Saturday, November 26, 2005

crawling out of my own skin

PTSD sucks some days. The last few days fell into that category. At least its not constant like it used to be. Two days ago was crawling out of my own skin day. I just walked around with this ripping burning nauseous feeling centering on my solar plexus like I wanted to puke my guts literally out...just get whatever it was out of my body. It makes me kind of understand bulimia, which I never fortunately had. My partner gave me a massage which helped a little, but it didn't go away until I went to sleep. I suspect it had something to do with stuff brought up in therapy that day.

Then the next day I was revisited by another of the joys of ptsd, intrusive thinking. Any moment of down time, thoughts of my abuser would come flooding in and I would try to make sense of the senseless, over and over. This lasted until I went to sleep, maybe longer, as I tossed and turned a lot and had nightmares. All in all it kind of sucks. My partner thinks it might be because of the onset of the holidays, which is a tough time for me. Anyway, at least now it is not constant. Before the intrusive thinking and the ripping feeling, along with a lump in my throat were my ennervating constant reality.

7 comments:

Holly Desimone said...

Hi ptsd guy,
Your partner could be right the holidays are horrible for many with ptsd! I seen your title and it reminded me of when I was assaulted and wanted to crawl out of my skin. The triggers are many, hang in and I hope your week will be better! Take care Holly

reallynotimportant said...

With the intrusive thoughts I have found it useful to do something that is distracting. This should take the form of something phsyical - DIY, sport, craft, a hobby something that requires the mind and body to work together. This can have the effect of pushing the thoughts out of your mind. They may however come back later but maybe less intense.

As for the strong emotions and the strong phsyical sensations that go with them, I think it is important to be aware of them, to acknowledge them and to some extent, just ride them out. Don't try to make them go away, don't focus on them, just let them be and let them fade away naturally. If you find that you cannot do this for any length of time then use some sort of distraction like above.

Meditation of one form or another may or may not help. If things are very intense then sometimes it can make them more so, if they are less intense then sometimes they can make them less so. For myself, if I rate things on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being really bad, then when things are around 7+ then I avoid deep meditation and use distraction instead.

reallynotimportant said...

Nightmares: They are a total pain in the arse. Almost 2 years in I still get them regularily. It is a long time since I have had a good nights sleep.

In the end I decided that 10-12 hours of crap sleep was better than 8 hours of crap sleep - if that meant that I could function during the day better.

As for the nightmares themselves, well I just tend to think of them differently - as a sign that my mind is trying to work through things in it's own way and that eventually they will die down.
Somehow, not being afraid of the nightmares coming makes them less bad. If I wake up then I just say to myself "this is not real, it cannot hurt me" and go back to sleep. It would be nice if I had a partner to cuddle up to, bud I don't.

Sometimes I make notes on what was in the nightmares. I am not so much interest in the events but the emotions that occur. I have found the emotions are a better indicator of what is going on in my mind - fear, anger, aprehension or whatever. Just knowing what is underneath it all makes it easier to accept.

Of course, I do sometimes wish that I could have just one night when my dreams are not totally fucked up or think it would be nice to dream about beautiful naked women for a change instead of trauma-related themes like war, violence, death, danger.

I have found that meditation can help make the nightmares less bad, as can relaxing very deeply - like when on holiday.

My recent holidays have been focussed on catching up on sleep. I go to bed when tired, wake up when ready and if I feel worn out, do nothing on the day. This has helped me to recover some sleep a little.

I also try and budget one or more day (with approval) to go late into the office so that I can have an extra couple of hours of crap sleep. It helps.

ptsd guy said...

Holly, reallynotimportant, thanks for peeking in. I'm doing better today and yesterday than the days before.

reallynotimportant said...

ptsd_guy:

there is something that has been bugging me for days and I think now is the time to say it.

Whatever the reason (Maybe a 12 steps hangover) calling yourself ptsd-guy is most unhelpful for your psyche.

PTSD is a bunch of weakly related symptoms strung together by psychiatry so that they have a handle (not an understanding) on it. It is not who you are.

At best the statement "I have PTSD" is an unhelpful statement of fact. To label yourself by it and to define yourself by it is to make it a part of you - and that is really what you do not want to do.

If you had a really bad cold would you say "I am a sneeze" or "I am a cold".

Just becomes people stick a label on something doesn't make it meaningful.

I can say that I suffer from PTSD because that is what the DSM IV criteria say. I do not go around telling everyone about it. I do not stick a single big label on it at all.

Now, obviously a number of people know my story in detail and likewise a larger number of people know that I exhibit certain behaviours and symptoms from time to time. A few people know enough that if I gave them a pen they could join the dots and stick the PTSD label on it. I don't give them a pen.

There is a very strong reson why I do this. The most important thing for me is to be around normal people who have normal lives. They react to me in normal ways not as 'someone who has PTSD'. That is helpful. OK, I admit that sometimes they may be confused by my actions or upset when I decline a invite, but since my no's are as sincere as my yes's that is not an issue. I don't want to justify or excuse my actions and so without a label I have no excuse for bad behaviour - and this is a good thing! I am responsible for my own actions and words. PTSD will have an effect on them but I am still responsible.

Anonymous said...

Hello ptsd guy, commiserations and well done for setting up this blog which has clearly reached loads of people who all offer help in some way.
I'm also a sufferer, but refuse to give it capital letters or let it define me in any way. I am a human being a woman a mother etc before I am a ptsd.
I tell everyone I meet that I have got it. I'm out and proud, even though it makes me wet the bed haha.
I have started a small group in my neck of the woods for female social workers injured on the job, and it is wonderful to know we are not alone.
Keep your head up ptsd guy, it gets better. I'm 7 years down the road, and getting stonger by the day.
I found it helpful to pretend that I was a small child, and needed comfort in the same ways.
I have heard that the trauma experience makes us gasp, and there are no words to describe a gasp. So any way you can express the pain is better than none.
Art therapy was a saviour for me, because it is not about art but expressing the unexpressable pain through the medium of paint. You don't have to be an artist.
May work for some others, so worth a mention.
I wish everyone a peaceful day.

Anonymous said...

I'm 8 months in to my own battle with ptsd and I need to know something... How long does it take to start feeling again??? What I mean is, I don't feel any love or joy, no real sense of happiness. For the most part I just walk around not feeling anything. I hate it. Before all this bullshit I was a very happy go lucky guy and now everything is forced. Also if anyone has taken Zopiclone to help them sleep did you also find that it helped to stop the nightmares at first and over time not so much??? I started taking Zopiclone in Oct07 and The nightmares stopped. A typical dose is 7.5mg and for the most part it knocks you on your ass. Like anything though, after a while your body builds up a tolerance and I found myself taking two pills insted of one. Eventually I graduated to two pills and I would wash them down with a bottle of red wine. After a while nothing seems to stop the "Bad Dreams".