One of the difficult things with PTSD is people ask, “How bad was it?” Like there has to be some scale to measure pain before it is “OK” to have PTSD. What is bad or the worst thing to one person may be a piece of cake to someone else. Too often a person with PTSD isn’t willing or unable to share the event or events surrounding PTSD. I felt isolated and alone when I tried to describe what was “bad” to me. I wasn’t believed. Doubted. I started doubting myself. I stopped believing in myself and my own memories. My counselor had his work cut out for him since he couldn’t sit me on a couch and ask me about my childhood. I didn’t have any memories. I only had the nightmares; I didn’t remember those either. PTSD is caused by many different things but one thing I found in common was the sense or feeling of going beyond pain. The human body cannot tolerate above a certain pain level, threshold of pain. Going beyond this point the body does one of several powerful defense mechanisms. Dissociation…..severe enough that people report feeling they were no longer in their bodies. Shut down, where the systems of the body start shutting down, often starting with hearing, followed by digestion, and finally leading to pass out. This happens with physical or emotional pain. I passed out more than once because the emotional pain was so massive my brain refused to cope with what I was feeling. Depression is a line of defense against massive doses of emotion. Depressing anger is more acceptable than allowing anger to splat all over the place. Depressing the pain, hurt or frustration hiding behind anger is often also preferred. Not many people go beyond pain. However, once you have, it becomes part of who you are. Stamping a change both emotionally and they are discovering physical changes. So when someone asks me what happened, they asking me to go beyond the pain to a place so horrendous my body and mind don’t want to stay there.