Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When the simple things seem like a HUGE deal... a look inside Secondary PTSD

So, most of you know by now that when I ramble it's typically that I'm journaling and just happen to be sharing it with the whole world :)  Instead of a diary with a key, I have a diary that's open for all to read.  I do that because I figure it will somehow bring comfort to some other veteran's wife out there in "life after combat" world (one of the main reasons I started FamilyOfaVet.com four years ago this month!).

Today, I'm sharing with you a dirty little secret... literally and figuratively :)

One of the first ways that "bad PTSD days" (or weeks or months) show in my life is in my inability to complete simple things. 

When my hubby is having good days (or reasonably good, which is pretty much as good as it gets at this point), my house is clean, my e-mail inbox is reasonably current, my errands and chores are done, our bills are paid, my responsibilities as the founder and "leader" (that still sounds funny to me sometimes!) of our growing non-profit organization are taken care of.  In general, I'm a pretty organized chick!

Oh, but the times (like now) where PTSD has taken over our home, are anything but organized.  The laundry doesn't get done, the dishwasher thinks I've forgotten it, my inbox overflows, the things I know I need to do... and want to do... remain undone for days at a time.  My brain (and my motivation) go out the window into some far away land where they are seemingly impossible to find.

Those that "get" my life simply understand... those that don't, are annoyed by my lack of... well.. everything!

So, other than the nightmares, anxiety, anger, sadness, etc., etc., etc., that come along with Secondary PTSD, how is someone supposed to deal with this... especially when they don't feel like dealing with ANYTHING!

Here are somethings I've learned over the years:

#1 - I cut myself some slack.  Everyone else may be irritated with me, but that doesn't mean I can't respect and understand that my "shortcomings" are actually a natural reaction to what's going on in my life.  It doesn't make me a bad person, wife, or mother... it just makes me normal in an abnormal situation.

#2 - I send up the white flag.  I know by now who in my world I can say "uncle" to.  And, when I need to ask for help, I do.  This was one of the HARDEST things for me to learn to do (and something I'm still not great at).  After all, I'm a former Infantry wife... I've lived in a foreign country on my own, went through 30+ hours of labor while my husband was in Iraq, dealt with extended deployments, fought for VA benefits, etc., etc.  I'm fiercely independent and proud of the fact that I can do most things on my own.  So, learning that saying "help" wasn't a sign of weakness... but instead is actually a sign that I'm strong... was a steep learning curve.

#3 - I make lists.  During this time, my brain is mush.  I often get to the end of the day and think "Crap, I was supposed to do so and so... actually I'm supposed to have done that 3 days ago... and I've forgotten AGAIN!".  Lists are my friend.  I write everything in a single notebook.  That way, in moments of clarity and energy, I can get a lot done.

#4 - I do something meaningless and fun.  I catch up on a favorite TV show, get my sewing machine out and create something random, go for a walk and take photos, or sit and read magazines that I enjoy.  It may seem counter-intuitive to do NOTHING when all of the stuff you're supposed to be doing is piling up around you... but sometimes it's exactly what you need to get yourself going again!

#5 - I remind myself (again and again and again) to be patient.  This too shall pass.  I will eventually get caught up.  I will eventually get back in gear.  Beastie Boy PTSD will go on a vacation and life will somewhat settle down.  Until then, life may suck, but at least it's not forever.

So, there you go... my plan for coping with my inability to cope :)  Feel free to comment and let me (and everyone else) know your tricks and tips!


Hugs,
Brannan

Brannan Vines
Proud wife of an OIF Veteran
Founder of FamilyOfaVet.com - an organization dedicated to helping heroes and their loved ones survive and thrive after combat with real world info about PTSD, TBI, and more!

7 comments:

  1. I try to do most of these things also adding a giant calendar to the wall (if it's not on the calendar, it doesn't exist) but the part where I feel as if I'm failing is my kids. If it's been a bad PTSD day/week they get the short end of my short temper. I yell, I cry, I then try to pull myself together and apologize and make it better. I just worry that I am not doing my best for them. Some days I just really hate what PTSD has done to us and to me.

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  2. Same here. Right now we are going through a miserable PTSD week and my laundry is piled up in corners, my kitchen looks like I just filmed an eight hour TV food network show in it from all of the dishes...

    What I try to do is get dressed, do my make up and hair. It is the LAST thing I feel like doing but usually I feel better about myself.

    Jenny Conlon

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  3. S and J plus 3 - The calendar is a really good point! We have a family calendar with everything recorded... also works wonders for TBI!

    Jenny - SOOOO feel you on that one :) And you're exactly right that getting up & getting dressed can have a big impact (even though it seems like such a trivial thing) on my level of motivation and the amount I'm able to get done.

    Great recommendations! :)

    -Brannan

    Brannan Vines
    Proud wife of an OIF Veteran
    Founder of FamilyOfaVet.com - an organization dedicated to helping heroes and their loved ones survive and thrive after combat with real world info about PTSD, TBI, and more!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am so happy to find this site. I am just beginning to understand what has been going on with my husband for the last 5 years. He has recently benn diagnosed with severe PTSD and is in treatment.

    Almost everyday, i feel like I can't get anything done. Like I am on hold....

    Thanks again for your site and helping me to learn and know that I am not alone.

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  5. HCL -

    Happy you found us, too :) It's SOOO incredibly important for each of us to realize that we are most definitely NOT alone. Let us know if we can help you figure out how to navigate PTSD "world"... it's not an easy thing, but it CAN be done!

    Thanks,
    Brannan

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  6. I am going through a separation from my PTSD veteran spouse. This site has provided me with a wealth of information and insight to the things that have been going on in my marriage. I can only hope and pray that through all this research time and patience that I can resume my marriage to the man I love!!

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  7. Oorah -

    Many families faced with PTSD go through separation at one point or another... so you're DEFINITELY not alone in that. I'm SO glad that you're finding FOV helpful. Please let us know if there are any questions we can answer or any ways we can help. We're all in this together!!

    -Brannan

    Brannan Vines
    Proud wife of an OIF Veteran
    Founder of FamilyOfaVet.com - an organization dedicated to helping heroes and their loved ones survive and thrive after combat with real world info about PTSD, TBI, and more!

    ReplyDelete