It May Be a Game Changer but It's Not a Life Sentence (approx. 4 – 5 min read)

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of January already, but here we are with another new year. To me, it’s kind of like a clean slate, and I was wondering what your plans are? A new exercise goal, plans to learn something new, or maybe a course you want to take? Whatever it is, I want you to know that you’ve got this.

Having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a game changer, but it isn’t a life sentence. Sure, it makes a survivor think differently and there are side effects like hyper-vigilance and flashbacks, but with perseverance, you can live a fulfilling life with this illness

…at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Since my diagnosis in 2005, I’ve found lots of articles that say I’ll never get over post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), but I’ve also found lots of articles that say that I can live a fulfilling life. It might be difficult, in fact, it’s proving to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, but I’m choosing to stay positive, as well as focusing on moving forward.

The first two years after I got held up, I barely left my home. I ordered groceries online and made all kinds of excuses to my friends about leaving my house because I was absolutely terrified to go anywhere. My home became my comfort zone and I never felt trapped, I just felt safe, but then things started to change.

Don’t get me wrong because it was years before things started to change, and I went to all kinds of therapy appointments in hopes that something was going to snap me back to my old reality. Unfortunately, most of my appointments ended in disappointment, but then I started Trauma Incident Reduction (TIR) therapy and that’s when things really started to change.

Through TIR therapy I uncovered the source of the nightmares I’d had most of my life and I had a major breakthrough. I’d been terrified to go to sleep for years; it wasn’t just the nightmares, it was the sleep paralysis and finding out the source; the reason I was having them, took all the power out of them. Fortunately, I haven’t had those nightmares since, or sleep paralysis of any kind.

Another thing that’s helped me to move forward is keeping a gratitude journal. I had, and still have this huge hole in my heart, and the need to find a way to see the positive things that are happening is intense, but sometimes it seems almost impossible because of all the negativity going on around me.

This particular gratitude journal promised that it only took five minutes each day to counter negative thought loops and end each day feeling happier. There’s a place to write three things you’re grateful for; three things that would make your day great, as well as a place to write a positive affirmation starting with “I am,” and I found the perfect time to do it was while I was having my morning coffee. Then just before you go to bed, you finish off the day by writing down three things that made your day amazing, as well as one thing that could have made your day better.

I remember the first day of writing in this journal like it was yesterday (May 30, 2016 – I checked my journal) and the three things I wrote down that would make the day great was getting outside for five minutes, working on my book and starting the HASfit 90-day warrior workout plan. After I finished writing, I got up, made myself a coffee, grabbed a joint and headed towards the front door. Keeping in mind that at the time I wasn’t even opening my blinds or curtains, let alone going outside.

Xena, our dog (at the time) was standing beside me wagging her tail and if it weren’t for her, I probably would have closed the door and called it a day, but instead, I took a deep breath and opened the front door. Xena went through the opening so quickly that the screen door caught her on the hip, but before I could tell if she’d hurt herself, she turned and stood there wagging her tail at me.

I told her to hang on while I set the timer on my phone for five minutes, I took another deep breath, and then I stepped outside. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun was shining, and I could see the kids across the street playing in their backyard and the sound of laughter helped me to feel safe. I told myself that if they could be out here; unafraid, then so could I, and I sat down on the top step of our landing.

The next thing I did was light up the joint I knew was going to help with my anxiety and I proceeded to sit there until the timer on my phone went off before getting up and heading back inside. It was terrifying, but it was also exhilarating and I’m proud to say that each day starts off pretty much the same way today. Sure, I have my moments, especially when I get a lot of hate mail, but for the most part, writing down the positive things I want to happen, keeps me in the here and now.

So, what are your plans for moving into 2019 with a positive attitude because I’d love to hear them?

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.