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Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Stress and the Holidays
This is basically good advice from the Department of Defense, along with a bunch of apps for keeping calm.
I left a comment with links to PTSD and Holidays, Can't You Just Be Normal for One Day? and When Holidays Hurt.
When I sent out the first PTSD and Holidays I didn't even think of it as a major topic. The issue was on Anger and the holiday article was on page 5. It was shorter than the one I linked to above, but I got a letter from a VA social worker who told me her WWII combat veterans had had their first good Christmas since the war after they read that.
Maybe it will help you too!
When I was doing the PT Gazette, it was subscribed to by a bunch of good therapists who used it for topics in group.
BTW, I checked back with the DOD blog and they did not accept my comment. Why do I feel slighted? Why am I surprised. I have experience. They have theory...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

When I look over at Bob every morning, I am so grateful he survived Vietnam, that we managed to stick together through the worst days of undiagnosed (because there was no such diagnosis) untreated PTSD, and that we are still together and happy.
I look at him and I see the costs of war when he was a wild man, drinking, smoking pot and taking valium which just kept him down to WIRED. He could not have survived without those things so I am glad he had them, even though at the time they pissed me off.
I see him not able to sleep during an anniversary period last year and how they jerked him around at the VA because he went in and asked for Valium. That made him a junkie in their stupid eyes, although they could have checked his medical records and seen he hadn't had or needed it since 1995. They tried every other thing for 12 days on the weird ward (as Bob calls it), even an elephant tranquilizer, and finally sent him home with a dangerous cousin of Valium that you're not supposed to give to old people, and then told him to go to the ER when he called to talk to the psychiatrist about how drugged it made him feel. Like saying "F*ck you!"
I also look at him and think how grateful I am for his new VA psychiatrist who treats him like he is a valuable human being instead of a veteran shaped blob. She has helped him more than any psychiatrist he's had at the VA, and he's had some doozies.
I see him immersed in learning new things. I see him sometimes totally disconnected from me, and I know that is part of the price of war. I used to think it meant he didn't love me. Now I know it is the anniversary of something, some time when he flew into a hail of bullets because it was his job and then later went back to pull out wounded or bring ammo because he and his fellow Vietnam helicopter pilots would do anything for the grunts.
Sometimes he grins and says it's all gravy, that he never expected to live this long. I laugh, but I am so grateful that I get to live with this brave, strong, smart, funny, sarcastic, wonderful man.
To all the veterans out there: I am glad you made it back. I hope your life is good. If it is not, you deserve to heal your wounds and find how you can have a good life. Believe me, it is not in a bottle or a pipe or on TV, although you may need those things sometimes just to stay alive. If you need help, please go ask for it at a Vet Center or wherever you can find it. And if you don't think you need help, but people are nagging you about it, maybe you can pause and ask yourself what you would say to some younger guy who was acting like you? Would you think he could use some help?
Veterans Day is about the living as well as the dead. Alive, but feel dead? That is PTSD and there is help.

For all vets

To all veterans of every war, thanks and welcome home.

Just found this letter I sent to a soldier a few years ago who wrote me he was feeling worthless, cutting himself and questioning why he was alive. We are still friends. This is what would like to say to all vets:
I hear your pain. I wish I could help.
I wish you had never had to go through the things you went through.
I wish you were healed, and you can be.
You are doing the right things, asking for help and writing about what you feel, but healing takes time and it is painful. I'm sure you realize this from the pain when your cuts heal.
Pain is a sign of healing.
Pain is also a sign that you are a good man, no matter what you did, didn't do, or saw, because if you were not innately good, it would not bother you.
Writing is a good way to get this stuff out of your head onto the page.
Please write me and tell me what happened to trigger this.
Please think about what the cutting is doing for you, and how you could meet that need in another way.
Please have compassion for yourself. You have been through a hell you did not create, nor did you deserve it, and coming out on the other side is a slow process. You've taken the first step-looking for help, but it is a process, and progress not perfection is a good motto.
I'm sure you'd rather be fixed in two days...I know I would,
Instantaneous gratification is too slow!
Take care of that wounded soldier within you. He needs you