Learning How to Live With PTSD and Have the Life You Want

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In 2009 I discovered that PTSD had controlled my life for over 60 years. Yikes! I learned to not have flashbacks by not living my life. I kind of checked in and out for short periods of time. I am a loner, read a lot, love to research, and am also a writer which requires solitude. Not that I am complaining. I like being with me. I am a lot of fun and have a rich inner creative life. We each have four emotional energies: grounding, creative, logic, and relationship. I am almost zippo on the relationship energy but I work at it because I know how good I feel when I feel connected to another person. Nothing like it.

I gave up my antidepressant in October 2012 after 20 years of taking one. Wow! What a new world. For a while I felt that I was in the body of an 18 year old male. All I thought about was sex and/or food. And I was 72 at the time. Thank God. Best of both worlds. So I am learning how to live with PTSD and handle all my emotions as they come. And they do. But the emotions are like a river. They don’t stay—they move on.

I love reading about PTSD survivors and how they live. I learn so much from them.

  1.  From Michael Bailey: “PTSD Can Turn One Thing You Love Into the One Thing That Scares You to Death”:

The hardest thing to cope with is the things that you don’t expect.  The smells of burning diesel, or cooking pig, the sound of distant gunfire, or pops that sound like them. These things can pop up at random.  Even movies that you once enjoyed may remind you a little too strongly of events that happened.  I used to love the film “Midway”, unfortunately there is a scene where Charlton Heston’s son (in the movie)  gets hit, and his plane catches on fire.  I can tell you those screams are a little too real for me to deal with.  Getting pulled over by police is also a hazard.  I have learned that the flashing lights do not bode well for me.  I usually cover my eyes as much as possible, but if I’ve had a few, and the Designated Driver (DD) gets pulled over, the effect is crippling, and I feel the urge to run.  This has happened to me twice.  Both times did not end well.  I understand why they have the flashing lights, but there is just something about them at night that really disturbs me.

If you are a Combat Veteran with post traumatic stress, I would tell you figure out what your triggers are.  What makes the experiences come back, and find some coping strategies that work for you.  Keep a journal, and track your progress.  You would be amazed how far you come in just a few short months.  Remember life will not be the same as it was before the war.  You need to deal with that.  You’re not crippled, or infirmed, you’re just going to have to deal with this.  Life is worth fighting for.  Don’t give up because the days seem hard, and the nights endless.  You are not alone, and you can get through this.

  1.  From Havi Brooks: “Friday Chicken #226”:

Hey. So. Those of you who can read between the lines have probably figured out that this has been a rough year for me, with the past few months getting progressively more rough.

I can’t talk about it here, partly because I’m not at liberty to discuss most of it and partly for other reasons. So I apologize for being cryptic, and yes, things have been pretty hellish for me, and I am waiting for a lot of different situations to resolve themselves.

In the meantime, I am using — and living by — the stuff that we practice and play with here. And that’s what is helping me with this challenging experience. So thank you for playing with me and being here while I go through this.

What worked?
Canceling appointments.

I canceled everything this week and was a hermit!

This was good. I didn’t even know how much I would need this, just acting on a hunch. Past-me is a genius. Again.

Ritual.

Using the things that I taught at my Crossing the Line retreat. Over and over again.

Going to the cafe. Getting my pot of harmony. Sitting in the same chair.

This was steadying and grounding.

Bouncing it up.

I kept dancing. When in doubt, dance dance dance and then dance some more.

This is not the right thing for everyone, but it is very much the right thing for me.

Next time I might…

Change the setting. Have even more snacks stockpiled.

Photo credit.

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