Friday, June 29, 2012

Coping With PTSD 5

If you are familiar with my blog, you know that I have been posting about coping with PTSD interspersed with posts on other preparedness subjects. My apologies, if numbering this as five in this series of posts on coping with PTSD, is confusing. This is only the fifth post in this series, but it is the sixth in the list of things to do to cope.

Please learn a little about PTSD because most people in disasters have it to some degree. It can continue to be a problem long after the disaster is over. 

Here goes the PTSD post:
6. Give yourself a break. PTSD is an injury or sickness. Just because no blood is visible does not mean PTSD is not as real as a broken leg. PTSD is like a very bad sprain or bruise on your spirit or emotions. Your PTSD injury takes some time to heal. 

Just as you know it is not good to use a broken or sprained leg too soon, so you have to go easy on your PTSD injury until it is ready for load bearing again.

Getting tired too soon or for no "good" reason is part of your PTSD healing process. You have to know when to rest or take a break when you are recovering from PTSD. Sometimes you can feel overwhelmed and need to lie down for a while. This does not have to be for a long time. A minute or an hour or something in between is a good time frame for when you are somewhat recovered.

I like to set a timer or alarm to stop resting and get back to work. Sometimes I have to resort to the snooze button several times, but it helps anyway.

Part of how to give yourself a break is to take some time to enjoy life. You need a list of things that you enjoy doing and that make you feel good. When you are feeling at your worst is not a good time to try to figure out something that will make you feel better. Once you have a list of what makes you feel good, you can simply pick something off of your list to do. 

If you feel bad enough it is possible that nothing will look good to do, or you won't be able to even think of something that you might like to do. The list eliminates these problems. Just pick the most appealing thing to do on your list or the easiest one to do.

An example of this is, that I like to knit or crochet. One of these is not a good choice to make me feel good, unless I already have a simple project going. This is because feeling bad can make it too hard for me to plan and start a project. If the projects I have going require too much concentration, I could get too frustrated to do them. If this is the case, then another item on my list of good things to do is better.

I used to live in San Francisco when I was having trouble with PTSD. I  had a plan for a really good day on my list of good things to do. 

It started with taking a street car to a drugstore that had especially good ice cream, that was also very cheap. The scoops were big enough for a meal. That was lunch. 

When I finished the ice cream, I got back on the street car and went around to the wharves and watched the mimes and musicians for a while. I went home on the Cable Car for an amusement park ride. That day was inexpensive enough for financial hard times and always made me feel good. It was not too difficult to do and didn't require a lot of concentration. That day plan was perfect for my list of good things to do to make me feel better.

Taking a walk is another thing on my list. Reading a fun book is another one. Eating popcorn while watching a video movie has been added to my list  recently. 

Sometimes making something or finishing up a project can be on my list. One of these is making and decorating a box to use for storing and organizing. I rip out pictures from magazines and junk mail to use for this purpose. I always have a file folder full of pictures.

One of my boxes that I made this way is for organizing my outgoing letters. I keep stamps, envelopes, my own address labels and those of people I write to frequently, in the box. I decorated it with pictures that I liked. I just used a glue stick to put the pictures on the box after I cut them out. It makes me feel good to even look at the box for my mail. 

Some other ways that I have made my storage boxes is by painting the whole box and labelling the contents. I may or may not further decorate the box. Another way to decorate these boxes is by covering it with wrapping paper or wall paper. Occasionally I will use Contact paper or fabric to cover a box.

I have other boxes that I have done this way, and will probably have more. It is not a bad idea to use your list of things you like to do, even when you don't feel bad, or have a problem with PTSD. Once your PTSD is better, your list is simply a good tool for enjoying life.

One of the things to remember when you are dealing with PTSD is that it will get better. 

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