I had a lot of intrusive recollections at work today. Every time I would hit my hand on something and see the red...Well, I managed to get through the day without incident. I was really happy that it turned out so well. I just kept on thinking of my daughter. I am glad that I now have this new coping mechanism to keep me in the here and now. I hope this passes soon though. I could do without having to remember these garish and bloody 'film clips'. I have been really careful how I respond to things to make sure that the PTSD isn't coming through at work and that is just straight-up exhausting. Oh well. Tomorrow's another day, and every day's a new day!
I had a wonderful day today. I got up feeling rested, I spent a lot of time laughing with my daughter and I welcomed two new moderators to my Facebook Forum. Everything was going great until I went to pour some coffee late in the day and I spilled it on my right hand, scalding the crap out of it. It is really red and painful right now. The physical pain was soon joined by emotional as I flashed back to Iraq when my hand was also really red for different reasons. I could even smell the blood in the air. My wife could tell something was wrong and she asked me if I was ok. I told her that the last time I remember my hand being this red was when I was in Iraq. She instantly responded with, "No it's not. The last time your hand was that red is when you handed our daughter to me." I had mentioned before that the blood associated with my daughter's birth had helped by giving me a positive association for blood. And I was right. Thinking of Caley's birth started calming me down a little bit. The flashback became an intrusive recollection, which I find much easier to contend with. Yet another reason why support is so important - where would I have spiraled to if my wife wouldn't have been there to snap me out of it?
I was at work and a web application refused to work properly. I knew that there was nothing I could do to fix it and it was keeping me from being able to do my work in a timely manner. Needless to say, this made me inordinately angry. I was seething under the surface. It was like someone had pushed the big red button marked, 'do not push!'. I knew that if I didn't go somewhere private to get this out, I was going to get myself in trouble. I walked outside and bummed a cigarette off of one of my co-workers and hid around the corner of the building and punched the wall. I didn't punch it hard - just with enough force to snap me out of my rage and bring me back to the here and now. Feeling helpless to do anything about my situation in Iraq was the worst feeling I have ever felt (along with the guilt that I survived at all). Punching the wall brought me back to 'now'. I was able to regain control of the anger and put it back into perspective. I went back in and talked to my area manager about the problem I was having and felt much better. I did what I had to - I couldn't believe that it took that much to snap out of it, but even with my worst knee-jerk reactions, I have been able to maintain control. For that I am eternally grateful.
I pulled a really long day at work and had to call my wife to let her know that I wasn't going to be able to watch Caley tonight when she went to work. It sucked. This kind of thing doesn't happen very often at work, but it still made me really angry that I was missing out on bonding time with my daughter. I have had a lot of late shifts recently and because of that, I haven't spent much time with Caley in the past week. I didn't realize that not spending that time with her would have such a significant impact on my emotional stability. I almost broke down and cried after I got off the phone with my wife. I was able to calm down but it made the rest of the day that much harder to get through. I now feel like I need to go hide somewhere so that my daughter doesn't have to see me this way. It shows on my face. How do you deal with that?
As I am sure many of you already know, my mom is going to be the first guest blogger for the site. We had a really good talk about what she was going to write. She thought that she should just give an intro and keep it short because people lose interest after reading a short entry. I told her that this couldn't be further from the truth. There is such a need out there for people to learn more about PTSD and to gain insight in to how to cope with it or deal with it. I told her that she could write 10 pages worth of material and people would read it because the story she is telling is that important to so many people. I know that it will be very good for me and my state of mind to get my mom involved. It has been hard on her to see her only son struggle as much as I have since I returned home from Iraq. I know a lot of you out there have been really searching for insight into how to deal with a loved one who has PTSD. I truly think, from my heart of hearts, that the story that my mom will relate will touch many of you. I hope you find it uplifting and helpful.
I was not the most friendly person to be around when I woke up this morning, but my baby-girl wanted her daddy and I was more than happy to oblige. She calmed me down and I was able to think through what was bothering me. I can't stand it when people express interest in something and then don't make themselves available to get the ball rolling. I think it is disrespectful and really gets my blood pressure elevated. What I don't understand is that this is in THEIR best interests, not mine. It makes me question whether this is something I want to pursue when the end result if they don't follow through is a dark stain on my reputation. This causes me to think about the Coalition Provisional Authority when I was over in Iraq. They would promise just enough money to start a job that would help rebuild infrastructure and then they would not follow through. In the end, it was my word - the person that translated and helped the CPA convince people that these jobs were for their benefit - MY integrity that was brought into question by the locals. I know that this situation is different, but it feels the same in my gut. So instead of being patient, I lose patience with everyone and everything. What a lovely outcome. But hey, I got to cuddle with Caley today...
I really think that I need to have my meds adjusted. I keep on having weird issues with my emotions spiking or going too flat. I hope that this can be addressed this coming week. I stresses me out wondering if the medication I am on is not working properly anymore. Maybe I need to explore what has changed that could be affecting how the medications work, but I won't know until I talk to the doc. I will keep everyone posted. The doctor's appointment is less than a week away.
First, I want to thank Jennifer for sharing her story with me. She asked that I make a response to her comments in my blog. Jennifer went through some rough times before she was diagnosed. She got out of the military and ended up having to deliver a baby alone because her husband was overseas. She was having a lot of issues coping and the VA kept on telling her that her issues were not service-connected. She knew that this wasn't the right diagnosis and kept on searching until she found a private doctor who diagnosed her with PTSD and taught her how to keep the PTSD from controlling her life. She searched for validation - that she wasn't crazy and that something was actually wrong and she found it. She was not able to start healing until she got this validation. So my message to all family members out there - do your loved ones with PTSD a favor and validate what they are feeling and suffering through. Let them know that you may not understand what they are going through, but you recognize that it is real and will work with them to get them through it.
I felt a little bit off today. Nothing major but I just felt a little weird. I don't know how else to explain it. I think that I had been stressed about so many different things for such a long period that I don't know how to feel 'normal'. It's like the absence of stress is stressing me out. Work is great, home is great, everything is going great right now. So why don't I feel great? I'm stumped. I know that Caley was a little grumpy today. There was nothing that we could do that would keep her calm. It didn't bother me though, or at least I don't think it did. I guess I will have to explore that. I know that I am going to be having a really big change at work because I am changing positions and responsibilities. Maybe my body is ramping up in preparation for that. I know that I get a little edgy about change. Not because I don't like it but because I want everything to work out well for everyone involved. I'll have to keep a close eye on things...
I can actually say something now: I got a position that I had posted for at work. A lot of the stress I have been dealing with was because of not knowing the outcome of my interview. It really took a load off. I didn't realize how bad I was hunching my shoulders until I felt them loosen up today. I am really glad that I created this site. If I hadn't I wouldn't have the outlet to get out what I have been feeling. Thanks, Wegmans, for giving me a supportive environment to work in!
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.