PTSD is sleeping very deeply for once when the heater comes on.
It’s jerking awake inside your brain at the sound only to discover your hands and feet are asleep from wrist & ankle down and nothing works.
It’s trying to move your limbs but you can’t—
It’s trying to scream or cry or yell but nothing comes out—
It’s that you’re trapped, your heart is pounding, your breathing jagged—
Then a half-second after your mind woke your body responds and you can move, you can, your limbs on fire but moving, and you pull away from wherever you were, sweat pouring—
And your brain helpfully was supplying <insert nightmare fuel> for who knows how long, and continues to, so you see both reality and the images in flashes as you rub your hands and feet—
And you remind yourself (as they taught you) that you are well, that you are safe, pulling all the pieces of yourself together, it’s fine, I’m fine—
And you perform whatever safety rituals you have established, whatever self-calming routine you possess.
But you burn. Your limbs burn. Your heart is pounding. You didn’t want to remember, you wanted to sleep, but memory came to visit you anyway.
This is not the only way it happens. This is a single face. And it stares back at me from the mirror sometimes. And sometimes, it climbs out of the mirror and follows me to bed, and waits for me to fall asleep.