Sunday, 27 July 2014

Vacation, Stress, PTSD

Vacation! That one time of year where we can relax, unwind, not think about work, responsibilities, poisoned office atmospheres and take a break. In theory, that's how it works. In reality, the hyper vigilance does not shut down. The nightmares do not stop. The tremors and muscle jerks continue along with the insomnia, nausea and feeling you are in the wrong body or the wrong mind. Unfortunately for PTSD survivors (and I hate that word also). We are not surviving, we are enduring, at the mercy of our flight and fight system and at mercy from a brain that will not hang onto memories long enough to process, but tortures us on a daily basis with flashes and glimpses of what was, and what could be again.

For me, it is the exhaustion. The every day battle that common people never face. I get up in the morning and I am exhausted, not rested, not thrilled to have to get out of bed at 0500 hours to face another day. I hurt. Every single muscle hurts. The shoulders, neck and back are the worst and my legs feel as if I am walking through jello. So where most people feel refreshed, I haven't slept, or had nightmares or woke up crying. Shower, have coffee and run out the door. Go to work where I will put in a 9 to 10 hour day dealing with interruptions, inter office politics, and office bullies. But on the positive side are the RM's, my staff and a few descent people that talk me off the ledge every once in a while.

I do not handle stupidity well, or bullies, or laziness and nothing raises my hackles more than someone who can complete a job for a client, but chooses not to. So I breathe. Count to ten. Kill them in my mind and let it go.

Dependent upon the day, I come home, feed the dogs, hang out with them for an hour, eat dinner and watch some TV with la spouse. Other days, I go straight to bed. Last weekend I went to bed Friday night and would up Monday morning.

Now it is vacations. No schedules. I plan on writing....a lot. And so far have managed to pull off what I have promised. Yesterday was a great day. Wrote in the morning, shopped in the afternoon and then entertained 6 friends and laughed, told stories and generally had a pleasant day.

Watched a movie, read a little bit and went to bed. And laid awake until 0500 hours. My mind would not shut down. I would read, nod off and think great, but no. Ten minutes later I am staring at the ceiling again. I tend to get a lot of books read this way, but unfortunately the headaches and fog I am left with means that today will be way less productive. I may get in 2000 words of a novel I am working on, or I may crash the rest of the day.

I eat well, I exercise, I quit drinking coffee before 1000, but regardless my brain has a mind of it's own. After the brain surgery, I did not sleep for five months. I cat napped, but that was it. I thought I would lose my mind. I have never recovered from that state, and I don't think I ever will.

We lost a member to PTSD two weekends ago. For Ken Barker, seeing the horrific incident of a young man being killed and cannibalized on a bus was the last thing he could endure. Five years later, no longer being able to deal with the pain, physical and mental, he succeeded in killing himself.  This is the path for some PTSD survivors.

A month before that, we lost three men to a psychopath with a shotgun. Three good men, who were loved, had families and had a vision of leaving the world a better place.

Triggers all around. And now, here in Gimli, the most serene place in the world, I write horrific things. I write about demons and human nature and the evil that men and women, do. Because it helps me keep my own demons in check. And because I know that whatever I write, the truth is always a million times worse.

Now, if I could just sleep like a normal person..........

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