I am so frustrated, encouraged, worried, angry, disillusioned and exhausted all at the same time. This past week and a half has been ridiculous. Every time I would be ready to sit down after thinking through things that have transpired, something else would happen and I would delay the blog post and process the new insight. Well, I can't hold this in anymore, so I am going to break this down by associated emotion.
Frustrated: I just found out today that in the span of a year I went from perfect reading on my blood screenings to being pre-diabetic and borderline high cholesterol. I feel like no matter what I do to better take care of my physical health that the PTSD is slowly killing me and it frustrates the hell out of me. What do I have to do to get these train wreck of health problem after health problem under control? Live like a monk? Deny myself all pleasures? Develop workout anorexia? Starve? GAH! I want to throw things in frustration but the inanimate objects don't deserve that kind of abuse.
Worried, Exhausted: My daughter is seriously sick for the first time. Bronchitis and bronchiolitis. She woke up Friday night crying and coughing, post-nasal drip, and a fever. I didn't sleep from Friday night until Monday night when her fever finally broke. With already being on heightened alert after the bombings in Boston, I started thinking that something was seriously wrong with my daughter's health. I was the youngest and never was around sick kids so I had no idea that this kind of sick was normal. I never really got sick. I remember having the pukes once as a kid and mild fevers a few times, but that's it. I never got strep, maybe bronchitis once, chicken pox was only three or four spots and a fever. I had no idea it could be this bad and not be life-threatening. I was relieved Monday night and was looking forward to catching up on some sleep on Tuesday. The cough was resurgent Tuesday night. My daughter didn't pass out until after 5AM Wednesday morning and didn't sleep at school either. Needless to say, I'm worn a little thin right now.
Angry, Disillusioned: I went to group today, looking forward to talking with them about stuff. Very shortly into group, the new therapist told me I could not blog about what I learned in group anymore. I got very angry as blogging about what I learn is at the core of my ability to cope. I explained to her that I have never once violated anyone's privacy and only bring up things that I learn and have worked through as a result of going to group. I told her that I had received express consent from the group members before I blogged about it. My previous group doc had signed off on it and over the course of the past year, it has become an integral part of my therapeutic process. She still refused even after directly asking the members of the group who all said they were fine with it. When I stated if no-one has a problem with it...
She raised her hand straight above her head and said she had a problem with it. That behavior, in and of itself, was exceptionally unprofessional. I got really angry and told her that I would no longer be part of her group. She professed to not understanding why it had to be that black and white for me. New flash, moron. Everything is black and white with veterans with PTSD. The fact that she didn't know that, combined with her extremely confrontational attitude illustrated to me that the 'new hires' at the VA are 'warm bodies'. I continue to wonder if she got her degree out of a cracker jack box. It took me eight years to try group therapy again after my first horrible experience. What I have come to recognize is that aside from Doctor Casagrande, I have never had a client/doctor relationship at the VA that I felt was constructive. When I talked about it with my father tonight over dinner, he made an incredibly astute observation: "She doesn't care about the welfare or privacy of the veterans in the group. She doesn't want to see herself critiqued online." Wow. Boy did that hit home. Her refusal was all about her ego.
Encouraged: I got the money into my account from the crowdfunding and started the ball rolling. I also got all four of my first choice board members and they are a perfect fit to effectively govern the non-profit. I have started the process of incorporating and have gotten the landing pages for the websites up and running and am incredibly proud of the landing page for Support No Stigma. I still can't believe I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by such good people in my life. Honestly, I think that the love for my family and the good works I do on here and now in forming my non-profit are the only things that have kept me from institutionalization. Especially over this past week.
So there you have it. What a ride, huh? It's all about the timing. Individually, any one of these issues would have been manageable. The fact that timing crammed them all together in a seven day span almost put me under. All I know is I am relieved and grateful that I am still here. A year ago, things would have played out very differently.
Boy was I glad to have off Sunday. I talked in my previous post how the Boston Bombings had really triggered my PTSD. Well, I did what I said I was going to do and I turned off the news.
Too bad it made absolutely no difference whatsoever.
Every day I went to work, people wouldn't stop talking about the latest developments in the bombings. Yippee. Everyone knows I am a veteran and this situation was the first time I wished people didn't know. Everyone wanted my opinion on the situation. Everyone wanted to tell me about it and hear what I thought. People kept on telling me they were afraid it wasn't over - that something was going to happen again, and soon.
Not exactly the type of thing I needed to hear. So, work became trigger after trigger. The only thing that's kept me from hiding in my hole is my love for my family and my advocacy work. The gym has TVs suspended in front of every piece of cardio equipment. Any guesses as to what was on every one of those TVs?
I couldn't escape it until Sunday, my day off. I took a break from things all morning and early afternoon and just spent time with my wife and daughter. We met my sister-in-law and her two Blue Tick Coon Hounds and we went for a walk in the local park. It was really nice just to get away and enjoy a cool spring day. I felt revitalized and came home and got to work on website design for the non-profit.
So what happens now? I need to rethink my strategy for coping with this and not getting triggered at work. I can't keep this up or I am going to exhaust myself. I guess I can talk about it in group therapy this week and see what we come up with.
I knew I had been anxious about my first group therapy session with the new doc. I just didn't realize how anxious I really was. The two nights before the session, I didn't really sleep much. I was a bit of a hot mess. I arrived early as I always do. It gives me a few minutes by myself in the room to collect my thoughts.
Then the doc and the other veterans showed up and things took a turn for the worse for me. It became very clear early on that doc was going to work out. She's competent and runs the group well. She involves everyone.and does a good job directing conversation. The new doc was never the issue.
I kept on looking up and expecting to see Doc Casagrande. I kept on looking over the where he had habitually set up shop in the corner of the room. He wasn't there and it hurt, knowing he would never be there again. It's one thing to grieve on your own timetable. This was not. I had to force myself to move on and pay attention to what was happening in group. I didn't want to yet but I wasn't given a choice. It hurt like hell and I suffered for it all last night and today.
I kept on thinking, if grieving was this hard for my doctor, what the hell was going to happen to me if something ever happened to my wife or daughter? The fear intense, palpable. I have never been so scared of losing something in my life and I didn't know how to handle it. I ended up rocking and holding my head like someone kicked me in the groin. It wasn't continuous. Every time I would catch myself after a little bit and force myself to stop. It wouldn't take long before I was rocking again, unaware that I was doing it.
When I woke up this morning, my emotions were still raw and I was anxious as hell about everything and nothing, all at the same time. I kept on taking doses of my anxiety medication until it made a difference. Then, off to work I went, hoping and praying that I could make it through the day without verbally decapitating someone.
Somehow, I have made it through and it is something I am very grateful for. My wife has been worried sick about me and was concerned that I was starting to regress back into a hole. While I haven't regressed, I had to explain to her that what I was mostly feeling was grief exacerbated by my PTSD. I was just grieving. That's all. It just goes to show that, while I have gotten closure on Doc's death, being reminded of that loss can still be profound and emotionally distressing. I haven't felt his loss as keenly at any other time. It is still difficult to explain to you the depth of the loss I feel and it has overwhelmed me for the past two days. Now I have to work out all of the jumbled mess that is my thoughts and see if there's anything else or any revelations hiding in the murk.
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.