Monday, April 14, 2014

Harsh Realities: PTSD/S

PTSD is not a new problem for humanity.

Let me make something very clear right now: Are you alive and conscious? If "yes", then you can get PTSD (or PTSS, Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms).

There's a reason that “TRAUMATIC” is a part of the name. Many things could cause it; basically anything that you experience directly or indirectly such as:
  • Rape
  • Combat
  • Work as a first responder
  • Abuse (years of it accumulated or a brief, very brutal period)
  • Really bad car wrecks
  • Someone committing suicide in front of you
  • Major disasters (Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc)

If you are a human being, then you can develop the symptoms of PTSD/S. However, this does not cue the end of your world.

Please note most of what I say is based on my own personal experiences. I DO NOT SPEAK FOR EVERYONE with PTSD/S. Yes symptoms will be the same in many causes, however causes are not. 

As hinted in prior articles, PTSD/S is something that I deal with on a personal level. I personally can't speak for everyone on this, thus I'll be referencing myself.  At this point I can only offer up my personal thoughts and how I've been dealing with it. I can point you to the information, but you need to draw up your own plan and conclusions.

Yes, at times it can be a fight with myself, but it can be dealt with, regardless of how bad it is. Part of the problem with treating PTSD/S is that many people have no concept of how much trust plays a role in being able to deal with it. Another part of the problem is how seductive it can be to use drugs as the "cure-all" that so many in the psychology community seem to think them to be.

At the end of this article will be some links for you, with more information on PTSD/S in general and links to a few organizations that are currently busting ass trying to help our veterans here in the USA deal with it - and by so doing, indirectly help people like me. Please read through those articles.

Thought number 1: SKILLS!

I don't think it's possible for me to emphasize this one enough. By being able to improve my quality of life, or the lives of other people in my tribe - even in small ways - I get an endorphin high practically every time I finish a project. It proves, to the inner critic that is my worst enemy, that I do have worth. Worth which is not decided by others, as there will always be someone who adores the ever living hell out of me; it is decided by myself.

For me, I set out to master crocheting (then knitting, and it was sewing before crocheting) and I'm getting there, but anyone with half a brain will tell you that you can always improve any skill. Every project I finish beats my PTSD back just a little bit more and makes it more manageable.

Practicing a skill is a good way to send a polite signal to others around me that I need some space. My work area acts as a refuge while I get some time to breathe. 

When I use my skills, even if I only use them for a few minutes and then go sit in the sun for a while, it strengthens the process of being able to believe in myself, of being able to convince myself that I can handle this.

Thought number 2: A companion

This one factor was a huge tipping point for me, because it shifted everything from just barely manageable to being able to go for a few days with almost no problem. A buddy (be it a pet or a damn good friend, male or female) who is watching your back makes a huge impact. It lets me relax a little bit. Such buddies are lifesavers.

I had both my cat and my fiance/partner. Both can tell at this point when I need to be handed a ball of yarn , gently loved on, or a little extra security... though my fiance's manner of giving me yarn to do something with  is much preferred over the cat's. The MindyCat, as she is called, will sit and watch me for a few seconds and then take immediate action which she knows will send me into giggle fits.

Being able to laugh, sleep, even just enjoy being outside with the others in your tribe... it's to easy to take for granted honestly. Learning NOW how to deal with it, be it yourself or a member of your tribe is your first official homework from me. It can be the difference between life and death.


PTSD in general:

Organizations for PTSD/S help:

(Just don't say this to anyone with PTSD.
Numbers 1-3, 6, 8 and 10 cross over to civilians like me. Just don't.)

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