Making it Through the Holidays

Another holiday has past, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that it is over. Unfortunately, with PTSD, holidays seems to bring more bad than good. I don’t like the stress that comes with getting everything ready and knowing family will be coming in with their own expectations that they demand I live up to. I’m learning every year a bit more about how to say “No” and how to choose my own path rather than letting everyone else around me buffer me around.

Over the years, I’ve learned to weather the storm, so to speak. I try to just close my mouth and not let myself be drawn into defending my own beliefs from those who think they have to convert my thinking to theirs. I stick to myself quite a bit, but I do try to step out of my safety zone and interact with others, at least to the extent that I’m not a complete hermit. But I’m so much more comfortable without all the posturing and posing that comes with social interaction.

I made it through another holiday. It wasn’t as painful as it used to be. It wasn’t as good as I would like it to be either. But, I made it through. I guess that is the one thing they can say about those of us with PTSD: we are survivors. I’m glad of that.

Beating Holiday Stress

Surviving the holidays can be quite a chore! Parties, baking, cleaning the house, in-laws arriving, the list seems to be endless, and with each new item comes more stress. During the holiday season more than any other time throughout the year, stressors seem to pile up on us. Remembering to take time out for ourselves becomes important at this time of year.

Remember all those different stress relievers you have learned over the years and put them to good use. Try deep breathing, meditation, listening to soft music, muscle relaxation, and any other way you can think of to reduce your stress load. You, and those around you, will enjoy the season more if you are not stressed to the breaking point.

The holidays can be a wonderful time of year if we keep calm and don’t allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. Take some time away from others if it helps you too. This should be a cheerful, fun time of year, not a frantic load of work. Enjoy the holidays…you deserve it!

PTSD Consultation Program

The National Center for PTSD has a Consultation Program that offers consultation, education, information, and other resources to those who treat Veterans with PTSD. Their consultation relies on evidence-based practices for PTSD. Providers treating individuals who have PTSD can access this website to connect with a wide range of resources. There are opportunities for free email and phone consultations with a response within one business day. To send an email, go to: PTSDconsult@va.gov. Call (866) 948-7880, or visit www.ptsd.va.gov/consult.

Free, in depth educational materials are available to help those who are living with PTSD. There are more than 40 online courses at www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/continuing_ed. In addition, there is a monthly lecture on the third Wednesday of each month hosted by the Consultation Program. For more information visit www.ptsd.va.gov/consult.   Visit the PTSD website at www.ptsd.va.gov to access free videos, educational handouts, manuals, PTSD-related publications, PTSD and trauma assessments and screening tools, mobile apps, and more.

Staying Healthy

Flu season is here, and if you are a veteran considering getting a flu shot, now may be a good time to get it done. The VA is teaming up with Walgreens to offer free flu shots to veterans. You will need to present your Veteran’s Identification Card to receive the vaccine.

As a reminder of how the flu can affect you, here are some of the signs:

  • Possible fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Possible vomiting and diarrhea
  • While having the flu is bad enough, it can also lead to complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or sinus infection. If you are older (over 65 years, or have a chronic medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), you may be at greater risk of developing complications. Signs that your flu is getting worse rather than better include:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • This year, do your best to stay health; get your flu shot and take care of yourself…after all, you’re worth it!