Tag Archives: adversity

PTSD and a day in May

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tulips-1352561_640.jpgMy nightmares haven’t been as bad the past couple weeks: in fact I think I went a whole week without any. I still have intense dreams without the nightmares, but I can live with those.

I am feeling rather weak and I’m not sure why. My sleep schedule has been way off and I suspect that as the culprit. When I can’t sleep at night, I turn on General Conference (LDS Church) and listen to it. I haven’t had much exercise and perhaps that’s made me weaker.

I’m applying to finish my BYU Bachelor of General Studies degree (independent study) and I think that’s helped give me more empowered dreams. I’m really excited about it. In the past three years I’ve had trouble and writing and reading more serious subject books due to problems with focus and being “foggy-brained” but I think maybe I can do it now if I pace myself. When I was on campus, I had to go full time, and that was a no-go. I think writing two blogs has helped ameliorate my issues with perfectionism, so hopefully now I can just put my thoughts down on paper and get papers written. I’ve struggled for years with the fear that I’ll never be able to finish school and support myself.

I’ve also been a bit bored despite having projects to do, and my therapist sees that as a sign that I’m getting better. Now I just need more normal sleep and more exercise. It’s beautiful out there today: can’t wait to get out.

Recovering from Good Stuff

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Cinderella shoe cakeI had the opportunity to help throw a bridal shower for a friend this week. I’m paying for it, but it was worth it. There’s some more good news in that regards, but I’ll get to that later.

I had plenty of time to plan. I don’t do complicated. I also had a partner in planning who did all of the things well that I’m not very good at. If I were to be a party planner the rest of my life, I would want her for my partner. It was that much fun. She even talked me into helping her icing the cupcakes with one of those fancy icing bags. I’m better at invites and games and that sort of thing.

I have to carefully allot my time during the week, but the past three weeks have been a lot better. My doctor upped my Risperidone and it’s helped a ton! I’ve been sleepy all the time, which I think is passing as I get used to it, but I’ve been awake a lot more. I’ve had less nightmares and everything else. It’s made life so much more bearable and I’ve also been more able to count my blessings without getting as depressed. My therapist said she could tell a difference, and my friends have been remarking on it, too.

Thus, I felt I had the courage (and ability) to help throw the shower. It was also at our place. I didn’t clean much beforehand as it’s already clean here, but it could have been better, yet I survived. My “have to clean everything perfectly” anxieties were thus lessened in that area. (Our front rooms are usually clean, my room is usually messy…a lot like growing up.)

So, while we were getting ready yesterday, my mind still halted occasionally but it wasn’t bad. I could tell I was headed towards bad anxiety just a couple of times, and after either eating or taking a break I was okay again. It was such a relief! One of the things that’s difficult to explain to people about anxiety disorders is that the “usual” methods of calming oneself don’t always work. We feel “stuck” in the anxiety with very little that helps lower it.

But….not this time. Some loud music someone played briefly on their phone almost got me while everyone was talking. I was leading the game so leaving for a break would have been awkward.

I fell right asleep last night. I did, unfortunately, have a lot of nightmares last night, but they could have been worse. I still felt like I had some control of the dreams. I ended up shaky with my “insides shaking” but I had no limbs flapping. For as much as I did yesterday, that’s quite a feat. Also, I couldn’t get out of bed today until after 1pm. Considering that at times after something so large I could have been wiped out for a few days, that’s also something. I’m fully hoping to get to go for a walk later. I could really use it.

Neither tremor nor tremolo!

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hymn-lgToday has been a good day. Last week I started getting more tired again and having racing thoughts and needing yet more time at home alone and more sleep etc. (it’s all relative….some versus more). But it was frustrating, as things will be. So at my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, he upped my dose of Respirdall, and it seemed to help almost immediately. I still can’t go just anywhere I want to whenever I want to (it’s a l.o.n.g way from that), but the blessing was that it’s better again.

So I rested yesterday (Saturday) and last night, in the hopes of making church today. And I did! I woke up around 8:30am. And I was fine. No nightmares, hardly any racing thoughts. And it was a really good day.

Best part?

For years I have avoided, whenever possible, sharing a hymn book with someone at church and holding it with them (me with one hand, them with one of their hands, for those not familiar) because my hands shake and I’m pretty sure it’s more inconvenient for them to try to read it with my hand shaking, thus shaking the whole book. If my hand is shaking enough, I’ll just hand it to them. Anywhere in between and I feel awkward.

Today in Relief Society (women’s meeting) the woman next to me offered (as usual) to hold one side of the book, and….my hand wasn’t shaking! First time in years! Maybe this Respirdall is helping more than I realized. My hands were shaking this morning while I was doing dishes, but that they can “settle down” is giving me hope.

All you can may not be enough (don’t beat on yourself)

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(This post is heavy on religion/faith)

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There’s a Michael Mclean song that I sometimes listen to over and over called “Gentle.”

Like a gentle wind can blow the clouds from the sky,
Like a gentle touch can ease the pain of goodbye,
Like a gentle smile embraces empty souls in lonely places,
We should be more gentle with ourselves.

Like the friend who gently builds us up when we’re down,
Like a gentle kiss can turn our world all around,
We’ve been hurt by others often,
We’ve forgiven and forgotten,
We should be more gentle with ourselves.

Life can be hard but
we need not be so hard
on ourselves,
If we will see

Like the Shepherd leads his flock with gentle commands.
With his gentle voice that only hearts understand.
One thing we can know for certain, He has borne the awful burdens
so we can be more gentle with ourselves.

One thing that I know for certain:
He will bear my every burden,
So I can be gentle with myself.

Sometimes I do everything I can to rest up so that I can make it somewhere (like today, to church) and I still end up not feeling well enough. I caught myself running through all the things I could have done or could have missed so that I could have made it, and I couldn’t come up with anything. It was a desperate grasp, yet again, to want to believe that I can control life more than I can. But not only can’t I control everything, Heavenly Father and my Savior are there for me. Even if life keeps throwing me curve balls (the small and the not so small) it doesn’t mean they don’t care.

One of my closest friends had a birthday party last night. It was a bonfire up in the canyon and the wind had been blowing hard all day and still hadn’t let up. The pollen count was high and the air was dry and I knew it might cause problems with my allergies, so I didn’t go. I had things to keep me busy (laundry, cleaning, phone calls, Netflix) but of course I was also disappointed. But even missing out on things doesn’t mean you’ll get a ticket to the next thing you don’t want to miss. And I am wishing that I had gone, knowing that in hindsight I’d end up missing church anyway.

The First Presidency Message on lds.org helped me out today, though not what some might think was in the most encouraging of ways (but it was). This is President Eyring speaking of when his father was dying of cancer:

When the pain became intense, we found him in the morning on his knees by the bed. He had been too weak to get back into bed. He told us he had been praying to ask his Heavenly Father why he had to suffer so much when he had always tried to be good. He said a kindly answer came: “God needs brave sons.”

And so he soldiered on to the end, trusting that God loved him, listened to him, and would lift him up. He was blessed to have known early and to never forget that a loving God is as close as a prayer.

I remember well several friends telling me frequently about 8 years ago that I was “stronger than I realized.” And the things I’ve been through since have helped to teach me that they were right, and to understand what they meant. I don’t think that I have to go through these things because I’m being punished.  I know that from past experience that eventually the downs in life turn around into the ups in life. It’s been a hard lesson to learn that I will eventually learn from the pain and I become a better person because of it. And there are others who could say this much more eloquently than I could, or with worse experiences. I’ve been through much worse than just missing out on things: it’s the missing out on things over and over again over years that gets to me. I don’t remember where it was recently that I heard this (but I really wish I did remember) that it’s possible that no one else other than the Savior will ever truly understand what our trials are like for us as individuals.

Anyway, I get to go to a fireside tonight. Perhaps the upswing will begin there. My nightmares last night weren’t at their worse. I can be grateful for that. And I can be grateful for a lot more: got to talk with my daughter on the phone last night. I got to pet my roommate’s dog this afternoon (she’s not here much….the roommate, and the dog…roommate is very busy.) Likely this will be one of my boring-est entries. I can deal with that.

Counting Blessings after Nightmares

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I got over-tired again last night, but it was in a good way at least. I was playing Phase 10 with friends at church and watching others play volleyball. We were being pretty silly and it was a lot of fun. I also got to talk on the phone with my son who has just started his freshman year at college and it’s so much fun to live vicariously through him a little and to hear what he’s up to and that he’s enjoying himself and working hard. I got to hear from my daughter a couple nights ago. I’ll be bugging both of them again soon.

I had more nightmares last night, but they weren’t as bad as the night before. I took a long nap this afternoon and it was nightmare-free and very restful. I’m still a bit shaky, but hey, I can type.

List of blessings:

  1. My kids are doing well
  2. I have friends who know how to be silly and have fun
  3. I’m learning how to do the genealogy portion of family history a bit better and it’s fun
  4. Got to speak with my aunt (mom’s sister) on the phone last night about family stories (my mom passed away when I was 8)
  5. My disability hearing is coming up soon. This part is almost over.
  6. Our three week heat wave seems to be over. 100 degree weather is hard when you walk several miles a week to get places (doctor etc.)
  7. My roommates are great
  8. My kids are wonderful and doing well
  9. I found the second book online by Peter A. Levine that I want to read. I’m learning a lot from the one I already have. This is the second book, now on my wish list: trauma-through-a-childs-eyes-awakening-the-ordinary-miracle-of-healing_2481617

The positive amidst the negative

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I really need to post the positive here more often. I use this blog perhaps too frequently just for venting, and my life isn’t all just PTSD and anxiety.

So, I made it to all of church yesterday. Then I realized last night that even though it had been probably at least 2 weeks since I’d had any bad nightmares, I hadn’t shared that either. Then last night I had bad nightmares, the kind that pin me to my bed and make it difficult to move or wake up. *But*, it had been quite a while. I don’t think I’ve gone that long without them. Upon reflection, I’ve been focusing on not getting over-tired, and I seem to get more nightmares when I’m over-tired.

So, I needed today for sleeping. I’m still shaky and a bit out of it. Doing anything complicated isn’t an option. But…there’s our single’s group home evening tonight. It’s a small group gathering tonight, and while most will play ping pong (not on my list of things that I’m good at or enjoy), it means I can enjoy just sitting and watching and talking to friends.

Yesterday I was able to get a hold of both my kids: one on the phone, the other texting. That always makes my day.

I’ve been reading this book a little each night and feel like I’m learning a lot from it. It’s answering some questions I’ve had regarding different healing modalities used for trauma victims. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of it. He mentions in it that he will be publishing an entire book devoted to childhood trauma victims, and I think that book may be out by now.

Waking the Tiger still

Isolation

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tree-738816_1280I just got home from spending 6 weeks in CA: it started out as a trip to be with my kids for their middle school and high school graduations, then turned into a longer trip in order to go through my storage and try to find a way to get some things back up here to Utah.

I do a lot in order to not feel isolated and lonely, but I think it might be an inevitable part of being disabled. I have two blogs, I have lots of friends, I try to get out every day even if its only a walk to the store or pharmacy. I try to take the bus different places. Being in CA was less isolating for the most part because I had a car and was really busy trying to both get through all the boxes in my storage unit (which I managed to do) and sort them, donate things, etc. I didn’t get to spend as much time with my kids as I would have liked because I was expending a lot of energy on the storage task, and my kids are teens now and busy doing lots of other things. Then they left on a cruise for two weeks with their dad and step mom and two step sisters. Their step mom graciously asked me to dog sit/house sit for them so that I could also have a place to go through my storage.

I was good for about 10 days, I thought. I knew I was beginning to struggle, but I also didn’t want to have to spend much on gas, as it just seemed like a good idea, and as I was having huge struggles with my step mom who (it seems) seems to think I could just throw away everything. Anyway, I’m trying to get over my anger on how she dealt with it.

So for over a week I sorted and sorted and filled more than half a city owned residential recycling trash can with paper and plastic. I was pretty proud of myself. It also felt very cleansing. I started out my divorce with enough stuff to fill a 10×10 storage unit, and over the years it’s gone down and down, depending on where I’ve lived.

In some places I didn’t need a storage unit. I have most of the family photos that were taken prior to 1980 when my mom passed away. My sister has never had room for them and my brother….I dunno, he probably could have kept them. I’ve been kind of the “family historian” since I took a class on it in college and majored in history and have made it a hobby to know about family history preservation. Anyway, the storage unit fit into my monthly allowance and I’ve economized on purpose so that I could keep it. When I moved from CA to UT, I got to Utah via a ride with my older sister’s family to my niece and little sister graduating from college. I couldn’t bring much. I still don’t have much stuff here. When I moved from one apartment to the next, everyone helping out kept saying, “that’s all??”  Didn’t take very long to move me.

phone-160428_640So I’m getting off topic. But it does relate. I was so focused on the storage unit that I didn’t do much else other than go to the pharmacy and grocery store. Then around day 10 of my time dog-sitting a huge wave of depression came in. I don’t get that depressed very often: more often it’s the bad anxiety. It was very very deep, though. The positive side was that eventually I realized it was happening and remembered that I could probably at least call friends and try to talk it out. I think being away from my doctor and therapist for that long (6 weeks) was probably also not a good idea for me at this time, but getting to be with my kids was. The day before they got back the depression started to lift. The phone calls helped a lot. Doesn’t hurt that one of my friends is a therapist. I try not to “use” him for that, but he’s gracious enough to help if I need it. Sometimes my therapist isn’t feeling well herself due to a prior injury from a car accident, and (such is life, she can’t change it…) sometimes I really need to talk to someone when she’s not doing well.

So, the end of my 6 week stay was really really nice. I got to spend a lot of time with my kids. They and the rest of the group told me all about their cruise and vacation and showed me photos and videos. We spent time with some of my friends on one of my last nights, and then wandered around a farmer’s market. It was exactly what I needed.

So, coming home was nice (it’s home) but leaving my kids again is always hard. I’m realizing how isolated I am here a lot of the time, too. I keep hoping that after my disability hearing that I’ll be able to get a used car. Sometimes I think about it too much, I think. It was so much easier in CA to not be discouraged a lot of the time because even if I was tired I could just get in the car to run my errand or get where I was going. My fatigue doesn’t have to be a 10/10 to make it difficult to take the bus sometimes to get where I’m going.  Upside of the bus? I love watching everything go by and being able to remember a lot of what I see, which is more difficult in a car. I also love to walk distances, so walking from the stop to my destination is kind of an adventure, even if I’ve done it dozens of times. I always see something new. Downside again: if I’m fatigued, it can be really difficult. Dora

I feel like I could do so much more if I could just get out from under needing my parents’ help. I found out today that even after the disability hearing, a decision could take 1-4 months. I’m so tired of dealing with my sm and her impatience. It’s a miracle she’s “let” my dad help in the first place, so I’m grateful for that, but I can’t wait for this all to be over. I don’t even want to think about the possibility of being denied. If the judge could spend a week living with me and seeing what my health is like, I don’t think I’d have any trouble. I wish that it wasn’t so complicated, but it is. It could take a full three years from the time I applied to when the decision is finally made.

Missing things.

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disappointmentThe past two weeks have been very eventful. I think they’ve been way more positive than negative, even if my PTSD symptoms seem to have a mind of their own. I’ve been able to make it to the most important events of the two weeks with one glaring exception: my son’s high school graduation was a Tuesday evening followed by my daughter’s middle school graduation on a Wednesday morning. So, guess what I missed? Yup, the middle school graduation. I don’t think it was good emotionally for either my daughter or for me. I think my Facebook post will sum it up the best:

Slightly personal. One of the joys of having PTSD: (and no, I won’t tell you where I got it from): I had a good time at (son’s) graduation, but it was a very large, happy (good thing) noisy crowd. I was happy but a bit of a shaking mess by the end. (Daughter’s) Middle School graduation was this morning. I could wake up, but I was semi-paralyzed and could hardly move or speak. I managed a text that I wasn’t doing well, then I missed her graduation. These are the times when having PTSD really stinks the most. I slept for several more hours, having nightmares about trying to get to (daughter’s) promotion. There is no way I can take it back. Then a certain family member was giving me a hard time about having gone to (son’s) graduation instead of Libby’s. Because, you know, as a Mom I always want to make choices like that, and I’m omniscient about consequences. It’s now 3:30 and the tremors still haven’t completely gone away, and I’m still struggling to speak. And (daughter) didn’t have her mom at her graduation.

Mental illnesses aren’t different from physical illnesses in this way. Oh, because wait…mental illnesses ARE physical ilnesses! There’s this weird misconception, which is probably understandable, that because they’re “mental” that people who have them haven’t done the intense mental and physical struggling to try to be everywhere they want and need to be. Just like everyone else, I have to miss things that I want to get to go to more than anything else. I miss things that I didn’t want to go to, and I feel bad about that too! Basically, I have to constantly work on the shame and guilt and good guilt and bad guilt of all the places I both want to go to and don’t want to go to. And some of the things I don’t want to go to are easier to go to (some meetings, for instance) than things I want to go to (I can’t currently do any movies in theaters….how’s that for fun…you want to go there?)  But missing my daughter’s graduation takes the cake. For the rest of my life, this will be one of those things that I remember with much more frustration than having to miss a bunch of movies in theaters for a couple of years, or however long it ends up lasting. I can’t make it up. So, my daughter was really understanding. She was upset and disappointed. It was one of those things that incites a combination of feelings. I can’t get into her head and tell you everything that went on, but I can tell you what I know from what she told me and other family members. I can tell you what it was like when I was lying in my bed with most of my body stuck there and not wanting to move, and my head wanting to believe that it was 1am instead of 8 or 9 am, and wishing that someone could stick me on a stretcher or at least offer me a Skype session of it. I’m trying to work on my anger with people who don’t understand. With the people I don’t know very well, it’s not an issue. With a couple of family members, it bothers me and I do take it personally at times. Then I talk it out with a friend or my therapist and the forgiveness comes back. In the meantime, I’m grateful I wasn’t able to slug the person who suggested that I somehow could have made it. I could have, probably, had I missed my son’s graduation. He was in a graduating class of over 1,000 students. How do you decide not to try to make it to that? I had done okay for the few days prior, so I was  praying that I’d make both. I had made it to his Baccalaureate and my daughter’s awards assembly. It’s so easy online to see the enormous evidence of how much we all judge others based on 20/20 vision and hindsight. I’m the one who is going to spend the rest of my life knowing that I missed my daughter’s 8th grade promotion. Everyone can….I want to use words that I shouldn’t. I love my family and I love my daughter and I’m going to make it past this somehow. The rest of you who are mostly healthy and get to go to both the things you want to and most of the things you don’t…..think about your health. Don’t make it to everything you want to? Welcome to the lives of everyone else on the planet. And I was touched by how many people understood how I was feeling and reached out to both me and my daughter. And this post ended up long, about just one thing, so I guess I’ll move on to another post for the rest. For what it’s worth. I have way more blessings than I have disappointments. At the very least, I believe this phrase that I heard once, “The sorrows may outnumber the joys, but the joys will outweigh the sorrows.”  My blessings here on my trip to CA have far outweighed the sorrows, despite the frustration of missing my daughter’s promotion. And I kept myself from swearing (slightly swearing) over the subject. 😛

Meh

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time-371226_640And another bad week. More nightmares almost every morning, into the afternoon every single day except maybe one. Have done some more journaling/DBT but need to do more. Missed my therapy appointment on Friday because of it. Here’s to things getting better. The nightmares could be worse: they’re mostly annoying and not the most scary ones. They definitely give me an indication as to what is bothering me. One of this morning’s is almost funny now, it just didn’t feel that way during it: all these people were dancing in my living room for some kind of Sunday morning club, and I couldn’t get around them to get to my room or the shower so that I could get ready for church. My roommate’s clock on the wall had an earlier time than it really was (only 10:30am) so I was feeling like I could get ready on time if people would just get out of the way. There was a lot more to it, as there always is. My closet had a lot of old clothes in it, and as I’d grab something that would fit, it would change into something else. That’s a recurring theme in my dreams, too. Babies kept appearing that needed their mothers, so I’d have to stop getting ready and look for their parents. And that was only a small part of the morning’s nightmares.

“Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time”

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The challenges we face today are in their own way comparable to challenges of the past. … Employment and financial problems are not unusual. Many people have physical and mental health challenges. Others deal with marital problems or wayward children. Some have lost loved ones. Addictions and inappropriate or harmful propensities cause heartache. Whatever the source of the trials, they cause significant pain and suffering for individuals and those who love them.

We know from the scriptures that some trials are for our good and are suited for our own personal development. We also know that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. It is also true that every cloud we see doesn’t result in rain. Regardless of the challenges, trials, and hardships we endure, the reassuring doctrine of the Atonement wrought by Jesus Christ includes Alma’s teaching that the Savior would take upon Him our infirmities and “succor his people according to their infirmities.” …Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

When our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, was asked on his birthday this past August what would be the ideal gift that members worldwide could give him, he said without a moment’s hesitation, “Find someone who is having a hard time, … and do something for them.”

I, with you, am eternally grateful to Jesus Christ, the rescuer of mankind. I bear witness that He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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