A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘PTSD’ Category

Fearless….again

  I am reblogging one of my own posts that someone recently sent back to me to remind me of my own words. I am struggling with so much lately. My health is not great as it seems that the PsA has done a lot of damage to my kidneys and guts. This past three years and especially this winter, was particularly bad for me. But, as the doctor said on  this past Friday, well at least it did not decline anymore according to my recent labs. As I sat in the garden this morning, I searched for words to console me. Then, in an attempt to clean up my email, I came across this:

Fearless

Posted on June 4, 2013

Once you step free from the limiting, linear straight jacket that narrowed the understanding of the vastness of your consciousness, everything seems to fall into place, (because it was always exactly as it was intended to be anyway, you just didn’t see it that way). There will be nothing to worry about, and no sadness to embrace; at the very least, you will be much less inclined to engage in that sort of thinking. – Rising Hawk

These words written by my friend are the key to living longer and happier. It is not the first time I have read or heard similar messages, but sometimes you can look at something and feel nothing. Other times it pulls you by the collar and slaps you soundly. This is how this hit me.

To release control, to allow your life to happen…such basic concepts and yet, not easily done for people who are frightened. I paused as I wrote the word frightened because it is word that evokes pity or distain, but it is the word I choose but not my intent. I have to advocate for those who are in or come from surroundings that to the outsider seem safe or harmless. These souls present to the world a false bravado while under their skins pulses the sense of fear. It is the walk of many, including me.

I am one who struggles daily with fear of what might be construed as silly to some. But that is what this is all about. Fear is as individual as the person containing it. I fight mightily to allow the control of my life to flow without my choking grip on it. It was making me sick and my body was tired from holding on so tight. For those who may seek some comfort in my writing, it is possibly to let go even if it is an inch at a time. Each forward release allows for more room to breathe and the body to function as it should.

How does one get to be enclosed in a box? It comes from so many sources. It is life. For some people, much like me, it comes from a dysfunctional and abusive life. I was sitting in a car this weekend listening to a school psychologist talking to another friend about children she has helped whose parents were abusive alcoholics. I sat and listened while my friend was so amazed and horrified with the stories as if they were just that, fiction. I wanted to chime in and share my personal story, but instead sat back and just listened. It was difficult and I actually felt some anger as the two of them talked about the children as statistical information.  I also felt some relief to know that this is not WHAT I am as this person in the car, but only my story. I had a sense of relief if nothing else.

I see and hear every day the barrage of negativity thrust upon us daily to keep us reigned in. We see and hear all the things we need to buy or obtain in order to be something that sadly we are lacking. It takes a strong will to turn away and not succumb to the temptation to secure a better car, house, body, clothes, and on and on. We force this standardization on our children to make them fit in and behave in an approved manner. Why is that we allow this fear and perpetuate this environment of control? This is a question that has been around forever. See the Allegory of the Cave by Socrates. We have survived as pack animals.

“No sadness to embrace…” I held those words in my thoughts all night. Embrace; what a strange concept to think we enjoy sadness. But we do. We love drama. We pay to see actors portraying life struggles because we can empathize and feel  our own sadness as a bonding emotion. Pathos. It what drama is all about. I have friends whose whole life is based on a miniseries of dramas. It is food for their lives. I am not exempt from this either and that is why those words struck me. I work in an environment where the drama level is fed daily. Most is simple confusion of an unorganized work flow. But they have been this way forever and I realize it is a culture that is embraced. They live for the confusion because it is an opportunity to emote and wring hands. They bond with each other in their complaining and strife. I see the same culture in my in-laws. They are passionate about the anguish produced from the simplest situation. It produces a slew of emails and phone calls until the event is secured or past. Then it stirs up the discussion and critic of the players involved, which is often another go around of scorn.

But the sadness I am referring to is the self-inflicted kind which I am truly guilty of. I have seen pictures of me where the sadness is evident in my eyes. People have commented on it as I do not hide my feelings well. NO, in truth, they cloak me like a neon sign. I have become aware of the origin of my sadness and I know in my head, that I cannot change what has happened. This is where I have come to the fork in the road so to speak. I can choose to “not engage in that sort of thinking…”

Can it be that simple? This is one of the life lessons that does not come with great directions on how to do something. I read, listen, and participate in learning as much as any seeker does. Is this not what we all really want, to not be sad and to be free from control? I figured out that no, actually not everyone does want that and will take you with them down the hole if you allow. And then there are some who see a secure and happy person and will go to great lengths to sap the life out of them. They are like a mosquito sucking the life blood of other’s because it is easier than obtaining it on their own. It takes great strength to disallow these creatures their feast. Our own minds can be a foe and a little fear can spiral out to become a monster of our own making. Fear is a companion that has been with me a long time. I am not going to sever the relationship overnight, but to travel on I must begin. This will be a long climb but one I must make……. alone.

4th of July Liberties

 

I was born in America. I have never experienced anything but the freedoms we have here in this country. I do not know any better and so I take it for granted. I am disgusted by piss-poor politicians and can be vocal about my feelings. I am entitled. I take for granted the rights and liberties we have. But I am proud to be an American.

However, I hate the way we celebrate this holiday with fireworks. I personally love the display and the colors. But I hate the noise. It upsets my little Cookie.

Last night we were all sitting in the garden as is our ritual before bed. The dogs take a walk around the yard. We call it the perimeter check. And then we sit for a bit and meditate. There were a few little pops in the distance and Cookie was a bit nervous but still quiet. Then a neighbor set off a huge firework which exploded right over the garden. She panicked.

We ran inside and she took off for the bedroom. I had prepared for this and had the air conditioner and fans going. We crawled into bed and she crawled on top of me and shook. I finally calmed her down and she fell asleep next to me but in my arms. I thought we were ok when another one went off. She again crawled on top of my chest and buried her face in my arms. Finally they stopped and she fell asleep attached to me on my side.

I know everyone has the right to celebrate. I wish they would go back to making fireworks illegal in NY. There are enough displays that are set off by the municipalities to enjoy. I am sure tonight and the next night will be even worse for my little dogs. Browny does not seem to get upset by the noise. But he does get upset when Cookie is upset.

I wish I could teach them something I just learned. I am taking a class to become a Certified Trauma Professional. This class has taught me so much about PTSD and trauma. It is taught by Dr. Eric Gentry, who is an internationally recognized leader in the field of disaster and clinical traumatology.

He teaches that people cannot feel the effects of stress or trauma in a relaxed body. Seems so simple. But he explains in length how the human body is always reacting to triggers of some kind. People who have had extended periods of some form of trauma are in a hypervigilant mode all the time. There are chemical reactions in the brain and the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems go into over drive.  In short, our body is in control.

He explains that we need to be aware that this is always on in one degree or another. And we react by constricting our muscles all day. An example is when at the end of the day, you neck and shoulders are way up and hurt and you have no idea why. It is the constriction of the muscles that you held in a clench all day. We clench our muscles everywhere. It is one cause of leg cramps and back pain.

It is common now for people to understand the concept of just take a breath. Dr. Gentry talks about the power of just taking a breath. He talked about other methods for getting control. But the method I think is amazing and it works is called the pelvic floor relaxation. First you have to become aware of the muscles in you hip area. Do a few kegal exercises by squeezing the muscles that can stop you when you pee. Now just completely relax that area completely. Do that several times a day. Concentrate on those muscles being relaxed when something stressful is happening and you will find you won’t be as stressed.

The issue is that the effect only lasts for a very short time. This is something you have to do all the time. It only takes a second and no one knows you are doing it. Another method to use  is called the wet noodle. This is where you go absolutely limp in a chair for ten seconds. It is like a mini vacation. The effect of being in a relaxed body is how people are learning to deal with PTSD and every day stress.

I wish I could teach my little pup this. But for her, the only comfort is a dark quiet room and being held by her Mommer.

Trauma informed

little girl

I have spent a great deal in the past months seeing a variety of doctors for various reasons. At every visit, every time, the patient care-tech brings me back to the visiting room to wait for the doctor. It is their responsibility to weigh, check blood pressure and ask a few questions. One of those questions is the medical community’s answer to being trauma informed. It misses by a huge mark.

Being trauma informed simply means being sensitive to a patient’s history or the possibility of the patient being in a dangerous living situation. We are talking domestic violence, and all forms of abuse: mental, physical and sexual at any age. Being a trauma informed  means everyone on your team from the receptionist to the doctor is sensitive to how they treat a patient. Some may say this is over the top but the concept is very important to the true wellness of all patients.

For example, the patient who keeps coming back with bruises or injuries from falls. Very suspicious if the patient is only forty. Maybe not so for someone who is eighty. But in the case of the eighty year old, she or he may have a care giver who has been frustrated in having to provide care and pushes them to make them move faster, or hits them when they spill things. And the patient is not going to do anything about it because the next step is being forced into a nursing home. They are living in an abusive home and are trapped. They certainly are not going to be forth coming about it.

Patients who have experienced domestic violence of any form will react differently to the way someone approaches their safety bubble. What I mean by this is that everyone has a comfort zone for how close people can get and how comfortable they are being touched. Some people are huggers and touchers and love to get close to anyone, including a stranger. People who have been abused have much larger safety zones and very often do not want to be touched. This not wanting to be touched can range from the patient being able to tolerate it by disassociation or the patient who has a panic attack at the mere thought of having to be touched, which often leads them to not go to the doctor when they really need to.

It an attempt to becoming trauma informed, our local medical center has all providers asking about the safety of their patients? It is a useless attempt to meet a standard. First of all, it is not the doctor who asks this question. It is the care-tech, the gum chewing little twenty-something who is trying to beat a record of some kind by seeing how fast she can get patients in the rooms ready for the doctor. They change regularly and even so, I doubt highly any patient who is in a domestic violence situation is going to open up to that individual as if they are going to be able to do anything. AND… it is none of their business. The lack of sensitivity to the situation of an actual abuse situation is very typical. Unless there has been some form of specific training done with people who are asking that question, simply asking the question almost makes it worse. What are they going to do if a patient says, “no I am not safe. My husband routinely comes home drunk and beats the shit out of me and then rapes me.” The response to that can make or break the patient. The care-tech’s only course of action would be to type ABUSED into the chart. That works!

I would love to know how asking this question, “do you feel safe in your living environment” is the proper opening for a patient to disclose something so humiliating and degrading as being abused. And how many providers are even trained to handle the situation past the physical? Do they know who in the community is providing help for domestic violence? But the bottom line, most patients will not jeopardize themselves by spilling the beans about their crappy home life in a brief visit to a doctor, especially if there is not a relationship built over time with that doctor.

But being trauma informed goes beyond asking that inane question. It is things like how the patient is treated by everyone; from the rushed handling of the care-tech to the actual doctor. Patients who are victims of abuse will react from the way they are placed in a room and then left abruptly to wait for an extended period for the doctor. Letting the patients know if the doctor is running late, or checking in on the patient to see if they are ok would go much further to calm a nervous person. Having the doctor explain what and why they are going to do something BEFORE doing it will help also. Even the simple act of having them listen to the heart can be traumatic. Some doctors will do it over clothes, some doctors reach right in without warning for skin contact. Sometimes there may be a need to hold the patients head while examining their throat for example. This simple act can terrify someone who has had their head restrained in an abusive act such as forced oral sex. Lying down on an examining table makes anyone vulnerable, but for an abused patient, it is excruciating.

For some patients, the act of disrobing will send them back to a place of past abuse. These patients need a sense of safety which throwing them into a sterile, brightly lit room and demanding they disrobe behind a flimsy curtain does not provide. Then they have to sit in anticipation of being probed on a ridiculous scary examining table sitting in the middle of the room as if they were a piece of meat shivering in a paper gown. Would it be so absolutely terrible to provide a soft blanket to comfort and to also help with limiting the exposure while being examined? Something that simple is being trauma informed.

The patient is brought back to the exam room and sat down after being weighed. For some, being weighed is very traumatic. I know that doctors need the vitals but unless you are suspicious of your patients and do not trust them, can you not simply ask them what they weigh? Or make it part of the exam in private and not in a hallway where everyone is walking by. The scale calculates and the care-tech yells out the reading like everyone needs to know….and you still have your boots on. I skip it and refuse. Unless I am there for weight related issues, I know what I weigh and I will tell the doctor if they ask.

Health care workers are highly trained. But in the area of trauma informed, there is much to learn. This study goes hand in hand with a comprehension of the ACE study, which identified the link of abuse to chronic illnesses. I have asked all the doctors who I see if they are aware of the ACE study, and none of them are. I am going to leave a couple of articles for them to read. (see below) We need to work on this information being disseminated and so if you found this helpful, read and print these out and give them to your doctors.

Ace study: http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797%2898%2900017-8/fulltext

PDF of journal article: http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(98)00017-8/pdf

https://acestoohigh.com/2017/01/05/dear-doctor-a-letter-from-a-survivor-of-sexual-trauma-to-all-medical-professionals/

https://acestoohigh.com/2016/08/10/childhood-trauma-leads-to-lifelong-chronic-illness-so-why-isnt-the-medical-community-helping-patients/

 

 

 

In hot water

fogfalls   This sound really egotistical and it is not what my intent is. I am sincerely amazed how intuitive I can be. It is not always a great thing but it has kept me alive. This may seem like a small issue to some, but what happened this last week tells me it is important enough to share. Maybe someone else is like this and does not realize it. I am talking about stress and what it does to you.

About a month ago, I had my heating system annual tune up and cleaning. The guy who came to the house was very nice. The same week, my mother-in-law was in the hospital dying. The day he came, we were all supposed to meet at the hospital to talk about a care plan. I wanted the guy to hurry up and finish. I went to check on him and he starts telling me my system needs to be drained down and a new valve needed to be installed; the same valve that was replaced two years ago. Every time they come out, they find something wrong with the system. When we turned the heat on, it dripped two drops. He said he was going to adjust the pressure and some other things and then forty minutes later he left. They would call me to set up an appointment for the next work.

As the weeks went past, there was nary a drip. The system is a gas fired boiler that circulates hot water throughout the house. The heat is not drying as force air and is very cost efficient. And boilers last for decades. The parts that support the system do not. Since I have been here fifteen years, I understand that things need to be updated. The system is very quiet except for an occasional tick of the baseboards.

What was happening when the system kicked on was this rush of water coming into the system that sounded awful. It was very loud in the kitchen and the first time it happened it scared the crap out of me. I thought we sprung a huge leak. I went downstairs and all was well. We were not home a lot the next weeks and the weather was warm so it did not happen too often.

But every time it did, I would tense up so bad. Stories ran through my head of imminent disaster. It was amazing how loud the rushing water sounded. I thought that maybe he put the pressure down and that eventually the water would stop doing it. But it didn’t.

But my body flared. The intense reaction was so visceral. My home was in danger. I love my house. It is my safe place. I was not sleeping and a lot of other things were happening in my body. My morning glucose readings were very high. On top of the boiler, the garage door opening system broke and needed repair. I discovered that on Tuesday of last week when I came home and the safety eye was laying on the floor. The door does not close without it facing the other eye.  Then on Wednesday, the ice maker crapped out.

Luck was totally in my corner. The door people had an opening on Friday and could come out to fix it and tune up the opener. My husband was off and home. Perfect. He knew I was upset about the ice maker so he called someone and they could come on Friday too. We also had scheduled a tune up for my car on Friday, which was supposed to be no big deal. But you know how that goes.

I was so freaking frazzled that by the end of the week, my body literally was on fire and I had a diverticulitis attack. I was not sleeping and my hands and hips and back were flaring so much I could hardly walk. I went to work in the morning, after dropping my car off with the intent of picking it up and being home when the icemaker dude was coming. Since I was going to be home, I called the heating people and after a run around, they were going to send someone out as well in the afternoon.

The heating chap was a rather nice young man and he listened to what was going on. I told him the story of the valve and he of course was thinking his fellow worker was correct. But he heard the rushing of the water and looked at the gauges and said there was not enough water in the system and that was a big issue. He wanted to at first drain the system by going all over the house and opening up things… and I thought I was going to be sick. Then he put some water into the system and he thought the gauge was broken. He drained some water with a hose he had and a bunch of other things. He had so many scenarios of what was wrong and he tried many things. Nothing was wrong with the gauges. There just was not enough water in the system. He filled it back up and then went out to his truck and called the guy or the office. I went into the other room. He came back in still on the phone for a while. Finally, he called for me. He looked funny.

Seems I was absolutely right. The guy before drained water out of the system and reset the gauges improperly. The poor boiler was trying to operate without the right pressure or water. He could have ruined the system. There was nothing wrong once he filled it up correctly and reset the gauge. It has been quiet, no drip and is keeping us toasty. They offered me a maintenance agreement and gave me such a deal on it as an apology that it paid for itself. I get two years of free tune ups. Good customer service.

But what amazed me is how much my body calmed down. I spent the rest of the weekend in a much better place. I slept better than I have in a month. My glucose readings dropped fifty points and it is not from eating better, that’s for sure. My physical reaction to the loss of safety in my home was not controllable because I did not even know how bad I was until the things were fixed. I feel so vulnerable because I do not know how to fix the mechanics of my house. I hate being fleeced.

The car was fixed and only what I needed. The garage door works terrific and he fixed the issue of why the eye fell off so it won’t happen again. It did once before and I got it back on. The icemaker had to be replaced but I love having ice so it was worth it. The guy who came out was very nice and lives nearby and fixes all kinds of appliances. It is a good feeling of having someone like him available. He was honest and fair. All is well and there is a safe feeling again in my house.

Now, if there was only some way I could fix what happened on Tuesday with the elections……..

 

 

 

 

Autumn Challenges

pumpkins

This has been an amazing week.

I used to love autumn. It was my favorite season. So much so I chose to be married the first time in October. I love the cooler temperatures and the colors of the trees and the crispness of the air. I loved going back to school as a kid. I have always thought of fall as the season of change.

But as things in my life happened, I noticed a pattern of not so nice things happening in the fall. It changed my favorite season to be late spring and early summer, with June being my favorite month.

I started the process of my divorce in November, I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis in October, I went through several seasons of terrible medical issues, including the possibility of Ovarian Cancer discovered in September but by January the next year was dismissed as just a dermoid tumor. The list goes on includes thyroid issues, severe kidney problems and pituitary tumors.

I dread fall now for those reasons. But I also hate the dying of all the plants. One morning, I will wake up and my garden will have been killed by a frost. It devastates me. All that work all summer to have it gone in one night. I fight it by covering things for a while but then I know I have to sacrifice all the flowering plants. I do bring in many and host them for the winter, but the impatiens won’t make it. Even the large maples will shed their canopy and the garden will be barren. The animals will disappear for the most part, even though I continue to feed them.

bear-display

Well true to form, I had an issue. Two weeks ago, I went for my annual mammogram. I am faithful about that test. My mother’s sister, my favorite aunt, had breast cancer and had a double mastectomy at a very early age.

I had a new kind of imaging done that I have never had before. They found something. I got a call back requesting I return for another diagnostic test and then would be required to wait for a consult with a doctor. I knew I had a crazy week and so I waited until the following Friday to return.

The week was worrisome. I finally convinced myself it was just an issue with the imaging as she said she had trouble and needed to take two of the right breast. I did not know that was not the reason, but I clung to the idea she messed up through the week. But true to someone who has PTSD, my body reacted with terrible flares of pain. By Friday, I could hardly walk.

The Elizabeth Wende Breast Center is a fabulous facility here in my town. They have satellite offices and I usually go to one of those. But for this recall, I had to go back to the main center. It was mobbed. You waited in line just to check in. I was told I was going to the other side of the facility and to wait in a separate area. It was smaller and calmer. Once you are in the actual  facility, it is run like a spa. There is soft music and no sound is emitted from the TVs in the waiting rooms. They have couches and soft colors and you feel like you are in someone’s living room. They offer chair messages and paraffin treatments, and you can shop for jewelry while you wait. It is so soothing that the lady next to me wrapped herself up in a blanket and fell asleep.

The technicians are very kind. She allowed me to see the images she took along with the ones from the previous test. Sure enough, there was a mass and there was no denying it. I was sent back to the waiting room and fought back tears. It was a long wait, it seemed.

After a hour and half wait, they brought me back to the doctor’s office and I had to have an ultrasound done. I walked around the room in anticipation of what was next and I noticed the doctor’s multiple diplomas. The doctor’s name was Posy Jane. How could someone with that name give me bad news? She was crisp yet nice and allowed me to watch as she honed in on the darkened spot. She declared it a cyst and said not to worry. I love Dr. Posy Jane S. It was the best news.

I have a real empathy for the women I know who have gone through breast cancer. It was terrifying even though I had a great outcome. And what if it was something? I was glad I had the opportunity to have such state of the art facilities. They have such great new technology out there that must be saving many women’s lives. Early detection is critical.

I am hoping this was my crisis for the year. The garden is still going great and I plan on sitting out there today and read. We will go to the farmer’s market and then I will create a fall dinner with many vegetables and celebrate the beauty of the season. I know I am blessed and dodged a bullet. I am grateful.

Transitions

sept-doves-2016

I have been writing about the Doves who have lived with us all summer. They left their spot up on the porch for a long time in August and we figured they were done having babies. We were wrong. A new pair had another set of babies this September. That made three sets of twins and one single baby dove that came into the world in my garden.

We lost one young bird from the first pair that was attacked earlier in the summer.  I found her on the walkway and she died in my hands. She is buried in the garden.

dove-love

This newest pair grew quite large. Yesterday, the nest was empty. But I found one of them on the deck. We knew that one was not doing great from birth. We could see that she breathed a lot faster than the other one. I think she cannot fly because I was able to walk up to her pretty close and all she did was walk away. Throughout the day, I would see her in another spot, often with her nest mate. The bigger one can fly away. I put out seed and I hoped she would be ok.

How frightening it must have been for her to find herself on the deck after being in her nest for so long. Now she is in this huge space and alone, unless her brother/sister comes back. Last seen she had meandered closer to the bird seed I put out, but in the safety of a bush. I worried all night and I am waiting for day break to go out see if she is ok or gone. I pray she flew away, if that is possible.

spet-doves1

There may be a day when we will vaporize and be transported to our next location by breaking apart and reassembling somewhere else. I doubt I will see that in my time. For now, I have to physically move myself and enter into a new arena from the comfort of where I was. For some people like me, it is hard and disruptive. But I have been practicing doing a Soft Landing, one of the new Mindful Self-Compassion skills from the class I am taking.

I am very sensitive to my environment. So much so that I am not even completely aware of all the signals coming into my brain, but I do react. I am still hyper-vigilant, but not as bad as I was years ago. I do not like loud sounds or bright lights. And I can detect emotional distributions or as they say, bad vibes, very easily and it puts me on alert.

The concept of a soft landing is to take a moment every time you go from one spot to the next in your day. When you enter somewhere and find you seat, take a moment to breath. Close your eyes if you can and listen for whatever sounds are in the room. Go inward to your body and scan for discomfort. Much like you would massage a muscle, send soothing energy to the discomfort or simply become aware of it. I find the act of just being aware of pain seems to lessen its grip. I do this now all the time including when I get into my car and drive anywhere. It only takes a moment.

garden-sept-center

My favorite grounding is when I come home from work. I change out of my work clothes into something soft and comforting. I like to sit in the garden and just be there for a moment. Then and only then, my husband and I will share our days. He knows he is not supposed to hit me with drama when I come through the door. It was a hard habit for him to break.

However, now he forgets sometimes to tell me I had a phone call. This was the case last week. By the time he remembered, it was too late to call them back. Unfortunately, this was a call that was crucial that I returned. Seems my mammogram is “inconclusive” and I had to reschedule for another series of images and then a consult.

After talking with a few girlfriends, I learned that this was not an uncommon occurrence when you have a mammogram done. But when it happens to you, it is very troubling. I have been having them done since I was 21. My Aunt had breast cancer was diagnosed at a very early age and ended up with a double mastectomy. My mother died of cancer at 56, although her original diagnosis was lung cancer. Every therapy I have taken for my Psoriatic Arthritis has a warning that it can “encourage” lymphoma.

From all the classes I have taken and including this one, the principal of living in the present moment is a basic core truth. I worry way too much about way too much which causes undo stress and physical pain. I have to learn to stay in the present moment. The MSC class is helping me recall many of the strategies that I let go of. Being in the present moment while in this situation is critical for my wellbeing while I wait to hear what is going on. But it is hard to not worry.

So like the little dove, I am in a transition that I am not really happy about. But then that is life. If we do not move forward and face our issues head on, we become stuck. The image that pops into my mind is one from childhood. It is a dinosaur stuck in a tar pit. The outcome is never good.

Midsummer Dreams

Nightview 2015

The light has shifted ever so slightly in the garden at night. I have been doing an epic battle to keep everything hydrated. But even so, things are crisp or wilted. My glorious ferns are gone and the grass is brown and crunchy. The trees in their deprived state are dropping leaves early. I fear for how brown our fall will be this year.

I am not good with the heat. The other night, the little air conditioner in our bedroom could not overcome the heat and it was still 80 in the room. I find myself longing for a storm or two. I realize I could never live somewhere that was sunny perpetually.

I spend my last hours of the day in the garden readying from my Kindle. It’s so dry that the bugs and mosquitos are less and so the light does not attract them. I finished a non-fiction book intended to reflect on what it is like to live with PTSD. It was a story of woman who was raped by her boyfriend over a period of times when she was 16. She lived with his threats and never told anyone. The book revolves around her growing up and dealing with the ramifications. She is splinter from her family, her own choice, and ends up as a disenfranchised woman living in a hovel.

Although the book explained about triggers it was not a good representation of what it is like to live PTSD. The woman in the story goes to a psychiatrist and is “healed” by simple breathing methods and other mindful exercises. She meets a man and life goes on off into the sunset. Although the authors attempt to help bring awareness, I think she misrepresents the truth.

People do not ever heal from PTDS. They learn to cope. And while some are better than others, it still can rear its ugly head at any moment. Triggers come from everywhere. I was reading where a female soldier (nurse) who had PTSD after being in Nam was fine for years. Then she moved to a new area to work at a hospital. She started having horrible flashbacks and attacks. She could not figure it out when on a very still night she heard the sound of a chopper flying to the landing pad at the hospital. It was not the first flight since she moved there. Normally it was noisy with other ambient sounds and this was so subtle she never paid attention. But her ears did. They heard and she would start to have panic attacks.

The shift in light for me is a trigger. I am so sensitive to it that I am aware before it really gets to the point where it bothers me. Something about the afternoon light before sunset in the fall and winter makes my chest tighten and other sensations. It has to do with sunset around 5 pm. This was the cocktail hour when my parents would barricade themselves away from us and start drinking. Yes, this still affects me forty years later. I am aware of it and can normally deal with it. But I still get a stomach ache and my mood shifts.

This morning, as many Sunday mornings, I sleep an hour or two longer than normal. It is very common for me to have nasty dreams but there is a prevalence of one reoccurring situation and it often plays out in these stolen moments of extra sleep. I have no idea why and I cannot control my dreams. Even after being divorced for over 13 years, I still have horrible dreams about the way I was treated. I am not going to dwell by explaining this as I need to let the dream I had this morning go. But my point is PTSD does not just end.

I know what I have to do and will tend to it. The summer ending is always hard for me. We are off to the River for our long extended stay in a couple of weeks. That will help me to focus and ground. There needs to be more awareness of PTSD, and not just for Vets. It affects many people in many ways.