It's been a couple of days since I last blogged but I've kept at the better food and diet choices as well as the exercise. I actually got in ride number four of the week tonight and tipped the scales at an increasingly svelt 299.6 pounds. It took me less than two weeks to get back down under 300!
In spite of all of this, I'm still really struggling on the weekends. I went to the gym this morning, got to see my daughter at swim lessons for the first time, and went to lunch with my parents. But I still felt 'off'. I struggled to think of anything else to do other than just come straight home afterwards and 'hide' in the house. I think things are going better but it's frustrating that I can't seem to snap out of the overall funk that has been lingering around for way too long.
I still think there's something to be said for being lonely. It's hard to enjoy going out when there's no one around to share it with. I know, I know - how am I lonely with this much family around that cares about me? And that's just the thing. Not having a partner in crime is starting to wear at me. At least I'm now receptive to the idea...I wasn't before.
More to follow soon!
Finally. I got a ride in this evening. It wasn't easy to motivate myself to do it, but I am headed in the right direction. I rode for a half hour and I feel really good after having completed the ride. I forgot how nice it can be to 'clear the mechanism'. That being said, my butt is sooooo SORE! I forgot how narrow that damned seat is. And before you ask, a 'granny seat' doesn't make it any better - it actually makes it worse.
Overall, today was a good day. I started off the day at an awards ceremony where we found out that we we came in #7 on the fastest growing company list for the local area. Work was very productive and I had a lot of good work and personal conversations.
The support has been much appreciated by everyone - today was one of those elusive good days all around. I plan to work to make more days like this happen soon. Off to bed and a good night's sleep!
So...this is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I didn't exercise again today. I did stay strict on the gluten free diet and no soda and some of the weight is starting to come off. It's still really hard not to eat my feelings right now. I'm about to head to bed but tomorrow could be a big day for the company. We are one of the fastest growing companies in our area and there's an award ceremony tomorrow morning to find out where we stand on that list.
I'm really excited about it because it's a validation of all the hard work I've put in over the last few years but it still doesn't help me make sure that I make better use of my time to take care of myself when I am at home.
Upside? I got to listed to my daughter proudly read to me at her bedtime and she continue to amaze me every day. In the past the part that has really gotten me off track is my ability to be my own worst critic. I'm trying to change that a little by looking for and reinforcing the bright spots in my day. It's not easy but I don't want to get down on myself for not exercising today.
It's still disconcerting and jarring when I look in the mirror and I see the overweight guy looking back at me. I still, mentally, see myself as the fit soldier who went off to Iraq. It makes it that much harder when I look in the mirror and the reality doesn't fit my mental image of myself so I need to work to get back to some semblance of military shape.
Tomorrow's another day, though. Let's see where this goes.
Well, I didn't get the time I wanted to this evening to blog but I wanted to stay, at least, committed to what I said that I would blog about my journey daily. I didn't get to exercise but I did have a lot of water to get myself hydrated. I cut out soda about a week ago and I already feel a bit lighter on my feet. The diet will be a slow change but I am going to make time tomorrow to make doctors appointments for the coming weeks so I can get all caught up on all of my visits and get the ball rolling on medically monitored weight loss. I also am looking at discussing my needs with a nutritionist but they are very expensive when they aren't covered at all by insurance. I'm working to figure that angle out.
Overall, it was a fairly good day. I felt productive at work and my coworkers have been very supportive of this journey I've embarked upon. More to follow tomorrow.
Have a good night everyone!
I know it's been a while again since I last wrote. The incidents that spurred me to write again recently have taken a toll. I don't know where to begin but I can tell you that I feel particularly lost right now - and I don't know why.
Life is good.
I have a good job that I am passionate about. I have an amazing daughter who astounds me every day with her joy and compassion for others. I think I finally am beginning to surround myself with people who care about me, professionally, people I call friends.
Yet, I can't remember the last time I felt so alone, so out of touch, so isolated from the world around me. I fight every day against feeling lost, hopeless and depressed. And it hasn't been easy to do that recently. When I'm not 'on' for work, I struggle to get up off the couch.
The people around me deserve better but I can feel myself withdrawing from them in spite of myself and my best efforts. So the question remains - WHY?
It's begun to sink in recently that many people see me as the person I am at work: confident, passionate, caring, sense of humor. The sad part is that part of me has felt increasingly like a persona, not who I am. That pisses me off like you would not believe. I like that guy. He puts himself out there. He empowers those around him.
So why don't I feel like that guy is me? I feel like when I get home, all of my fears, frustrations, and anger bubble up and consume me and overwhelm me. My only saving grace is my beautiful daughter who can snap me out of this funk when I have her with me.
And that's when it hit me: not having someone to share life with is taking a toll on me. It's hard enough to contend with PTSD on a regular basis but when you don't have someone to care for, someone to care FOR you, someone to confide in and someone who confides IN you, the loneliness can be exceedingly overwhelming at times. It makes me feel guilty because I know I probably put more on my daughter that I realize and that's not fair to her. I'm not saying I do it intentionally, you get emotional support and validation wherever you can whenever you can. But I know it's not fair to her so I 've worked to shelter her from that out of a deep and abiding sense of love.
So I've found solace where I can. Work. Travel. Work. More Work. Growing the business. Work. More Work. More Travel. Work.
All so I can give Caley the things I want to be able to provide her with.
I put my heart and soul into every day at work. Same with what I try to do for my daughter. But I can't remember the last time I did something to take care of myself and that's a major problem.
It's creating this dichotomy between the work me and the personal me and I don't like it.
So what do I do? The symptoms of my PTSD have been very hard to cope with recently. The hyper-vigilance, being easily triggered, intrusive recollections, nightmares....They're all getting increasingly worse and I have struggled to find a way to regain equilibrium. I've spent a lot of time this weekend in quiet introspection, working to figure this out.
This weekend has been quite an eye opener. I've thought things through from pretty much every angle. There is no dichotomy. Work me is me. Personal me is me too. The difference is the nature of the support network I have through work versus what I have in my personal life.
I've been very successful over the last few years in creating a professional life that is filled with good people and that is highly rewarding.
I can't say that I have been as successful in my personal life. I really don't have much in the way of friends, don't like going out much, and find opening myself up to others and sharing my struggles to be very difficult.
Trusting others is very hard for me.
I think it's also a self-esteem issue, I think. I don't feel like I'm worth the time to take care of so I haven't. I haven't seen a primary care physician in years. I saw a dentist for the first time in more than two years just a few months ago. My overall health has suffered due to many circumstances outside of my control - the VA not being able to provide me the care I need, private health insurance not covering other medications that I need to manage my psoriasis when the VA failed me.
For the longest time I have refused to see private doctors out of a foolish stubborn sense of pride - that I shouldn't HAVE to pay for care I deserve.
But something's got to give. And it starts today. I'm so done with outside influences having a damaging impact on my life. I'm putting myself first for a while. I'm going to see a primary care physician and I am going to get put on medically supervised weight loss so that I can aggressively shed this weight I can't seem to shake. I'm going to exercise every day. I'm going to put the phone away and focus on my wellness, physical and mental.
I've already gotten everything set up and in line to do this. The laundry is done and completely caught up. I set up the bike trainer in the basement and am going to ride on it tonight for at least a half hour. I just need the support and understanding of those around me to make it happen.
Over the course of this week, I am going to re-engage with my physician, get referred to someone who can help with the weight loss, get referred to a rheumatologist, speak to my dermatologist, and more.
Everything has begun to suffer because of how things have been going in my life and I feel like if I don't take control of my wellness now, I never will.
The Daily Exercise Diary
From this point on, I am going to share what I can about my efforts to help myself. I will share my exercise routine, how hard it was to get out of bed, how I felt before exercise, how I felt after, how I feel at work, when I leave work, etc.
Please bear with me as I get back into the routine and thank all of you who have reached out to support me over the years. I know I haven't been blogging nearly as much as I used to but I stand committed to this effort. See you all tomorrow.
So, I had to travel down to Northern Virginia for work this morning. It was my first long drive since I had the accident on my return trip from the same area a month ago.
I had been dreading this day, but I knew it was coming. In my line of work, I have to travel to meet with teaming partners and customers. It doesn't mean that I wasn't terrified as hell that I'd 'lose consciousness' or 'fall asleep' or whatever happened last time.
I was edgy as hell and didn't sleep well last night as a result of it. I got up early and hit the road wondering if I was going to be ok, but felt seriously spooked.
I arrived in one piece without the slightest hint of drowsiness...
Wondering if I'm EVER going to be able to drive without fear again.
What I realized is that while the accident and the drive today triggered my PTSD, I was surprised to discover it wasn't the event that triggered my PTSD. It wasn't the fear either. It was the memory of waking up, wondering if today was the day that I was going to die, having to confront that reality, be ok with it.
For obvious reasons, the memory of that reality was not exactly one that I cherish. But is was a necessary reality. Every day you go outside the wire in Iraq, you have to confront your fear, otherwise it can paralyze you and make you freeze when you can't afford to. Accepting every morning that each day could be my last saved my life.
There's a false equivalence between the two experiences that is bothering the hell out of me though. This is the definition of scripted behavior. So how do I address this? I can't go into hypervigilant mode every time I have to drive a longer distance. It's not sustainable and neither is the adrenalin that was flowing through me all day today. It's exhausting and frustrating all at the same time.
I just don't know how to fix this feeling. I'm a bit out of practice with contending with and deconstructing new scripted behavior. I guess we'll see how the return trip on Friday goes.
So I said I would explain more - here I am. After the accident, I thought I was ok. I didn't seem any worse for wear. About five days passed and something changed. Maybe it was the shock wearing off, I don't know. All I know is that I suddenly started having constant nightmares.
It was different this time.
Rather than being the 'usual' reliving of the friendly fire incident, I find myself on a cot in a hallway when another soldier - a sergeant, comes running in, dazed and hysterical, with blood all over his face. He keeps on saying that there's been a vehicle accident and that the other passenger was killed. I had to keep him from going back out there.
This is where it gets weird for me. I can't tell if this happened or not in reality. Talk about screwing with your head. The recollection (if that's what it is) seems too specific and too detailed not to be real but I have no clear memory of this incident when I'm conscious. Is this what a repressed memory resurfacing is like? Talk about terrifying. What else is out there that I don't know about?
Needless to say, this is triggering the hell out of my PTSD when I'm awake and making it very hard to fall asleep most nights. Last night was the first night since the insomnia started on Wednesday that I slept for more than two hours in a night. And here I sit, wondering what will happen tonight.
The one thing I do know for certain: It's not a coincidence that this is happening after I just survived an accident I never should have. I have survivor's guilt and I don't know why. It's somewhat surreal.
So in a nutshell, I don't feel in control AND feel powerless to do anything about it. Add that in with my current reality that I am still adjusting to at work and you've got a recipe for PTSD to overwhelm me.
But it's not. I won't let it. I may be triggered but I can honestly say that the strength and support I get from family and friends help be find a way through my minefield of emotions, just waiting for an unsuspecting foot.
Writing this is definitely helping, though. It's good to be back in the swing of things. Maybe soon I will figure out what the hell is going on and why I can't shake these new nightmares. In the interim, I will do my best to cope with what comes. Here goes nothing.
I've been going through some stuff recently that made me get online and look back at some of the blog posts I have written. This last time, I was curious to see how long it had been since I last posted on the blog and was absolutely STUNNED to find out that it's been almost two years to the day.
While I never meant for that to happen, the last two years have been crazy, different, life-changing, and somehow the same. PTSD has been my constant companion. I wasn't sure how easy it was going to be to write again but it's easier than I thought it would be. Let me fill you in on the last few years and what has transpired in my life to get be back here and back to blogging.
My Job, My Mission, and Finding Meaning
I know I spoke about my new endeavor previously. Since the last time I blogged about the company I now co-own, Netizen Corporation, we have grown to 40 employees across 13 states and have been more wildly successful that I would have ever thought possible. We have realized 3910% trailing 3-year revenue growth and we were just named as the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Veteran Owned Company of the Year.
It's been a wild ride and my job is to continue to drive growth and help steer the vision for the company's future success.
For the remainder of 2016 and all of 2017, I was doing well, coping well. Everything was going well, we were growing, we were hiring, we were making all the right decisions. At some point in early 2018, something changed and I was triggered a lot earlier this year. I struggled mightily to cope and to stay balanced and functional at work. For the longest time I couldn't figure out what the HELL was wrong and why everything was going sideways for no damn reason at all. I even went back on mood-stabilizers I have felt so out of control. Then something happened in early August that changed my perspective on a few things and started me down this road back to blogging.
The Car Accident I Shouldn't Have Walked Away From
I'd been working myself to the bone, I was on new medication, I was exhausted. I was so tired I actually stopped at a hotel for the night on my way back from Northern Virginia. I got up early and was less than 5 miles from my house when I lost consciousness at the wheel.
TELEPHONE POLE: 1 // MAX: 0
I somewhat remember the impact, but really came to when my airbag smacked my hand into my face and the car was careening into a cornfield. If the corn wouldn't have been there, the car would have rolled for a good 50 feet. Instead, the car was settled, almost gently, back down on four tires.
I got out of the car with a slightly bruised hand and some mild chemical burns on my face from the airbag.
By all rights, I should have been hurt a lot worse, if not dead.
Talk about a wake up call. That happened on August 9th. I still do not now how I walked away from that crash but a lot of things started bubbling up as a result of it.
Work Life Balance? You're Funny
Here's the saddest part with all of this and a crazy indication of how out of balance my life was less than a month ago: I was back in the office in under three hours after the accident took place and was head down preparing for the coming month. Everyone kept on asking me if I was OK and seemed alarmed that I was at work at all that day. It didn't register with me at all.
It did that weekend. The shock of the trauma I had been through started to wear off and I thought to myself,
Dolphins, Work Trips, and Nightmares
Vacation was wonderful, I enjoyed my time with my daughter immensely. We went swimming with dolphins and it was amazing! I came back refreshed and ready to go. My first night back, I had nightmares - bad ones. I didn't think anything of it at the time, thinking it was some residual stress working its way out of my system. I left for a work trip the Sunday after I got back and all I did was work during the day at the convention I was at, write proposals in the evenings, meetings during the day, more proposals....you get the idea. Then something happened that triggered my PTSD that I couldn't help but obsess over and now I'm going on 5 hours of sleep in the last three days. I was shocked and taken aback at how quickly my condition devolved - especially after having just come back from vacation. It was like my stress bucket was either full or a lot smaller than it should be. I couldn't figure out what was causing this 'relapse' so out of desperation, I started writing in Word on my computer, just to get some stuff out and lo' and behold...the 'aha moment' came quickly to me.
What Did I Discover?
The epiphany was multi-faceted. I was stunned at how my PTSD had 'mutated' to wheedle its way into my day to day life. What I realized was that the company was growing so fast that I was no longer in complete control of every facet of the company's growth. This lack of control was a death by a thousand cuts until I found myself moody and manic on a daily basis. I've also been having nightmares and I didn't realized that there was addional trauma that I hadn't been addressing that happened overseas in Iraq. I won't go into it in this post, but I will explain later in a future post. I was also terrified to get behind the wheel of my car this coming week, even though I have a ton of strategic meetings in DC that I can't miss. All of these stressors, plus the day to day tempo at work finally sank in and I found that I wasn't coping well with anything and was constantly tired, just like I was before I went on vacation.
I don't know what motivated me to try writing again but once things started to become clearer for me, I knew I had to start up blogging again.
So here I am, still struggling but at least feeling like what's bothering me is now known to me so that I can address it, confront it, accept it, and learn to cope with it.
Thank you all for your patience. There will be more to follow but hopefully this helps acclimate everyone to where I am right now. Thank you all fo listening to the rambling of a tired guy and have a great night!
So it's official. The non-profit is shutting down. The remaining bank balance is being donated to a local established veterans charity. It may come as a disappointment and a shock to some of you that it's come to this, but please allow me to explain how all of this has come to pass.
Thank you all for your continued support. I'm getting back to basics and adding my voice to the choir once again.
Yours in Health,
I still can't believe I haven't blogged since last August...
Well, in a way I can. The divorce was finalized July 30th and it wasn't very long after that my life began to change dramatically. I don't really know why or how it happened but I just couldn't bring myself to sit down and share anything.
The words just wouldn't come and I was at a loss - because I needed the outlet but just couldn't bring myself to share. Why was this happening? Did it mean anything?
After the long hiatus, I think I know what happened:
After everything I had gone through, I needed to step away from everything that I knew so that I could find a way forward for myself.
So here's everything that's happened in the past too many months since I last blogged:
And everything felt EMPTY, bereft of meaning, bereft of hope, bereft of happiness - except when I was with my daughter.
Something started to change in mid-September. I don't even know why, but I just quit smoking cold turkey on September 15th. I haven't touched a cigarette since.
By September 30th, I was moved out of the apartment I had been married in and was living in my parents' basement while I looked for a house.
In December, our company was awarded 2015 Emerging Business of the Year and I had been responsible for 700% year over year revenue growth. As a result of my dedication, I was granted 15% ownership in the company as sweat equity. I lived for the work I was doing - in total control of my professional destiny.
I moved into a beautiful 1835 sq. foot townhome with my daughter on January 5th. As I moved in, I started to put all of the stuff back out the way I liked it, reasserting my sense of personality and style. Things that I didn't realize I had put in a 'box' both literally and figuratively over the last few years of my marriage.
In early February, I joined Title Boxing Club and immediately found my rhythm and routine there, losing 18 pounds and 4 inched off my waistline as of last week.
An then my mom asked me a very simple question:
Are you ever going to blog again? I don't think you realize how important your blog is to so many. I know I miss it. Do you even know why you stopped?
It made me stop and think. Why did I stop blogging? Did I even know when the last time I blogged WAS? I sat down and I thought about it a lot and I realized something very profound.
I'd been on autopilot, going through the motions and yet...even in my haze of pain and endings, I had somehow found the strength to make new beginnings.
So I'm sitting here and I realized that I am at a crossroads and I've been here before. I wrote a poem about it:
It is hard to see the good things in life
So it's time to make a choice. I have my daughter, a job I love, a new home, and a fresh start. What I don't have is connections with other people outside of family and work. I don't have a social life. I'm standing here watching my life pass me by like I'm a stick stuck in the mud, wondering why the rising tides of time's passage are making me feel like I'm starting to drown.
It's time to choose - do I fight free so I can float to the surface - OR do I decide to look up, take a deep breath, and step into It, Submerging self once more to be baptized by Life.
Tomorrow will tell.
Sorry it's been so long since the last blog post. I'm not going to make any promises about where things are going from here. I'm going to take it a day at a time and see what happens. Hopefully, you'll join me on this journey.
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.