Five Things To Help Cope With PTSD
Posted on January 02 2016
I am a veteran of the United States Army. I served as a combat medic. PTSD is something that I battle with everyday and I see many of my fellow brothers and sisters battle it too. If I can save at least one life with this post, then I have done my family (veterans and active duty) a true service.
I have been out of the Army now for about 4 years. It has been a hectic transition. School, getting married and having a beautiful baby boy has transformed my life for the better. Sometimes I can't handle my anger. I snap at my wife when she is only trying to be helpful. I scream at drivers on the highway while waving a one finger gesture. I cant stop being super early to things that are not even important.
So in my years, I have found somethings that have helped me get back on track when these instances occur. Not everyone is the same nor is everything I say going to work for you. But this is what works for me and I have found a way to control the beast that tries to escape to a certain degree.
I remember one night my son was about 6 months old. My wife went to a funeral and left to me to care for him. I was totally fine with it or at least I thought. He did this blood curdling scream for what is seemed to me, hours. I had never had a problem with his crying until that day. I had heard those screams before. An infant in my arms... and it took me back to that moment. I looked at my son, unable to move. Tears filled my eyes and I dropped to the floor. I couldnt move. I was frozen in fear. I was back in Iraq with that infant in my arms...
It was then I decided that I needed to take control of my PTSD.
- Find Someone to Talk To
I cannot express this one enough. Friends, family or a counselor, I don't care who it is. If you are comfortable talking to complete strangers or whomever; talk to someone! I feel the more times that I talk (or in this case), write about my experiences, I get better and better at being able to recall and emotionally deal with that memory. The other person doesn't even have to say anything, just let them listen. Let those trembling words escape your mind. Each time it gets easier...
2. Do Not Try and Drown Your Problems
Yes, I mean with alcohol and/or drugs. I know, I know. Drinking is apart of the military culture but it is a depressant. It is a downer. It only makes things worse. Instead of trying to drown those memories, let your mind and body feel the emotions. Let your mind digest that information and cope with it. Drugs and alcohol only lock those feelings away. But they grow stronger being behind a closed door. The amount of energy spent on trying to suppress that memory or moment, will grow to a point in which you spend your whole day trying to keep it in. It's exhausting.
3. Find a Hobby
I know, pretty cliche but you are looking at my hobby. Yes my clothing company was my hobby to help me cope with PTSD. It was a way for me to give back to my community while trying to inject some positive light on PTSD. Volunteer your time to a local animal shelter. Write a story about your experiences. Visit our elderly veterans at the state homes. Start playing and making music. Do something creative! Do not let your mind go to waste. Find something you enjoy doing, that keeps you content and just do it.
4. Take a Step Back Everyday
Everyday take a step back and re evaluate your entire day. Log all your PTSD instances into a journal (this helps when you go to claim it at the VA). Then write down what you could have done better or how you could have reacted differently. This may sound cheesy but it works pretty damn well. You basically coach your brain into reacting differently. Reflect and meditate. Think about these instances and really let them sink into your mind. It doesnt have to take long. Five minutes before bed is all you really need. But if you are serious about wanting to control your PTSD, I have found this to be a great way to help.
5. A Service Dog
Now the VA doesnt offer this amazing tool. This is something that many outside non profits have taken up doing. I work closely with an organization that trains PTSD service dogs for veterans. From all the veterans I spoke to that have received one, it has changed their lives. It has saved their marriages and their family. I implore you to do some research about these amazing animals. They can really change your life. Check out who I work with here: Austin Dog Alliance
Hopefully this list helps you out. PTSD is something that needs constant work in order to overcome it. It is a serious commitment. But I am here if you need me. Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
And dont forget that every shirt sold helps veterans with PTSD get access to number 5 on the list, service dogs. Order yours today and help save a veteran: YOUnity Clothing