The first time I blacked out that I know of was on a family trip through Nevada. Stopped at a gas station. I forgot my purse in the bathroom. I had my hand in the doorway when the door closed with my hand in the door. It smashed across my knuckles. I remember walking out in front by the gas pumps and telling my dad my eyes felt funny. I didn’t break my hand but the pain was spectacular. In high school, I started passing out more frequently. I tried to tell my parents and was scolded for exaggerating. After a couple of years, I finally passed out in front of my mother. Yup, she finally believed me. Scary thing was I had just been driving the car. Carted off to the doctor’s office…..diagnosis low on iron. Just the beginning of my nightmare and rounds of testing including full brain scan. I kept trying to explain to the doctors what happened but I couldn’t pull it off in front of them so they kept dismissing my problems. When I was in my 30s I passed out every day. I learned to sit on the floor even in public…I never fell off a floor. I limited my activities. I stayed close to home. My big adventure out in the world was to the grocery store. I was almost 40 before I was able to shop alone and all in one trip. Looking back I now know it was a dangerous combination of low electrolytes, low blood pressure, high stress, extreme sleep deprivation, and terrible eating habits with an over all dose of PTSD. I didn’t have the first clue how to take care of myself. I had no idea about anything to do with PTSD other than soldiers get it. I occasionally will have a bad day where I pass out again but those events are few and far between, thank goodness. I learned a bunch doing my own research since my doctors were all stumped. I bought a medical dictionary and read medical journals on the intranet for the hospitals. I couldn’t check out the articles but I could sit in their library for hours. I finally found a book on sleep deprivation…they stopped the experiments where my life began. They said it was too dangerous to be so sleep deprived. No kidding. (Please read those two words with lots of sarcasm.) PTSD induced insomnia, terrifying nightmares, and general poor sleeping habits. To top it all off I did a sleep study and I have sleep apnea. The question in my mind, does the sleep apnea cause the PTSD to be worse or does the PTSD trigger the sleep apnea? I learned so much about eating healthy, exercise, attempt at sleeping more, accepting wild crazy dreams….aka nightmares but toned down a bit. The biggest of all was getting into counseling and telling all my secrets. I had so many secrets. It takes a substantial amount of energy to repress events so completely. Keeping secrets is a huge energy drain. I tried to be all noble by not sharing the burden of my memories. But it doesn’t help. My first counselor listened and listened and listened and listened. Once I stopped keeping all the secrets it was like a dam broke loose and all the suppressed garbage poured out. The emotions flooded me. Not good. My counselor worked at teaching me to pace myself so I wouldn’t be wiped out for days after a counseling session. Bit by bit we waded through decades of repressed emotions and sharing events so I no longer have any secrets to tell. I am still learning to live better. I am still learning how to improve relationships. I am still learning about caring for myself. All these are an ongoing project I like to call thriving.