It’s been a while since I have written in my blog or even my journal.
The past two weeks have been very busy. I had a great conversation with the folks at The National Center for PTSD in Vermont. The National Center is really excited about my arrival at the end of Awareness Adventure 2012 in July, and we are talking about having a community bike ride to share the last leg of the ride. The National Center has offered to help make sure I have the most up-to-date information as I give my presentation this summer, crossing the country with my son and my service dog, Scrubs. The National Center for PTSD and I are still talking about all the possibilities and putting our heads together to figure out what they can do to help me spread awareness about PTSD.
I want people to know that PTSD is not a sign of weakness, but a treatable condition caused by traumatic events in one’s life. I have been asked by a chaplain from the San Diego VA hospital to come and speak there next month. I would never have guessed as I was sitting at that very hospital having doctors, nurses and security responding to a code because of me that I’d be coming back to tell my story just a year later. I was pretty out of control at that time. Just thinking about that experience makes me cry. I still have such overwhelming guilt for putting my family and friends through that.
And now, one year later, I am talking to the National Center for PTSD. I’m out and about giving my presentation, “What Comes After Welcome Home?” I have spoken to people all over the country. I am planning this bicycle trip to Vermont. I am going to speak at the VA hospital. I have my service dog, Scrubs. Now, that’s the road to recovery in my book.
The past few weeks have also been filled with many challenges: meeting other veterans with PTSD, hearing their stories, seeing the pain on their faces and the faces of their families, seeing myself in them, remembering when I felt exactly the way these people do.
So with all this going on I could have filled pages of blogs, but I didn’t. I got up pretty early this morning, about 3:45am. I just couldn’t sleep. I was checking out my old blog posts and as I was looking at the website, I realized I just haven’t been in the mood to write lately. I was trying to figure out why not and thinking back to this mood I have been for the past two weeks.
Though I’ve been trying hard to ignore it, I knew what was happening. For the past two weeks, I have felt pretty numb – not really happy or sad, just plugging along. I could feel myself shutting down, not really in the mood to talk to anyone. It’s true that I have been pretty busy, but it’s more than that. Meeting and talking to other people with PTSD, as I did last weekend, is hard because I see and recognize the pain in their eyes. The emotional impact is strong. It got added to the everyday problems I have, and I somehow managed to flip the switch on my emotions. I went from one extreme to another, from being overwhelmed to being numb.
It’s taken two weeks for me to confront this new symptom of my PTSD. I know this is not the way I want to feel, and I will spend the next few weeks dealing with the holidays and opening up and making sure I get the help I need. PTSD really gets in the way of life at times, but I will not let it stop me. I just need to keep looking back on the past year to remind me how far I have come. I need to do this not just for me but for my family, friends, and for my fellow veterans.
PTSD may make you feel weak, but asking for help will give you such strength. Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to ask a friend to join me for coffee and get my butt out of the house.