PTSD vs PTSD

Each of us who knows what it is like living with PTSD finds our own path through it. As we are individuals in every other area of life, we are also individual in the way we respond to having PTSD; how symptoms affect us, how we cope, and how we view the experience.

I have a good friend who has PTSD from his time in the military. His sister has it from being abused as a child. My friend thought she should be on the same page he was because they both have the same disorder. He was frustrated that her coping styles were often maladaptive and weren’t the same as the ones he used. We had quite a discussion on how two people can have the same problem, yet experience it in totally different ways and cope with it in different ways.

For example, her coping mechanisms developed when she was a child, while his were learned as an adult. There is a huge difference there! Yes, some of her ways of coping are maladaptive, but she was totally powerless against her abuser and had no one to help her learn to protect herself.

Having PTSD doesn’t mean we are all going to be alike in our symptoms or our strategies for coping. We will all find our way through as best we can and in light of who we are and what we have to work with.   Fortunately, as we grow, we can all learn new ways to cope and manage our symptoms.

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Why are you Angry?

When you have PTSD, you are in a heightened state of arousal; this is part of the “fight or flight” response to danger. With PTSD, fight or flight doesn’t go away when the danger is gone. It hangs around leaving us in a constant state of alertness. This arousal can affect our sleep, irritability and hypervigilance.

This heightened state of arousal can lead to excessive anger. When that anger gets out of control, it can affect your relationships and you may become aggressive toward others or develop self-destructive behaviors. Substance abuse may be a part of your response, or you may find you want to hurt yourself.

If you are experiencing intense anger, learn to use anger management techniques. You may want to try mindfulness, or talking through your anger with someone you respect. Deep breathing exercises can calm your body. Focusing on something other than your anger can help too. Developing ways to manage your anxiety may also be helpful as intense anger and anxiety are similar emotions that are involved in the fight or flight response.

PTSD intensifies anger. Learning to manage your rage can improve relationships and self-esteem. Take the time to learn ways you can try to manage your anger. Not all of them may work for you, but don’t give up! There are many ways to cope with the anger in PTSD and it’s worthwhile finding them.

Diabetes and Heart Disease

If you have diabetes, statistically you are 2 to 4 times more likely to have heart disease too.

High blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are the main factors that play into increasing your risk of a heart attack.

Having high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can all result in an increase in plaques on the walls of your arteries. This makes blood flow more difficult.

If you have high blood sugar, pressure or cholesterol to begin with, certain lifestyle choices can increase your risk of developing heart disease. If you smoke, it also increases the build-up of plaque on artery walls. In addition, it causes narrowing of the arteries which increases blood pressure.

Lack of exercise contributes to the problem too. When you do not maintain a healthy level of exercise, your blood pressure increases and the added weight you carry makes it more difficult for your body to use the insulin it is producing.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lower risk factors. The first, of course, is to stop smoking.

Keep track of your blood sugar levels and make lifestyle changes to keep blood sugar down.

Monitor your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels. If necessary, change your diet and seek other ways to keep them under control.

Take your medications as directed by your physician. Find a way to remind yourself when it’s time to take them and take the correct dosage. Don’t make changes without consulting your doctor first.

Focus on maintain a healthy diet, eating foods that are low fat, low sugar and are healthy for you.

Get plenty of exercise! Being active helps you keep your weight down and strengthens your heart. Exercising can also help your body release chemicals that lift your mood and help you feel better.

 

PTSD and Learning Difficulties

When you have PTSD, you may find it affects your ability to learn. It is not unusual for individuals with PTSD to have trouble paying attention to what is going on around them. They may find that it is hard to recall words, facts such as appointments, or specific details of past events. They may also find it difficult to concentrate.

One of the main reasons PTSD has such an effect on learning and remembering is related to the level of anxiety you are experiencing. It’s not just that you aren’t paying as close attention to detail as you might, but your brain actually encodes information into your memory differently when you have PTSD.   If you are depressed, or if you use drugs to cope with your emotional pain, you may find that it is even more likely you will have problems with memory and attention.

Sleep disturbances may also be a problem for those with PTSD. When we are tired, we are less alert. That makes it even harder for us to remember details and focus effectively on what’s going on around us.

PTSD can make learning more difficult. Concentration, recall and focusing are all harder and may require treatment to overcome. Fortunately, effective treatments are available. Mindfulness can help calm your anxiety making it easier to concentrate and focus, and other treatments for PTSD can help too.

Learning to Manage Your Anger

Controlling the anger you feel can be difficult, especially when your anger is on a short leash. PTSD often results in anger issues – we are so frustrated with feeling out of control and unable to reconnect with who we were before the trauma. The VA has a new course, AIMS – anger and irritability management skills. This is an on –line course developed specifically for Veterans. You can access the course at www.veterantraining.va.gov/apps/aims.

The course will teach you strategies and give you tools to calm your mind and control your anger. One of the tools we have spoken about before: deep breathing. While you may think it’s too simple to work effectively, deep breathing is something you can do anywhere, any time, and for any length of time without others even knowing you’re doing it! It simply involves taking deep breath through your nose. Holding it a moment or two, the exhaling slowly, through your mouth. As you slow your breathing, you slow your thoughts and your anger will start to fade.

There are more strategies we’ll explore as time goes by. Try those that appeal to you. Even if they aren’t the magical cure you’d like, put them in your anger management tool box and use them when you start feeling out of control. You’ll feel better for it!

Job Seeking for Veterans Using Google

As a new way of supporting veterans, Goggle has recently created a website designed especially to help veterans who are seeking employment, looking to start a business, or begin a career in IT support. Google offers services to help individuals develop their skills and grow their businesses.

These services are being provided by Google to companies and businesses across industries. Veterans can enter their Military Occupational Specialty codes on career sites or corporations, job sites and job boards. Job sites can use this technology to display civilian job postings.

At Google, you can learn marketing skills from free, online lessons, find digital business tools to build websites and manage email. You can learn how to create ads for your business, measure how customers are using your resources, and find free training tools to use in growing your business.

For more information, visit: https://accelerate.withgoogle.com.

Learning to Live with PTSD

When I was younger, I was diagnosed with PTSD. I’ve come a long way since then, but there are still miles to travel on this journey. One thing I’ve learned is that in order to overcome my PTSD, I had to learn all I could about it. And, since PTSD manifests itself differently with each person who has it, that meant I had to learn about my PTSD. I had to look at how it affects me and how it holds me back. That wasn’t easy.

I went to the local Community Mental Health office near where I lived and made an appointment. I explained that I was depressed a lot of the time, and that I felt I was living with a dark cloud that followed me around. I could never relax because I felt there was danger everywhere. I had nightmares and night terrors. Strange things would trigger my anxiety and I never saw them coming ahead of time. Life was still worth living, but I felt toxic and as though I were crazy. My counselor explained that I was not crazy. I also was not toxic. I was reacting to experiences that had shaped the way I thought. I had PTSD.

I have spent many years learning about how PTSD affects me. It’s not been all bad either.   I have found strength in learning how to cope, and, over the years I’ve learned to live with what I could not change.

Learn about your PTSD. A good place to start is the PTSD Coach OnLine website: www.va.gov.ptsdcoachonline.