Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Writing to Heal

Back in December I was going through a really rough patch. I had a breakdown, after many years of caregiving. It was a blessing that my local writing group was teaching a class on Writing to Heal and I knew it was a sign that I needed to take. It was through this course that I decided it was high time I admitted the feelings I had, not hide them away, confront them and accept them. It was causing me undue stress, mental and physical health issues, and just down right negative all the way around. I didn't like it at all. During this class I found my coping mechanism. And rather than keep it hidden, I owned my feelings and put them out for the world to see, on my blog. My goal is two-fold -  to help me heal and to help others passing by to know they are not alone.

So, what did I learn?

I learned about the Expressive Writing Technique. It is said to be beneficial for a healthy body and mind, great for relationships, provides you with a safe environment, and is a powerful tool for stress management. It can strengthen your immune system by reducing the stress hormones your body releases. Studies have also showed how this technique can reduce the effects of a traumatic event. It is not limited to any one group. Anyone can use this technique in order to work through a really bad day at work to PTS symptoms to caregiver stress. It doesn’t matter who you are. (If you are uncomfortable with words, you can also use a similar method with painting or drawing what is troubling you.)

What is the Expressive Writing Technique?
It is personal writing that explores the feelings of the writer. Simple as that.

How do you do it?
Well, there is not one right way to do this. In fact, I've been doing something very similar ever since I could write. The only difference is, this course gave me structure and a time limit.



The power of words!
You know that old adage, "Sticks and stones will break my bones but words can never hurt me" ? Well, it's an unfortunate LIE! Words have power. Depending on how you use those words will determine whether or not they are helpful or harmful. So, when those negative auto-thoughts pop up in your head and you start listening to them, try doing the following:

Over the next two to three days, find your most comfortable, happy place where you won't be interrupted for 15 to 20 minutes. Sit down with either a pen and notebook, or your laptop. Some will swear by the long hand. Me, I have this thing where my inner editor hates my handwriting, so I chose the computer every time. Take that negative auto-thought and write it down. Or you can choose to write about an illness, injury, pain, trauma, loss, grief, or stress. It doesn't matter. Just pick something and write it down. And it doesn't have to be the same thing over the course of these few days. Also, don't worry about grammar or punctuation or anything. Just write.
If you feel overwhelmed at any time during your writing, take a break. Return to a breathing and grounding exercise. Slowly inhale through your nose. Find the peace you know to be inside you. Recall that place. Then slowly let that overwhelming feeling seep out through your mouth in your exhale.

You do not need to share, or even read what you’ve written, although many people find it helpful to do so. You can ball it up and throw it away, or keep it to revisit later.

Write your way through the questions below, to bring the issue full circle.
Situation: What’s disturbing the peace of your heart, body, or mind right now?
Body: What does your body feel right now? Any pain or tension? Where? Has this feeling
changed over time? If so, how?
Feelings: What comes up when you think about this situation? What else? How have your
feelings changed over time?
Self: How does the situation affect how see yourself? What one thing could you do for yourself
right now?
Others: How does the matter affect the way you see others? How has this changed over time?
Future: How does this affect the way you see the future? What changes do you see?
Add: What meaning does it bring into your life right now?

Simple, right? Now hope to it. You’ll feel better in a few minutes. J

Have you tried this method? Do you find it helpful? What other things do you do to help with your healing process?

Submitted By: Jamie Dement (LadyJai)

Check out my blog at http://caringforaveteran.wordpress.com for more of my writing to heal posts.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Miscarriage and Hope

Something is telling me I need to write and share what is going on right now. So, here it goes. My husband and I were married a little over five years ago while he was on R&R (Rest and Relaxation) from Iraq. He then returned to Iraq for another nine months. When he came home we discussed starting a family but put it off for a bit so we could get to know each other a little better. We bought a house six months after he returned and decided then it would be a good time to start a family.

In June of 2010, I found out we were expecting. This joy did not last long, at five weeks I miscarried. For the next year we tried again to get pregnant but it would be over a year before we were able to conceive again. It was July 2011.  We found out I was pregnant the day before my husband left for four weeks to go to his first treatment of PTSD and then start the medical retirement process. He was gone for four weeks and we were scheduled for our first appointment when he got back, I had scheduled it for 11 weeks because I knew that he would be back by then and wanted to share the appointment. We went for a first sonogram and right away they found the baby but it was measuring small and when the doctor tried to find a heartbeat there was none. My husband went right into a panic attack and me trying to be strong and hold everything together.  I ended up taking a good friend of mine to the doctor’s appointment that I would decide what to do. I ended up going through a miscarriage a few days later. I felt so alone during this time because my husband was having major anxiety and depression.

For the next year it was really hard for me to be around women having children. Every time someone on Facebook would announce they were pregnant I thought, why not me? I know that we had chosen to wait but it was still a heartbreaker. I would go to church and it seemed like all the ladies were having a baby when I was supposed to be having a child. I remember the due dates of both our babies, both would have had March birthdays. Every year I think our babies would have been one year older. I think it took me at least six months to process it all and a year to be happy for people when I heard they were pregnant and I had no children. Yes, I still got jealous and sad that I was not having a child but I was happy for them.

At this point, we decided with his medical retirement just starting and not know how long that would be to delay our plans of a family. A week after the miscarriage he was also in a car accident in which he had blacked out behind the wheel. This was when I took on the role of full time caregiver and driving him around for appointments and still being on active duty he had to report to his unit. We saw that it was a good thing to put the growing family on hold. The medical retirement process for us was fairly quick and by the end of 2012 my husband was medically retired and two days later in the Veterans’ Administration (VA) system.

After a few months of retirement we decided that his medical care was going well and it would be a good time to once again try to start a family. That was February 2013. After a few months of trying we went to talk about fertility issues. My doctor was a blessing and said with my age he wanted to be aggressive about things. He ran some blood test and determined I have a blood clotting disease, which would cause miscarriages. The doctor started me on a baby aspirin a day; this would help with that and later in life preventing me from developing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). The doctor also wanted to have a specimen from my husband.

In September of 2013, my husband did his specimen. We found out that the quality of his sperm was not good. So, the next thing we were told we could do is put me on Clomid to boost my eggs, remember I am older and then try Intro Uterine Insemination (IUI). In October we tried the first IUI. This did not work. At the end of December, we asked the VA to test my husband’s testosterone levels. They came back low. This is very common for men that have high stress and anxiety in combination with all the medications they are on to treat the PTSD. In January 2014, we tried once again IUI, this again failed.

At this point, my husband had started taking testosterone shots. We also started the adoption process because we were feeling lead to adopt. We had given up after a year of trying to become pregnant and not succeeding. Then God blessed us with a pregnancy. With this pregnancy I was sicker than normal and praised God for that! We scheduled our 10 and 12 week appointments and kept praying for the morning sickness.

Last week was our 10 week appointment. This appointment is usually just meeting with the nurse and going over history. We asked if there was any way we could get a sonogram because of our history. They said yes they had an option we could pay for to get a heart pole. We scheduled it for an hour later. Our world became upside down was again that next hour. The tech could not find a baby at all. They did a different sonogram and could only find the sac. The doctor came in and spoke with us. He said it did not look optimistic. Here we go again, I thought. My husband again had a panic attack and I was left to be strong. The doctor did blood work last week twice and indeed I was going to have a miscarriage. My husband with high anxiety already due to me being gone the week before went in a downward spiral and ended up in the VA for a few days.

Yes, I am here alone waiting for the miscarriage to happen. Although, I thought God has would never allow us to get pregnant again, if it was going to end this way, He did.  But for me there is something that will come out of all this. I do not know what His plans are but I do know that ultimately I trust Him for comfort and love during this time. The hardest part is not having my husband here with me, but this is PTSD. This is where we are in life and I am okay with that because like I said I have hope in God. 

This last Sunday was really hard for me. It was Easter. I love to celebrate the Resurrection and wanted to hear the Word preached on this day. But I woke up alone that morning and could not bring myself to do go. I even was going to go late, stay in the lobby, and leave right after service. Then I started thinking, if I go I am going to see all these families; husbands with their wives and children and me alone. Right now, I don’t want to have to be okay at church. I am upset that our lives are not normal, not just with all the miscarriages but also my husband has difficulties with emotions. I don’t want to explain that my husband is injured and it is very hard on him. I don’t want that reminder of where I am right now. So, I stayed home and had a few good cries. I realized that there are people who love me and check on me throughout this but I need to be by myself and process all of this.

I sit and asked myself are we suppose to have children? Are they going to be biological or adopted? What does the future hold for us? What about my husband, will things get better? This is just one more step of adjusting to what is normal in the world of PTSD. I know that there will be growth out of this but right now I need to heal from the loss. I need time to process and that is why I also took a break from facebook. Just last week I had two friends announce they were pregnant, and guess their due dates? That’s right, around when our baby would be due, Veteran’s Day. It makes me not just said but upset that we cannot have just one child.


I felt that my story needed to be shared. One I know there are other couples going through this; you are by far not alone. Two, I want to give you hope that you can and will get through this, it is just the valley of darkness right now but God never said we were going to stay there, we are walking through it. And three, I am privileged right now to be going through a class on tribulation that has prepared me for this, God’s timing is perfect! It may not be how I have dreamed life would be and this has shattered another dream but I will get through it and if you are here you will get through this. We are resilient wives and I am blessed to call many of these wives friends.  

Submitted By: Anonymous