The Joys of Living with PTSD

learning how to cope

Archive for the month “November, 2011”

Why Does Pain Have to Equal Weakness?

Today started off poorly, I think due to a lack of sleep. Thought about calling in to work, which is something I just about never do. Only done it once, actually. I just didn’t want to be around people today, plus I was having a hard time smiling. Smiling is actually mandatory for my workplace. I ended up going in, which was a good thing. Schedule was completely messed up due to two people calling in today. Yuck. Oh I didn’t want to be there though! I was so angry, so pissed off that I had to be there. In my eyes, every customer was an idiot, an annoyance. The ones that wanted a price check annoyed me because the price check machine was literally 6 feet away with a huge blue sign indicating its existence, but no. They had to come bother me. The man who wanted to make a payment irked me, because I felt he gave me attitude when I told him I could help him on the other register. The customers who made me have to work annoyed me, because I didn’t want to be there. And smiling? That didn’t happen.

Then, a miracle happened. At some point around 7pm, I smiled. At a customer. And it was genuine. From that point on, my day brightened and the customers didn’t bother me. I was able to chat and laugh, and it felt good. Got off work, came home, still feeling good. Saw a letter/card for me from a friend in Illinois, so am now feeling amazing! Then I got online. I should have logged off when I originally thought of it, but I didn’t.

I love my friends, but there are times I really can’t handle talking to them about certain things. One friend in particular seems to struggle with depression and self-loathing. Normally, I’m very supportive and would want to help him in any way I could. Not tonight. Tonight every statement he made caused me to revolt. It was just instinct, and I fought vehemently against what he said. I found the thoughts he spewed to be repulsive, but in particular the one about pain being a sign of weakness. I suppose because for many a year, I felt the same way about it. However, tonight I felt like every thing I’d strived for, my being, was at stake if I just accepted his thoughts and didn’t say anything. So I fought.

I know this is common thinking, the majority of us live by a double standard where other people can have pain, but we can’t. Why though? Why do we associate pain with weakness? Pain is an inevitable part of life. I don’t care who you are, at some point you WILL be hurt. It’s not weakness. It’s not. Pain can make you stronger, more compassionate, more alive. How is that weakness? I think you’ll find that it’s not. Stop giving in to societal archetypes. Accept the pain for what it is, and learn to move on.

-BadThings

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Another Sleepless Night/Cultivating Mindfulness

Almost 5am, and I still can’t sleep. I think I’ll consider tonight a success still if I can fall asleep by 8am. I also think that the next thing I read from my appointment yesterday, will be the trick to fall asleep. I was silly enough to think that since the appointment happened, I’d be able to sleep. Haha joke’s on me.

Anyways, I read this handout about meditation, being that I’m very much into meditation. I have noticed positive effects when I incorporate meditation into my daily routine. The handout is called “Cultivating Mindfulness: Beginning or Deepening a Personal Meditation Practice”. Pretty much it’s a list of 20 pointers. It’s from the people at http://www.jonkabat-zinn.com. Here’s the list:
1) The real meditation is how you live your life.
2) In order to live life fully, you have to be present for it.
3) To be present, it helps to purposefully bring awareness to your moments – otherwise you may miss many of them.
4) You do that by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to whatever is arising inwardly and outwardly.
5) This requires a great deal of kindness toward yourself, which you deserve.
6) It helps to keep in mind that good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, the present moment is the only time any of us are alive. Therefore, it’s the only time to learn, grow, see what is really going on, find some degree of balance, feel and express emotions such as love and appreciation, and do what we need to do to take care of ourselves – in other words, embody our intrinsic strength and beauty and wisdom – even in the face of pain and suffering.
7) So a gentle love affair with the present moment is important.
8.) We do that through learning to rest in awareness of what is happening inwardly and outwardly moment by moment by moment – it is more a “being”  than a “doing”.
9) Formal and informal meditation practices are specific ways in which you can ground, deepen, and accelerate this process, so it is useful to carve out some time for formal practice on a regular daily basis – maybe waking up fifteen or twenty minutes earlier than you ordinarily would to catch some time for ourselves.
10) We bring awareness to our moments only as best we can.
11) We are not trying to create a special feeling or experience – simply to realize that this moment is already very special – because you are alive and awake in it.
12) This is hard, but well worth it.
13) It takes a lot of practice.
14) Lots of practice.
15) But you have a lot of moments – and we can treat each one as a new beginning.
16) So there are always new moments to open up if we miss one.
17) We do all this with a huge amount of self-compassion.
18)  And remember, you are not your thoughts or opinions, your likes or dislikes. They are more like weather patterns in your mind that you can be aware of – like clouds moving across the sky, – and so don’t have to be imprisoned by.
19) Befriending yourself in this way is the adventure of a lifetime, and hugely empowering.
20) Try it for a few weeks – it grows on you.

All wording was the original wording and thoughts of the author, with the only additions being I bolded certain parts for emphasis. The things I put in bold are the ideas that resonate with me. “You have to be present for it; which you deserve; do what we need to take care of ourselves; we can treat each one as a new beginning; self-compassion; don’t have to be imprisoned”- these are all things that I think are incredibly important and oh so very difficult to put into practice. I am my own worst critic. I am so severe on myself, and I know it. I blame myself for a lot of things, even things that logically, I know I had no control over, to include my assault. I told the woman I saw yesterday that the very first counselor the military sent me to, was a male military counselor. He very calmly, while sitting in his chair behind his desk, told me that my assault was partially my fault, since I wore a short skirt and was drunk at a beach party. Anger rose, and I refused to see him again. To be truthful though, there have been many, many times when I felt the same damn thing: that it was partially my fault for being drunk and unable to take control of the situation. I’ve shouldered that self-blame in silence for over 6 years. I know I shouldn’t, and I know it wasn’t my fault, yet I can’t help it.

A few months after my assault, I had a miscarriage. I shouldered that blame too. Somehow, it was my fault, my inferiority, my failure as a parent, that Angel didn’t make it to full-term. My body killed her, thus I was obviously to blame. Self-compassion. Something I truly struggle with. How do you show yourself compassion? I show others compassion, but can’t seem to do the same for myself. How do I connect the sides of my brain where one says “It’s not your fault, let it go”, with the other that says “You failure. First you fucked up and got assaulted, now you’ve gone and let your child die. Good job.”? How do I reconcile with myself and move the fuck on?

That’s what I want to know. That’s where I am. I hope all of you who read this, have had a much better night than I have. Maybe I’ll go meditate now.

-BadThings

New! New! New!

I have no idea why I decided to title this entry the way I did. Anyways, this is my introductory post for this blog. This blog is specifically to discuss PTSD and the unique challenges that I face in my everyday life because of it. I welcome anyone else who lives with someone who has PTSD, or who has PTSD themselves to interact with me. Maybe we can laugh, cry, and learn together.

Well, let’s get straight to the nitty-gritty, eh? My PTSD is a direct cause from MST (Military Sexual Trauma, for those not acquainted with that acronym) during my first year in the military. The assault took place September 4, 2006, and I was formally diagnosed with PTSD at some point in January of 2008. I’ve had several downs and a few ups, but I continue to learn how to live with this unwanted life-partner. My current symptoms that are bothering me at the moment are my lack of feeling connecting to anything and anyone, sleep problems, panic attacks, and depression. I finally had my first appointment here since I got out of the military at the VA’s mental health clinic, and this prompted me to start this blog.

She gave me a lot of literature she wants me to read, and I plan on it. I also plan on sharing it here with you. I know over the years I have been greatly helped by reading things and seeing things online from various people. I think it’s time I gave back. Maybe something you read here can help you better understand what someone else is going through, or what you’re going through yourself. Life with PTSD can suck, but it doesn’t always have to. We still have a lot of life to live, we just have to learn how to live again.

I will warn you now, I do not hold back. I’m not going to have a filter in this blog. If this bothers you, stop reading. If not, here’s to a rocky road ahead of us all.

Always hold onto Hope.

-BadThings

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