I find it so frustrating when I have gone for months and months without having a flashback, then out of nowhere comes a blitz that knocks me off my feet. It seems so unfair to collide with an unwanted memory. For one thing, as time goes by, I start thinking I likely have healed to the point where I won’t have them anymore. Then, something triggers those memories and it is like revisiting hell all over again.
I remember the movie “Ground Hog Day” starring Bill Murray where he has to continue reliving the same day over and over again until he makes the right choices. I don’t get the option of changing the way I think and the flashbacks stop. I just relive the events again and again without having any control.
Those are the times I have to stop and remind myself that I am still making headway with this PTSD thing. It may take the rest of my life (in fact, I am sure it will), but even though I may never “get over it,” I am doing a better job of handling it. I cannot turn off the television or change the channel, but I can recognize that I am moving forward and there are longer and longer periods of time between flashbacks. That is part of healing too.
The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found in 2004 that nearly one in 10 inmates in U.S. jails had prior military service. Sometimes it is impossible for veterans to leave the war behind them when they return home. When their mental wounds outnumber their physical injuries, they may end up self-medicating with drugs and alcohol in an attempt to numb the pain. When that happens, the likelihood of winding up in jail skyrockets.
When unemployment, substance abuse, mental-health issues, and inadequate counseling come into play, it creates a perfect field for veterans to enter the criminal-justice system. In response, many Veterans Courts are coming into existence. Modeled on drug courts and mental-health courts, these courts try to help the veterans by mandating treatment and supervision rather than just tossing the veteran into a cell.
Proof of the success of Veterans Courts is slowly being revealed. If any of the veterans fail to meet the conditions ordered by the court, they can be sent back to regular court and tried there. The good news is that most Veterans courts report low rates of recidivism.
Veterans Courts are relatively new, but they are proving to be a better way of responding to the complex needs of the men and women who have served our country.
Lately, I have been experiencing so much anger over all the things that have been going wrong in my life. One of my dogs broke her leg; another was killed digging under the propane tank when it shifted and fell on her. I’ve had multiple problems with my car, unexpected taxes from the government, and lots of financial difficulties as a result. With all the problems stacking up, I guess it’s no wonder I’m short tempered too. Added to all of this is that I’m worrying so much at night that I don’t get much sleep. All-in-all, it’s a bad situation.
What I finally realized, was I was spending so much time worrying and coping with problems, that I no longer found any joy in life. I was too tired to enjoy anything. Because I was in such a hurry, I was eating meals at the kitchen sink, or at the fast-food restaurant. It’s a recipe for disaster!
Once I saw what I was doing, I started slowing down. I took a long nap – something I don’t normally allow myself. Then I made myself a decent meal and sat down at the table to eat it. I went over my finances and came up with a plan for what had to be paid and what I could either put off, or make smaller payments on for a short while.
Slowly but surely I’m gaining control of my life, my finances, and my temper again! It is easy to fall into a pattern of neglecting yourself, but it’s not healthy. Taking the time to come up with a plan, and then following it, allowed me to get out of the tight spot, but had I not realized what I was doing, it would have just continued.
If you are feeling out of sorts, frustrated and angry, take a look at what’s happening in your life and work out a plan to get back on track. You won’t be sorry you did!
Although it is not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Secondary PTSD can affect those individuals who live with someone who has been diagnosed with PTSD. Someone with Secondary PTSD acts similar to someone with PTSD – they take on the behaviors of the person with PTSD.
Living with someone with PTSD, and this includes the spouse and often children too, you find yourself walking on eggs trying to avoid triggers that might start problems. The person with PTSD is often unemotional as he or she is numb from the original traumatic experience. That leaves the spouse and children living in an emotional desert; they may feel unloved, unwanted and ignored. The person with Secondary PTSD is often the one who must handle all the chores of daily living with little to no help from the one suffering from PTSD. After all, dealing with PTSD on a daily basis can be exhausting. Handling all the other stressors of daily life falls on the partner.
If you are a caregiver for someone with PTSD, either a spouse or other family member, be sure to take some time for yourself. It’s important to nurture yourself so your needs are attended to; otherwise those of your children will go unmet too. Let yourself rely on your friends and family who supply you with emotional support and do not judge you. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect; just do the best you can. And, if things get too difficult, don’t hesitate to go for counseling. You aren’t the only one going through life trying to stay ahead of a loved one with PTSD.