February 2, 2013

Daily Dealings with PTSD

This week has been the worst in a while. I am in week 4of CPT. I am working 3 part time jobs to make ends meet as a single mom. I also volunteer some time as an editor and am taking two graduate classes.

If I were an alcoholic or on drugs, people would be right there with a program, sympathy, empathy, some kind of words of encouragement or helping hand. My addiction is filling my schedule and helping everyone else so I don't have the time or energy for flashbacks and nightmares. I numb myself with work and helping others. There is no 12-step program for that addiction. People don't look at me with the sympathy drink or drug addicts get. People respond to me with, "Are you nuts?" As a matter of fact, I am. I am also struggling to support my family.

I know I am in a bad place in my head. I requested Cognitive Processing Therapy would help me deal with the aftermath of being raped twice while in the Army. Now in week 4,  I wonder what I was thinking and why does VA jump all over this therapy as a cure. For the first time in years I have thought that death would be so much easier. Suicide is not an option for me, but death seems so inviting and easier than what is in my head. 

I look to the scars on my arms and wonder if I could explain new ones. while I don't mind being alone, it is a rare treat for me, I feel completely lonely. I see people with their friends and loved ones, particularly the ones who are in each other's arms for love and comfort and I die a little inside. Yes, I can find that comfort easily for a few minutes with some stranger or friend, but it is not the same as the nurturing and lasting love and understanding I long for and crave.

I am frustrated and angry because I was not always like this. Living with PTSD, I had my down days, but most were good days with at least one thing I could find to be grateful for. Since starting CPT, there are no good days. There are days filled with as much as I can pack in them to not feel the emptiness and loneliness and pain.


  1. The beginning of CPT is almost torture in regards to the amount of distress it causes. But, after the written accounts are done the therapy really takes off. In the form of reframing and retraining your mind through challenging beliefs associated with our traumas.

    I had CPT during a six week stay at an inpatient PTSD program in Memphis, TN. Before this therapy most of my flashbacks and hallucinations were about some Iraqi soldiers we had killed. During the CPT I was able to reframe this from "I murdered", even though I didn't pull the trigger I spotted them, to "I probably saved us from an ambush." Today my flashbacks and hallucinations have less power and I don't feel like a murderer when I share this part of my story.

    Trust the process, you are dealing with it in the most positive way you can at the moment. Burying yourself under work and projects, it is better than cutting. While CPT is not a cure, it can have a major impact on symptom severity in time. You are worth the effort and energy expended. Keep writing, I'm here for you. You are not alone.

  2. I have been there before and I have to tell you that taking on too much was the source of more stress than a cure. The things that are the most effective aids to PTSD take awhile to work and anything that seemingly alleviates your symptoms is generally causing you more harm then good. Your right to talk about alcohol and drug addiction in relationship with your schedule. I want to warn you about this because it was an obstacle that I am just stepping over after three years of mostly wasted energy.

    In my experience working full time and in graduate school and filling everyone of my hours did more harm than good. It is hard to make the transition to things that feel like they are helping towards things that actually work. But that is a bridge we all have to cross.I essentially fell apart and everything in my life collapsed. I wouldn't recommend that for anyone.

    A normal person running on your schedule would probably get depressed. Add that to all you struggle with PTSD and it just feels too overwhelming. You have nothing to prove to anyone and you are tough enough for the quit times in life. You are tough enough to rest. I am no one to judge you because I have done the same thing. I just know that I have learned to stop fearing the quieter moments of life and I regret all of the time I wasted by putting to much stress on myself. (Also I actually accomplish much more now because rest aids in the over quality of your performance).

  3. Thank you for the support. Prior to CPT, I had recognized my propensity to fill my days to breaking. I had begun saying no to things that were not necessary or could be done by someone else. I had also started keeping a journal and focused on the positives and things I was grateful for.

    Since CPT, I don't want to even look at my journal. I have a schedule so full, I can't even think straight. VA isn't refilling my meds and I can't even figure out how to fix that problem much less what to do when they run out completely.

    I feel like I was getting better and now I have sunk lower than I have been in years. I know it is from CPT, but do not know if I should stick it out, or tell my therapist, it isn't working and give up on CPT. Instead of feeling like a survivor, I feel like a victim all over again.

    1. Don't quit! Don't give up! I don't have ur experiences, but work with soldiers w/similiar experiences. U've survived so much. U r loved though I don't know U! Take it moment by moment when u need to & don't let this defeat U we need U!

  4. I have been Married to a Man with PTSD for almost 5 years now. Its been so hard for me to watch him stand by and not seek treatment. He has been home from war since September 08, was discharged from the military in 2010 for getting his 2nd DUI. Without even trying to help him the army put him out.
    I watch his sleeping habits change daily from getting no sleep to sleeping for 13 hours strait. Job? well lets see he has one and is so afraid of change he will not even fill out an application for another one. He makes less than 1000 a month. Addictions are all to real as well, from drinking a bottle of vodka a day to stealing my pain meds (perocets 10's)(xanax)to even smoking pot. It seems nothing I have tried will break him to the point of asking for help. I get the back lash of almost all of it.
    I know what it is like to walk on egg shells and have learned to bite my toung these days. I never know what I am going to say that will piss him off. I get in trouble for all kinds of things that would make most people laugh. My husband needs help and bad. I have his DD214 and all his medical records. I am at the point of DRAGGING him to VA.

    PLEASE ANYONE WITH PTSD get help and keep getting help. There are people in this word who love you and do care about your health and welfare. WIfes, husbands,children,sisters,brothers, mothers and fathers. When you suffer your family suffers too. My heart breaks a little more each day Praying that God will change my husbands heart and help him to be happy again

  5. Ladies, Things do get better, however you cannot make your vet get help, nor does your addressing the issue with him make things better. It only drives him further into his dark place. The question is can you continue to live like this? You have to set boundaries with your vet and stick to them. My best advise is that if you continue to hang in there with him for the long haul, you have to get help for yourself. Caring for someone who has PTSD/ addiction issues makes one very co-dependant. I would suggest getting some help for yourself. giveanhour.org provides free therapy for YOU as a veterans family member. I have found an excellent therapist through them. I would also recommend looking for a ALANON or NAMI group to join. An of course educating yourself is the first thing that you must do. Read all the books that you can about PTSD, so that you can understand the behaviors. I have a friend that has started a facebook group for PTSD caregivers. It is a good place to connect with others who are going through what you are. It is here... https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/combatcaregiver/

    Sometimes it takes a major wake up call for your vet to go get help. I know. My son spent 4 years in prison for a PTSD related incident. After his incarceration, he was ready to get some real help and went into an inpatient PTSD program. It has been a real long road for my family, but we are all a lot better off now. The battle is far from over but things are MUCH better. So go get some help, and stop being co-dependant. It is not helping you or your spouse, and you deserve a better life too!

  6. Hi everyone,
    I am enrolled in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling program I am trying to learn about military PTSD and get as much information as possible. This is such a helpful thread and these posts are giving me very valuable insights on military trauma and PTSD.

    There is a remarkable number of active military / veterans that have been deeply traumatized by wartime experiences and extended separation from loved ones. PTSD often leads them to depression, anxiety, divorce, abuse, homelessness, alcohol and drug dependence, and too often, suicide. The symptoms of PTSD don’t always show up after the traumatic event. They can lie dormant for weeks, months, maybe even years. They can appear suddenly or arise gradually. They can be triggered by almost anything: a memory, a noise, a word, smell, image... And if left untreated, PTSD does not usually ‘go away’ with time. It tends to get worse. And it has many faces, as described by many of you.

    Being new to all this, I have a lot of questions and I need as much information as possible. What do I say to a military person affected by PTSD? How do I help? Am I able to help? What seems to be the most effective treatment in treating PTSD? Has anyone tried therapy called EMDR - Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing? If yes, do you mind writing about your experience with it?

    Once again, excellent thread and thank you for sharing your stories and opinions.



Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee