After having lived in Florida for 40 years, I have much to be traumatized about, believe you me. Hurricanes, scorpions, rising sea levels, gun-toting vigilantes, insane politicians, free-ranging pet boa constrictors, rampant conservatism… you name it, Florida’s got it. But as is often the case, it took leaving my toxic environment to discover just how seriously it had affected me.

Even though I’ve been in the Seattle area for a year and a half now, and know that I could leave my door wide open 24 hours a day and nary a harmful bug would enter, I still have residual anxiety from my Southern roots. There, you have a constant battle with disease-laden, gravity-defying, hyper-multiplying, two inch long, DISGUSTING cockroaches. They crawl over your bed while you sleep. They get in your hair. You can’t leave any food out, even for a minute. It really freaks me out when they run across the dashboard while I’m driving down the interstate. I’ve even had them scurry into the shower with me when I’m all naked and vulnerable. Shudder. I have no doubt that there are at least a thousand cockroaches for every human in that state. It almost feels as though these creepy creatures have invaded my brain.

Although my rational mind knows that the odds are very good that I’m not going to see one of these things crawling across my pizza ever again, I still am terrorized by them at least once a week. One of my dogs tracks in a dead brown leaf and I see it out of the corner of my eye and nearly jump out of my skin. The brown hair that I slid to the side to unblock the tub drain but forgot to dispose of makes me shriek like a little girl.

You’d think I’d have this all figured out by now, but it seems to be a gut reaction that is ingrained in my very soul. I’m calling this syndrome “Posttraumatic Roach Reaction Disorder”, or PTRRD. It’s debilitating and pervasive. I need medication.

So, imagine my horror when I discovered that these bugs are so novel here that they have their very own display, complete with a domestic straw broom to scuttle over, at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. I watched the locals gaze at them and say, “Ewwww… gross.” and I wanted to scream, “You people have no idea what a dangerous game you’re playing!!!” If even two of those things get out, this city will be up to its ears in roach droppings by sundown.

I can’t even drive past that zoo now without feeling something creeping across that place on my back that I can’t reach. Forgive them. They know not what they do.

I think I need a hug.

The American Cockroach Display at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington. Shudder.

24 thoughts on “PTRRD

  1. I suffer from PYRRD as well… Here in Africa some cockroaches can fly and thy are huge. Awful yuck. We spray the compound but the worst ones are in the city sewers and in rainy season we find the occasional one in our apartment. They are very dark and can live in a glass bottle (where I catch ’em) up to two weeks 💭 just gross.

      1. Yeah. A few days ago went out on a yacht and the cheff was preparing meals. Had ti pass through the kitchen to access the bathroom. Once there I almost capsized the yacht because I saw some cockroaches of different sizes and variety- refrained from sitting on the toilet – severely bumped my head and shoulder. Yuck. Stopped having any more drinks. Decided its not worth it. Drank some more and peed in the sea while swimming…never going to use that bathroom ever again!

  2. lyn sutton

    I hear they’re high in protein though so if they become too prolific…bon appetit. ( Now you really need a hug.) 🙂

  3. Carole Lewis

    MYGOSH! I also grew up in FL. And though I’ve lived in TN, I cannot shake the memories of childhood and the giant Cockroaches that would roam the house at will. Once, when one of my brothers was in the hospital, all us kids had trouble sleeping. The roaches had a field day scurrying back and forth across our beds at night. I also read the book “Whispers” by Dean Koontz. That didn’t help me at all. NOW, I am so happy that I am leaving soon for a mini-vacation in Fl and no doubt, I will bring a few specimens back with me, and spend the next couple months in terror until I find and terminate them. I love everything you write, but not happy with this memory at all.

  4. Carole Lewis

    Do you remember when the Everglades would catch fire, there would be for days all kinds of weird flying and crawling creatures, some 4″ long. I was thinking that when you wrote the blog about that flying Zebra winged thingy.

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