I spend too many nights not sleeping. I find that it can be very frustrating, especially when I am tired but sleep still won’t come. There is no easy answer for sleepless nights, but I have found one of the most important things for me in dealing with them is to not fight it. I used to get mad when I did not fall asleep right away. I would rage at how tired I would be the next day and how unfair it was that I would feel so exhausted, yet not sleep. Now I know better. It is just a waste of time to get angry over not sleeping. It changes nothing and does not help at all. There are, however, some things I have found that do help.
I find a hot shower or bath makes a world of difference. I believe it is because it helps relieve some of my pain making it easier to relax and fall asleep. I also have found that many of the traditional solutions work: go to bed at the same time each night, do not drink caffeine after noon, sleep in a cooler room, and do not do heavy exercise before bed. All of these things help.
I may not have the magic solution for falling asleep each night, but I do not lose a lot of sleep over it! I do the best I can, and those nights I am lying there wide awake, I get up and read or listen to music or do other things to try to engage my mind without getting me too excited. I wish I could drift off at the drop of a hat, but it is okay when it does not happen. I will still be able to make it through tomorrow. Sweet dreams!
PTSD can leave you feeling isolated and disconnected from others. Those of us who have PTSD need interaction with others in order to stay in touch with our own feelings, and because we need social interaction with others. We are designed to be social creatures.
You can reconnect with others by focusing on being present in the moment and tuning in to what you are actually feeling at the moment. Being mindful of what our senses are telling us keeps us grounded in the present moment. Focus on what you are feeling, seeing, and hearing. For example, you may want to try to focus on one specific thing until you are ultra-aware of it. Try focusing on the chair you are sitting on. Feel the pressure on your body as it supports you. Be aware of how it holds your arms, back, seat, and legs. You can focus on almost most anything: your feet, hands, eating, the colors of things around you, etc. By focusing your attention on your feelings, you remain aware of what is going on in your life right now. This makes it easier for you to be present for others too.
There are other suggestions you may want to try on PTSD Coach Online. It is free and you can work at your own pace. Go to: PTSD.va.gov/Coachonline.
Many veterans are not taking advantage of the housing programs the VA offers. It is estimated that over 85% of qualified veterans are not using the VA loan program that allows veteran to borrow up to 100% of the value of the home and pay no money down.
The VA home loan program does not require mortgage insurance, and that can save the home owner hundreds of dollars on their mortgage payment each month. In addition, if you already have a VA loan, there are programs that can help lower your monthly mortgage payment when interest rates are low as they are now.
For more information, a simple survey will show you whether you can save money on your housing situation. The survey is free. Go to: https://blog.militaryfinance.net/veteran-housing/. Take the survey. You have nothing to lose and possibly much to gain!
We all have things we are sorry about; things we wish we had done differently. Guilt involving the trauma that caused your PTSD only delays your healing. It may be survivor guilt, or you may feel guilty that you did not choose another way of responding than you did. You may feel you should have acted differently in some way, but you have to remember that at the time you did what you thought was best. When an event is happening, we have to do the best we can choosing how we react. We usually have to make snap decisions. We can second-guess for the rest of our lives what we could have or should have done. The fact is we did the best we could at the time.
Forgiving ourselves can be difficult. We often expect more from ourselves than we would ever expect from others in the same circumstances. It may help to join a PTSD support group and gain some perspective from others who are in the same situation.
Guilt and blame are not healthy responses. They do not help anything or anyone. Work on accepting that you did the best you could, and let go of the guilt.