PTSD – You and Me

Just coming through ANOTHER bad patch. Even though I know it to be something I will live with, the Pollyanna in me hopes this to be untrue.

While others probably see my episodes before I do…this time I got it named before it interrupted my sleep. This allows me to start applying the arsenal of healing tools I have come to rely on over the years since my diagnosis.

I am getting easier on myself about all this. My negative self-judgement use to be HUGE.

My traumas are not from war. Sources are 4 life and soul-threatening experiences and prolonged exposure to death and dying in 16 years of hospice work. At worst this has been panic attack, generalized anxiety, unstoppable crying, chronic depression and complicated grief, inability to speak, memory impairment, over-sensitivity, numbing, hyperarousal and hyper-vigilance, emotional dysregulation, alcohol self-medicating, intrusive flashbacks and recurrent distressing dreams . There have been huge impacts to my family and my capacity to function in daily life.

But I am fundamentally strong and I have sought help pretty consistently over the years. This began with grief counseling and CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy.) The two most important avenues of healing came with an understanding of chemical imbalances and the appropriate use of medication and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing.) The latter was extremely difficult but life-changing.

Later, I added intentional exercise, stress reduction strategies, mindfulness, visual imagery and relaxation, art therapy, writing, gardening and my horse. Would like to strengthen my commitment to meditation as this has been helpful though I have been sporadic with it.

There are positive surprises in this kind of journey for an empath…uber compassion for oneself and others, super-sensitivities to emotional climes, strengthened spirituality, a deeper capacity for self-awareness and self-pride as glimpses of thriving emerge from desperate, “barely holding on” surviving. I never felt suicidal but know many do. I sometimes feel a soul tiredness with all the grief that makes my will to live weak when things are really bad.

I am sharing all of this because I hope my story might be encouraging for others. It is almost Veteran’s Day and service can take an enormous toll: we are facing global and local losses and stresses with a pandemic; and a nation is split on what makes sense and feels safe.

Angst is in the air and this resonates with many of us. Time to pull out all the tools.