Tag Archives: anxiety

When The Fog Burns Off

Several weeks ago, my husband called me while I was at work.
Nothing unusual about that.

However, this time his voice was broken and quiet and he said, “Something happened.”

My mind raced within a microsecond of what could possibly have happened. My throat closed. My stomach flipped.

Before the sobs took hold and the line went dead, he managed to tell me of the memory that the fog had shrouded from him since the incident happened in Kosovo back in 1999.

My own silent panic raged inside of me while I dropped everything at work and sped home. He was no longer answering the phone. The more I tried, the faster I drove. Even if we had someone who could go check on him, I knew he was in no state to answer the door. Had I called 911 and had a sheriff go out, it probably could have made things a thousand times worse. I just had to get home as fast as I could.

I already had a plan in my head if I were to get pulled over by the police for speeding. I would have handed them my driver’s license and told them to meet me at my house because my husband was in full PTSD meltdown and I needed to get there as fast as I could. (Honestly, in hindsight, I probably should have called 911 to let them know what I was doing. Not sure how that would have ended though. Would they have come to the house? Would it have made TheHubs worse?)

Once I got home, I found him huddled under the covers, won’t come out from under them. I called his VA doctor and between me talking with him and the nurse talking with him while I held the phone to his ear, we finally calmed him down.

But that memory of his time in Kosovo, that memory that his brain had protected him from, still lingers.

PTSD never gets better. No amount of therapy or drugs can make it so. I don’t care what the VA says. PTSD is something that will haunt the person for the rest of their lives. They, alone, are the only ones who can manage it. Living with someone who suffers PTSD is not so haunting, but it does affect everyone it touches in some way. Those of us who live with, and love, someone who suffers with these demons has to learn to adjust. And the only way to learn is through communication between everyone involved.

I am blessed that he is comfortable enough, trusts me enough, to share with me his demons. But I am also cursed with the knowledge of those demons and knowing that I will never be able to take them from him.

LadyJai

 

 

Related Articles you may like:

Our Story
PTSD or Moral Injury
Anxiety, Depression, and Secondary PTSD

Where Did the Magical Season Go?

So, can this day/week/season hurry up and be over with already?

Every year I hide behind my words – <Insert Holiday Title Here> is nothing but a commercialized guilt trip and we should celebrate love, kindness, thankfulness, gratefulness, family, friends, and whatever else, EVERY day.

Yeah, just words. Sort of.

In all honesty, I have always disliked many holidays. I dislike Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents day, Boss’s Day, Administrative Assistance Day, and any other day you can think of. The truth of it all is, it’s a holiday that people adopt so they can party (like St. Patrick’s Day, or Cinco De Mayo), or it’s a day that all the retailers try to lure you in with “savings” to get your money or guilt trip you into buying something for your love or your child and if you don’t, you suck.

And it seems to be worse around Christmas.

My heart and soul must live in a different time period, especially around Christmas time.  The magic of the season is everything to me. You know what I mean. Old movies like HOLIDAY INN or WHITE CHRISTMAS, or the kind you see in a Thomas Kinkade painting, and all the stories of miracles happening around Christmas. A quaint little neighborhood. A blanket of virgin snow. A single trail down the center of the road that leads to the horse-drawn carriage. Christmas lights and decorations lining the streets and warming the houses. Everyone smiling and wishing passersby a Merry Christmas, helping those who needed help, and giving a small gift of friendship in any form. Friends and family circling round the fireplace drinking hot apple cider, singing Christmas carols, and sharing in the warmth of the love. Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.

Oh to see the world through my childhood eyes again.

To set the record straight, It’s not just about the lack of presents. With all due respect, presents under the tree is only a tiny part of that ideal Christmas image in my head. With each passing year, though, the magic of the holiday seasons grows more distant and unattainable. Decorations, still packed away in boxes stored in the garage, are left untouched for years. The lack of cold and snow, does nothing to put me in the mood either. I have no motivation. And when I do, I do it all alone. And now, while the desire is there, that little voice inside my head says, “what’s the point?”

I no longer like going out window shopping, just to enjoy the decorations or looking for ideas for my own house. There are way too many people. It would be ok if everyone was happy it was Christmas time. But now, everyone is so rude, and a thousand times worse during this season. It spurs anxiety in both TheHubs and I.

PTSD and Pain have ruined this time of year for me. TheHubs only feels 3 emotions: rage, despair, and nothing. He doesn’t get into decorating, socializing, or celebrating anymore. This, in turn, makes me not want to put in the effort. Maybe it’s the lack of UV light, the drab days, the lack of color all around, that adds to the depressive state. They do talk a lot about this time of year being worse for depression. So maybe that’s part of it. But I also know that seeing your loved one in constant pain, suffering his demons, and hardly ever seeing the smile on his lips and twinkle in his eye, well, you just let it slip through and wish it were all over so you can get back to the everyday life without seeing everyone else’s Christmas cheer.

This year has been especially hard, making this holiday season a bit worse for wear.  We’ve been through some seriously trying times. Communication is the only way to get through it. And while the PTSD Rage Monster flares bright, I wondered if we’d ever get back to that point. But we did. We both opened up. We both are constantly working on our communication. But while you’re smack in the midst of living the hell, it is hard to see the light. There were several of these times throughout the year. More than we’ve had in a very, very long time.

And then there were all the medical issues.

For me, luckily, this year was pretty simple. Just a few follow-ups with my Psychiatrist and adjustments to my meds–which at this time, I am not going to up them because of the price. It’s like two completely different prescriptions, even though it’s the same medication. One strength dose in the morning, a different one in the evening. But, it’s on a higher tier in the formulary so I have to fork out a bit of money for that. (And don’t even get me started on next year’s medical insurance.)

When TheBoy started school this year, he also started complaining about his feet hurting. It wasn’t until about a week in that it got so bad he called us from the nurses office saying he couldn’t walk anymore. We took him to a podiatrist and that’s when we found out he has incredibly flat feet (like his father) and loose tendons (like his mother). Luckily, the doctor had a quick and permanent fix, giving him an arch and correcting his feet to hopefully not have pain. It would require surgery on both feet. And now was the best time for him to have it since he’s still growing. He’s already had one surgery, and his second is on Dec 8th. (if you want to read about this condition, you can see the pictures here)

And then we found out he needed braces. UGH!

On top of all this, we also have to foot the bill for what the VA doesn’t cover for TheHubs. All his medications, and the neurologist he’s been seeing for a little over 10 years. His Botox injections, and pain medications. He also had surgery in September to help correct his severely deviated septum, which was supposed to help his apnea and we were hoping to alleviate the positional pain that came from sleeping since he would now be able to breath out of his nose while sleeping on his belly. It helped somewhat, but nothing to write home about.

So, our bank account has been pretty much wiped out — of course adding to my already discouragement for this season.

So when TheBoy comes to me, without prompting, and says he would be fine with nothing for his birthday and Christmas, an instant surge of pride is quickly replaced with a great sadness because I know with all these medical and dental bills that are going on I cannot afford to get him something, or anyone else either.

This season is about giving. And I do so love to give, whether it be a present, a smile, a hug, a positive thought. I am happiest when I am giving and helping people. I am happy making others happy. Sometimes, though, I would love if everyone else felt the same way I do.

When I started writing this post, it was so very negative. I couldn’t see the positive, and wondered if I would ever feel any Christmas spirit again. After getting it out, admitting it, I realize that just like being positive in everyday life, being happy on Christmas is a conscious decision. So today, I am making that decision – the decision to try to enjoy the season and not focus on my dreams.

I am going to try to make other people happy. Maybe it will help me get back into the spirit of the season. If I can buy someone’s coffee while I’m out shopping, or find a homeless vet who hangs out on the corner near the mall and give them $20. Or get back to leaving my Positive Post-It Notes around town while we are out and about…*IF* we are out and about. I really want to be able to share the positive and the happy and give someone a smile. The more people who see kindness, maybe it will spread and the rudeness will diminish?

I honestly believe in karma and “what goes around comes around”. I just have to be patient. And patience is not my best quality.

One can only hope, though.

So I am going to ask you to do the same. Maybe it might help you too. Be kind to everyone. You never know what their story is.

Be kind. Smile often. And spread the happiness.

LadyJai

If you’re willing, I would love to hear your stories as well. Let us all feel not so alone, especially during this holiday season so we can have a little bit of light in the PTSD darkness. Love you all.

Related Articles you may like:
Holidays
Christmas 2014
The Secret to Marriage
Finding the Positives

Present – Part2

In April, I wrote about being present. While I still struggle with the need to fix and make him happy, I am also seeing just how much being there has been a great help to him. It’s a constant struggle. But always, I must remember that single, solitary word when it comes to him…
PRESENT

Last week, I had a very big eye opener. It was quite coincidental when an 18-year-old Australian Model’s story went viral. I was very moved by this article. She had an epiphany and spoke the truth about how she lost herself in social media, how it consumed her identity, and made her so unhappy. It also woke me up to my own problems with social media. But this was only the beginning. My friend, Cheyenne, also posted her response to the model’s article. Like I said, it was coincidental because that same week, TheHubs came to me about how much time I spend on social media and how he feels neglected because of it.

I had to re-evaluate the time I spend on social media.

Because I am a caregiver, I don’t have the luxury of in-real-life friends. My friends live in my computer/phone. It is my connection to others outside of work and my home. I really don’t have friends that I hang out with. Sure I have a few friends at work. But our external interaction is null. So I rely on social media to keep up-to-date and in contact with my friends online. Over the years, we’ve lost all our friends due to his chronic pain, migraines, PTSD, and anxiety. He used to be our friend-maker. I’ve had to learn how. But, since no one understands our situation, his pain, his anxiety and PTSD, well, people only accept so many nos until they stop trying. So, I rely heavily on social media to have friendships.

Being present isn’t just about being physically there for him. It also means being there mentally. Ever since I got a new position at work that requires more responsibility, I’ve not had any down time where I could actually take a break, let alone eat lunch on time, so my social presence has been null while I worked. On one hand, this is good because I am not bored and I am doing my job, despite the drama that stems from those I work with now. On the other, though, I catch up on social media when I get home, I’ve neglected my writing, and now, I find out that he feels neglected, too.

So when we had our discussion about how much time I have my nose in my phone and not paying him attention and after I read that article about the model’s change of heart, and then my friend’s response to it, I knew I needed to take a time out.

It’s been hard to keep that phone off while I sit back and watch something TheHubs loves but I just don’t. It’s hard not to pick up the phone every few minutes to see what has been posted recently on Facebook or Twitter. I’m not 100% there yet, but I think I am doing better. I NEED to do better, for him. I need to be present, in every way possible. Because, when we stop being present, their hope fades, their demons rise, and they start listening to them again.

I’m not gone. I’m just a little less here. 😛
I hope you can remember all this, too.
Be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others.

Related Articles you may like:
Present
Unworthy
Overwhelmed
Anxiety, Depression, And Secondary PTSD
You Are Not Alone
My poem about depression and hope, entitled Pieces

LadyJai

Been A While – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 23 Oct 2015

I love finding all the beauty and positives despite the tempest that is our lives. ‪#‎bepositive‬

It’s been a while…too long, since I’ve been here to update my blog.
I miss it. Terribly.

You see, sometimes, life gets in the way of the things you want to do. For caregivers, though, that seems to happen a lot more often than not.

These last three months for me have been extremely stressful. My position at work was taken away because it was no longer needed. So they found me a new position. I had to learn the job and then, because I am a fixer, I am now finding processes that will make everything work smoother. However, the push-back I am getting, or rather, the lack of any movement has been causing me undue stress. I’ve brought all my concerns up to my team lead, but I feel as though I am receiving lip service. Nothing has changed.

Not only that, but I have been introduced to “man drama.” I did not know men could be worse than the women I’ve seen in my lifetime. Oh boy. So add that to the stress.

And then, there’s TheHubs’ pain levels. He went back in for his Botox treatment for his neck muscles that are in constant lock up. However, we’ve been noticing that there are different muscle groups that lock up each time he has the procedure done. He asked for more this last time. His neurologist told him that he’s at the maximum allowable dosage for the Botox injections. If he were to receive more, or more frequently, then he could build up anti-bodies which will then make him more tolerant to its effects. But, they did work out that rather than giving him the injections in the same locations every time, the doctor will only put the injections in the muscles that are locked up from now on. So we shall see how that will go.

TheBoy started school mid-August. A week later he began complaining that his feet hurt. A week later, he couldn’t walk without pain. We took him in, had x-rays and found that he had extremely flat feet and very loose ligaments. He had been in braces on both feet since. Last Friday, he had surgery on one foot. It is an amazing procedure, I never knew existed!

flatfoot_optionBasically, there is a small piece of metal, much in the shape of a bullet with grooves along the side, that is inserted in between the hollow space in the ankle where it nestles in and prevents the overpronation problem, giving him a sturdy ankle and an actual arch.

This is basically what the before and after will look like for TheBoy

MBAsurg5 podchildren

So, what little things am I celebrating?

  • I’m happy the surgery went well, that he’s in very little pain, and that this first surgery is over.
  • Well, let’s see. There’s the fact that I had a hard time letting go of something. It had me in tears nearly every day because I just couldn’t understand the reason why it happened. I am celebrating the fact that I am no longer in the grieving stage of this loss. I have moved on to the acceptance stage. Am I still sad, yes. But it no longer holds a grip on me.
  • I am also celebrating that I stepped out of my comfort zone. I am horrible at confrontation. I avoid it at all cost. Well, work was costing me my health. I had to do something. So, I actually took it to my lead, and let him know how I felt in this new position and how the “team” was not a team. Now that I got it out in the open, I’ve been watching. And, honestly, I didn’t think anything would change. But I spoke my mind. It’s been a month now, and my next step is going to my manager. I have been documenting everything. I really hate doing this, but it’s affecting not just me, but the entire team, plus a one more team that we interact with very much.
  • I’m celebrating my work from home week. A week I get to spend at home to help take care of TheBoy after his surgery, as well as work. Another reason my stress seems to have lessened.
  • And, last but not least, I am celebrating that I have managed to lower my resting heartbeat from an average of 90 bpm to 69 bpm, just by lowering my stress levels.

What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:

Sharing Memories – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 19 June 2015
The Secret to Marriage
You Are Not Alone!

No Longer Supporting the Bully Supporter

NEVER BE BULLIED

I wrote a guest post on one of the Support Group blogs that went live on July 22nd. I am now wishing that I never wrote it. Or at the very least, never agreed to having them post it, because really, that whole love and loyalty to my support group that I spoke about in it, the whole finding light in the darkness and a home, has been shattered beyond repair.

It all started coming to a head on July 26th when one of the moderators was let go from the parent company (PC), without warning, without any notice. PC turned our little group completely upside down. It was handled very badly in my opinion. A person who never participates in the group, is not part of our family, swoops in and basically says “trust us it’s for the best” but fails to give any explanation or even forewarning. Trust is not automatic. It’s earned. And for someone to come in and say that, how can you expect us to just say “ok” and go on with our lives? Really? In a caregiver support group, where change is really NOT ok. We have to plan. Our whole lives get upset when change, especially drastic change, upsets the balance we so carefully curate.

We, the group members, spent the remainder of the day and night trying to process it all and get PC to understand that how they handled this situation was incredibly bad. While our words to them seemed to have fallen on deaf ears, and probably nothing will be done to get our mod back, SHE KNOWS we love her and fought for her. SHE KNOWS the truth of it all and SHE KNOWS that we can see through the tip-toeing around, the changing stories, and the excuses.

That incident tore my loyalty in two. While I loved my support group family and those who started it, how can I remain loyal to the parent company who disrupted our family and refuses to speak the truth or acknowledge the fact that they handled the situation very, very wrong?

There have been other incidents prior to this that the majority overlooked. A particular individual would be nice one minute and rage and lash out at someone the next. I have been on the receiving end of that rage several times. While I do my best to remain calm and nice in my replies, the line was crossed several times. I eventually stopped responding. But sometimes the moderator had to step in because I am trying to change my self-image. I am trying to stand up for myself and not let people walk all over me. I am trying to face my fear of confrontation. I do remember one time, though, she crossed the line so far that I ended up stooping to her level and I regret that. After that incident, I blocked her for a while. It was nice and peaceful. But being the type of person I am, who thrives on helping other people, I unblocked her and just watched. I watched her go from nice to snapping people’s heads off in a matter of seconds and nothing ever got done about it.

We were a support group to help others deal with caring for their veterans. When this individual first started her seemingly random attacks at people in our group, I asked the moderator if anything could be done. They said they handled it behind the scenes. But she was allowed to remain. Her attacks still came. One day, one moment, she would be nice and sweet and generally want the help or give help. The next day or moment she’d flip. I get that she may have her own issues. I get that the loudest, most cruel person, could very possibly need the most help. But to attack the people who are trying to support you is NOT the way to go about it.

The moderators always asked for tolerance and acceptance. Well, Tolerance and acceptance works both ways. But apparently not many people see it that way. We ALL have done our best. All of the people who I have spoken with about this individual. We have all TRIED to be nice, accept her, offer a shoulder but what do we get in return? Snapped at, bullied, and abused. And from our perspective, the moderators continually took her side. In essence, they spit in the rest of the group’s face.

I stood up for myself and others in the group. I spoke what everyone else was thinking. I gave my honest opinion. MY PERSPECTIVE. And what do I get in return? For voicing my opinion on a subject, for voicing my perspective where the moderator asked and stated that there will be no judgement, no criticism, I felt both of those. I will not back down on my stance, nor will I give in. I will not stop fighting for MY FAMILY. To allow this toxicity to continue in the group, has made it unsafe for me, for anyone. I will no longer support the support group or the PC. I cannot tolerate bullies, in any form.

I was told that “Perspective isn’t truth.” I don’t see it that way. Perspective is truth to the one who perceives it. Truth is always relative. You have to be willing to see things from multiple angles. And I believe that this is what is wrong with today’s society. No one is willing to budge in their views on anything. Because I voiced my perspective, and it didn’t mesh with hers, then I was belittled, judged, and criticized. There was no compromise.

I WILL NOT BACK DOWN! That woman’s anger, her rage, and her cruelty poisoned our community, our family. And they allowed it to happen. Over. And. Over. And. Over. Again. We tolerated enough. I was not going to allow it any more. I wanted to save our community. To save our family and make it safe again. How can it be safe when someone bullies you in the group? When someone verbally abuses someone else in the group. I can’t stand by and watch that happen anymore. The group is no longer SAFE.

All I know is that I’m done. I’ve said everything I can say and they will not budge. They’ve hurt me to my core. My heart breaks because I really loved this group. Before I found this support group, I was utterly alone in the world. I did not think anyone would understand me and I went to a very dark place. When I found this group, I found Beth, I started understanding and things were getting better. I started helping people understand that what they were going through, living, and feeling, that they weren’t alone. No one should ever feel like I felt before this group.

I haven’t felt this hurt since right after my son was born and Iost yet another friend to some random reason. And I haven’t had a friend since. When I open my heart up again, this is what happens. Always. It has hurt my soul and trusting anyone new is going to be so hard again. I know I will come back to it. I always do. But right now I am grieving.

I am honest. I am true. I am loyal. And my greatest weakness is that I believe every one should be, too. I am thankful for the support group and the PC, to allow me to meet new people and connect, with people who truly understood me. I am thankful for that. But it has changed. for me at least. And I have to stand up for myself and not get walked all over any more.

I need a new home. If you can recommend one, please let me know. I cannot go this caregiver path alone again.I'm enoughLadyJai

Related Articles you may like:

You Are Not Alone!

Pain – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 31 July 2015

 

Pain.

It affects everyone differently.

For me, it always wears me down, makes me just want to curl up in my bed under the covers, cuddle with my pillows and kitties, and sleep until I don’t hurt anymore. I’ve only had a few bouts of pain that would wake me up in the middle of the night or keep me from sleeping altogether. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones.

Add to the normal stress of being a woman, working full-time, being a Mom and wife, being a caregiver has its own issues. One of my fellow veteran caregivers called it caregiver-itis. That’s when all the stress of doing everything manifests into physical symptoms. I’ve got it. Sure enough. But my doctor has labeled it – Fibromyalgia. And it is rearing its ugly head right about now. Every part of my being is hypersensitive at the moment. I’ve got stress and tension headaches and my neck is killing me. And I’m struggling to even have the energy to type all this. But that’s only the major things. There’s too many other things I could list.

Right now, I believe it has everything to do with my new position at work. I have a deep seeded fear of failing. But with therapy and learning more about myself, I’ve learned how to (hopefully) cope with this. I’ve been working this new position now for a week. I’ve actually started feeling a bit more comfortable in my new position and understanding what it is I am supposed to be doing, that isn’t getting done, and getting people to accept me and the process (which is like trying to get out of quicksand while you’re running) but it will get there. It IS getting there. It’s the first time I’ve felt good about a new job, where I am NOT afraid of failing (as much as I used to anyway). I did have a small slip back into my old ways on Monday, but I’m better now. Much better because I feel like I really am understanding. But because of all the stress, it’s caused all the pain to flare up and I am struggling to even have energy to type all this. I’ve handled this a whole lot better than I ever have. Even WITH the fibro flaring up, it’s something to celebrate.

As for TheHubs, though, he suffers insomnia on top of the pain. I’m sure not sleeping exacerbates the pain. It sure doesn’t help his depression and PTSD. Dealing with all this has left him in a rut. His insomnia has full on raged and I miss my husband. For the last two months he’s been unable to sleep, and when he does it’s more like he passes out from sheer exhaustion.

Most couples don’t think twice about sharing a bed. Heck, they probably take it for granted and maybe even complain about who hogs the covers. In our life, sharing a bed at the same time is something to be treasured. It always goes in cycles and we never know how long it’s going to last. There’s never any way to fix it, either. We just have to ride it out. But, oh, how I miss him.

This round, I think it’s been a couple of months already. He started out with the pain again. And then he had surgery on his nose. He’s a stomach sleeper so staying in the recliner would prevent him from hurting his nose. It’s been about 3 weeks since his surgery and now he’s back to the chronic pain and migraines, again. But last night, when he started falling asleep in his recliner, I got him upstairs and in the bed with me. I love it. When he’s not cycling insomnia, we cuddle for a bit and then roll over to go to sleep. I’m always too hot anymore to snuggle for long. When he is cycling the insomnia, though, he’s asleep in a matter of seconds. But before he takes that plunge, his feet touch mine in our own special snuggling way.

Even if he only slept for 4 hours, he still shared the bed with me. And that’s something to celebrate.

What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:

Sharing Memories – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 19 June 2015
The Secret to Marriage
You Are Not Alone!

Financials & A New Car – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 10 July 2015

I don’t know if you are familiar with my Many Hats Series of posts. There is one in particular that I would like to reference, today, because it is the back story of what I am celebrating. If you have the opportunity, please read the Accountant story, so you can get a better understanding of just how elated I am today. How proud I am of both TheHubs and I. Especially TheHubs.

We spent a good 5 years paying down our debt. When we bought our house 4 years ago, our credit score was horrendous. Not sure how we managed a 5% interest rate, but I was thankful for it. Two years ago, we bought a brand new car and our credit score had increased dramatically. Our credit card debt was nearly paid off by then. Of course I was proud of everything we’ve accomplished, the fact that I was able to say no to my husband when it was an absolute must, the fact he didn’t buy stuff anyway. There have been a few slips along the way, but we managed and I made sure I reiterate every time it happens. Sometimes I still have to put it all down on paper to show him exactly how much he’s spent because of his memory issues. But he has made the most progress over these last 5 years and I am so very proud of him. I make sure I tell him.

We’ve been considering getting a new car for a while now. TheHubs didn’t get everything he wanted in the car we got, plus there have been some pretty major issues already with the 2013 model. When we took our car in to the dealer to get some warranty work done two days ago, we wanted to see what was available to us and see how much of a difference it would be to upgrade. When they ran our credit and came back with the report, my knees literally buckled and I had to sit down. I never thought I’d see those numbers associated with our names. Beyond ecstatic. That’s all I could come up with what I was feeling.

The salesman ran the finance numbers and payment options and we decided. Four hours after we dropped off our car at the service department we had a new 2016 model. Near identical to our existing car.

Say goodbye to Double-Oh TARDIS (right) and say hello to Double-Oh TARDIS 2.0 (left)!!!!

Double-Oh TARDIS

What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:
Accountant — The Many Hats Series
Sharing Memories – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 12 June 2015
The Secret to Marriage

PTSD Or Moral Injury

I’ve been in Veteran Caregiver support groups for a little over a year now. I see a lot of the same thought processes with our veterans, same issues, same emotions. While their experiences might not be identical, they are similar and carry on the same depressive patterns, the same thought patterns.

I’ve heard many veterans say something along the lines of, “It should have been me,” or “I deserve it all,” or “it’s my fault,” or even “God hates me.” A world of untruths swim through their brains and rarely escape their self-talk. When they do, their spouses/caregivers are left not knowing what to do or how to respond. No amount of “no” or “that’s not true”, or any variation, will sink in to their heart and let them believe that they don’t deserve this punishment, thus compounding their physical pain with emotional.

The things they’ve seen, the things they’ve done, all while in the danger zone could cause them to go against their core values of good and evil. Even though they may have seen some horrible things, or even possibly done some horrible things, it was all done to save lives. But in their heart, they know it’s wrong and it’s damaged their soul so deep that they can’t see any way to atone for that sin. They feel shame so great it consumes them. It’s like they are punishing themselves for everything they saw, everything they did or didn’t do. Punishment, or atoning for their sins. However you look at it, it’s a constant battle raging between logic and emotion. Logically, they know what they saw or did they had to do. Emotionally, they know it was wrong. And as I always say, the logical and the emotional brain never play nice with one another.

People call it Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. But PTSD stems from life-threatening fear. And while there is plenty of fear associated with war, the military, with combat and hazardous zones, that fear can be addressed and become manageable and livable. What I’ve been seeing lately, though, is not necessarily fear, but more guilt and shame. It’s those things that the veteran has bore witness to, failed to prevent, or even committed that can tear their psyche apart.

David Wood says that “moral injury is a violation of what each of us considers right or wrong.”  PTSD has been recognized since the 1980s. Unfortunately, DoD has yet to recognize moral injury as a separate diagnosis. Doctors seem to always treat the wound, but never address the underlying cause, so it continually festers. The wound will sometimes scab over and things will look like they’ve gone back to a normal balance. Without addressing and finding ways to cope with that black spot, finding a way to accept it for what it is, thoughts will always chafe it and the wound begins to ooze, bringing the depression back to the forefront of everything once again.

It’s like putting a band-aide on a severed limb. If you’ve been in the military any length of time you’ll know what I’m talking about. Motrin, the wonder drug. That’s the go-to medication for any pain you go in to sick call or the hospital for. Military or civilian, it doesn’t matter. Motrin will fix it. If it doesn’t then you go back and go back and go back. We’ve been out now for almost 13 years and have been treated at both the VA and civilian doctors. We’ve only experienced one doctor who was baffled at the cause of his migraines. It wasn’t until about a year ago when he ordered a full head and neck MRI that he realized what was causing them. This doctor was the only one who wanted to get to the bottom of the why. Unfortunately, we are still at the same place with that. There’s no real way to fix it. We just try to manage the pain.

Not so easy for what they suffer alone in the darkness, though. It’s not something they want to talk about. It’s not pretty. It’s not politically correct. It makes the veteran uncomfortable. It makes the listener uncomfortable. If we never see or hear about it, it never happened, right? Wrong. Sweeping the undesirable under the rug doesn’t make it go away. It’s always there. For those living it, for those living with it. That truth is a lump under the carpet we try to avoid, but sometimes trip over. The truth is the truth, whether spoken or unspoken. The truth hurts. The truth is ugly. War is ugly. But it’s something that must be done at times and rather than ignore the problems that come from it, we should educated, understand, empathize, and help. Who are we to judge? Who are we to say what warrants this punishment or if it’s distorted? It is what it is and we must treat it. But the world always judges and that’s what keeps them in the dark.

This is going to take a long time to learn how to deal with. All we can do is be present. So, I’m here, always by his side. I am doing my best to help keep his hope alive, to help him see that what he did, or didn’t do, is not his fault, it’s not God punishing him, and that he doesn’t deserve it. I will offer my forgiveness, even though that’s not the forgiveness he needs. I will offer up that God forgives everything, all he has to do is ask. But it’s not enough. It’s never enough.

It hurts my heart deeply to see the torment TheHubs goes through. I know I will probably never know it all. What I do know is that I will forever be by his side, no matter what. He has to come to terms with it all and believe that he did what he had to do and did it well and honorably. He has to believe that what he couldn’t control is through no fault of his own, and his actions were always honorable even though someone else acted too late. He has to believe that he doesn’t deserve the punishment he’s putting himself through because of the situations he lived through. I cannot make him believe these things. I can only reinforce them and keep telling him, and hope that one day he will believe. Once this happens, he can be at peace, I think. Until then, I will continue my fight for him.

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:
Present
You Are Not Alone
My poem about depression and hope, entitled Pieces
Moral Injury: The Grunts
Moral Injury: Healing

My Greatest Fear

whatareyouafraidof

I’m a writer. It’s what I do. It’s how I process. It’s not always about my stories.

Recently, I happened across an article that talked about the fears that motivate our characters. Now we’re not talking about the fear of spiders or heights. I wrote about fear, once. It didn’t go deep enough. We’re talking about fundamental fears, the things that scare us the most, that shape our personalities and our decisions. It has given me insight into my own character – Me. But can I change it? That is a huge question. Well, maybe not change it, but at a minimum try to combat how I react to certain things.

This past week has put me back in my darkness, where I can no longer see hope. But I keep trying to reach out and find something, anything to grasp. Just when I thought I was learning how to better communicate, my whole world is turned upside down and I am forced back into a place where I can no longer get that communication across, either because I failed to say the right thing or because the other side has blocked me out. Either way, I’m lost. Without communication, we cannot progress, we cannot grow, we cannot change, and we cannot expect to have any type of relationship, with anyone.

My heart breaks.

So what is it I fear most?

I am afraid, oh so afraid, of being unloved.

According to David Wisehart, those characters whose greatest fear is of being unloved are called The Helper. He goes on to say,

These characters want most of all to be loved. To achieve this, they give love to others, expecting others to give love back. But no other type is as giving as they are. These generous characters may be disappointed by what they get in return. At times they may be manipulative and vindictive.

Helpers want most of all to be loved. They are people-pleasers. In an effort to get love, they give it first, fully expecting love in return. This bargain remains assumed and unacknowledged until the issue is forced to the surface by the Helper’s growing resentment. No one but another Helper can match their giving nature, so they often feel used, surrounded by a world of heartless takers. This is when their personality can pivot toward vindictiveness.

At their worst, Helpers are possessive, manipulative victims.

At their best, Helpers are generous, caring, and insightful.

I’m still trying to process the why of this fear. Where did it come from? Both my parents love me. I was never neglected. No, so far from that it was just the opposite. So that’s not it. But maybe it has to do with being an only child? Moving around every 4 years and losing touch with every friend I ever made? I think both of those play a major role in the development of this fear.

Being an only child meant I was alone most of my life. I had to learn to play by myself. I had to learn to rely only on me. Most of my friends lived inside books. The ones in real life, well, they came and went. Some friendships lasted 6 months, some a year, and then if I got really lucky, some would last through two duty stations, which meant about 6 years. I’ve never had the luxury of a childhood friend, a best friend, someone who would always be there for me.

So maybe I built defense mechanisms? Since I knew the only one I could count on, ever, is me, I only listened to me. Decisions, problem solving, directions, all were made by me, and me alone. It could very easily be the reason why some friendships didn’t last as long as they could. Because I expected them not to last.

Expectation is not the norm in the issues that have arisen of late. I mean, come on, 25 years and he’s still here. So why can’t I get it through my thick head he isn’t going to leave me? Well, that’s because those mechanisms seem to still be hanging around. That fear is my rock, my foundation. I guess I always knew it; but putting a name to it, validating it with proof, well that’s another thing.

These last two years have been a journey of discovering what makes me tick, as well as what makes him tick. I thought this was all progress. I truly thought we were working better at this whole communication thing. But I guess, he’s been holding so much back about me, letting me make all the decisions, for so long, for whatever fear he has, that he couldn’t take it anymore.

I’m selfish. I’m stupid. I’m inconsiderate. I never think about anyone else but myself.

As for being inconsiderate and never thinking about anyone other than myself. Well, that is so far from the truth. Everything I do is to please everyone else. That’s my downfall. Logically, I know you can please some of the people some of the time but you can never please all the people all the time. Still, my heart tries so hard to do the latter. Everything I do, I do out of love. Some of these decisions may be centered around me and I’m blinded to that fact, but in the end I don’t do it thinking solely of me. Yes, I’m stubborn. If I get an idea in my head I run head strong with it. I’m bull-headed. Always been told so. When something ticks me off, say a car that has broken down over and over and over again that we put so much money into I get fed up and just go out and buy a new car. I ask for input. I guess over the years with these major decisions, he’s given me less and less input. I get so frustrated at the “whatever” responses I get. So I just do. And that probably gets me in trouble, too.

I have told myself I am stupid countless times since I was young. Now, though, I know this is not true. I am doing my best to stop thinking this way about myself. Sometimes it’s hard when consequences of my actions, or words, rear up and show themselves. Yes, I’ve made some stupid decisions. Yes, I’ve said some stupid things. Haven’t we all? It doesn’t make us entirely stupid. Right?

As for selfish? That’s a whole lot harder to push down. I wrote about only some of the things I feel selfish about, before. Only child syndrome, I guess. I can’t recognize it when I’m doing it, so I wish someone would point it out to me. Yes, I might get upset, at first. But I need it. I need to know in order to change.

So why did he bottle it all up and never confront me? Maybe he didn’t want to upset me. But how will I know what needs to change? How can we compromise? How can I learn to recognize these behaviors and work on changing them? First off, acknowledging them, even here on the blog, helps. They become tangible, real. Rather than something fleeting in my mind. They always say, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right? So I hope I can change for the better.

What is his greatest fear?

What’s yours?

Related Articles you may like:
Fear
Selfish
Guilt
9 Character Types That Will Improve Your Story

LadyJai

PS: In light of this weeks issues, I am foregoing a post dedicated to Celebrate the Small Things. Please forgive me. It’s been a very, VERY rough week. I’m processing and recovering. However, I will say that I am celebrating peace returning. But there is a new challenge that we must deal with. We will get through it, together!

Present

I am a fixer.

That’s what my therapist calls me.

I like to make sure everything runs smoothly. If something is wrong, it is my responsibility to make it right. I tend to keep order and peace amongst everyone in the house. If I cannot keep things going as planned, if I can’t keep everyone happy, if I can’t calm the anger or ease the depression, it’s always been my fault. In my eyes, I am guilty – guilty of creating the mess, guilty of being unable to fix the mess. I hold a perfect standard to myself, and no one else. And I’ve burdened myself with the weight of the world.

Not only do I resemble Atlas; I also torture myself like Sisyphus. It’s a never-ending battle of burden. Powering through the rough times, pushing the darkness away, carrying the load for everyone up hill only to have it all come crashing around me again. But what do I do? I don’t give up. I find my hope and keep going. And the cycle continues.

In my research of this Fixer-type personality, I ran across these words: “Most Fixers believe deep inside that they will only be loved for what they do, not for the person they are.” This is so me! Re-learning how I view myself is one of the hardest things I have ever attempted to do. Seeing his pain, his torment, our situation as “NOT MY FAULT” is one I must work on daily. I think I’ve gotten better over the last year; but I do falter every now and again. I’m learning to recognize those words, analyse the situation, and truly see that maybe it really isn’t my fault. Man is it hard!

This seems to be a common theme in my group of caregiver friends. We all seem to desire to “fix” our veteran. We feel so helpless when they get angry, when they get depressed, when they refuse our positive words of hope, when they push away any opportunity or kindness, when they seem to have given up. We seem to think it is always our responsibility to lift them up, to turn their anger to calm, their depression to happiness, their bleakness to hope. When they refuse us, we consider ourselves a failure.

Why can’t we love them enough to make everything better? If loving someone was enough to cure what ails, we could do away with the VA! Or even hospitals, doctors, nurses, therapists. But, alas, this is never, EVER going to be the case. My logical brain knows that love is no cure for anything. My heart always says otherwise. They never play nice. Pitting one against the other. For me, the heart always wins out. I am an emotional critter, wearing my heart on my sleeve.

Because the situation, his pain, his depression is not my fault, I’m learning to quiet the emotion and listen to logic. I doubt I will rid myself of my nature, but I can learn to listen, learn to hear the logic. It is something I confront daily. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not my fault. Sometimes out loud, even.

There is a single word my therapist says to me when I start trying to over control everything, when I start my “fixing,” when I start worrying that everything isn’t going as planned, or I can’t help TheHubs enough. One word that I have to remember, repeat, and believe.

PRESENT

All that is required when you love someone with PTSD, depression, chronic pain, is being present. I love him. He knows that. I want to make him feel better. He knows that. But me berating myself because I can’t make him feel better is not helping him in the least. All I can do is sit by his side, holding his hand, and loving him. THAT is what makes him feel better, even if it doesn’t take away the physical or emotional pain. My love for him is what gets him through each day. It is his guiding light through his never-ending darkness. It is what keeps him here, that I am the reason he lived. He has told me all of this countless times.

Why is it so hard for me to understand the depth of his love for me? Why can I not accept that he loves me so deeply? Why is it that I hold myself to such a high standard, a level so high that it is impossible to obtain, and always feel crushed when I cannot reach it? I am learning to step back, take a breath, close my eyes and evaluate myself. Am I placing too much blame on me? Am I carrying too much of the burden that is not mine? Am I lying to myself, creating false guilt with false evidence? Am I being too harsh, bullying myself into submission? Am I seeing things inaccurately, through the lens of my own high standards?

I keep saying “I am learning to…” and I really am. I am learning a lot of things about me through this blog, through my therapist, and through my actions. I’m learning to reshape my thinking. I don’t foresee an end to my learning or practicing. If I can make this a habit, I won’t let it overwhelm me to the breaking point, like I did last time.

Being positive is the hardest thing to do…ever. But even more so when you can’t see any light in that dark tunnel. Now, here’s something to consider. What is ever easy that is worth it? Do your treasure something that was easily obtained? Or do you pride yourself in all that you have overcome? Each day is a struggle and a choice. Some days are harder than others. When you are faced with that darkness and you feel it smothering you, I am here to be your beacon.

Going through all of this and coming out on the other side of darkness has given me the strength to help others again. Giving advice is so easy, now, though I still feel like a hypocrite because I fall down from time to time, not listening to my own advice.

I need to remember the single, solitary word when it comes to him.

PRESENT

All I can be is present. Be there for him. That is enough. I cannot make him get out of his funk. I cannot make him get better. It’s not my fault he feels the way he feels. It’s not my fault he’s not getting better. HE has to be willing to get there himself. All I can do it be present.

I hope you can remember all this, too. Be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others.

Related Articles you may like:
Guilt
Unworthy
Overwhelmed
Anxiety, Depression, And Secondary PTSD
You Are Not Alone
Present Part 2
My poem about depression and hope, entitled Pieces

LadyJai