To Tell Or Not To Tell?

So today I feel accomplished and truly grateful for being alive.

Also I’m struggling.

While the emotions of the day are certainly a factor, how can anyone not feel at least a few moments of grief in remembrance and gratitude for all those heroes and the connections that have occurred since that day?  Absolutely have had tears and flashback moments to the fear and confusion, even from watching from several states away.  Truly there is no way we ever could forget.

My dilemma is this….  to tell or not to tell?

Public Speaking is most likely the MOST dreaded class I have in this program.  As hard as talking about wills, estate & probate laws are right now, it is easier to handle than public speaking.  I got a great professor, who truly does seem to care & is honest about how he will be grading and what is expected.  From the get go he has said that he will judge us on how we personally improve rather than comparing us to each other or to professional speakers.  Still part of me wonders.

While I am very open about having PTSD and hope that it breaks some of the stigma in hiding away in shame or fear or what others would think, I don’t right off the bat tell someone.  Usually I don’t mention it at all.  In deeper relationships with friends and family, we discuss it when it becomes an issue in some way or if they ask.  Same with work experiences prior.  To date I have yet to mention it on campus or to anyone at the college.  Not intentionally hiding it, but haven’t seen a need to do so.  I’m not asking for any disability services or special treatment.  Sure I have noticed other students stare at my finger and am sure they have their ideas on what has happened to me in the past, but my past is my past.  Its not discussion material.

Today was it was unnerving to be giving a solo 2-6 minute speech to a class of around 30 people.  We are talking front of the room, all eyes on me, speak loudly and keep their attention without looking like a dork SPEECH.

Not something I have on my list of things I want to do in life, but necessary and it is a skill I need help with.  A LOT of help.

The scared speaker

To the class I’m pretty sure that I looked nervous and my hands shook, noticeably even to me as I showed props.  My voice wavered at times and I said the dreaded “Um” several times.  Lost my place and had to think silently for a couple of seconds to regain the train of thought.  I didn’t make eye contact with enough people.  I couldn’t make eye contact. But I did make it through the time frame I was aiming to stay within and I did it.

YET… I’m so very proud.

When I sat down in my chair, I wanted to vomit and pass out.  My body shivered and it wasn’t from cold.

YET… I wanted to pop open a bottle of champagne.  Not to kill the fear but in celebration.

Thought to myself you just spoke to a room of strangers and clearly got across the points I was trying to make. Kicker is, I was completely me.  In my “Oh Gawd its almost my turn” panic I discovered in my rush to get presentable and get coffee, I left my klonapin at home.  I’m over having to take one just to be in class, but today I had pretty much planned on probably needing one and was ok with that.  Not having them was not happening.  What was I to do?  Too nervous to tell the professor that I couldn’t go since I forgot my meds.  Had to wing it.

This NEVER would have happened a few years ago.

It wouldn’t have been an option.  My body would not have made it.  Somehow today, I could.  To me this is huge.

I have pushed myself a lot lately.  Heck the large crowd at the Revolution premiere was slightly jarring, but I wasn’t speaking in front of that group & klonapin made it easy to relax and just focus on having fun instead of fighting the urge to run or make sure there was a clear exit route and no one around me looked malicious or suspicious.  Even that event wouldn’t have worked for old me.

The agoraphobia was crippling. WAS.  Now I’m in charge again.  Which I am proud of and fully recognize the work it takes.  There will be slips backwards and I know everyday isn’t a good day, but I have good days.  Lots more than bad ones lately.

Sure my speech wasn’t professional quality or even as good as some of the other students, but for me – it was exactly what I needed to achieve.  I got through it.

No one knows how much it means to have done it.  My sister called to check on me to see how it went today & she flat out asked “Have you spoken with him about your anxiety issues?”  Nope.

Part of me wants to push it and do it same as everyone else in that room.  In a lot of ways I have an advantage.  I have experience in smaller groups training and typically I have my klonapin if the nerves get too out of control.  Some nervousness is completely normal & I know it adds fuel to propel us on to do things, but I also know that I can let it get out of control, so I at those times try to balance it back out.  Today, I didn’t have to.  Maybe I would have done better if I had, but would I be as proud of myself?  Maybe not.  Maybe I still would be.  Never know.

I do not want special treatment or accommodations.  Those options would be available easily by speaking with the department at school.  Would like to play by the same rules as everyone else.  Still I know, to me, it means more.  I know that if I feel like I didn’t earn the grade I get at the end of the semester, it isn’t going to be good.  He doesn’t strike me as someone who just would give me a good grade from sympathy or apathy, but you never know.  If the grades really are based on how much we improve over the semester, things should go well.  If its going to be a bell curve where the ace student makes the rest of us look badly…. I’m may be in trouble.  Could be helpful for him having insight into my situation and knowing that I am doing truly my best, which I am going to do.

Then again… I have no idea what the others in that room are going through.  Chances are someone else has anxiety issues.  Public speaking is a fear most people view worse than death in a lot of polls (according to the professor death only beat public speaking as feared most one year – 2002, the year following the 9/11 attacks).

So which is it?  Share that I have PTSD which brings on the agoraphobia at times and the panic attacks with the professor privately so he is aware that I really am trying even if it doesn’t appear to be like I am any good? or just keep it hush hush & hope that I can soar high enough to where no one will even know.

Walking 5 feet may seem like nothing to the average adult, but to a baby just learning it is epic.

Going to take some thought.  It is all a matter of pride.  Wondering which path to choose…. or rather, which one I will most regret not having taken later.

OH & FOR THE RECORD….. & slightly off topic.  I had to laugh when a couple students started talking about the “online” portion of the hybrid class.  There isn’t one yet.  The professor stated he didn’t feel public speaking had any need to have anything to do with being online.  There would be some assignment since it was a hybrid class and he would comply with the rules, but he would prefer less book work & more in class time.  I nearly laughed out loud (or LOL if you prefer).  See as you can probably tell, I’m perfectly comfortable with expressing myself publicly in an online format.  Its the face to face that gives me issues.

In this age of people tethered to computers and cellphones… maybe there SHOULD be class time devoted to online public speaking.  Be it blogs, twitter, facebook, skype, webinars (I seriously hate that term) or any other online format, there can be a lot of controversy made by ineffectively expressing oneself.

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