Our Lives With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury

Posts tagged “treatment

4th of July

070811_1913~01     I finally did it! After eleven long years, I finally attended a fireworks display with my kids! Guess what?! I survived not only the fireworks, but navigating the crowds with three little ones…by myself!


All in all, I actually enjoyed myself! The girls were able to play on the bouncy houses, get their face painted, and even stood in line for patriotically over-priced snow cones! The girls were able to get those twisted balloon things that end up being made into all kinds of things (one had an alien that rode on her shoulders, one had a sword, and one had a flower). Granted, none of the balloon characters made it home, but they were free, so I wasn’t terribly heart broken (especially since I’m allergic to the stupid things).

I had originally decided to attend because my teen invited me. I figured with her there, I’d be able to get through the fireworks. Well, she went AWOL with her friends and I only saw her once the entire evening. Thankfully, my best friend and her family showed up just minutes before the show started. Between her and Chauncey, they got me through. I purposely sat far enough away that I couldn’t hear them launching, and I enjoyed all but the absolutely largest shells. Those were the ones that I could feel the repercussion of their explosion in my chest and that would trigger me, but as I said, my service dog Chauncey (who did amazingly well with the fireworks) and my best friend saw me through.

I definitely think we will do it again next year. Perhaps I will be able to convince a couple of my fellow veterans to attend with me. Just showing up was a huge step for me and I hope I can share that with others next year.

Moral of this story: don’t be afraid to face your fears…you may be pleasantly surprised at the results. If they aren’t what you expected them to be, you will at least know that you tried. Perform an after action and see if there is anything you could do differently next time to improve the outcome!


Here We Go Again….

Same old stuff again! Seems that, once again, my medications are puttering out.

This had been the longest run on a medication…almost 2 years. I was really hoping this wouldn’t happen until after I received my service dog. Apparently my body has other plans. Over the past two months my ‘doc’ (she’s actually a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner) has tried to increase the dose because it wasn’t working so well….which made things worse as can sometimes happen. She added an adjunct med and that helped, but gave me insomnia so she switched me to a different adjunct. I felt almost normal for the last month (aside from the random muscle twitches that made me jump like someone snuck up and poked me in the ribs).

I can’t get in to see her again until the 14th, in the meantime I get to deal with the anxiety, depression, mood swings, and ugly dreams (not quite full fledged nightmares but they are quite unpleasant and leave me a wreck for the day). The only reason I’m not dealing with insomnia is because the adjunct is still working….somedays too well as I cannot seem to get myself awake and feel groggy all day.

Yesterday I tried to discuss this with a friend and instead spent the conversation preventing myself from saying anything that would be construed as ill-tempered. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy and I know he means well (so if you’re reading this, don’t be offended, this is how I feel). But he is of the mindset that PTSD meds are a “crutch” and I should just take myself off all of them and “decide” to feel better. This was from someone with PTSD. If it was from anyone else I would have completely blown it off, but it came off as something else I’ve heard in the past “I smoked ‘x’ packs a day for ‘y’ years and I quit cold turkey, so can you” No, I can’t. I have gone med free before and it ended poorly EVERY time. Yes, I did well for a while but eventually (sometimes years, sometimes only weeks) I cycled downward again, each time a little lower than the last. Considering how far I spiraled last time, I worry that I wouldn’t come out of it intact next time.

Don’t get me wrong, I know he’s saying this from a good place in his heart. He isn’t trying to be cruel or put me down. I know meds won’t help me forever…hell, I wouldn’t doubt if the emotional numbing that the meds provide are impeding my therapy, but I also know that where I am right now, I need them. One day, I want to be med free, but I also know from past experience that this isn’t the time to simply stop taking everything. I am no where near stable enough in my therapy or coping techniques. My family needs me to be able to function without panicking because someone knocks on the door, to be able to leave the house and run errands without needing to hide away in my room for the rest of the day because I am so emotionally overwhelmed.

I know we are all on different parts of various paths. Not everyone is able to walk the same route in this journey. We all hope it leads to the same place though…healing, normalcy, a life free of the confines of PTSD. I know I’ll get there….eventually. For right now, this is where I am on my path. I’ve been through this part before…I know it’s dark and I’m hoping there is one more clearing, one more med that will work long enough to get some serious therapy and learn other tools so that one day, with my service dog, I can be med free. Until that time comes….

Here we go again, same old stuff again….