BEING ASSERTIVE

Expressing your needs in an assertive rather than an aggressive manner helps both you as a speaker and the other person as a listener feel heard and respected. Assertive communication means:

  • Knowing what you want (or don’t want)
  • Considering your rights and the rights of others
  • Expressing this to other people in a way that is respectful, and clear enough to get you the outcome you wantExpressing yourself assertively means you recognize your right to have your needs met, as well as respecting the rights of others who are involved. You are clear about what you want. The other people involved have more respect for you and are more likely to listen to you as you are not trying to manipulate them in a passive-aggressive way. (Adapted from PTSD Coach Online)
  • In assertive communication, both people feel heard and respected in the conversation. As a result, others will consider your opinions. You are more likely to get what you want using this style of communication than any other.
  • Assertiveness can help you communicate better as it increases your self-respect. It is a communication style where you are direct, but not aggressive towards others.

Depression & PTSD

PTSD and depression can occur simultaneously, with symptoms that often mimic each other. While depression happens to all of us at one time or another, clinical depression lasts for an extended period of time, usually three months or longer. It flavors everything going on in your life and makes it difficult to get up in the morning and keep going throughout the day. PTSD can have the same effect.

It’s not unusual to experience depression following exposure to trauma. If you have PTSD, depression is 3 to 5 times more likely to occur than if you don’t have PTSD.  We may struggle as we process traumatic experiences and that can lead to depression. In addition, the trauma may have affected others around us leading to survivor guilt or grieving. The lack of trust we feel when we have PTSD can cause depression too.

Many of the symptoms of PTSD and depression overlap, such as sleep difficulties and concentration. In fact, you may not know which condition is affecting you. Both can lead to isolation and irritability. Fortunately, both can often respond to the same treatment too.

Milder forms of depression can be treated with counseling or talk therapy. More severe forms may involve medications. If you are suffering with PTSD and/or depression, talk with your healthcare provider. Treatments for both work!

 

HYPERVIGILANCE

Hypervigilance is another way of saying you are rabidly alert.  I’m very aware (no pun intended!) of the effects of hypervigilance.  When I was younger, I was able to monitor every other person the same room I was in to ensure they were not a threat to me.  Fortunately, I no longer feel I have to be that alert in every situation I’m in.

So, how did I get to this level of acceptance?  I’m not sure I can answer that other than that age has made a difference.  Each day that disaster didn’t strike convinced me that I could be reasonable safe.  Perhaps my expectations were lowered over time too as I didn’t feel I was threatened every moment.  I’m not sure how I got here, just that I’m in a different place today than I was 20 years ago.

That’s good to recognize because sometimes I feel PTSD is going to affect me forever and that I’m powerless to change it.  I need these times of recognition that I am getting better and finding it easier to live with having PTSD.  These are the moments that keep me going

I may never be entirely free of the symptoms of PTSD, but it’s nice to know that I’m reaching the age where it doesn’t have such a negative impact on my life.  I hope the healing continues as I get older too!

A PEACEFUL, EASY WAY OF FEELING

Finding peace when you have PTSD can be difficult. Too often, we are ruled by our symptoms of anxiety, restlessness, and hypervigilance. Meditation can be a way of managing those symptoms and moving closer to finding that peace.

Meditation is learned. You learn to tune in to yourself in the present. That’s a simplistic way of saying it, but it’s the goal of meditation – going back to start and focusing on inner peace. Because it is learned, meditating takes practice. If you haven’t meditated, you’re not going to be able to step right into it and, on first try, achieve success.

There are different methods for meditating. Vipassana is a form of Buddhist meditation. In this method, you focus on your breath, just being mindful of your breathing. If your mind begins to wander, and you begin to focus on sights, smells, sounds, or sensations, just acknowledge them and focus again on your breathing.

You can learn to find peace again, although like anything else worth having, it takes some effort and practice. Meditation can help you learn to find your inner calmness.

 

DEALING WITH ANXIETY

Most of us have periods of anxiety now and again, but when you have PTSD, you may feel extremely anxious a good share of the time. When your anxiety interferes with your quality of life, it is time to listen to your body and do something about it.

According to MaketheConnection.net, if you experience a wide variety of symptoms it may be signs of an anxiety disorder. Some of these symptoms may be physical:

You might also have symptoms that impact your emotions, thoughts, or behavior, like:

There is help! Go to www.maketheconnection.net for more information. Under Signs & Symptoms, try “Feeling on Edge.” Go to “Explore These Resources” for more information about anxiety disorders among Veterans. Choose “After Deployment” to take an anonymous and confidential assessment to evaluate the symptoms you have and learn of other Veterans and how they cope with anxiety.