Nothing can cover my mouth, it’s an instant panic attack.
The anonymous account of someone with PTSD struggling with face masks.
This is the anonymous account of someone with PTSD. It is from A State of Fear: How the UK government weaponised fear during the Covid-19 pandemic, which contains stories from people impacted by fear.
I have decided to publish this excerpt after reading some very intolerant commentary from people about the re-introduction of face masks in England in schools, shops and on public transport. There are many exemptions from wearing a face mask, including distress.
I have several disabilities, physical and psychological. I am unable to wear a face mask because I have PTSD from sexual trauma as a young teen. I’m sorry for TMI but it’s relevant. I was raped and pene- trated in my mouth too. Due to this, nothing can cover my mouth, it’s an instant panic attack.
I had to attend the minor injuries unit at hospital yesterday. When I approached the desk to book in, I was instantly ordered to put on a mask. One was offered to me, and I replied I was unable to do so due to a mental health condition. The receptionist fetched a nurse who asked why I was refusing to wear one and said that if I did not, then I would be removed from the unit. This area is very open and very public, with other patients being seen at the side of me. I asked for a private area, and this was refused. I was also wearing a sunflower lanyard.
I was becoming extremely anxious at this point and explained that I have PTSD. They wanted details. I was essentially railroaded into detailing what happened as a teen.
I was told to wait and then taken into a room with a doctor
and another nurse. I again had to explain in detail my PTSD.
I was then offered a visor type mask which I found very claustrophobic and in all honesty unbearable, but was left in no doubt non-compliance would lead to my being asked to leave.
I was then triaged, assessed and treated. In total I explained everything three times. I had an hour-long major panic attack in the car afterwards. I had two more overnight. Since then I have been very on edge and I can’t sleep.