Triggers are something that can bring out memories of the past in any person. If you’re a person who has lived a good life without to many problems or trauma, looking at a rose can take you back to a place where you and maybe your grandmother used to plant roses in the garden. The smell of pine needles can take you back camping just as the smell of your neighbor using his fireplace and the smell of the smoke. If you are someone who suffers from PTSD even the littlest thing can trigger a flash back. I was walking to my car and saw a man walking; he had a limp and sort of bounced as he walked. The very first thought that came to mind was that of my father who used to walk the same way, which lead me into thinking about my family and then my brother popped into the picture and it was going downhill very fast. I needed to grab my keys and looking at different things to keep me grounded in the present. A quick look, a quick thought and a turn in memories of my brother took less then a few seconds or less. That quick moment turned in several minutes of dealing with a flashback and then took several hours to bring myself into a safe zone. I mentioned that when I go out I start to shake and go into panic attacks when I know I am going out, well I was doing okay today even though I was on my way to Sprint to exchange a phone for my daughter, I had people at my side. After this quick flashback I became very agitated, shakes, panic attack came on and I could not remember any information that the sales person needed. I stood there tapping on his desk asking several times I was sorry, I would move my hand then be right back to tapping.
This whole process lasted about an hour, which I am proud I made it outside, that I was able to stay grounded and that I was able to go into a store which I knew is always empty. Even though it sounds like it was a bad day or hour, I would agree because it was so simple yet headed south, but my grounding skills worked and I feel very happy about that. That is probably the most important tool that anyone with PTSD needs to learn and that is staying grounded to the present and not the past. It is not very easy to do this, even for someone who has been dealing with it for years let alone for 9 months. There are several ways that one can stay grounded; some use the feel, smell, visual, sound, taste or any combination of each to help them stay grounded. For some it can take minutes and other’s it can last hours or more to become grounded fully to the present.
So today was stressful in that hour and that was the first time I made it out to a store, the last time was a disaster to say the least. They had to lead me out with both arms and once I was in the clear I went straight to the car and just sat there. I woke this morning feeling depressed which I think I am now on the downslide to the roller coaster headed back into deep depression. When I reach this stage it becomes so easy for the flash backs to come about and my self worth goes down the drain faster then switching the light switch on. This is the one part that I cannot stand, the sleeping and the lack of desire to eat. I was up till 11pm last night but up at 4:30 but just laid there until about 6:30 when I decided to get out of bed. Course by 8am I was ready for a nap and fell back to sleep for 4 hours. By the time 3pm rolled around I was ready for another round of sleeping and this is where the 15 minutes twice a day is going to be a struggle. I have no desire to really do anything and absolute no desire to leave the house. I live in my sweatpants, in front of my computer and still trying to keep myself from staying downstairs. It was about 6:30 when we went to the sprint store and home by 7:30 which really was not bad. But just as a panic attack, flashback or when I come out of a DID episode I become extremely exhausted and if not making it a daily point to blog I would be in bed where I will be when this is over.
I must say, that although I learned it a while ago, I need to keep relearning the fact that grounding tools are the most important tool anyone with PTSD can carry. Carry change, keys, marbles or anything that you can use to play with when it feels like you’re going to drift off. Change what you are looking at, do it every second or two, move from one object to another and say what it is. What ever you do, try not to let the vision take over, Oh I know how hard that is and I can sit here and type all about it, maybe even write a book about staying grounded but I will be the first to say it does not always work 100% but even if you are able to keep one foot in the present then your better then you might be if you cross back into the past. I spoke to someone at the hospital who said the longest they were lost was close to three days because they did not have their grounding tools with them and the flashback was one of the worst they had ever felt. So if I learned anything today and anything I can tell you is to seek your own grounding tools. Pick up some coins or even pebbles from the driveway anything you can keep close to grab and roll or feel the texture of the item. If you’re working feel the arm of the chair, it all will work as long as you are able to remember to use them and able to grab them before the flashback reaches it’s fullest effect.
So this is my blog post today, it may not have been a very busy or exciting day however it was a day that made me remember where I was, where I started on my road to recovery and remember the tools that so many people helped me learn and put them to use when I need it. What would have thrown me over the edge now is becoming more easy to deal with and understand, however I am still not there yet and I have one heck of a road to travel before I get there. So for now, Until Next Time…