PTSD Survivors : Coping with PTSD

metalmom

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Kemptville, Ontario
I have coped,sometimes not so successfully, with PTSD for 15 yrs.
For me, at certain times, it has been fairly debilitating. Although I dont get as many flashbacks as I used to, I have night terrors 5-6 nights out of 7,unless I self med with a few beer.
Tried the meds-tossed them. Tried the REM therapy-unfortunately with no success. Tried a highly reputable psychologist, who has a lot of knowledge on Vietnam Vets and some of the treatments they had been receiving-but as yet, nothing is helping.
My family works hard at being supportive,but they really dont understand it-and I guess its impossible for them to.
I'm wondering what works for you in dealing with flashbacks, nightmares, and the sometimes extreme anxiety that can accompany PTSD?
 

RackMaster

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I'm going on 11 years now coping. Self medicated with booze for years but that just made it worse. I'm now on meds, they help but I still have to work on every thing else daily. I have night terrors and the sweats that come with them nightly; even with a drink or the meds, they don't go away. I tried a med for a while that helped with them but it just added to my problems of memory loss. The best thing that can help is getting the right support and understanding around you. Then work on each thing one at a time. I go to support groups ever two weeks, talking to people that are going through similar situations can help. I've learned different breathing, meditation and self-hypnosis techniques to help with the anxiety and rage. It doesn't always work but it's calmed me down quite a bit. There will always be trying moments but you have to work through them. If you need to rant about it, feel free to send me a pm. ;)
 

RackMaster

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Do you know of and have you contacted any one from OSISS (Operational Stress Injury Social Support Program)? I've been with them for quite some time and it helps. They do one-on-one support (in person or by phone/email, which ever way you are comfortable), organized support groups and unorganized coffee groups. Here is the contact info for the people in your area; both Patrick and Eric have been diagnosed with an OSI and live with it daily. There is also a component of the program available for family members if they wish, the info is on the website linked above or whomever you contact in the program can do a referral.

Patrick Sudrau
Patrick.Sudrau@osiss.ca
613.736.0278

Éric Collin

Eric.Collin@osiss.ca
613-736-0278
 

metalmom

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Kemptville, Ontario
Thanks for that info. I have been over at OSISS's site. Had previously never knew about it. Thanks for the contact info in my area.
The past few days I have been researching a ton. I didnt know that my panic attacks could coincide with the PTSD. It was good to read that. I get those babies pretty severely at times-makes avoidance of certain areas a must.
I havent had memory issues-in fact-quite the opposite. Would be nice to have a breather and 'forget' once in awhile.
Thanks again!
 

RackMaster

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You're quite welcome.

;) I'd like to remember now and then. I have some huge gaps in my memory and my short term memory is shit. Not remembering why or where you are going can be frustrating. lol
 

metalmom

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Is your memory loss something that you WILL remember when you are ready to handle it-or something different? I had a rough night last night -would give anything to have an 8 hr sleep. Having PTSD can be incredibly draining as I'm sure you well know.
Have you experienced panic attacks in crowds????
 

RackMaster

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As far as the Doc's say, both they and I don't know if I'll regain the lost memories. I have some that are trauma related, some medication induced and well I have permanent brain damage from a mTBI. Been electrocuted, smashed my head quite a few times and been around a few explosions in my time; so who knows what caused it. My neurologist said that over time as I retrain myself to do things (mostly vocabulary and math skills), the nerves in my melon will rework themselves and it may trigger lost memories. It's hard to say.
 

RackMaster

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Ahhh panic attacks... lol Yup I've had them but not in a while. I've had to learn to read my body and react to the physical symptoms of my anxiety to prevent the panic attacks. I've come close to having them again but it's usually when I'm exhausted. Personally I get tightness in sternum when it all starts going down hill, freaked me out the first few times I noticed it; thought I was having a heart attack. But if I don't start doing proper breathing and relaxation techniques (which can be done in public with out any one noticing), then my whole body goes tense; then there is no prevention at that point. If I reach the panic stage, if I'm triggered; I can black out and that's not good. I've done it in the grocery store and almost choked out some dude reaching into the cooler beside me.

There are a lot of older vets coming forward now, I know of a lot of Korea and WWII guys seeking help now.
 

metalmom

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Wow! You've been thru the wringer. I think that if you have memory loss due to trauma, that its sort of a way of protecting one's self and usually will return gently when you are ready. Here's hoping!
Exhaustion, caffeine and having too much to drink the night before leave me more susceptible to having one I've found. Same symptoms for me-but I have a helluva time getting my breathing under control. I'm just starting to rtn to the world now, and without meds. I had one of my 1st outings a few wks back. Made it to the grocery store a few minutes away and had a full blown panic attack in the frozen food section. Talked myself down eventually-my fear of fainting and looking stupid got me home-but it sucked. Trying again tomorrow.
Glad to hear you have some control over them now with breathing and relaxation techniques. Thats HUGE!!
 

Swamp Honky

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Glad to see this group here. I had some trouble, when I separated from active duty and redeployed from Iraq within 2 months from each other. I initially went to the VA, and I barely spat out a paragraph about what I was experiencing and they were already trying to shove meds down my throat, which I promptly refused. This is the first time I have ever joined any group like this. But, I saw it and thought it was awesome that you guys are on here talking about it. I was in the 101st Airborne which has the highest suicide rate out of any other unit. I have had friends that got out of the army and on the outside they seemed to be doing great... finished college degrees, family, etc.. next thing you know they are gone.
 

metalmom

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Kemptville, Ontario
We are so glad to have you here SH. Yeah-I did meds for 5 yrs-way back-and it just numbed me. I chose beer-lol Each to their own though. I didnt know how high the suicide rate was for the 101st. We have lost 165 just this yr to suicide-I am not sure who they were with(our Airbourne was disbanded), but I heard through the grapevine a few from JTF2 committed suicide.
I am astounded on the suicide rate, homeless rates etc both in the US and Canada-things need to change in how people are being looked after. That is a given.
I realize it is extremely tough to speak about how we feel and what we have gone or are going through-but I want this to be our safe haven. Feel free to pm me if you arent ready to talk here. Hell-I want to talk-but sometimes its hard to put things into words. And our feelings can be so damn overwhelming. You're not alone.
Glad to have ya!:)
 

Swamp Honky

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Have any of you all read any of Tim O'Brian's works, namely "The Things They Carried?" I would say his writing was the number one thing that helped me. His writings are more circa Vietnam era, but PTSD is PTSD. If you have never read his works, I recommend at least googling and reading some excerpts and quotes.
 

metalmom

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Kemptville, Ontario
No, I havent read any of his works-but definitely will. Its kind of funny-probably between 1982 and 1992 I read and devoured anything I could on Vietnam. I wanted for a long time to eventually work with Vietnam Vets that had PTSD-I am in Canada and was unaware at the time that some Canucks served there-so called a VA Hospital and asked a ton of questions about how hard it would be to go work down there , and decided to apply for nursing. Met my husband and never followed it through-then I ended up being diagnosed with it myself.
Look forward to doing some reading! Thanks for the info!
 

metalmom

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Kemptville, Ontario
Just a heads up-have a crap load of issues to deal with atm. Taking a small break from all the forums I frequent, but will still check my email. Anyone needs to talk-here is my email.
kcorbett@live.ca
Will be back soon. You guys take care in the meantime.
 

metalmom

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Kemptville, Ontario
Well-the addictive personality has to check in once in awhile:)
Gdam-got a message from a 1 CDO friend on facebook-said we only have 4 beds for soldiers available in Canada-thats St Annes-right?? Before I reposted I wanted to ask you for verification if you knew. If so-that is dispicable!!!
Let me know-this is a bandwagon I would be happy to jump on to see change!!!
 

Swamp Honky

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NOVA
Coming forward...
I decided to seek help after I hit a low point and see a VA counselor. I only saw a counselor a couple times before he retired, but it helped a lot. A year later I joined the reserves while in college. They hit me a year after that with a medical board facing possible discharge. So far this med board has had me flagged since Dec. and is delaying my Army career (schools, etc.). I have plans to work for the govt/mil after graduation. I was scared to seek help because of repercussions. If I could take it back, I would have kept my mouth shut. Now I am just scrambling to not get labeled as a head case and keep my job. It has definitely deterred me from seeking help in the future. My PTSD is manageable, the type I struggle with certain things, but learned to adapt on my own. Its just frustrating knowing that I am on my own, or I risk further career repercussions.
 

RackMaster

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metalmom, I think that the beds available sound about right but there are more than that; they are just filled at the moment. There are other places to get in-patient treatment all over the country, all private but VA has a contract with them for beds but most have wait lists of a couple months. If you or any one else is interested, just contact your VA area counsellor and they can start the process. I tried to do it without meds but that's when the devil inside that I have a hard time controlling comes out. I figure I take so many other meds for pain that what's wrong with taking another one to keep me stable. But even then it's taken a lot of trial/error with different meds/dosage and I still have to work at it. It's a lifelong battle.
 

RackMaster

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Keeping tabs on stressors both good and bad, knowing your limits on activities, keeping a healthy diet (including reducing caffeine) and as healthy of a sleep routine as you can get goes a long way. We can get drained a lot quicker, our brains work overtime even if we're having fun; just to keep things "normal" and that drains our energy. I can have a great but busy day and then go out with friends or family, no symptoms showing up and then I wake up the next day feeling hung over. It only lasts a few hours to a day now but before it would keep me layed up for days. It's all in learning your limits.
 
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