Flu Season

It’s flu season again…I know because I’ve already had a bout with the flu this year! I had hoped to get my flu shot at the beginning of October. That would have happened except that I came down with the flu the end of September. Of course, it went into pneumonia and bronchitis. That’s the thing about the flu: it isn’t enough that it makes you miserable, it opens the door to secondary infections too.

Influenza is an infection of the respiratory tract. In older adults especially, the flu can be fatal. You are more likely to come down with the flu if you have a weakened immune system, frequent, close contact with children, work in a healthcare setting where you are exposed to flu germs, live or work with someone who has the flu, or haven’t received an annual flu shot.

The flu can make you feel like a truck ran over you! You may have fever and chills, sore throat and headache, cough, weakness and muscle aches. If left untreated, the flu can go into pneumonia or other serious illness.  If you find you have the flu, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. It is likely that the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated…before you get the flu!

Learning to Problem Solve

It is easy to find yourself feeling overwhelmed by problems when you are living with PTSD. We do not do well with added stress, but it is a part of life and we can’t seem to get away from it. Learning to problem solve can help reduce stress and help you feel more in control of your life.

PTSD On-line Coach has materials to help you learn to solve problems. Here are some steps that may help:

  1. Define the problem. Write out a description of what is wrong. Keep it brief. Then, list what you would like to change to make the situation different.
  2. Next, think about what barriers there are to resolving the issue. What is preventing you from fixing the problem?
  3. Brainstorm possible solutions. Write down as many ideas as you can without thinking about whether they are possible or not. You may be able to come up with an adaptation that will allow you to put one of your solutions into practice if you think about it.
  4. Evaluate the possible solutions and make a list of the pros and cons of each one. Then choose the solution you think has the best chance of succeeding.
  5. Create a plan of action. Think about what steps you will have to take to make your solution work.

PTSD On-line Coach provides worksheets to help you think through your plan. You can access it at: www.ptsd.ca.gov/apps/ptsdcoachonline/default.htm.

Cold Weather

Winter used to be my favorite time of year, but as I’ve gotten older, it’s fallen lower and lower on my favorite’s list! I’m afraid of falling on the ice, yes, but it is more than that. It’s the dark, gloomy days, the lack of activity outside with accompanying sunshine, the spontaneity of jumping in the car for a late afternoon drive. Now the afternoons are dark and I’m afraid I’ll get stuck in the snow on these country roads. Winter is no fun anymore.

I suspect a great deal of my negativity towards winter is actually SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. With a lack of sunshine, the body does not respond as well. Neurotransmitters are slower to make their connections and the result is depression and an overwhelming sadness. It’s already starting and winter hasn’t even officially arrived!

Taking care of myself in the winter months is even more important as I’ve aged and my world has somewhat narrowed. It is important that I watch what I eat, get enough exercise, and don’t isolate myself during these long, cold months. I have to push myself to do the things I know I should do because I’m in enough of a depressed mood that I won’t do it unless I force myself to. That’s okay. I’ve learned over the years that no one is responsible for me except me, and that means I have certain obligations to myself. Taking good care of me is one of those obligations.

The Angry Side of PTSD

I try to work on controlling my anger every day, but, it’s always still there, always something I have to remain aware of so the tiger doesn’t get lose and hurt anyone. I hate getting angry. I can escalate at the drop of a hat and it only ever hurts me. Anger destroys relationships. Anger hurts innocent people. Anger leaves me feeling ashamed and hopeless. I hate my anger.

I have heard that anger is not a primary emotion. We don’t start out angry; we start out afraid, frustrated, hurt, or some other emotion. Anger follows and, at least partially, it’s a way of responding to our fear, hurt, frustration, etc. I don’t believe anger is always a horrible thing. But anger can push me further than I want to go in my relationships, and that is terrible. I don’t want to be out of control. I know that handling stress requires that I think clearly, and anger does not lend itself to clear thinking. Quite the opposite, anger leads to blank rage where I don’t know or care what I’m saying or doing, just as long as it hurts the other person. That’s no way to live.

Gaining control of my anger has taken years to learn. Fortunately, I don’t lose myself in anger much anymore. Now I’m cooler. I’d like to believe that age has helped with that. I tend to think first and speak later. That’s made life much easier as I no longer have to eat my words as often!

I don’t count to 10 to control my anger. I try to head it off before it gains control. When I feel myself slipping into that rage mode, I try to walk away from the situation and consciously release the emotion involved. That leaves me more clearheaded and able to think things through better.

It’s taken me a long time to learn to control my anger, but it’s something I’m glad I learned. Life would be much different if I had not learned the lessons I have. I hope you will work on controlling the tiger too. Life is better because of it.