I feel I need to let you in on a few things that have been going on with me lately. This is always hard to do. PTSD is hard enough to live with, but this is the blog where I am supposed to tell you about the ups and down of living with PTSD and my road to recovery. Talking about a day when PTSD symptoms attack me, even a couple days later, is sometimes just as painful the original problem.
Lately I have had pretty high anxiety. Often when that happens, I also get anxious about my anxiety. When that happens, you can usually count me out of being social in any way. Months ago when I would get that way, I would close the curtains in my bedroom, turn off the lights and keep the door closed. On one occasion, about eight or nine months ago, I shut myself in my room and went three days without eating or drinking. On the third evening I got out of bed for something, stood up too fast, and down I went. When I fell, I fell against the closet door and busted it. That’s when my family convinced me to go the VA hospital to get checked out and make sure I was ok.
That, my friends, scared the hell out of me. I realized that what I was doing was not helping me in any way. The doctors had been telling me that for a while. I just thought they didn’t understand. I was wrong. It’s me who didn’t understand. Just sitting in your room will not make PTSD go away. If anything, it will make itself pretty comfortable right next to you in bed.
That was then; this is now. Now, when I look back at my old journals, I can see just how far I have come.
I want to tell you about a bad day I had recently and how I have handled it so far. I have been pretty upset about it, thinking I had failed once again and forgotten all the coping skills I have learned.
Last Sunday night I went to bed feeling like a complete failure. I went to church last Sunday, and it was not a pleasant experience. At the time, I could not imagine anything worse than the situation I had gotten myself into. At our church on the Sunday before Christmas, we always have a wonderful music cantata. My mother, the choir director, was directing and everyone worked so hard on it. I had family from up north come down to hear the music. I put on my best public face, and with Scrubs by my side, walked into church. My family went and sat up towards the front.
Instantly, I began to sweat. I could feel my heart trying to pound out of my chest. I don’t like crowds, and I really don’t like having so many people behind me. How would I be able to sit with them? I just walked up, sat down, focused on my breathing, and tried to maintain some sort of sanity. I had people around me asking if I was ok. I could see people keeping an eye on me. On the one hand, it feels good knowing they care. On the other hand, it’s pretty embarrassing for to keep having people have to ask me if I am ok. I made it through most of it, but I had to get outside for the last ten minutes. I just could not take it anymore.
But wait, there’s more. We had a lunch at church afterwards. It was so crowded and loud, and I ended up sitting in the corner at the kids’ table. That was it for me. I had reached my limit. I had to make a bee-line for home. This time, though, I didn’t hide in my room. I made several important phone calls, cleaned the house, and worked on my presentation video. I was productive. But I still did not want to go outside.
Like I said in my last blog, I was going to ask a friend out for coffee. Well, I did, but they could not make it. Thinking to myself, “Well I tried,” I ended up staying in the house thinking about what a complete failure that whole day had been.
Looking back on my past blogs and seeing where I was a year ago, I realize that I actually did pretty well last Sunday. I do agree I need to work harder at getting out more, but I feel pretty good about where I am now. I just need to remember not to get too comfortable and to continue moving forward in my recovery and in my mission to help raise awareness for PTSD.