It's been a bit of a crazy few weeks. A lot has happened and, for once, some of what happened was actually good! That being said, some aspects of what happened these past few weeks were stressful and exhausting.
You all know that I have returned to work on a part-time basis. That has actually been really good for me. I have a relatively set routine and it has been particularly good for me. For a few weeks, I didn't have any issues - and then last week happened. I had been working an average of about 30 hours per week and that seemed to work out pretty well for me. Then I decided to pick up and extra shift, work six days out of seven and I paid the price. My anxiety shot through the roof. I started staying up later and later and getting less and less sleep. This past week, I had nightmares, serious nightmares, for the first time in weeks. Things were a little frayed around the edges and I truly felt at wit's end. Seriously? I try to work 40 hours and I start bugging out?
Well, before I started down the well-trodden path to depression and self-recrimination, I asked myself a question: Is It You or Is It the Work? That one stopped me dead in my tracks. Could it really be that simple? Could it really just be that Retail and I are like oil and water? We may have appeared to be mixed at first, but over a longer period of time, it becomes readily apparent that no matter how hard I try to make it work for the sake of financial stability and peace of mind for my family, Retail Work and I don't get along.
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!
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.