Distracted

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I seem so have been distracted for the last two weeks or so. Maybe it’s the holidays. I dunno. I have not forgotten about writing here and I doubt I ever will. However, I do believe that I will set myself a schedule to post at least once a week. I’m going to shoot for Friday’s. So that is my admin note for the day. On to the writing.

Essentially, standby for some random writing. I’m only now begining to understand how destructive my symptoms/behaviours have been to my relationships and I mean in all senses of the word relationship; romantic, career, family…

If things get uncomfortable, or boring for me, I retreat and self isolate, I seek distractions and if things get painful I dissociate. I also find that I dissociate in a different way if I’m concentrating on nerdy distractions. My name has to be called several times before I hear it, and I’m “not really there” for sometime after I do respond, for example I won’t remember the context of what we were last speaking about. In a work context, I might have an important question for someone, have to wait a short while to speak to them, float off during that wait, and then be completely dsi-orientated whe they are available (I used to get hiddeously embarrassed by that and seek to avoid that person after it had happened).

I can see now, how that came accross to my ex-wife at the time as me not caring or being moody and un-available, and eventually as abandonment.

Anyone still reading? oh well, I’ll carry on anyway.

A great deal of the time, the voices in my heads have conversations, they will argue, debate and sometimes even come to a consensus. They blame, they comfort, they say cruel things, and even funny things. Today, well today there is silence in my head along with a spacey numb feeling and I just want to sleep or at least go to bed and pull the covers over my head. I feel sad and empty like I pushed someone away.

I guess I am going to go to sleep now.

Wandering Mind

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I have found that my mind has been wandering since I woke up this morning.  I cannot stop it from happening.  Even as I sit here in my backyard watching my boys play in a leave pile my mind is in overdrive about everything else going on in my life.  I know that things are taking a toll on my boys, I cannot conceive how it would not be. I know that their mother and I have distinctly different views on things and I can tell that some battles are because of the way she does things.  I am also going to go out on a limb and guess that she gets some of the same flack on her end.  I find it difficult to “co-parent” when the little things cannot really be discussed.  Equally difficult are situations where one party views things one way and the other sees them differently.

It makes for some troublesome conversations.  It is a fear of mine that things I’ve done or mistakes i have made in my life will affect my boys or even worse, be taken out on them.  It just makes me sick to my stomach when those thoughts creep into my head.  I started to write this post over a week ago but I just did not want to think about it anymore.  Even now, on the train ride to work, I do not really want to write or think about it.    I know that my intentions are good and that as far as I can control they always will be.  One thing I am looking forward to is going to a PTSD and parenting group that I can take at the VA.  I hope to get into the first one that starts after work takes its winter hibernation.  Maybe the group will alleviate some of my fears and concerns.

On a different note, some days I feel absolutely bulletproof.  Some days, yesterday for instance, I feel as far from bulletproof that you can be.  I did not even want to get out of bed yesterday.  The demons in my head had me wrapped around their finger before I even made it out of bed.  That makes for a very difficult day for me.  I think I was more exhausted yesterday because of how hard I had to fight myself just to function than I was from work itself.  Days like yesterday my mind wanders to things I do not want to think so extremely quickly and I have to focus and refocus myself many times a minute just to do what I need to do.  I barely made it out of the house with my wallet and everything else for the day.  I actually had to go back for my wallet.  I tried to forget it.  It just started my day of even worse than it already was.

Some days it is just so easy to become overwhelmed. Some days you would rather not have to relive over and over.  Some days just suck.

Inside my head

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Today was a very difficult day to live inside my head.  All the things that I have been learning to deal with in different healthy ways decided that today was the day that they were all going to roar back into my thoughts. They also choose to do it all at once which drives me fucking nuts.  It’s hard to say that there is a day that certain things do not cross my mind because the days where I am 100 percent free of what I’ll just call negative thoughts are free and far between.  But the days where I am able to keep it to a minimum are growing in number.

Today l, thankfully, I was still able to work and do what I needed to do.  I can usually distract myself enough to keep things at bay but today it seemed like I just had to deal with it.  I have managed to isolate myself from most of my know triggers.  It is a big reason I no longer work in aviation even though I love it.  Today was just one of those days where it sucks to be me and I wish it was okay for me to go get drunk.  Stupid conscience.
The other day in my tenth session of CPT with my Doctor intern lady brought up somethings that I don’t think she expected to hear.  Most things have come up in discussion or in the assignments she gives me but in the ten sessions I had been seeing her or seeing anyone at the VA my anxiety about crowds and things along those lines had not come up.  My goldfish memory prevents me from remembering how we got on the topic but it started with my explaining about my inability to ride the train unless I’m sitting in a seat facing backwards with a wall behind me.
If there is not a seat available I have to find a spot to stand facing backwards with a wall or portion behind me.  As with anything, the less people around me the better.  When people sit next to me on the train, they touch me.  My anxiety is already through the roof when they sit next to me, when they touch me I want to jump off the train to escape.  Even just now as I type this, I am standing (yes, backwards with a wall behind me) some lady is touching me because she’s standing so close.  I want to reach across to the emergency door handle and open the door next to me.  All to get away.  I do not even care if the train is moving.  That is how bad it can be.
I find it extremely difficult to explain exactly how I feel.  I just know I do not feel right in crowds of people, anywhere there is strangers in close proximity to me or when strangers touch me. I am not insane, I promise.  It feels painful when strangers touch me.  Aside from holding a giant sign saying “Please do not touch me” there is not much I can do to prevent it.  I really have thought about the sign but I am afraid of the increased attention it would bring me.  I guess risking people touching me is the lesser of two evils at the moment.
I think I am going to brave the public and treat myself to dinner at a restaurant.  I am supposed to be doing nice things for myself without earning it and you have no idea how difficult that is.  My appointment was 4 days ago and I have not been able to come up with anything yet.  (Partial truth there, I did go to bed early one night but I’m not entirely sure that counts.)

Struggle

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Today I forgot both my hat and sunglasses.  As I sit here on the train, riding backwards, the morning sun is glaring into my eyes and it is driving me nuts.  I was rushing this morning to make sure my kids were given their allergy medicine so I don’t have to listen to a lecture from my ex-wife.  I have noticed that I can only ride the train if I am facing backwards.  If no backwards seats are available I find a spot to stand backwards.  I guess it’s the only way I feel comfortable on the train among all of these other people on the train.  I am just weird like that.

One thing I do not get about divorce is why people feel the need to make things difficult?  The way I see it, you made a choice that you need to live with.  Why do you need to waste time still focused on the person you divorced.  Maybe with other things I deal with, it was very easy for me to detach myself from the relationship and move on.  As I have stayed on several other occasions, I harbor no anger, no hate, and no resentment towards my ex-wife about her filing for divorce.  It happened.  Nothing will change her mind or change the situation so why try to change it.  I got over it.

I will not sit here and say I do not get upset or angry at things that have happened since because I do.  While I’ve learned to prevent her from pushing most of my buttons or triggering reactions I know she wants to see, there still seems to be one area where she still gets to me.  That area involves my children and it drives me up a wall that I cannot seem to stop her from getting to me through them.  I will learn.  Hopefully it does not take too long.

I know this post is a little varied in topics, at least it was in the beginning, but sometimes just writing works best for me.  I seem to have settled into a topic and I wrote a little about it.  I stopped writing about that topic even though I have a lot more to say about it.  I have noticed that I have become much more protective of the relationship between my children and myself.  I have even talked about it at length in therapy.  It is not unhealthy so I am not going to change it.  My kids are too important and honestly, they are the reason I still walk this earth.  If they were not around, as I have said in previous occasions, I probably would not be around either. Maybe that is why she can still get to me through them.  I do not really know, but I will never stop loving my kids and cannot see myself becoming less protective of my relationship with them.

Beyond my children, I have noticed I’m protective of my relationships with a few different people.  I value these few people and in the last year or so, they have truly shone me how important they are.  At the same time, there are other friends who I’ve realized are not as important. Nothing against those people.  I still consider them friends, they just do not fit into my inner circle anymore.  People change and people grow.  Priorities change.  I have made a tremendous amount of new friends within the veteran community, many of whom I now consider close friends.  Friends matter and I will protect the ones that matter.

Stigma

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There is a stigma attached to those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It is not an opinion, not an observation, I find it firmly based in fact. Mental health as a whole seems to have a firm stigma related to it. Prior to being diagnosed, I honestly do not think that I had an opinion on mental health.  It just was not relevant to me.  Now that I am on a different side of the fence, my opinion has obviously changed and it is constantly evolving as I learn more.  According to what I learned from my experiences and also according to the government website I am quoting “PTSD is marked by clear biological changes as well as psychological symptoms. PTSD is complicated by the fact that people with PTSD often may develop additional disorders such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other problems of physical and mental health. The disorder is also associated with impairment of the person’s ability to function in social or family life, including occupational instability, marital problems and divorces, family discord, and difficulties in parenting.1

There is not one of these that I have not or am not dealing with.  I also have been diagnosed with depression, I have abused alcohol, I have memory problems (some days I have the memory of a goldfish) and the last sentence all applies to me.  All of that last sentence.  But most importantly, reread that first sentence.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is marked by clear biological changes.  I have learned that it rewrites the pathways in your brain.  In many more ways than I could try and explain.  A therapist that I see at the VA hospital explained it as a truck parking in a dirt driveway.  You have parked there so many times, you make some ruts and your car easily parks there every time.  These are your normal brain pathways.  Then it rains and you park your car.  You make new ruts in the driveway and you can no longer park in those old ruts.  Only the new ones.  That is PTSD rewriting your brains pathways.

It was one of the simplest explanations I had heard and hopefully I retold it in a way that made sense to you. I am choosing not to get into the highly technical side of things because I am not an expert in any of this and I am not exactly willing to fill up this blog with
science.  It was never my favorite subject. My intent of all of this explaining is to talk about why I do not think there should be a stigma associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It is the fault of no one.  Nobody asks for it.  Nobody just “gets it,” they suffer a traumatic event which chemical changes their brain.  It is not our fault, so why judge us like it is our fault.  That is what makes no sense to me.  Why should I, or someone else with PTSD be punished, ostracized or judged for something we did not ask for.

What is your opinion and your stance on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and mental illness?  I’m interested to know.

1 – http://www.ptsd.ne.gov/what-is-ptsd.html