What I learned, upon review, and explanation

I had some time to think over the evening about the support group meeting (the one where I was the only one) and what I might have learned.

Nothing new but a reiteration that I need to have the confidence to tell people “no, I’m not ready” even though I know that they don’t understand why I say “no”.

I didn’t get any practical advice about how to deal with people that take it personally, or how to explain to them that their conceptions of “all you need to do” isn’t going to “fix” me.

I say yes to things I know that I’m not ready for, and sometimes I actually can do them to the detriment of everything else that actually *needs* to get done. Because it takes so much recovery time to do the extra thing.
As an example, you’ve heard of the bystander who lifted a car off of a child in a moment of fear/adrenalin/whatever. When the child is saved the person collapses, the body/mind wasn’t ready to lift cars but the challenge was all there was at the time. It takes that person time to recover, time for the muscles to heal, time for the mind to recover from the shock as well. That person isn’t going out to do their 3 mile jog the next day, or probably for several days afterwards.
It’s like that. That small activity that most people think of as daily fun is the equivalent of the adrenalin rush of lifting the car off of a trapped child for me. It isn’t fun, entertaining, or something I want to do again.
But unlike the car lifting person, I *do* have to do this activity again, over and over and over, because people expect it of me, because they don’t see that I just lifted a car yesterday and that I’m exhausted both body and mind.

Sometimes, I will say yes to something, to challenge myself, to see where I’m at, to see if I’ve learned to deal with some small aspect of “stuff”.
The trouble is that none of you (all inclusive you, meaning the world at large, not any one person in particular) ever know what the challenges are; I don’t go around declaring that this or that activity is my weekly challenge to myself.
Most of the time, just keeping my apt clean, paying my bills, and caring for Keegan are all I can handle.
I’ve since included exercise to my task of things that must get done a certain percentage of the time. I’m working on adding exercise without dropping the basics.

This is why sometimes I “flake out”. I’ve accepted a challenge, to see if I can do it, and I find that I can’t yet. It isn’t because I don’t have the guts or the willpower, it’s because I know what my boundaries are to stay mindful and sane and connected to the world, and that activity would take me beyond the boundaries at this time.
I don’t know how to explain this to people who have yet to find their limits. Some people never do. I don’t know how to explain this to people who believe there is no limit; that all you have to do is keep pushing and the “limits” will expand.
Yes, I do believe that, for most people, limits can frequently be expanded; but that doing so is a slow and careful process. And it is a personal process, deeply individual for each person and their circumstances.
I also believe that for a few people, there are limits; that to attempt to push beyond their limit will do only harm to their body and/or mind.

There are times to break the limits, and possibly your body and mind, as in the example of lifting the car off of the child.
But the true healing of a body/mind is not done in astounding feats that cause people to ohhh and ahhh, it’s done in small steps, sometimes backward steps, invisible steps, steps that take the longer path around when those who think they’re helping create crevasses in your path, and the infinitesimal steps against the gale of criticism and “tough love”.

This is why I say “no” so often, this is why I sometimes say “yes, maybe, I’ll have to see how I’m feeling when the time arrives”, and this is why sometimes I disappoint you when I thought I would be able to do something but then I had to lift a car off of a puppy and now I don’t have the strength to go to the mall, not even for 15 minutes, so I bail after I’d previously said yes.

I am so not motivated.

The past few days have been a bit difficult. Lots of running around in traffic, lots of dealing with unknown people, lots of minor conflict.

So I’ve been wiped out emotionally and mentally.

Usually I do my Spanish (Rosetta Stone) when I first wake up, usually from around 6-7am.
But the past two days, even though I’ve woken up and gotten my computer out, and even put my earpiece/mic on, I haven’t been able to do more than 10 minutes of study.
I usually greatly enjoy my early morning studies. I enjoy languages.
But it seems as if my mind is rebelling.

I don’t know what to do or how to deal with it.

Just figured out what keeps waking me up.

My time living in my truck was uneventful, in the larger picture, but there was some “trauma”. Mostly just being in the open and vulnerable to anyone who wandered by.

Probably the biggest daily fear I had was the hail or the knock.

The hail was someone outside yelling “anyone in there?” before being rousted and processed by the police, then told to move on.

The knock was the worst though. Anyone coming up and thumping on the camper, or shoving it, or whatever else they did.
For some reason this always made my heart race, my adrenaline spike, my breath catch, and my fight or flight reaction kick into high gear.

I just realized as I was finally drifting off that in my mind/dream I heard again the thumping on my camper. And I was wide awake again.

It’s interesting to me, in that clinical detached way, that something so simple can be a “nightmare” and be troublesome enough to be described as a “trauma”.

can’t sleep tonight

Too much going on in my head. Still so many changes happening so fast that I can’t keep up.
I’m tired but I can’t shut off the spinning in my brain.

Residential Program for Women Veterans with PTSD

I know I mentioned this a while back. It looks like I get an interview next week to see if they will accept me for the program.

A “residential program” sounds pretty bad right? It does to me on the outside. I mean, that’s where crazy people go, or really rich people who get hooked on all the wrong stuff go.

But, I’m not being committed. I’m applying of my own free will. And I have great hope that I will learn some very useful coping and management skills.

Even more than the skills though I am hoping that being around a small group of other women who’ve dealt with the same thing I have, I’m betting some had even more childhood trauma than I did as well, that I will get it through my head (and soul) that I am not alone. That there are others who understand exactly what I’ve dealt with and will always deal with.
I hope that in the process of having compassion for my fellows (feminine version of fellows??) that some of the deep deep anger and shame for myself will dissipate. That maybe the compassion will expand so much that the shame and anger will be pushed out for lack of room and time and will disappear from my psyche. (Okay, maybe that’s a bit woo woo sounding.. but I think everyone understands the point I’m trying to make).

Lastly, just as important to me coming out of 6 months of homelessness, is building a routine. Getting back into the habit of exercising. Eating regularly and well (though I’ve been eating awesome with the friends I’m staying with I’m still not doing as well as I should with the regularity part).
I’m working on building my own routine here but a little help from people who are more familiar with the issues I face will not be ignored!

And I guess one last note/ps. The VA is one of the most advanced PTSD treatment processes in the USA. Goodness knows they have had ample reason to become so. But I have some confidence, maybe almost a bit of trust, in their processes, which means that I will be more likely to go through the sessions/training with an open mind, without asking all the questions that I always have to ask. I’ll trust them enough to do what they say and believe that it might help me and save my questions of why and how it helps for later.

A little ray of sunshine

Today I’m a moving sun.

I’m wearing my bright yellow tee shirt, with my white wedge flippy flops, and yellow sunglasses (and blue jean shorts).

I’ll be so bright people will have to shade their eyes at the crosswalk.

When Caryl took me to pick out clothes I fell in love with this colour but up until now I’ve been to shy to wear it. It’s not a colour that blends in with the background (unless you live on the sun).

I’ve taken it off the hanger and put it on several times in the last week but always demurred, no, a bit too bright, no, doesn’t match my skin colour, no… blah blah blah.
Today I put it on and left it on.

Here’s to burgeoning confidence…

It’s been a long road
Getting from there to here
It’s been a long time
But my time is finally near

I can feel a change in the wind right now
Nothing’s in my way
And they’re not gonna hold me down no more
No they’re not gonna hold me down

Because I’ve got faith, of the heart
Going where my heart will take me
I’ve got faith, to believe
I can do anything

I’ve got strength, of the soul
And no one’s going to bend or break me
I can reach, any star
I’ve got faith
I’ve got faith, faith of the heart

It’s been a long night
Trying to find my way
And through the darkness
Now I’ve finally had my day

But I will see my dream come alive at last
I will touch the sky
And they’re not gonna hold me down no more
No they’re not gonna change my mind

Because I’ve got faith, of the heart
Going where my heart will take me
I’ve got faith, to believe
I can do anything

I’ve got strength, of the soul
And no one’s going to bend or break me
I can reach, any star
I’ve got faith
I’ve got faith, faith of the heart

…Russell Watson

Mind work

A couple days ago I watched a dvd called “The Secret”.

I’d heard of it quite a while ago and knew the general premise, and I thought it was all complete bunk.
But my mind must be in a different place these days because when I watched it I found myself more than willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Then I realized, as I watched it, that many of the “skills” are almost the same as rituals in the Jewish tradition.
For example, one very important piece in “The Secret” ritual is conscious grateful acknowledgement of your own specific items the moment you wake up. Jewish ritual has a prayer of grateful acknowledgement that practicing Jews say the moment their feet hit the floor in the morning, before they actually stand up from the bed.

I don’t know if the matching pieces of ritual occur in other religions.

So I’ve decided to try and use the skills taught in “The Secret”.
It’s more difficult than one might think. It requires clearing your mind enough to be able to think of those specific items when your mind is already frantically aligning your days schedule with whatever it remembers of your “to do” list.

It promises to be not only interesting, but also a way of “mindfulness”.

phone/computer errands done

Thanks to Roxanne, I finally have a working phone again.

So this morning has been constant calling of various doctors, agencies, and whatever else needed doing.

I now know that a working phone is one of the essential tools to staying connected, even for a homeless person.
All the agencies you work with, the doctors, the food stamps, whoever you might be working with, expect you to have a phone. Even if you’re homeless.

So, I feel pretty accomplished right now.

Note to universe, don’t ruin my good mood! 😀

triathlon is a go!

My friend sent me money for the registration and the assurance that he was also registered and going to do the race.

So in a few days when the money hits my account I’ll register too.

I found myself surprised today at how excited I was to be doing this. It’s been well over a decade since I’ve done a triathlon and I’m pitifully out of shape. But I enjoyed doing them back then, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to figure out how to deal with the crowds. I don’t know how yet. But there has to be a way.
Once the race starts and most of the swim waves get gone it really isn’t very crowded usually. It’s waiting for the race to start, everyone queued up in their waves, waiting, fidgeting, pushing, crammed together. That gets me. So we’ll see what I can come up with to deal with the issues.

grandma’s birthday

Today is my grandma’s birthday. She’s 94. I haven’t seen her since I started living in my truck.
For whatever reason, the last several weeks I was visiting grandma, she’d start sobbing when I came in and said hello. I don’t know if she felt I was safe to sob around, that I wouldn’t scold her for it, or if I reminded her of my absent mother. But serious sobbing and “why is god mad at me” dialogues. I couldn’t handle it with all that I was facing. So I stopped going.
Life has been rough enough while in my truck that I couldn’t even think about going without feeling a panic attack start.

Today though, I’ve been some place safe for 3 days and I’ve slept a bit more through the night each night.

One of my aunts is having a birthday gathering for my grandma. A finger foods milling about gathering. I’m going to show up for a bit, 30-40 minutes. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to face their disdain and smirks and condemnations. I’m already edgy and nervous just thinking about going. But my one aunt and my grandma, they will be worth it to go see. (I keep telling myself this).

all excited.. then.. nothing.

There was a letter from the VA in my postbox today. After staring at it for what seemed an eternity while visions of the rest of my life swam round and round in my mind, I managed to get it open.

It was all official, official letterhead, veteran number, etc etc.

It turned out to be an application for service-related disability life insurance.

Part of me was squeeing with joy, I mean, they wouldn’t have sent me life insurance junk mail that only veterans with service-related disabilities qualify for if I wasn’t qualified would they?

But… after IM’ing with a friend about it I’ve accepted that it’s probably just junk mail. I never thought of the VA capable of sending out junk mail. But there’s no reason why they couldn’t, the federal government is a business after all.

Regardless, I’ll be checking my post box daily for the next week or so, crying, waiting, hoping..* for good news.

*Everly Brothers song

Getting better again, slowly

I’ve been hibernating for a couple days now. And I’m starting to be able to see farther than my hand again.
I made myself a good dinner tonight. I was able to charge my electronics in a corner of the library. And I’ve been able to start knitting my first cup warmer.

I have parked in a different spot each night and haven’t been bothered by police or others.

Not going anywhere today.

Or doing anything.

Yesterday was too much all at once. I mean, not so bad I collapsed in the middle of it but I need a couple days to recover.

Last night I parked in an empty lot in the north end of the south of town. There are quite a few empty lots, closed businesses, up and down this thoroughfare.
I’m out of direct site of main traffic but traffic on the main roads can see me. I’m hoping that if I’m quiet and no one sees any activity that I won’t receive a police visit. I’d like to stay until tomorrow morning.

Busy day, again.

Yet another day of meeting with mental health care professionals and telling my story. But the meds are on their way to my post box (let’s all hope the post office doesn’t lose this shipment like they did the last one) and the adjustments have been made, though as with any med change it’s a wait and see if it helps or hinders.

I am scheduled for the biopsies.
I am also scheduled to see a neuro for my hands. I guess they have to zap your nerves to see how/where to operate. If I can call back tomorrow and get through then hopefully I’ll get the date for the actual surgeries, whether it will be both hands at once or one at a time I don’t know.

Then I went back to this other program. Center point something or other. They’re actually being helpful. Really!
Helping me get insurance on my truck again, it lapsed in January, helping me with enough gas to get to my appointments, and helping me fill out paperwork for help with the VFW.

But the biggest thing so far is that there is a program run by the VA about an hour north of me (closer to the regional VA office) that they think they may be able to get me into if I’m interested.
It’s a 7 week residential program for women veterans with PTSD, and it does have the issues I experienced as one of its focuses.
Furthermore, they not only welcome service dogs but request that if a service dog is in use by the veteran that the dog participate in the therapy. So Keegan would be with me the entire time. And maybe she and I would even learn some more useful things since when I was training Keegan service dogs for PTSD didn’t exist and we were training by common sense and need.

Now I’ve always feared residential treatment programs. If its considered “being committed” then I’m automatically barred from many jobs that I would otherwise be good at. But at this point in my life I can’t get ANY job so…

If it can be done without missing my hand surgeries and if they will accept me, I think it would be a good opportunity for me. Almost two months in a safe place, not a lockdown, but secure from the outside getting in. The cutting edge PTSD treatment, med adjustment and fine tuning, a peer/support group of other women veterans, and Keegan with me.

The only drawback to getting into the program is that I have to have a place to go when I’m released, and a camper on the back of my truck doesn’t meet their qualifications.
I have a meeting with the case worker next week and I’ll bring this topic up.
I’m wondering if there’s any way that if I can get accepted into this program if it might move my VA benefits decision a bit faster.

I can hear the confusion from here, but if the treatment program is VA aren’t you already approved for VA benefits? Uhmmmm… Short answer? No. There are so many levels of “veteran” that it’s mind-boggling. Some services/programs count me as a veteran because I have an honorable discharge and a DD214. Some services/programs require proof that I was injured/damaged during active duty. It’s all very confusing and completely unknown to me until about a year ago when I first stumbled into the VA clinic asking for help.

There is also a service dog training organization in the area (not in this city but within this region) that I’m going to be getting information on. Keegan will be 14 in June. I need to start thinking about the inevitable. And be prepared when the time comes.
The training org isn’t a train and give service, it’s a self-train guidance service, teaching handlers how to train their own dogs. I’ve done that once already with Keegan but they know a lot more about training for this situations now and it’s good to have support with any endeavor.

A lot to think about today.

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