Navigating the grocery store with PTSD

Grocery store sign

Grocery store sign (Photo credit: Plan for Opportunity)


I think the grocery store can be a confusing place for anybody.  But, for someone with PTSD it can be the next best thing to a nightmare.  I went into Publix today and was almost immediately overwhelmed by sensory overload.  The noise, bright lights, colors and movement just causes this overwhelming confusion.  I don’t know how else to put it so that an average person would understand.


Here’s an example that may help.  Imagine walking into the store and the lights are all strobe lights.  It’s crowded and every person is yelling to be heard.  Add in people walking towards you from every direction and trying to keep track of them all.  Top it off with some background music and you have my basic experience in a grocery store.


I have learned a few things to help me navigate it like I used to though, at least sort of like I used to.


1. Breathe deep before going in.  Relax yourself.


2. Take a list.  If I’m going by myself I no longer try to shop from memory.  I write a list or put it on my phone.  I then check off the items as I pick them up.  Otherwise, I end up checking the cart every minute or so to see if I have everything.


3. If it gets too overwhelming, step off to the side out of the way, breath, and regain your bearing.  You’ll think you look stupid, but if your store is anything like mine people wouldn’t notice if I stood on the apple rack and started stripping.


4. Try listening to headphones as you shop.  I normally wouldn’t suggest this because I feel it could be a safety issue, but if it keeps your brain on task, then go for it.  Personally, I have avoided the headphones up until now because I didn’t want to look rude.  But, referencing #3, I think I’m assuming people even know I’m there.


5. Stick to the list and move in an orderly fashion.  Don’t let your path through the store vary too much.  The more you do it, the better you will get at navigating the riot conditions.


6. Test yourself.  Every once in a while test yourself at the store.  Try not looking at the list as long as you can.  Leave the music off. Etc.  Notice I said test, not punish.  If it’s not working without headphones for example, then put them back on.  No harm, no foul.


7. Go to the store earlier or later in the day.  I often make the mistake of going at the height of madness.  i.e. late afternoon.  Going at the off times can help minimize the distractions.


I hope this helps some of you.  I’m still learning so if you have something that works for you, comment and let me know.



Am I retired or lazy?

English: the lazy barnstar. created to award m...

English: the lazy barnstar. created to award myself for having the largest number of unfinished projects 😛 Français : L’étoile de la paresse. Créée pour me récompenser moi-même d’avoir le plus grand nombre de projets inachevés 😛 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Because of PTSD I am no longer able to work.  I’m not on disability as of now.  I just don’t work.  Some people may say, “wow, I wish I didn’t have to work!”  I may feel the same way if I was at normal retirement age, but I’m not.  I’m 42.  I’m not supposed to be retired for another 20 to 30 years.


I meet a lot of new people with my wife’s work.  The small talk almost always goes to “what do you do?”.  And I always struggle now to answer that question.  My first instinct is to say I’m retired and then go into a long explanation of my path so that they know that I’m not just lazy and don’t want to work.  I know on the surface that it’s really nobodies business.  But i’ve worked in some capacity as long as I can remember.  As a child my work ethic was one of the only ways to get approval.  It was best when I could work myself to the point of being sick in the summer heat.  I was really praised then for working so hard.  Sleeping in was frowned upon and usually met with a list of things that I needed to do.


I guess I learned that punishing myself through work was a way to earn approval.  And so I did.  But now I have no choice.  The way the conversation sounds in my head is this: “Hi Brodie, what do you do for a living?” Me: “I sit at home and let my wife carry me because I’m too lazy to work and too weak to overcome PTSD. Nice to meet you. ”


Conciously, I know that if I sat down with that person and told them what I have seen and done in my life, they would probably say “Good lord! How are you even still alive?!?”  But, I’m still battling with the thought that I haven’t done enough yet.  I haven’t paid enough yet.  I haven’t been punished enough yet for my perceived shortcomings, whether real or imagined.


I don’t really know how to overcome this problem yet.  Maybe I’ll just go take a nap.


Is God telling me to rest?

Rest here

Rest here (Photo credit: oliverkendal)

Every now and again God speaks to me in some very unexpected ways.  This morning it seemed to be through a random picture with a caption on Facebook.  I’m unable to work now due to PTSD.  I’m not lazy, believe me when I say I’ve tried to work with not so good outcomes.  In fact, I tell you I’m not lazy because I feel so much guilt from not being able to work.  Each time I’ve tried to get out of my current condition, I’ve hit a brick wall.  Hard.

Basically, PTSD came to me after I spent most of my life trying to save others.  In part to prevent some of the things I had seen from happening to others, and partly to try to make up for what I felt were failures to save others.  It has left me in an odd place.  I’m basically stuck in place.  I’m unable to work.  Unable to fight.  I’m just here.  I’ve spent a couple of years now trying to claw my way back to what I was.  It’s been an unsuccessful effort.

But, a thought occurred to me this morning.  A thought from God I’m sure.  Maybe God is telling me it’s time for me to rest for a while.  It’s time for me to stop trying to save everyone and just be.  This is a much easier task to type than it is for me to do.  I still have this under the surface feeling that if I’m not ‘doing’ then someone’s going to suffer for it.  But, that’s not giving God any credit, any power.  I think I’ve been assuming that God is with me, but it’s still up to me to do the saving.  I’ve thought that God gave me the bible and other tools, and now I either do what needs to be done or else.

It appears that I’ve been wrong on this for a long time.  I refused to rest, to give myself a break, so God stepped in to do it for me.  He created a set of circumstances that give me no choice.  No way out.  No way for me to save myself or anyone else.  I have no option left but to rely totally and completely on Him.  I don’t mean relying on Him by praying more or doing better at reading the bible.  I mean that I am in a position now where I cannot, believe me I’ve tried, do for myself.  I am dependent on God for all.

To be completely honest, this is a comforting thought.  Although, even as I think that I get the feeling from the back of my mind that I’m just lazy.  Pretty sure that thought is not from God.


Confused by cats

I’m not exactly sure what got into our cat brothers, Bill & Eric, today. But, this is what I found on our bed this mid-morning.


The dishes won’t defeat me!

A dishwasher containing clean dishes

A dishwasher containing clean dishes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


PTSD takes some getting used to.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be totally accustomed to it because there always seems to be a new challenge.  What really frustrates me is trying to do the simple things and getting totally frustrated.


I’m no longer able to work, so my purpose in our house has been relegated to that of a house husband.  Dishes, cleaning, bills, etc.  But, there are times when even those jobs frustrate the hell out of me.  In the army I was required to keep certain items packed at all times in case of a short, rapid deployment.  But occasionally our trip was going to be longer and I had to pack more than just the rapid deployment items.  This was never a problem for me.  I knew where everything was and could pack with or without a list in a matter of minutes.  Even as a civilian police officer, if I was called in on short notice it was no problem.  I could be ready and out the door in minutes.


Now, after ptsd, it takes me several minutes to get out the door.  Did I get my wallet?  Do I have my phone?  Etc.  Sometimes I go off hunting for these things only to find that they’re already in my pocket or bag.  Sometimes even after I find an item I have to recheck several times because I can’t remember for sure that I have them.


I find now that the dishes really tick me off.  If the dishwasher needs emptied and it’s just glasses and plates, then no problem.  But if it contains odd items that I don’t deal with every day, then look out!  For the most part, I’m the one that put everything in its place after I remodeled the kitchen a few years ago.  Now, that damn muffin tin is my worst enemy.  Where the hell does it go?  Even once I figure it out, I may not remember where it is or where it goes the next time.  It’s like putting away things in somebody else’s kitchen.


But, even though it takes me much longer than before, I find my way through the pots and pans maze and get everything put away.  That is until my wife goes looking for something and we both have to hunt for it to figure it where I stashed it. 🙂




PTSD dog tags site

A picture I took of myself wearing dog tags I ...

A picture I took of myself wearing dog tags I bought, custom-made in an Army Surplus Store in Montreal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I did a post a couple of days ago about getting dog tags with your ptsd info on it.  I had a request on that post about where I ordered mine.  This is the online store I ordered from:

You could also order them from any other place that does dog tags, or at an army surplus store.  Let me know if you have a favorite place to order such things.



PTSD loop

Golden mean loop

Golden mean loop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I thought I was just in a really good mood this morning.  Everything seemed to be going great.  Then my wife asked if I was going to have to take one of my spot treatment pills for PTSD.  I told her no, I don’t think so.  I feel fine.


Then I noticed that I had repeated a status at least twice on Facebook.  Occasionally, this is one of the first signs that somethings coming in regards to my brain.  I start repeating things and don’t know that I’m doing it most of the time.  In fact, when I started writing this post, I had to go back a couple of times because I had typed the same sentence twice.


For reasons I still don’t understand, my brain sometimes gets stuck in a loop.  Think of it like a spam website that you go to.  You go to it once and then each time you open the browser, you get stuck on the same page over and over again.  The only way to get out of the loop is to shut it down and start over.  My brain with PTSD seems to function in the same way sometimes.  I have to take medication to reboot it.  Otherwise, I stay in an endless loop until I finally crash.


It sucks, but it is what it is.  I have prayed for God to take this away, but as of now He has not.  I can only assume and trust that He has other plans for me.


Dog tags for PTSD

A picture I took of myself wearing dog tags I ...

A picture I took of myself wearing dog tags I bought, custom-made in an Army Surplus Store in Montreal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes with PTSD, the symptoms can get bad enough that they may resemble signs of a stroke or heart attack.  I don’t want to be accidentally treated for either of those.

The other day a friend a mine suggested that I get a set of dog tags made as a type of i.d. bracelet.  So I went online and ordered a dog tag with my name, dob, PTSD, and my wife’s name and number.  I figure as long as they can reach her, then they can get all of the other info they need.

I thought about just going to the pet store and using their machine to create a tag, but the metal those machines use is a little thicker aluminum than a normal dog tag.  I wanted as little weight as possible, so online was the way to go.  You could also order a set from many military surplus locations that would be the same metal and weight of standard military issue dog tags.  If you’re going to order a pair, I think the weight is better on the stamped tag as opposed to the engraved one.

Don’t restore iphone 5 via the cloud

English: An iPhone 4S on its setup screen.

English: An iPhone 4S on its setup screen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It was time for me to upgrade my phone so I went from the iPhone 4s to the iPhone 5.  Cool new phone, but I had an immediate problem.  I backed up the 4s like normal and then chose to restore the iPhone 5 via the cloud as well.  That was a mistake.  It totally locked up my phone.  The screen started unexpectedly shutting off and then it just stopped turning on completely.


I tried to restore it by plugging it into my Mac and iTunes, but it was too late.  It just wouldn’t come back.  I looked at some Apple forums and saw that a few other people had had the same problem.  So I took the phone back into Verizon this morning and they replaced it.


This time I plugged the phone into my Mac and did a restore that way.  So far there have been no problems the second time around with this method.  My advice is to do at least the initial set up by connecting the phone to iTunes.  After that hopefully I won’t have any problems.



Now entering the disability zone

Seal of the United States Social Security Admi...

Seal of the United States Social Security Administration. It appears on Social Security cards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


If you read my previous blog posts, you’ll see that I have had a long struggle with PTSD.  I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do and still struggle.  So, after going back to work and losing the job after a week, I have been advised by my doctor that it’s time to apply for disability.  This is not something I ever thought I’d have to do and I’m not looking forward to it.


It get worse though.  Because of my condition, I’m unable to work.  That means I’m bringing in no money.  In order to have any chance at getting approved for disability I need to have testing done that cost $2500 and isn’t covered by insurance.


Then there’s the statistic that the disability  government people will always deny a person the first one or two times they apply.  So, I will have to be able to pay to attempt at least 3 times.


A person also has to hire an attorney in order to have any chance of success.  As you can imagine, that’s more money out the door.


So, even before I’ve taken one step in applying for help I find myself in a quandary.  I have proven, to my dismay, that I’m unable to work.  Therefore, I can’t bring in any money.  So, exactly how do I try to get help when I don’t have access to the money that is needed to help me get assistance?  Not sure how this is going to work.  Maybe I’m just stuck.