Getting to Know Your Pain

If you're tired of reading about PTSD, please keep scrolling. I apologize for the repetitive posts right now but today has been kind of rough so far and it’s only 12 o’clock. Also, I feel like I always have to say this so no one worries excessively, I’m okay.

Getting to know your pain: I'm writing this in real time so I can try to get an accurate description. As is pretty evident by this point, if you follow what I write here, I struggle with moderate, sometimes severe, PTSD. I woke up this morning after a night of broken sleep. I felt fine when I got up. I was a little disoriented but otherwise emotionally okay. I logged into a virtual class I am currently attending and, after a short period of time I was contacted via PM by my instructor. She informed me that I had missed a deadline for one of the assignments we had. I had apparently misunderstood the assignment instructions she had given on the previous Friday. Though it truly was a misunderstanding, and she was ultimately understanding of what had happened, my frustration elevated from mild annoyance to full blown rage in the blink of an eye. As it is typically difficulty to read a person's body language via PM's and text messaging, I automatically assumed she was attacking me and I went on the defensive. Did I take my frustrations out on my instructor? Not at all. That's not the shape my anger takes. Instead, I swiftly finished the assignment, getting more and more angry and embarrassed as the minutes passed. I could feel the adrenaline pouring into my system as I grew more and more angry, physically shaking and unable to construct a coherent thought. Everything from here on out is a perceived attack against me. I am working from home and my children are here with me as AJ is at a doctor's appointment. By the time I've turned in my late assignment, my mind is a white-hot blaze of racing thoughts and confusion. I can't focus or concentrate and I feel like everyone, my children included, is attacking me. In the moment, I hate everyone. I can feel myself getting insanely irritated with my children for asking mundane questions. I try everything in my power to regulate my emotions but that begins working against me. By this point I'm crying because I feel out of control. I tell the kids I'll be right back and I go outside for a minute in an attempt to break from what is happening. I'm outside, shaking and crying and trying to figure out what is happening but I'm so in the moment and confused that I start shaking worse. My brain feels like a tornado of information, all swirling out of control with no end in sight. Finally, I pop in my ear buds, listen to the Heart Sutra (a Buddhist chant I know calms me) and AJ gets home. She sits with me for a minute while I work through whatever else needs to pour out. I finally calm down to a point where coherent thought returns to me. Though I've returned to a somewhat calm mental state, my confidence and thought processes are shot. I'm effectively out of the loop for the foreseeable future as I attempt to reconcile my irrational mindset with my actual situation, now questioning myself at every turn because I'm sure everything I'm doing is wrong. The rest of my day will be spent in introspective hell as I overthink and overanalyze EVERY SINGLE THING.

So what's my point here? Why am I writing this somewhat embarrassing narrative to share with the world?

There are two reasons really. The first reason is writing is therapeutic for me. Putting my thoughts to paper really helps me not lie to myself about what I'm feeling/thinking. Otherwise I can just tell my mind to shut up and ignore what's happening inside.

The second point is this: PTSD doesn't always manifest the same for everyone affected. You may think someone is just an overbearing ass or excessively mean for no reason, someone is just an alcoholic or is too much into their vices and it's a character flaw, someone is always reserved and/or sad, too guarded, too judgmental, etc. The real reason could be these people are suffering internally and are too proud/embarrassed/scared/sad to ask for help or even admit there is a problem. Honestly, as in my case, some people may not even know there is a problem.

So, what can you do? Be patient with each other. Instead of just writing off odd behavior as annoying, try to understand why someone you may know/love is acting out of character. Constant anger or sadness are not default human emotions. While both exist in the catalog of human emotion, neither is supposed to be a constant state of existence. I have a saint of a wife who has helped me over the years as I've come to understand and admit my troubles, and boy has she dealt with some shit, but not everyone has that comforting force, not everyone has someone to whom they feel they can tell their troubles to. If you can do one thing today, tell someone you know that you’re genuinely there for them. The news would have us believe we are currently living in a world of hate and derision but let’s not allow that to be the case. Help the collective world get over the stigma that people who are suffering with internal pain are just seeking attention or being unnecessarily extra.

If you, personally, are struggling with regulating emotion or feeling out of sorts, please tell someone you trust. There is absolutely no reason to go through life miserable. Tell your ego to shut the fuck up and go talk to someone. I know my biggest struggle was with believing anyone would be sympathetic to what I was feeling or going through.

Trust me, people care. I care. Message me if you need to talk. Even if I don't know you, #youmatter

#ptsdawareness #PTSDRecovery #MentalHealthMatters #veteranshelpingveterans #thereishope

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