For many, the focus on learning to cope with PTSD is on the mind. I know I was guilty of this for a long time. It wasn't until recently, when I started training in MMA that I noticed how profound the effects were on my body and my state of mind. As a result, I cannot stress enough how taking good care of your body and your physical health and positively impact your ability to cope with PTSD. If you are not getting up and being active, here's some positive motivators that will change your mind (I hope).
More Restful Sleep:
No, I don't mean you will sleep through the night. If you are a fitful sleeper, you will still be a fitful sleeper. I know I am. What I mean is that when you are asleep, you will find that you wake up more refreshed the following day. Between random noises and my three year old daughter, undisturbed sleep is not something I'm accustomed to. What I can say is that I am sleeping the same number of hours as before but getting more out of it. I don't know the physiological reasons behind this - my assertion is observation based. All I can tell you for sure is that my mind is more rested the next day. I'm better able to cope with the triggers that I encounter on a daily basis. If you're like me, that's huge.
Less Time to Brood, Less Time to Procrastinate:
This one may seem odd, but it's important to me. When I don't have a full (not overloaded) daily schedule, I have a tendency to be much more sedentary and I think about things I shouldn't a whole lot more. There is a difference between setting aside time to reflect and spending time brooding because your day has no direction or purpose. If you're married, you'll even find that it improves your relationship with your wife because you are more active around the house and helping out more. Why? Because with a full schedule, you don't have time to put off doing the laundry or making dinner. It's done wonders for my wife and I. To boot, I'm not as withdrawn from what is going on around me because I don't have the time to brood. I cannot overstate how important this is.
Boosting Self-Esteem and Feeling Motivated:
I'm losing weight and I feel healthier. My psoriasis is under better control and I don't feel like a leper. I'm lighter on my feet and I feel stronger, more vital. For the first time in a long time, I don't feel negative when I look in the mirror. I may not like how I look, but I feel motivated because I look better than I did. It's even improved my posture and my outward confidence. This can also be a great thing for your relationship. I guarantee your partner will find it sexy that you are feeling confident in yourself again. I know that for me, and for a lot of us, everything that we've been through has really dinged our confidence and self-esteem. Exercising and taking better care of your body can have the most profound impact on your outlook. It has on mine.
So there you have it. As a result of committing to taking better care of my physical health, I'm better rested and able to cope with triggers, I'm less withdrawn and more active, I've improved my relationship with my wife because I am more active and helpful around the house, I feel better about myself and I'm regaining my confidence in who I am and what I want. All in all, I'd say that's one hell of a positive laundry list. If you are a veteran who is struggling to motivate yourself to take better care of your physical health, take it from me - It's more than worth it. Granted, everyone is different, but I think we can all agree that taking better care of ourselves physically can only have an upside. Don't just take my word for it. Get up and do something about it. When you've made that change and see the results, I'd love to hear from you. So enough reading - go out and DO something!
We are getting absolutely pounded with heavy snow right now. So, with nothing else going on, it seemed like a perfect time to catch you all up a bit on everything that's been going on. There has been some concern expressed by family, friends and readers that recent posts have expressed a lot of anger. Yep, they sure have. I'm less angry than I am frustrated, but that's just part of the story.
I'm 35 years old and I have had no luck starting a meaningful career since 2007 when I graduated (Magna Cum Laude, I might add) from college. I have continually been told that I'm 'overqualified'. Well, now I'm seen as too old and too experienced for entry level work, but I don't know the requisite computer applications that seems to be required for mid-level management (seriously? It's a computer application - I could learn a stupid computer program in a day or two). I've also come to the realization that I really don't play very well with others. I'm demanding and exacting and hold people to the standards I hold myself to and that seems to cause me a lot of problems in the workplace. It's made me realize that the education and skill set I currently have isn't doing me any favors. As a result, I'm exploring whether VA's Vocational Rehabilitation program could help me get the training I need to go into business for myself (or at least on a contract basis).
So, that's the work side of life. Things on the personal side are settling down substantially. I go to train MMA as often as I am able to get out to the gym. I am learning to deal with my emotions better (anger and frustration still need a lot of work). I've been off the medication for about two months now and I feel a whole hell of a lot better. My psoriasis is much more manageable, I have stopped having constant stress headaches, and my asthma is almost non-existent. My instinct that the medication was having an adverse impact on my physical health definitely appears to be right on the money so far. I feel more energetic, motivated. I've still got a lot to work through and think through, but I feel like I'm finally headed in the right direction.
As for the non-profit, well...The backlog on 501(c)3 Tax Exempt status is so big, we won't gain our tax-exempt status until 2015 at the earliest. It has made getting the non-profit off the ground exceptionally time-consuming and frustrating. As a result, I've had to change the short-term focus and just get down to the basics. The crowdfunding rewards are finally done and in hand - sort of. The company that made affortable static window clings went under. The other companies charge more for a single window cling than I paid to purchase and print a t-shirt. Same goes for the 550 cord key chains. As a result, I've decided to send all supporters a silicone bracelet and a t-shirt. So keep an eye out for the email I'm sending out to confirm mailing addresses. The silicone bracelets I got for a song - the website I purchased them through gave me 200 free when I bought 100 debossed two-tone bracelets. At least I'll be able to make a little money for the non-profit by selling them and the extra t-shirts.
So there you have it. That's pretty much everything going on right now. I've been much better about recognizing my limitations and am finally making the lifestyle and professional changes I need to so that I can live a less stressful and better balanced life. I won't lie and say that things have been easy as I have worked on making this transition. It's been stressful as hell, but I finally feel like I'm thinking long-term and making the changes I need to provide for long-term stability. I'll keep you posted as things progress. Thanks to all of my readers for your continued support and readership!
For the longest time, I have struggled to consistently go to the gym. There was something unrewarding about going to the gym, working out by myself and not getting a workout high. Granted, some of the lethargy may have been attributable to the meds, but I just didn't enjoy it at all. I enjoy working out WITH people. Pushing myself to get better in comparison to the people I exercise with has always been a strong motivator for me. I think that's why I always worked out so hard in the military.
I finally got fed up with the lack of motivation. I started looking for other ways to get back into shape. I've always like the martial arts - Tae Kwon Do as a kid, and Nin Jutsu when I got older. There was also a crew of us who got together when I was in the military and sparred using various styles varying from Kung Fu to Muy Thai to Brazilian Ju Jutsu. I looked to see if there were any good Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) schools in the area. To my surprise, I found a top notch gym - Hammer Training and Fitness. I went out to tour the school and talked with the owner, Rodney Guignet. I was very impressed with the facilities and the school in general. I knew, right away, that I wanted to train there.
That was about a month ago. I have been training there every since and it has been a life-changing experience for me. With MMA, you only get out of it what you put in. I leave every class soaked in sweat and practically gasping for breath. My core strength has improved drastically and I feel stronger and healthier than I have in a long time. The best part: I leave the gym feeling calm and emotionally balanced. As I push myself, I am able to train for longer and longer stretches, but I won't lie - when I first started training, my body hated me with a passion. I didn't care. I continue to push through it and feel so much better for it. I have even met another veteran who trains there.
I can't say enough about Hammer Training and Fitness. They have been a pleasant surprise, providing me with a safe place to work out my emotions and PTSD angst. They are also very supportive of veterans. So far I know of one other veteran who trains seriously there and I am sure I will meet more. It's a safe environment for me to socialize as well. I didn't realize how much I needed a safe, judgement free place to exercise and make friends until I experienced it at Hammer.
I'll keep you posted as things progress. When I started there, I weighed 292 pounds. I'm currently at 284 and am carrying a lot more muscle on my frame than I was a month ago. I wonder where I'll be by my birthday in May!!
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.