Another PTSD fail day

Today was another PTSD fail day. There are some days with this condition when it seems like there’s no way to win. 

I did all of the usual daily maintenance things. Exercise, both cardio and strength. Eating and tracking what I eat. Prayer. Mindfulness practice. Journaling. Bible reading. I took my meds. Afternoon sleep. Plus all the normal house husband duties. 

After all of this work, and yes a lot of it is a struggle, I still ended up mentally fighting through the evening with irrational fears, feelings of inferiority and a general mood one might describe as being a “butthead”. 

The positive side is I also have really good days, or at least times during the day. Plus I managed to stay alive so I’ll be able to try again tomorrow. 

Brodie 

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Yelling for PTSD relief

English: A hungry baby yelling and crying.

English: A hungry baby yelling and crying. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I’ve wondered for the last 2 years or so why PTSD hit me several years after any traumatic events happened?  I have a long history of events that go back to childhood and extend through my Army and Police careers. So, why did it come home to roost years after I left all of those situations behind?  Was it lying dormant, just waiting for the right moment to attack?  Did something change in my brain that suddenly brought it about?

 

Here’s my non-doctor guess.  This comes from my own trial and error to find things to help myself.  Yes, I have gone to a counselor and continue to go to a doctor for care.  The counseling helped, the doc does as well.  But something is still missing.

 

So, here’s what I may have stumbled upon.  I can say that I’ve felt the urge to yell for pretty much my whole PTSD experience.  I didn’t know why and until now I’ve avoided that.  I’ve avoided it for several reasons.  First, it didn’t make sense.  Second, where do I yell that I don’t disturb the whole house and the neighbors too.  Third, I didn’t want to release some weird anger that I didn’t know how to handle.

 

After some brain storming of my past, especially my Army and Police times, I realized that many of the anxiety issues that go with PTSD were there.  The thing is that anxiety really never had a chance to grow because there was always an outlet.  I was never violent and still am not.  My outlet was through yelling.  Anyone who’s been in the military knows that yelling is a way of life.  When you’re used to yelling and hearing it, you just don’t notice it after a while.  But, I’ve been away from both of those careers for several years now.  It may not surprise you that random yelling at the grocery store is not appreciated.

 

Anyways, after some serious self monitoring I’ve noticed that the urge to yell often comes before a full panic attack.  And, as I said, I have always squashed that urge fearing it would lead to something else.  I really can’t say what I thought would happen.  It just didn’t seem like the thing to do.  So, to do with the panic attack, I either have to ride it out or take medicine to stop it.  If I take the meds to stop it it’s often just a delay and not a stop.  But, taking the emergency medicine does provide temporary relief to my emotions.

 

So today I started having yet another panic attack while at the grocery store.  I have a theory on why the store causes this, but that for another post.  I recognized the beginning symptoms, so I finished up with what I needed and headed home.  Today I tried something new though.  I grabbed a pillow, put it over my face and gave in to the urge to yell and growl.  To my somewhat surprise and relief it did not lead to a more intense episode.  Instead, I felt much calmer afterward.  In fact I was very calm.  In fact in fact, I’m writing this post only a few moments after I did some good pillow yelling.

 

It will be difficult for me to describe the feeling, but it was an emotional release.  Kind of like the steam valve on a pressure cooker.  All at once the stress build up was gone.  My thoughts were back to normal and my emotions were back in check.  Everything was back to being appropriate for the situation I was in, which was no situation at all.  Nothing was going on.

 

I’m going to give this some more research and experimenting.  But, I can say based on looking at my past that this may be the key that I was missing.

 

He’s still in the miracle business

If any of you have read any of my other blog posts, you know that I deal with complex PTSD.  I won’t go into all of the struggles that come with it, you can read some of those on other posts.  I will say that I’ve been out of work because of it for quite a while.  I’ve spent many days asking God why?  I’ve also spent a lot of time wondering if I’ll be able to work again and how.  Who would hire someone who has this medical issue to work around.  After all, it’s a condition that sometimes makes it next to impossible for me to convince myself to even leave my house.  Depending on the day’s severity, I may have trouble remembering what I did 5 minutes ago.

 

I must say though that over time I have learned many new tricks to compensate for the changes PTSD has caused.  You can equate it to someone loosing their legs and then learning new ways to move around.  I keep learning these new ways of compensation and will probably continue to do so.

 

So, now to the true point of this post.  I had started to resign myself to an unemployed existence.  Although, my wife and I have continued to pray for a miracle of some sort.  We’ve prayed continuously that He would take care of us, however that may be.

 

And now the miracle.  A couple of weeks ago, Jodi(my wife) and I decided to drive up to north Georgia.  We had no particular destination in mind.  It was just another Saturday and we were board.  As we were going I saw a sporting goods store in Jasper and we decided to stop in just to kill some time.  While there we ran into the Compton’s.  We knew of them, but didn’t know them well.  Jodi and Beth started talking and find out that they needed a project manager in their company and I have done the job before.

 

In short order I met with Ken and Beth, took a personality test to see if I was a good fit for the job and found out that I was a great fit for what they needed.  So, an unplanned trip to an out of the way place lead to a job.  Neither of us could have guessed that God would answer our prayer in this way.  In fact, it’s a set of circumstances that we couldn’t have orchestrated if we tried.  There were/are too many parts and pieces that needed to come together in a perfect way for it all to work out.  That is something that only God could do.

 

To be completely transparent, I’m not sure exactly how it all happened.  God was working too many pieces for me to even attempt to grasp it all.  In the end it’s not my job to understand it all.  My job is to trust Him and move through the doors He opens and stop trying to open doors that He has closed.

 

No matter what someone tries to tell you or how you feel, God has not left you.  He will also never leave you.  This is not prosperity gospel by any stretch of the imagination.  We had to go through some very dark times to get to today and there will be more of those ahead.  But, if you and I keep our hope and faith in the God of the universe then we can see the dark times as nothing more than a training ground.  We can also rest peacefully in the fact that God also has bright and awesome blessings waiting for each and every one of His children.

 

It’s hard for me to end this post because I don’t feel that I’ve adequately conveyed the miracle that He did.  I think I would have to chronicle most of the last 2 or 3 years for you to get that picture.  But, you don’t have the time to read all of that and I’ve got work to do.

 

 

The PTSD sleep workout

Panic-attack

Panic-attack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

One of the many things that come with PTSD are nightmares.  Honestly, sometimes these are daymares.  Yesterday evening I felt another strong anxiety attack starting to stir.   I’ve dealt with this for a while now and i’ve started to be able to recognize their onset most of the time.  I knew one was coming so I took my as needed medicine.  Many times that will stop it, but not always.

 

Sometimes I just have to face it and suffer through it.  Yesterday evening I felt those familiar feelings of anxiety and fear coming from nowhere.  I went ahead and took my medication and went to bed.  My brain went to sleep but it appears my body decided to stay awake and fight.

 

When I woke up this morning I was so muscle sore from top to bottom that it was difficult to walk.  It took a good 30 minutes to get loosened up enough to do some simple stretches.  So there it is.  Just one more aspect to the PTSD experience.  It’s my hope with my PTSD related posts that if you know someone with it, that I can give you some insights into how to understand them better.

 

If you’re a fellow PTSD’er, I hope my writing lets you know that you’re not alone, you’re not crazy and it’s ok.

 

Brodie

 

 

A night in the life of PTSD

Insomnia again

Insomnia again (Photo credit: Foodie In Disguise)

 

PTSD is a weird thing.  It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have it.  I’ve tried and never been able to fully explain it.  I usually get a response like, “Yes, I understand, I have problems sleeping sometimes too!, or I understand completely! Sometimes I forget things.”  But, unfortunately the person that says this only thinks they understand.  They’re well meaning, but they don’t truly understand.

 

Here’s an example.  I had difficulty sleeping last night.  I have these nights every so often.  Some times more often than not.  But, it’s not just insomnia or I’m just thinking about things.  During these nights my brain is running scenarios that don’t exist or haven’t happened.  These scenarios are combined with visions and feelings from the past.  Some nights I remember that thoughts or memories and sometimes I don’t.

 

Last night I don’t remember what the thoughts or memories were.  What I do know is I woke up this morning with an elevated heart rate and the overwhelming feeling through my whole body that something was horribly wrong.  Problem was I had no idea what was so wrong.  All I knew was that it was bad, very bad.  So the first thing I did this morning was try to rule out any ‘real world’ problems.  Was something really tragically wrong, or is it just my mind running wild again?  Turns out it was just in my head.

 

But, once I figured out that the threat was not real I still have to deal with the physical issues that the night has caused.  My mind is still reeling and my body is as tense as if I was in a physical fight.  My heart rate is still very elevated.  I haven’t tested my blood pressure, but my assumption is that it is too high as well.

 

So, now I will need to spend an hour or two trying to ‘come down’ from the imaginary fight I’ve been in.  That process will take a while.  Depending on the day, it may take hours to get back in control.  Hopefully, I won’t have to take a zanex to aid the process.  I prefer not to take that medicine.  Although occasionally I have no choice.  Sometimes I think it would be better if I woke up and actually met a threat of some sort.  At least then I’d have a target to direct my anxiety towards.

 

 

PTSD Elitism

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I was searching, like I often do, for any new information on PTSD.  If you’ve read any of my older posts you know that deal with PTSD.  But, although my time in the Army contributed to my current state, there were other contributors as well.  Traumatic experiences for me, and many, started in childhood.

 

Now, on to my point.  In my web search I came across a message board on one of the hundreds of PTSD sites that have sprung up lately.  One of the first posts was a very long and venomous post from an Iraq war veteran.  It is apparently his belief that ptsd only exists in military members that have been in a combat zone and have seen people die.  By looking at the comments, he was not alone in his beliefs.  Other apparent veterans had commented with their approval of his post.  Let me be clear, that this was not a friendly, this is how I feel post.  This was a “anybody that wasn’t in the Gulf region and claims to have PTSD is worthless and a liar” post.

 

I tried to comment on the thread, but it had been closed to any further comments.  So, I’ll put my opinion here.

 

First, yes, war is horrible and it’s unfair that anyone should be sent to a foreign country and come back changed.  Never to be the same.

 

Now, on to my point.  I have diagnosed with PTSD three or so years ago.  I was in the Army, but not in a declared combat zone.  So, why do I have ptsd then, if I wasn’t in a war?  Because wars do not just happen on foreign grounds.  Wars are taking place in violent and abusive homes everyday.  Is it hard to watch a friend get killed in combat?  I can only imagine.  Is it hard to know when the next beating will come and from where and why?  That I can attest to.  Yes, it is hard.   Is it hard to watch you mother be abused in various ways and be too small to help?  Yep, it sucks.  Is it hard to be sent out on an unknown stateside mission in the early morning hours only to find yourself knee deep in a swamp picking up body parts for the next week.  Yep, I was there, not fun.

 

So, if you are a veteran that was in a foreign war, I thank you for your service and I’m truly sorry that you have seen the things you’ve seen and that you came home changed.  But, before you jump onto some type of PTSD pedestal and accuse others of being fakers or human trash, you may want to educate yourself on more than what you read in a VA pamphlet or what your battle buddy said he heard from this other guy that went to the VA.  Do some online searching for statistics on PTSD and who can be diagnosed with it.

 

 

What PTSD feels like in crowded places

Loudspeaker, 4-Ways

Loudspeaker, 4-Ways (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I got an invitation from a friend of my mine to an event he’s playing in.  He’s in a band by the way.  I would love to go, my wife would love to go.  But, I can’t.  PTSD will not allow for these kinds of activities anymore.  Some would claim that it’s just my age, I’m 42.  But, it’s much more than that.  I remember clearly, right before I went into the Army, going to an AC/DC concert with a friend of mine.  Obviously it was loud.  But it didn’t bother me.  Now, a mildly crowded mall is enough to make me run.

 

I’m going to try to explain to you what it feels like with PTSD in a crowded place.

 

1. Imagine standing in the middle of a crowd of hundreds of people, all of them talking and moving.

 

2. Now, add in loud speakers very close to your ears that are playing loud and constantly change music and/or sounds.

 

3. Now, add in a tv screen in front of your face that is switching channels rapidly.

 

4. Now, add in the feeling that there is some kind of threat in this crowd that you can’t identify, although you are trying desperately to find it.

 

5. Now, add in the feeling that you and your loved ones are in grave danger if you can’t figure out what to do.

 

6. Now, add in the overwhelming feeling of a fight, freeze or fight response.

 

This is a glimpse of what is going on my in my mind and body with PTSD in a standard, run of the mill walmart on a saturday.  There is no threat, but my mind keeps looping back to past experiences and responding to those instead of the present.

 

 

Packing with PTSD

Image representing Evernote as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

First, by packing, I mean packing for a trip.  Not packing heat!  Ok, so my wife travels a lot for work and occasionally it’s to a place where I can tag along.  This is awesome since I’m unable to work.  It gets me away from the house.

Packing can be an issue with the memory/concentration issues that PTSD can cause.  It can take me an entire day to pack because I keep forgetting, or obsessing, over whether I packed certain items or not.

I have used the Evernote app on my phone to deal with this problem and relieve the stress of traveling.  I created a checklist in Evernote of all of the things I need to pack for a trip.  I have one list for a normal trip, and one for a camping trip.  As I pack I simply go through the list and check them off.  Then, later in the evening when I start stressing over whether I packed something or not I can simply open Evernote, look at the list and see if I checked it off or not.  This saves me from the obsessive thoughts that cause me to eventually go back to my suitcase several times.

Bullet jewelry therapy

I have a couple of hobbies to keep my brain working and for PTSD therapy. One is going to the shooting range. The other is making things out of the shell casings. I made these ear rings today.

20130604-160615.jpg

Running or walking app for PTSD

Wounded Warrior Project

Wounded Warrior Project (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I like the C25K app for managing my PTSD symptoms.  It’s an app that I use on the treadmill.  The cardio really, really helps me not only feel better, but it helps tremendously with my PTSD symptoms.

 

Currently I use the app above, but I wish someone like the Wounded Warrior Project would create one that is geared towards PTSD sufferers, survivors, warriors, etc.

 

Does anyone know someone in that organization that would be a good contact to talk about such a thing?  I currently don’t know how to build an app.  If I can’t get help from a larger organization, then maybe I’ll have to attempt to do it myself.

 

Any help with either of the avenues with would be greatly appreciated.

 

Brodie

 

Soldier of Christ