Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grieving and PTSD??

Recently my therapist (yeah, I have one of those, that's how bad things are) suggested to me that coming home early from my mission was not only a huge loss, but the process of being sent home was traumatizing. I agreed with him and explained that I relive parts of being sent home almost every night in my dreams, the good and the bad. He then explained that I probably have some PTSD from the trauma of coming home early. He went on to explain that when you go through something that is very intimate to you it stays in your short term memory and repeats itself over and over and short term memory is very vivid and life like. When a very big and traumatic event happens it stays in your short term, which is why soldiers who come home with PTSD get upset over thunder and such, because the booming sounds from guns and bombs are stuck in short term memory. To get rid of PTSD part of the therapy is retelling the event over and over again so that you can hopefully try and get the memory to go into long term so you son't relive it every night.

From all this my therapist has told me that it is ok to grieve the loss of leaving my mission early, he has also told me to try and retell my story and share the though parts when I feel like I can. Now for me that was a very tall order. I don't like talking about myself and I don't like people being up in my business about things. In fact, if I had it my way I would rather pretend I didn't have the disease at all and just pretend that everything was hunky dory and dandy. Unfortunately I tried that and I got more and more depressed.

Here is a fact about me... I am either really bad at faking it, or I do such a good job that I end up hating myself and getting more and more down because I know I'm faking it and not making it, so that just makes me fake. And I do not like fake people. When I explained this to my therapist. He told me that like a person who loses a loved one unexpectedly, I lost something to me, unexpectedly. I lost 6 months of time that, to my culture, was one of the greatest and noblest things you will ever do. And that I loved. He explained that I am in the grieving process right now. And that even though I didn't lose someone, I lost something. And I am grieving. When he explained this, my impatient self answered back and said, "Well how long does this grieving process last? Because I'd kinda like to get my life back together." Of course, just like someone loses a loved one, it isn't as simple as bushing yourself off and saying: "I'm good!"

The best thing that I have found to help me during this grieving process, as well as my illness is to take it by the hour. People sometimes ask me if I have good days and bad days. I tell them that it is more like good hours and bad hours. The evening hours are much more harder, because I have exhausted myself to stay somewhat normal during the morning and afternoon hours. So I take things hour by hour. And when I do that, I find I appreciate things more.

It is amazing the perspective I get now that I take things by the hour. When I am not looking at the time for the next thing I will have to do, I tell myself that if it is over an hour away, it doesn't matter. Because if I am worrying about what is in the next couple hours, I am missing out on what is happening in this hour that I am living in. And those next couple hours I might not even be in commission so whatever I had planned doesn't matter anyways. It helps me be more grateful for the little moments of each day. And I am not so worried about what I will be like in the next hour, because yeah I could have a melt down in an hour, its very possible if it is around 5 or 6 at night. But instead of having my whole day be ruined because of what is coming later that night. I can buckle down and focus on the 11:00am time slot and whatever that hour brings. I have even stopped wearing watches regularly because I don't want time to run my life. I want to live, not function. I have said that before, and taking it hour by hour is my way of doing that.

It is also helpful because I might wake up and be so tired and just exhausted. I can wake up and say "This is going to be a bad day." And write it off and just let the whole day be bad. Or I can accept that I am tired, but hope that as I get going I can make it that some of my medication will kick in and I will be ok in an hour or so. It doesn't let me have a whole bad day. And it helps.

HA! If only it were this easy!
Now, this is so much easier said than done. And the most aggravating part is I don't know when I am done grieving. Yeah, I may have a good hour, but the grieving is still in the back of my mind always! And I would really rather not have to wonder if this next hour is going to be good or bad. I'd rather take things as a day, instead of an hour. I also struggle with not knowing if this grieving is drawn out because I have depression, because I have Lyme Disease. Or if I just have a hard time letting go of something that was so awesome and that I loved. I mean, it's not Lyme Disease that makes me embarrassed when someone asks how my mission was (even if they don't know I came home early). It's not Lyme Disease that makes me hate that I have been home for 5 months now, when I could still be out there. Or is it?

Ya see, it would be nice to just blame it all on the Disease. To just blame the tick. But the grieving and PTSD came from me leaving so suddenly, and the shock of being home early, those are in a way the ticks fault. But the fact that I can't shake it off and move on, the fact that it is dragging me down, are those the ticks fault? Or mine? I guess part of this is just accepting that Lyme Disease is part of my new identity for now, and I say that a lot of things are the hardest part. But THAT really  is the hardest part. Everyone at different points in their life asks "Who am I?" Well, am I this chronic illness? Am I PTSD? Am I depressed? Am I grieving? Or does the Disease make me depressed? Does the disease make me have PTSD? Does the Disease make me grieve? Or are those things I bring on myself...?
All in all, this is how I feel. And though I can never actually say these things... I feel at least one of these ways, every hour.

-The Lyme Warrior