Cold. Wet. Alone. Unable to breathe. The dark curtain beginning to close from my periphery. The pressure in my chest crushing me. The weight on my legs pulling me deeper. I try to scream but cannot. I try to claw for the surface but am only pulled further and further down.
My skin is like ice now; like millions of tiny daggers digging into me. My hands are numb. My chest burns, begging for air. The curtain around my vision closing slowly. The chains around my ankles pulling me deeper and deeper seem to grow tighter with each passing moment.
I look up and see only a pinprick of light above me. Salvation. Safety. Warmth. All of this so far out of reach for me now as I'm dragged below.
I look down and see nothing. Only the black of the unknown. A chill runs down my spine. Different from the icy cold of the water that surrounds me. I chill of knowing. A realization that this is the end. This is MY end. Drowning alone in this pit. Forever pulled deeper and deeper into this abyss. I look once more toward salvation. I close my eyes and scream, letting the final bit of air escape my lungs. Succumbing to the darkness.
I'm warm again, sitting in a small office. There's a man in an Army uniform across from me. Studying me. Tears are running down my face and I am shaking uncontrollably but not from fear. Adrenaline coursing through my veins. It's fight or flight. It's now or never, do or die. I leap to my feet and head for the door but the soldier stops me. His voice is cool, calm, almost soothing.
"Corporal, our session isn't over yet. I know it is difficult for you to go through this again. I know it hurts to relive that day, but by understanding the events of that day we are able to overcome the horrors of it. Now, please have a seat and follow my breathing. Slowly in through your nose........and out through your mouth. Good. Now, let's continue."
Cold. Wet. Alone. Unable to breathe. The dark curtain beginning to close from my periphery...
For the most part this is painfully accurate. There are some minor issues with this; a battle hardened soldier's exaggerated reaction would be "fight or fight", there's no "flight" - you tense up at innapropriate moments and you're ready to pull the trigger. A more shock caused trauma probably induces a more traditional fight or flight response. The thing about PT is that it's the result of massive stress that the brain has no idea how to handle (a bunch of neurological stuff that I won't go into here) and you end up being stuck in this stress loop that can ocassionally pop up on you and cause a flashback or be activated via a trigger.
I guess it matters a little if you mention whether your protag was Audie Murphy (not literally, but a man who fought for a long time and got stuck mentally in the war) or if it was someone who couldn't handle the horrors of combat.
Other than that, I think the ending should've been, "Wet, alone, the water feels rather nice... an icy tidal wave crashes into me, the dark curtain beginning to close from my periphery..." Because again, it's this restlessness that's out of control. Breathing excercises actually help calm you down but sometimes you don't breathe the way you should for a milisecond and that next wave of adrenaline kicks in making you feel like a massive wave of ice just smashed you right across the face causing you to once more tense up and ventilate like you've run a marathon, or had to take the role of a devil dog.
There are a few minor mechanic issues;
"Slowly in through your nose........and out through your mouth. Good. Now, let's continue." Should've been "your nose and out of your mouth." the break is needless there. Also it's just ... if you do use the ellipsis.
That whole section feels kind of clunky to be honest, maybe add descriptions of the military person as he speaks," "breath this way blah blah blah..." my breathe steadied.... "good" " Something like that, make it more human.
Speaking as a combat hardened soldier, I am intimately familiar with PTSD and the effects it has on someone and the fight or flight is still there. Its exaggerated but there. I wrote the ending the same as the beginning to illustrate the torture that prolonged exposure therapy caused me personally until I was near the end of it. Its repetative and painful and always the same.
As someone who had exceedingly mild PTSD (definitely not the shit you went through) I can say this is what it feels like. I never had to get therapy (at least specifically for the PTSD) so I don’t know what that’s like, but I can certainly understand how it feels to be trapped in the same memory, never knowing when the trigger might appear.