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Thursday, September 16, 2010


New "well, duh!" discovery:  A possible trigger of PTSD symptoms might be my ability to ignore pain.

Yesterday was not a good day. I experienced all sorts of paranoia and self-pity and imagined scenarios in which harm came to me at the hand of those I love and trust. And through it all, I was aggravated and angry that it was happening in the first place. My head responds with, "You know that's insane," and I do...but it feels real.

Work was excruciating. I would sit at the computer, go to my first website, look out the window and think: I do not want to be here. Then, naturally, my legs would decide we needed a walk and sitting at the computer would feel even more beastly and I hated the people in the webpage, and the words and the cutesy pictures...

Rehearsals are usually better. Not yesterday, which was odd because a good friend walked with me to the rehearsal (about 3 miles) and we talked a lot, which usually helps ground me and gives me time to regroup. But as soon as I walked in my front door, I was cranky and upset again.

A friend of mine who is aware of how PTSD affects me once told me to write on a piece of paper that he loves me and put it by my mirror, or in some other spot where I'm likely to see it daily. I haven't done it, of course, but yesterday I lectured myself a bit and reminded myself of our conversation, as well as dozens of others which have involved various people in which they, too, have expressed love for me. It helped...for about fifteen seconds.

Thoroughly disgusted, I tried to talk with people online, but my connection was faulty. I would say something and receive no response (this is a very bad thing when symptoms are extreme), and just when I was certain I'd done something offensive and chased away my chat buddy, I'd check my chat history on a whim and find all sorts of lines that had recorded there but never made their way to my chat box. Aggravating.

I went to bed, out of sorts and too tired to sleep. As I lay there, Darrin suggested I might have forgotten my assignment to recognize pain, that I might be hurting and that was causing my discomfort. I tuned into my body and discovered a raging headache and clenched muscles all down my left thigh and calf, and my knee was aching. I also discovered a couple of burns on my left hand that weren't feeling great. So I took some pain medication, waited twenty minutes, and finally fell asleep. I awoke feeling much better and the PTSD symptoms had absented themselves completely.

Hypothesis: When I disregard or suppress pain impulses, my body employs different tactics to get my attention, and if those are unsuccessful, PTSD kicks in to let me know something is amiss. I don't know if this is something I can prove or disprove, but I do know that when I made the decision to acknowledge and take care of pain in the moment, and actually followed through with that decision, I've had little trouble with PTSD and I've had no flashbacks or nightmares. I'm fairly certain if I hadn't taken care of the pains I had last night, there would have been nightmares. Those are mostly predictable and preceded by familiar feelings that tell me they are coming. And it's possible that the pain meds suppressed the nightmares, but I don't think so.

A lot is happening again, and I forgot to stay on top of the "feel pain in the moment" thing. I don't even remember when I burned my hand. That hasn't happened for more than a month. So--today I was careful to pay attention to my body. No unmanageable aches and pains, but I'm starting to feel those tonight because I'm been sitting for much of the day and didn't have time to go walking. I've been running in the mornings and walking later in the day.

So I'll take another pain pill tonight (I've been without them, prior to last night, for about five days), and then work on keeping my aches and pains under control with proper exercise tomorrow. I'm certain pain isn't the only trigger, but I think it's probable that it's one trigger, and if I can track those down one by one, eventually I'll know how to manage them so my PTSD symptoms will, hopefully, remain at bay indefinitely.

Wish me luck!  :-)


  1. (hug) you are important to lots of people and many people love you. I care about you and I hope you feel better today.-A.J.