IMPENDING DANGER Part 2Tweet
In part one of Impending danger: Psychological shock, I talk about how my fight, flight or freeze system is always engaged because of the hypervigilance that accompanies post-traumatic stress disorder. Moreover, how it impedes me from living a full life. My mind is always combining my firefighting past with the present off-work and struggling-with-mental-illness me. So then, how am I moving on?
More on Fight, Flight or Freeze
Well, I believe that the odds of success are more likely if one has a plan. In my case, my plan goes far beyond taking a pill and hoping for the best. The complexities of PTSD are far greater than “a pill to make it better” approach. Nothing about this mental health journey I am on is easy. I accept it. For better or for worse it’s amalgamated itself within every fibre of my being.
You may be wondering at this point, “Okay, John, what’s the plan?” Well, in order to increase my odds of beating this monster, I had to open up to the many options out there. I looked into and otherwise read about many potential options. Word of advice: if you’re looking for answers too, don’t take whatever you see on the internet and run with it. That could end up being a recipe for disaster. Rather, look for commonalities in your search. For example, through all the research I have done – and it’s been a lot – on better health, sleep almost always comes up. Therefore, I try taking sleep very seriously.
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The absolutely crucial need for sleep tops my agenda of how I attempt to move on. The lack of sleep makes every symptom of PTSD, depression and anxiety so much worse. Noise, the hypervigilance and the startle response are all intensified when I am exhausted. My psychiatrist and I are working to try to quell the nightmares and help me sleep with medications.
I try to eat well, and I exercise four days a week. Both of these are essential to symptoms management and are key to my survival. Isolation, for me, is essential but there is a fine line between healthy alone time and out-and-out hiding from the world. I have learned that, like it or not, I need social connection. I find that I end up really enjoying the company of those I care for.
Getting to know my internal conflict, that with mental illness, I have sadly but rightfully come to the conclusion that I am not the man I used to be. I can no longer successfully integrate myself in the wider world like I once was able to do. I have learned that I am too easily overstimulated to tolerate any length of time in a public setting. So, for now, I force myself outside my comfort zone but know when enough is enough. I am learning how to cope better through mindfulness.
So in the face of Impending danger, how are you moving forward? Man, it sure isn’t easy, but it is so worth every battle you face. Whether it’s your interior world or the external one around you that you are struggling with, learning good coping skills and other techniques will help you win your life back.
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