Saturday, November 17, 2012

My PTSD Nightmare

The PTSD’s Spouse

feel lost most days. I feel like i am wondering in a thick fog with my hands reaching out wildly in the air. My mind races wondering what will hit me next. I am so use to being on high alert I don't remember how to stop and smell the flowers.

It has been a long journey and we are near the finish line. My husband's WSIB claim has been allowed. He will receive loss of earnings, treatment and medicine. Yet I cannot feel relief. I am full of anxiety. Depression still has a strong hold on me. 

A friend of mine shared a saying with me. He roughly translated it to English. He said, "you are so use to eating shit that when someone places a delicious meal in front of you, you are suspicious and think it too will taste like shit."

What does this mean? Exactly as I said earlier. I am so use to being on high alert I don't remember how to stop.

Every once in a while I force myself to slow down and attempt to the tame the beast within. When my mind returns to the past rehashing the hardships, I immediately stop it. When my mind looks to the future bringing the what if scenarios, I stop it. Most times. 

I try to practice mindfulness. I stop and pay conscious attention to what is happening to me at that very moment. For example, on a hot summer day, I sit back in my chair on the front porch enjoying a nice cold glass of cola. I close my eyes and listen to the birds. I revel in the sensation of the slight breeze brushing across my face. I feel my heart beating slower in my chest and tell myself all is well. Once I do this, I am enclosed in the warmth of well being. It doesn't last forever but it helps.

That is one way I cope with what has become of my life. My life as dictated by my husband's PTSD.  I trained myself to do this. I have come to realize that I have unconsciously protected myself by putting distance between my husband and I. Don't get me wrong. I still love him but I don't let him in completely so he can't hurt me with his spite and anger. I can walk away from him easier and not get sucked up into a fight. I'm not saying it doesn't affect me because it does. But it doesn't hit me hard like the flu. More like an infection festering under the skin.

I have nightmares. He's yelling at me and smashing things. He is yelling and hurting everyone I love. Everyone is angry with me. Each way I look, I see hateful faces staring at me. 

Every night I dream of moving out of my home into a decrepit infested apartment. I am crying hysterically because I have uprooted my family to live in this condemned building. I am screaming at my husband for forcing me into this situation. I am scared because the structure is not sound and it could all come tumbling down around us. I don't understand why we can't go home. I feel devastated and abandoned.

I understand what the dreams mean. I feel like my husband upsets so many people who then look at me to blame. I feel no stability or security in our home. I want my husband to be a source of strength for me but he isn't.

It's all just so exhausting. Some days I want to lay down and wait to die. But I have to get up and take care of business. So I drag my sorry ass out of bed again. I work. I clean. I pay the bills. I take care of my family.

I have to say, I keep writing. I wonder if anyone is reading. I have no followers and no comments. 

I would really love to get some feedback people! Good, bad or ugly.

Finding Happiness

ast summer I was in the midst of chaos. My husband was raging and my family depressed. I always knew happiness was a choice. Life is what you make it right? 

I used to be a very positive, optimistic person. I believed  everything always works out in the end.  Somewhere, somehow I lost my way.

I use to blame my husband because he was, is the most negative person I knew. Negativity breads negativity. And it is contagious, infecting everyone around it. Hence the depression which took over my entire household.

I couldn't figure out how to to get back to myself. I needed help. Not just for myself but for my husband and my family. So I started researching on the net for ways to find inner peace. 

I actually enjoy researching. When I find something interesting to share I will put it together in a summary and print it off for my family to read. On July 29, 2011, I compiled information I found on the internet and called it Mindfulness and Meditation - Finding Inner Peace and Happiness.

It is a thirty-five page document so I can't share the whole thing with you. All at once anyway. I think I will spread it out it into little snippets so you won't get too bored.

But before I get into my extensive blurb on mindfulness you might want to check out Torrey Shannon's wonderful explanation of mindfulness on her blog.

And now my explanation. I see mindfulness as paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment in a non-judgmental way.

I know this sounds simple but it does take practice.

Most of us spend a lot of our time remembering things, imagining possible futures. We rely on habitual patterns that we have developed over the years to react to people and situations. Our automatic pilot takes over and we react instead of paying conscious attention to the people and situations now. We perceive it as oh here we go again.

We all have automatic reactions based on past experiences.  Those experiences which caused feelings of pain, anger, betrayal. We allow the automatic reactions to work for us when we are feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

It takes a great deal of effort to pay attention to what is happening now because our minds are constantly reliving the past or picturing and planing for the future. I call it the broken records because they replay over and over again in our heads.

Oh poop, it is now five minutes past four and my pillow is calling my name.

What is Mindfulness?

hat is Mindfulness? Mindfulness as paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment in a non-judgemental way.

How does "paying attention" relate to mindfulness? If you think about it most of us don't really pay attention to what is happening in our lives at that very moment because we spend most of our time thinking about other things. We think about the past and the future.

And it's hard to pay attention when something happens that reminds us of times we were hurt or betrayed. We respond automatically as if those times were happening again.

This brings us to the "on purpose" part of mindfulness. We spend most of our lives on automatic pilot. We don't even try to pay attention to what is happening in our lives and so we don't see new situations as being different. But once we realize that we respond automatically we can make a conscious decision to stop doing it. We can pay attention on purpose to what is happening at the present moment.

How does "in the present moment" relate to mindfulness? Stop right now and think about this. What do you spend most of your time thinking about? If you are like me, you'll see that your mind keeps taking you to memories of the past or daydreams of the future. You are probably also distracted from the moment because your are so busy multi-tasking.

How does "non-judgementally" tie into mindfulness? This is the hardest part to achieve. The non-judgmental quality of mindfulness brings great freedom to see things more clearly, to evaluate situations with some distance from our habitual emotional reactions and impulses, to observe emotions and impulses as they arise without either trying to escape them or letting them carry us away.  

Normally we automatically and instantly judge situations, people and our own thoughts, feelings and behaviour. We think or say negative things like "I can't take this any more!" "He's such an ass hole." "Why me?" "I hate my life!" These negative thoughts can spiral out of control, increasing judgement and stress.

Thoughts like "I need..."  "I want..."  "I deserve..." can also be a problem especially when they are automatic.  We can get caught up in cycles of addiction, self destruction or selfishly taking advantage of others, etc.

"Can you think of time that you were feeling so positive and relaxed that something which would normally cause strong judgment and negative emotions is seen as no big deal, more clearly for what it is: a passing unwanted experience or temptation to indulge." Jim Hopper

Can you imagine feeling like that all the time? Well we can, by practicing mindfulness with kindness.

"And for those who are vulnerable to remembering and reliving painful experiences from the past, to strong waves of emotion, to intense self-criticism – the cultivation of non-judgmental mindfulness can bring tremendous relief and freedom from old patterns." Jim Hopper

Please feel so free to leave a comment. I look forward to hearing from you.
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