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 

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.

 

New PTSD Medication

English: Cases of PTSD and Severe Depression A...

English: Cases of PTSD and Severe Depression Among U.S. Veterans Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan Between Oct 2001 and Oct 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

So, I had my regularly scheduled meeting with my doc yesterday.  I told him about a recent experience I had on a trip.  Here’s the story.

 

I was recently on a trip with my wife.  Normally in a new place, I have a lot of problems with concentration and short term memory due to PTSD.  This hotel stay started out the same as usual.  I took a picture of our hotel room number with my phone so I could remember what room we were in.  I grabbed a hotel business card so I had the address in case I forgot how to get back once I was out and about.  Etc.  All the usual things I do to deal with PTSD symptoms.

 

But a strange thing happened.  I was down in the lobby when a group of guys came in.  They were shady and they made my former cop instinct go on high alert.  What happened next was new.  Suddenly, in that amped state, I could recall most everything with ease.  No need for a photo of our room number.  No need to look at my phone at all.  I was able to recall everything I needed to remember.

 

Once these guys were gone, it was back to my normal difficulties in my attention or memory recall.  So, I told the doc this strange to me story and he was intrigued.  He said that sometimes in PTSD, the usual medication over dulls the senses.  So, I still take the anxiety meds, but he added a stimulant.  This is my first morning taking it, but all I can say is wow!!!  My mind hasn’t been this clear in I don’t know how long.

 

This is my first day on it, so I don’t want to get over excited.  But hopefully this is the missing piece as far as medication goes.  By the way I just typed this post with absolutely no pauses to find the next word.  Another new change.

 

 

Take a PTSD FTX

Army ROTC cadets on a field training exercise

Army ROTC cadets on a field training exercise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s easy with PTSD to just not leave the house.  It’s safer at home.  Things are mostly under my control at home, at least it feels that way.  But, just because it’s easy doesn’t make it healthy.  From what I’ve studied, PTSD may be a more permanent thing depending on a few circumstances.  That being said, you and I may have to suck it up and learn to deal with it.  That may sound harsh, but it is what it is.  And there is a way to deal.

Military members may be familiar with the abbreviation, FTX.  It stands for field training exercise.  It’s when a military unit will go to the field to practice and train on those skills that they need to survive and do their job in the woods, desert, etc.

My version of an FTX now is to go out when I don’t want to.  Take a trip when I don’t want to.  Go into those areas that tend to create PTSD symptoms when I don’t want to.  Let me make a note that I always do these trips with a safe out.  I don’t force myself into situations with no escape.

My wife travels extensively for work and I occasionally travel with her.  These are good opportunities for a PTSD FTX for me.  They are times when I can practice my various coping techniques.  I can also practice recognizing those times when I need to remove myself from a situation or take spot treatment medication.   For example, being in an unfamiliar place can create PTSD symptoms.  I.e. confusion, trouble with concentration, forgetting what hotel room I’m in, etc.  My FTX’s don’t necessarily fix these symptoms, but they give me an opportunity to practice those things I’ve learned to cope or compensate for the affects of PTSD.

Things like recognizing when my brain and body are headed into alert mode, using tools to remember what hotel room I’m in, exposing myself to small crowds in a controlled way, etc.  Doing these things don’t do away with PTSD.  They simply help me train to live in a new way.  With enough practice I am learning to recognize the onset of PTSD symptoms and then have the ability to respond in a timely manner.