Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Being in outpatient therapy is scary.
I said it.
It drudges up so much, and makes you look at every. single. emotion.
It's like everything you've felt is suddenly under a microscope and you can't avoid looking at every detail of it now.
Today, our group moved through three different rooms. I was surprised when I realized it was stirring up anxiety in me. I was shocked when I found out I wasn't the only one.
So much anxiety.
Soooo much anxiety.
Sunday night, my roommate came home very drunk and very angry.
He started yelling at me about my dog, and just kept yelling. I started to black out, and left the room. I spent three hours in an anxiety attack. Three hours. Three HOURS!!!
So, the boyfriend and I are moving out of the house and back into the barracks, and taking our dog to his dad's house.
I hate the thought of not being able to live with him, but I know it's the right choice right now.
That night brought up so much for me, and made me understand so much more about myself. Once I started to come down from the anxiety a little bit, I started talking to my boyfriend about how much I hate it when my home is taken away from me, and how it's always happened. I never had a home I felt really safe in, and even the better ones were taken from me, one way or another. I've never really had a true home. As he and I talked about that, I realized this was also the reason I was so eager to get married. I wanted a home. I wanted a place I felt safe and that wouldn't get taken away from me. I told him that, and he promised me we would have it.
I love this man. He stayed by my side the entire time I was going through that anxiety attack. He did everything he knew how to comfort me, but never once questioned my emotions or my reaction to it all. My dad thinks he's a saint. He said that.
I keep thinking about my fiance- the one that died over a year ago. The one I broke up with only months before he died of an asthma attack. The one I hadn't seen in years (I was stationed in Korea when we got engaged, and were in a long-distance relationship the entire time, but had been friends for years before) and who I hadn't come to see when I first came back to the states. The one who I still have so many questions about... I loved him, and I still do. My gut told me something was wrong though, and I never have gotten any real information on anything he told me. I don't know if everything he told me was a lie, or if all of it was true. All I know is that he promised me the world, and I believe he loved me, even if I don't know what he believed. I had loved him for so long, and had wanted to be with him for so many years. When it finally happened, I was practically blinded with happiness. When I started questioning things, I don't know if it was fear of commitment or just that something didn't feel right... I don't know what to believe, and I can't ask him. I have never felt more guilty than I do about him. There are so many pieces that just don't fit, and so many things he told me that other people know nothing about... It hurts so bad to think of how I might have hurt him... and it hurts even worse thinking that it all might have been a lie...
I don't know how to get past this...
Rest in peace, no matter what the truth is....

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Like Sensitive Teeth

It finally hit me what I hate most about this whole PTSD mess.
I'm ridiculously sensitive to EVERYTHING.
It's like having a sweet tooth and sensitive teeth at the same time- you don't want to separate yourself from this world you just want to surround yourself with, but you can't help but be in horrible pain with nearly every little interaction.
I have spent the vast majority of my life cultivating the tough girl image. I'm heavily tattooed, tall and "thick". I'm not fragile looking, and, when surrounded by "the guys", I've always stood my ground, and managed, often enough to be known for it, to be able to respond to their dirty or shock-value jokes with something that none of them would have thought of. I'm a smart-ass. I've worked very hard to be the queen of comebacks and snide remarks. I pill poke, push or play-hit more guys I know than ones I would hug when I run into them. It's this person I've worked so hard to become- and now she's crumbling right in front of me.
And there's nothing I can do about it.
I know I take everything too personally lately. I feel like everything is somehow a reflection of me, and I know that I way oversimplify and, at the same time, over-think everything. If it wasn't obviously my fault, I will think about it and think about it until I can see how it "obviously" is my fault. And I will feel bad or guilty about it, no matter how long it took me to "see" that it "was my fault". It's a ridiculous game I play, really, and I can't possibly win it, either.
If my boyfriend isn't in a good mood, I take it to heart, and think about how difficult I've been lately. If I can't keep the dogs from overwhelming me, I find myself having trouble with my anxiety, but, of course, it's still my fault- I haven't trained them well enough. In my world, everything centers on me, but only when it's bad. In my world, that's the only thing I do, is mess things up for myself and everyone else.
I'm so tired of being miserable all the frigging time. I have gotten better about catching myself and fighting myself as I try to go down that all-too-familiar path, but I have a long way to go before I feel like I'm in any way in control of my emotions.
I make a huge point of holding on to that tough girl image at work- and now I've found myself crying- CRYING!- there, falling apart every time I deal with certain people that generally are more than a little willing to throw people (especially me) under the proverbial bus. People have seen me cry, AT WORK! For the love of God, this is not who I want to be.
Truth is, under the tough girl exterior, I've always been very sensitive to other's emotions, and a very compassionate person. It never bothered me too much until people started seeing it when I didn't want them to. In the military world, a sensitive woman- hell, even your average woman- is a risk, a problem. Women aren't seen as allies or possible strengths, and they aren't seen for their strengths. We're seen as the weakest links in the fence, physically and emotionally.
I have found myself having very generalized emotions lately, not triggered by anything in particular, but things I wake up with, and have the most trouble shaking. The blanket anxiety I felt last week was followed by blanket anger yesterday. I was just pissed off from the moment I woke up, and it took me well into the evening to really be rid of the majority of it.
I suppose someone will read this and know that this is "all part of the healing process" or some such cliche, but right now, I can't see how any of this can possibly be something anyone else has survived or understands.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Outpatient- Out Of Patience

Yesterday was a horrifically eventful day.
The day of my last post- the day before yesterday, now- I had left a note for the gentleman who is assigned to my unit to help aid with "Combat And Operational Stress". He is a wonderful guy, but didn't get back to me about this note, in which I asked for someone to talk to about the anxiety. I didn't hear anything, but had my first true anxiety attack in formation during PT.
For those of you who aren't military minded, and I commend you for trying to follow this mess, we line up in several rows, with one person in charge (more or less) and that's a formation. Now, we do our exercise in these formations- to include running.
We got about a block before the pain in my chest was so horrible I couldn't breathe and run at the same time- and certainly not while surrounded by other people running and bumping into or stepping on one another. I took myself out of the formation, trying to continue to run, albeit at a much slower pace, but eventually gave up and walked. A senior NCO came over, and asked what was wrong. Breathless, I told him 'anxiety attack'. He told me I could just go back to HQ, and my response was to shake my head and say 'that's quitting.' He didn't argue. A female NCO I'm pretty close to fell out of formation to come run/walk with me. We followed the same route the runners did, and I didn't quit. By the time we made it back to HQ, people were already finishing their stretches. My 1sg and company commander pulled me aside. My commander asked if I'd run that route, and when I (still not able to breathe well at all) told him I'd walked it, my 1sg (First Sergeant) asked me what was going on, I, again, said "anxiety attack". He instructed my boss to make sure I was alright.
For those of you that are familiar with medicine, my blood oxygen level (pulse ox) was 93. I wasn't getting enough oxygen, go figure.
Anyhow, I went to group yesterday, and was pulled aside at the end of the session. A social worker noted that I'd been coming to these groups "religiously" each Tuesday and Thursday, while most showed up once a week, at best. The note I had left the combat and operational stress guy had also been brought to her attention. I told her about the anxiety attack, and the incredible amount of problems all of this was causing for me at work.
She said I sounded like a perfect candidate for outpatient therapy.
....Wait, what?! That's an option?!
I spent several hours after that at a behavioral health clinic about 30 minutes from work, filling out papers, until I was certain to be late to my reiki appointment. Fortunately, the person scheduled after me for reiki wound up rescheduling completely, and the woman I work with on this was very understanding about it.
Today, I headed to work, not knowing whether or not my command was okay with me taking part in the outpatient program. After several hours, and more than an hour and a half after I should have already been at the clinic, it was finally cleared up.
My command is allowing me to go, and I am responsible for keeping them in the loop about everything and maintaining my own physical fitness, so I won't find myself moving from multiple hours of therapy into a crowd of running soldiers (again). This is expected to be several weeks long, 10-14 business days. Today was only a small taste of what I'll be dealing with, as I will be moved into a military group (I wear civilian clothes to this, wearing my uniform makes me more tense and anxious than I already am).
I am incredibly grateful to my commander for blessing off on this, and incredibly grateful in a more general sense for the opportunity to be away from my work, away from those people, and actually take some time and heal all these raw, open wounds.
I'm terrified, too, though.
I have had more anxiety since that one hour meeting with the social worker summarizing my life than I have ever had. If that's what happened after one hour, what happens after a day or a week of me talking this out, spilling my guts and really looking at those still-gaping wounds?
This sweet thing managed to nearly put me into another anxiety attack. I love her dearly, but she is so excited to see me sometimes that she gets a little bit too much so. She clocked me in the mouth after repeatedly jumping on me (she's full grown, but new to us, and not completely trained yet) and I had to push her away, and, eventually go put myself behind the closed door of our bedroom. She didn't want me to walk away from her, and she didn't mean to do any damage, but my anxiety turns to anger too quickly, and I will NOT hurt my dog, or anyone else.
She really is a fantastic dog, though, and very attached. I'm really glad to have her.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I'm still going to "check-in" groups twice a week.
It helps so much to talk to other people who are facing the same ignorance and dealing with the same struggles that I am. It's so hard going through this and not forgetting that I am not crazy.
More than anything, I want to feel like it's okay for me to be going through what I am, like this is just part of the healing process and nothing to be ashamed of.
But I don't.
I'm embarrassed to have PTSD. I'm embarrassed to have gotten myself into not one but TWO situations where I could be raped. I'm embarrassed that I can't control my anger or my tears more often than not. I'm embarrassed that I feel like everybody is a threat. I'm embarrassed that my boyfriend is carrying so much of our relationship right now, as I fall apart and find him taking care of me over and over and over again. I'm tired of being this way, and I don't for one second feel like it's okay to feel this way.
I woke up this morning with an elephant-size ball of anxiety sitting squarely on my chest. When my wonderful, amazing boyfriend tried to get too close to me physically, it got worse. I've never had flashbacks with him, and I rarely feel the need to close myself off from him. This morning, though, it was like he was the enemy. I had to get him away, even though I wanted nothing more than to feel loved. I had to hide my fear and anxiety and hurt, even though I wanted nothing more than to hear that it's okay to feel this way, and that the man I love so much understands.
I hate being stuck inside this ugly, angry, horrible shell.
I just want this all to go away. I don't want to be anxious about being around people anymore, and I don't want to wonder when I'll fall apart again. I don't want to worry about being in formations because I don't know if something will set me off while I'm surrounded by so many people. I don't want to worry about how much trouble I'll get in after I've had to walk away from a situation so I wouldn't lose control. This isn't who I want to be.
Last night, when I drove over to pick up my boyfriend from work, I had someone run up to the truck on the driver's side, to my open driver's side window, and scream at me to slow down. I was doing 10 mph in a 25 or 30 mph zone. It scared me and startled me so badly the one hand I had on the wheel at that particular moment jolted, and I caught myself just short of running the truck in his direction. I had been having a good day, and he set me on edge so badly I couldn't calm down completely for most of the evening.
I'm at work now, having chest pain and fighting tears and there's no specific reason that I can think of that I feel this way. I'm so frustrated.