighbour’s routines with “limited” understanding of being considerate and/or respecting borders, even absent of my particular condition and situation from it). Hence, after much trial and error and after having tried a multitude of alternatives and variations, like e.g. moving to the uppermost floor, living downstairs, using shock-absorbing pads underneath my bed, using ear plugs a.s.o. a.s.f., I can’t but arrive at the conclusion that ultimately none of these attempted tension-absorbing modifiers ever really worked. For a while, I’ve given myself permission to alcohol abuse, since going to bed drunk would at least help me fall asleep and enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, too. However, since I also suffer from an inherited disposition for hyperuricemia and suffered frequent and long-lasting, agonizingly painful gout attacks in my feet, ankles and shoulders throughout most of 2011, I needed to understand that I would have to abstain from such self-medicating. I was well on my way of becoming a nursing case and experienced times of complete immobility coming from those extremely painful gout inflammations in the joints.
I think, it’s apparent to see that given my condition I simply have no other choice than to move into a little flat that’s separate from adjacent ones. In other words: It has to be a little detached house for me to work out. Now, if I weren’t impoverished on account of this disability and from having exhausted my savings on medical bills in the years 2007 through 2010, if in addition to this I was still able to hold a regular job and have a steady income, buying or building a place on a loan might be an option. Not so anymore. So I need to look for such a place that is for rent. Luckily, here and there you come across such objects in the area where I now live. Like this one. They don’t come often, so when they do, I have to respond quickly. And then I have to sweet talk the potential landlord into understanding that while I depend on welfare, his monthly rent is safe as it’s being sent automatically by the authoring administration department. I hope, I’ll succeed in being persuasive. Unfortunately, I had to miss our first appointment as my car (battery) let me down and I couldn’t get there in time via public transportation. The same happened today, but fortunately they are willing to give me another chance tomorrow. That’s my last one though, I have to make extra sure, I get there – and on time. So, please keep your fingers crossed for me. Thank you.
update: I decided against it, as it turned out unsuitable for my special needs.