The National Center for PTSD has a Consultation Program that offers consultation, education, information, and other resources to those who treat Veterans with PTSD. Their consultation relies on evidence-based practices for PTSD. Providers treating individuals who have PTSD can access this website to connect with a wide range of resources. There are opportunities for free email and phone consultations with a response within one business day. To send an email, go to: PTSDconsult@va.gov. Call (866) 948-7880, or visit www.ptsd.va.gov/consult.
Free, in depth educational materials are available to help those who are living with PTSD. There are more than 40 online courses at www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/continuing_ed. In addition, there is a monthly lecture on the third Wednesday of each month hosted by the Consultation Program. For more information visit www.ptsd.va.gov/consult. Visit the PTSD website at www.ptsd.va.gov to access free videos, educational handouts, manuals, PTSD-related publications, PTSD and trauma assessments and screening tools, mobile apps, and more.
When you have PTSD and you’re fighting depression, it can be difficult to focus on the things you used to do in the past. Along with isolating yourself, you may stop engaging in the activities that you used to find fun. That’s a shame because that depression can lead to inertia. It becomes all too easy to just sit down and give up.
That’s when you have to force yourself to get out and get involved in something that interests you now. Sometimes it is necessary to do this in order to get back into the rhythm of living again. You may find you have to pretend you’re interested for a while before you will actually be interested in something.
You may even find you aren’t interested in the same things you were in the past, but that’s okay. We all grow at our own rate and other things may bring you joy now. Look for those other things. Life is too short to go through without happiness.
PTSD can rob your life of joy. Don’t stop trying to reclaim your life. Find those things that captivate you and bring you happiness. After all, that’s what makes life worth living.
PTSD and depression often go hand in hand. That’s unfortunate, because dealing with either one is difficult enough, but when the two join forces, it can be double trouble. Fortunately, there are treatments for both and it is important that you stay on your medication regiment until things are under control again.
All of us seem to have a tendency to stop taking medications once we start feeling better as evidenced by the resistance that is often prevalent in antibiotic use. But both depression and PTSD have components of chemical imbalance involved, and when you stop too early, you may prevent those medications from doing what they are intended to do. It is very important that you follow your prescribed routine and follow through on taking them once you start feeling better.
Unfortunately, there are those people who feel that taking medication for depression or PTSD is indicative of admitting to having mental illness, or that it is a weakness. It is not! Again, both are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and if medication can rebalance those chemicals, then it is only wise to take it. PTSD and depression are caused by a physical problem and they are cured with a physical cure, so please don’t hesitate to “take the cure.” Suffering with PTSD and/or depression robs your life of the joy you deserve, but you can do something about it.
We’ve turned the clocks back to Daylight Savings Time, and I hate it! I used to love winter’s crisp, sparkling snow and glittering magic, but now I feel like I should be a bear and hunker down into a den for the next 4 or 5 months. It’s just too dark. My house seems dark and my office at work seems dark. I think a lot of it is just a reflection of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I want light and warm sunshine in my life. These gray, rainy days knowing that snow is right around the corner are hard to take.
I think having PTSD makes every other condition you have worse. Now, not only am I coping with the PTSD, I am aware of how it impacts my SAD too, and how the SAD affects my PTSD. I feel out of step with myself, and it’s a daily effort to keep from sinking into despair.
When days like this occur, I have to watch that I don’t wallow in self-pity and focus instead on moving ahead. Winter will end; I have to remember that. Sunny days will come again, and so will happier times. Until then, I have to make an effort to find the sunshine in the little things. As the old adage goes, “The best way out is through.”
One of the more common symptoms of PTSD is the tendency to isolate. Those of us with a PTSD diagnosis usually don’t like to be around crowds, we prefer to know exactly what is going on around us at all times. Keeping track of everyone and everything is difficult. Yet, we don’t feel comfortable if we aren’t aware of our surroundings and any threats that might present themselves.
While I understand that isolation is not good for me, I’ve come to view it in a bit more accepting light over the years, and I’ve found a compromise that works for me. I still avoid large crowds if I can help it, but I don’t beat myself up for wanting to keep track of my surroundings. Especially since 9/11, life seems to be much more dangerous; attacks seem to happen somewhere in the U.S. on almost a daily basis. The more horror stories I hear in the news, the more I think that maybe this symptom of PTSD is designed to protect me, and it’s something that has a bit of a positive aspect to it too.
I will still have to work at not overdoing the isolation thing. I know I need other people in my life to find balance and support. But, just maybe this symptom of PTSD is a good thing to the extent that I’m a bit more likely to survive if I keep my eyes open as I go along. I guess the one good thing I can say about having PTSD is that, I’m here, I’m a survivor. That counts for something.
As I traveled on vacation this week, I thought about how sometimes we have to tolerate things we don’t like in order to get to experience things we want. For instance, I flew to Florida for a week’s vacation with my sister and had to spend a day on the way there and a day on the way back in the airport and on airplanes. While I don’t actually mind the flying, I really didn’t like the crowds in the lines waiting to board, or being forced to sit still for extended periods of time. In fact, that’s one of the things I don’t do well at all. It’s cramped, crowded, and I always seem to be seated next to the woman with the crying baby!
On the other hand, once I got to Orlando, I had a great time. We stayed in a lovely resort, while enjoying great food and entertainment, and even the crowds around the swimming pool weren’t too bad. But, the thought of taking another day to sit in the airport and fly home followed me through the week like a dark cloud.
I’m glad I went. I had to challenge my desire to isolate myself and I realized I was in danger of ruining my sister’s vacation too if I didn’t get a handle on my PTSD. I was able to do just that, and we had a wonderful time. I don’t want to let PTSD rule me and rob my life of joy. If I allow it to cause me to not take vacations or to ruin everyone else’s vacation, then it has won. If I control it enough that I can participate in the activities we have scheduled and enjoy them, then I have won, and that’s important to me. I won’t let PTSD take everything away. I refuse to let it win.
One thing I have realized in coping with PTSD is that the people who don’t have it have no idea how difficult it can be to live with. My anger seemed to lurk just below the surface, and it seemed like almost anything could set it off. It didn’t matter that I didn’t want things to be that way – it was my reality. I worked constantly, trying to suppress my anger. It took a long time to realize that I am reacting. That’s important.
In most instances, I couldn’t have told you why I was angry. I know now that anger isn’t a primary emotion; it’s a secondary response. In my case, anger most often followed on the heels of my being afraid or extremely frustrated. That means that to prevent my anger, I had to allow myself to experience the primary emotion and react to that rather than becoming angry. It’s a more honest way of living and I like the sound of it, but actually facing my emotions is not as easy as it sounds. My anger is part of my defense system, and I have used it most of my life to hide from what’s really bothering me.
So, how do I control my anger at this wise old age? I try to make a sincere effort to see behind what’s making me angry. Am I yelling at the guy in the passing lane because he’s an idiot who drives like he got his license out of a Cracker Jack box, or, am I afraid he’s going to slide into me because he’s going too fast on the ice? Are his wheels really slipping, or is it my car that’s slipping on the ice? If all I need to do is slow down more so that I’m not so afraid, then the anger never surfaces.
The other thing I’ve learned about anger is that it feeds off itself. By that I mean that if you allow yourself to get angry, it builds and can easily get out of control. If I stop the anger before it takes hold and realize I’m not really angry, but what I’m really experiencing is fear, then the anger never surfaces. I can then evaluate whether my fear is legitimate or not and either acknowledge I’m just being a ‘fraidy cat, or I can get out of Dodge before I get hurt. Either way, anger never becomes a factor.
I’m better now at controlling my anger than I was five years ago; much better. That’s encouraging because I think that in another five years, I might even be further along. That means I’m making headway, and that makes it worth the effort!