Finding Faith in an Uncertain World

It’s an uncertain world we live in. I guess it always has been, but it seems things are a bit crazier these days. Maybe that’s just my observation though and not what everyone else sees. And, maybe I see things that way because my vision is blurred by PTSD. I don’t think of myself as a negative person, but I believe my observations are accurate concerning the state of the world. There is more civil unrest. The weather patterns are harsher. There are more wars and less tolerance for those who are different. Maybe it has always been that way, but things seems to me to be to be getting worse.

Sometimes I have to stop and look a bit closer and note that there are many good things going on too. We can cure many diseases that devastated the population in the past. We have made technological advances that are nothing short of phenominal. There are programs and people willing to lend a hand to those in need. Yes, the world may be crazier than it has ever been, but it’s also full of good people with good hearts. Sometimes we have to stop and take an accounting of the good things as well as the bad. If we don’t, we lose perspective and the world becomes a much scarier and dangerous place to live.

Hepatitis A in Homeless Veterans

A recent Hepatitis A outbreak in southeastern Michigan has moved into the homeless population and is affecting homeless people, including veterans. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that affects the liver.

Hepatitis A is contracted most often from contaminated food or water, or from exposure to someone who has it. In many cases, the individual who has Hepatitis A does not even know he or she has it. Most people recover completely with no permanent liver damage.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sudden nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially on the upper right side of your abdomen beneath your lower ribs (over the liver)
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes
  • Intense itching

Symptoms may be quite mild though and go away within a week or two. However, the infection may last several months in more severe cases. If you are concerned about getting Hepatitis A, ask your doctor if you should be vaccinated.

What PTSD Really Is

I think PTSD is how your body attempts to keep horrible things from happening a second time. If we are hypervigilant, then we stand a better chance of seeing disaster before it strikes next time. If we isolate ourselves, then we have a greater chance of knowing when someone is a danger to us. If we unleash our anger more quickly, then maybe we’ll be able to drive off danger before it gets to us. Those aren’t bad qualities to have if you know that horrible things can and do happen. The problem is, we tend to take it too far and we intensify those traits until we choke on them. That’s PTSD.

The big problem is how to learn to live with the protective aspects of PTSD but without going overboard. How do we learn to be hypervigilant enough? How do we learn to isolate ourselves so that we can see disaster coming without becoming so cut off from others that we can’t see anything at all? How do we use our anger without it damaging everyone else around us? In other words, how do we live with PTSD and make the most out of it without having it consume us?

Seeking balance is the obvious answer; allowing our subconscious to exert some control without seizing total control. That’s a hard balance to find!

Gaining Perspective

If I had to put one word on myself as someone with a diagnosis of PTSD, that word would be “survivalist.” I have survived things no one should have to go through, and those events have left scars that will never heal completely. In spite of the horror, I have made it through and I can say I am actually fairly happy too. I am proud of that.

I once wrote a paper in college describing what it was like having PTSD. I compared it to feeling like “waiting for the other shoe to fall.” By that, I meant that we have experienced the first wave of horror and we know another wave is coming…we’re just watching and waiting for it to reach us. We have heard the first shoe drop and we know the second one is about to land. My professor thought it was a great way of depicting the general flavor of having PTSD.

PTSD is not something I would wish on anyone, but in spite of it, life goes on and I don’t want that to be the sum of who I am. I try to look at the bright side if there is one and focus on the positive. I guess being a survivalist is one of the positive aspects I can claim. I think I can say that although I may not be better off for having PTSD, there are strengths that I have in spite of it.