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Learning to Live with PTSD

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A Guest Post from Dana DeLong,

Vice President of www.voiceofwarriors.com

My name is Dana and I am an Army Veteran who served during Desert Storm. I was diagnosed last year with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and have been in treatment ever since. I go to regular counseling sessions and am on daily medications. I serve as vice president for an organization called Voice of Warriors (VOW). We are a non-profit organization that strives to create community awareness about Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since joining VOW I have started writing a diary of sorts about how I live and cope with my PTSD. The following article is from my latest post to our website.

So I realized something this past week. I am human, and sometimes humans fall! Last week I fell off of the wagon, so to speak. I fell back into my old routine of sitting in my chair and not doing anything. All the while I was getting mad and frustrated with myself, and the more this went on the more things flared up. I was negative, flying off the handle and yelling at my kids, and downright mean to myself. Well, after a week of this and realizing that the only thing that can change this is me, I did something about it. This week I quit using my kids or whatever I could think of as an excuse, and started working on the house again. It seems like all I do is clean, cook and do laundry, but I guess that is part of being a stay-at-home mom. I got back on the horse and back into the routine of working and taking my timed breaks. Monday I managed to get dishes done and some laundry with the kids at home and ran some errands. Guess what– the world kept turning and I managed to do it in stride without having any breakdowns. It felt good and made me want to do more, so I am continuing with it the rest of the week. I can do more than one thing at a time but not more than two, and that is ok. Even if I can only accomplish one thing at a time it is ok. I feel better about myself and have it back in check.

We have to learn that it is not easy to “relearn” how to live. As small children we learned by trial and error, and that is what we have to do now. It may not be how we want to do it, but it is what it is and we have to learn to be patient. I know patience is not an easy thing to come by and mine is tested every day with my young children, but I have been working on finding it with them and with myself. I have also learned–and keep relearning– that the negative self talk is counter-productive and leads to the days and weeks when I don’t accomplish anything. Here is a great quote that speaks to me and I like to keep it handy: “The best way out is always through” -Robert Frost. So to me the best way to get through PTSD is to learn, listen and teach. Learn from myself and others what can help. Listen to my counselor and other veterans to see what I can learn from them. Finally teach others what I have learned and try to help them along the way so that they don’t have as many bumps and set-backs as I have had.

I guess what I am trying to say with this is that there are always going to be ups and downs, we just have to learn how to roll with them. It is not easy and takes practice, like most things worth doing in life, but it can be done. We just have to find the pace that is right for us. Everyone has a different pace and it will take time to find yours. I am still working on finding mine and it can be a battle but I am committed to finding the right pace for me. I know that every day will not be a picnic but even with a “normal” life it rains on you some days.