I woke up dangerously angry today. I don't know why. I don't know who I'm angry at or if I am angry with a situation. I can feel it boiling right beneath the surface and it won't go away. The is the angriest I have been in over two years. It's really disconcerting. I can't seem to focus on much. I am doing my best to avoid snapping at everyone and it is getting exhausting holding it back. I've examined what is going on at work and what is going on at home and there is nothing in either environment that I can tell is setting me off. One of my least favorite aspects of PTSD: Being angry for no reason at all.
So what do you do when you have to go to work and you have a family life and you are this angry? I remember one veteran in a support group saying that the anger was the biggest reason he 'self-medicated' with alcohol. I wouldn't ever consider that an option, even if I was single. I have a few more things I can try. I tried venting by playing Gears of War 3. That didn't work. I am going to sit down and watch Netflix with my wife and see if I can distract my mind long enough to let go of the anger. If that doesn't work, I'm going to lay down in bed and listen to music and try to fall asleep. Maybe tomorrow will introduce me to the 'right side' of the bed.
Well, I found out that my jaw is perfectly healthy. The jaw issues I have been having are muscular, from clenching too much when I get stressed or angry. The doc put me on a regimen of liquid diet for two weeks and muscle relaxers to give my jaw a break. It's worked wonders. Needless to say, the prospect of having to trust someone to put me under anesthetic let alone cut my jaw open was daunting. I didn't realize how amped up I was until after I got home and adrenalin dumped. It's not easy giving trust to someone you don't know. I think that's part of the reason that I haven't been to get a yearly check up since I got home. I think it's time to change that.
I recently had a veteran write me asking how other people cope with PTSD, TBI, and memory loss. I can tell you all how a work to cope with PTSD and memory loss:
PTSD: I keep aware of my emotional state at all times. I have a log of what behavior and environments exacerbate my PTSD. I try to always have an outlet to vent anger and frustration (i.e. - exercise and video gaming). I have created a very strong support network. I know a lot of vets don't have a strong support network. It is really important to surround yourself with people you trust who can support you and validate your feelings.
Memory Loss: My memory loss is short-term. I have a dry-erase board on the fridge. I have a to-do list on my phone. I am constantly asking myself if there is anything I have to get done. It helps with memory retention.
Those are the basics of how I cope. If anyone else has anything they would like to add, I would love for you to share it here!
Ok, so I am a little more stressed than I let on to family. I have been having a lot of problems with my jaw due to my bite. I consult with surgeons today to find out whether I need to have surgery to fix my bite today. Catastrophic thinking really got a hold on me last night and I had difficulty sleeping. What if the surgery is needed and I am out of work for too long and have to go on short-term disability? Will I be able to meet my financial obligations? What happens to us if I can't? And so on and so forth. It was not the most fun night I have had in a while and I didn't realize that I needed to take an extra dose of anxiety medication to help my brain shut down. Hopefully, if the surgery is necessary, the doctors will be able to put my mind at ease about it. Stay Tuned.
Two nights ago I had horrible nightmares, complete with nausea and hand washing. It was an exhausting night. What followed was even less fun: Total Apathy. My wife would ask me a question and I would say 'whatever'. I didn't care about anything, couldn't. I was completely empty of any emotion. For a bit, not even my beautiful daughter could evoke an emotional response.
Caley was the one who eventually broke through. She kept on wanting Daddy Cuddles and she looked so miserable that I wasn't paying attention to her that I finally broke down and put her on my lap. We cuddled and I started feeling a sense of well-being again. Her love is so unconditional. I am still feeling emotionally distant today, but I'm getting there. I have today off and will sit down and reflect on this past weekend. Hopefully, that helps.
OK, I'm back and blogging. And my topic today hit with a wallop. Someone I knew died yesterday. He was in his early 20's. I had gotten used to seeing his face every day. Now I never will again. For obvious reasons, it brought right back to the forefront all of my least favorite memories and all of the trauma I experienced over in Iraq. Here's the killer, I had to pretend that everything was normal and that everything was OK. I was at work all day. I made it through most of the day before the anxiety caught up with me. My hands were shaking so badly that I couldn't write, couldn't type. I didn't have my anxiety medication with me either. It was a great feeling. I felt like an eight hundred pound gorilla was kneeling on my chest. It past quickly, but all I could do was stand there like a post and hope no one noticed (which, thankfully, they didn't). My wife had taken our daughter to visit her grandparents and didn't return home until later in the evening. That was a blessing. I was so scared that Caley would be able to sense there was something wrong. She it so aware of the emotional state of the loved ones around her, my intense emotional state would have scared her. So now I am sitting here up late in front of the computer when I have to manage the department in the morning. Woo.
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.