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For the past 3 weeks we have travelled with Michele Renaud on her journey through PTSD healing. This week we conclude this series with her personal tips and techniques.
For me, anxiety attacks sometimes become heightened when I must leave the safety of the home and go out into the world. This can incapacitate PTSD sufferers in the way that it promotes isolation. There was only one or two ways that I learned how to manage this:
I got involved in community volunteerism. By doing things for others through service, giving back to the community helped me to help myself. It identified strengths that I posses in my interpersonal or communicative skills and enhanced things that I was passionate about. This also helped me to balance myself by putting myself out there in order to help people, if I was unable to keep my symptoms under control I therefore, could not help anyone other than myself.
Due to numerous health problems, I unfortunately go to a lot of doctor appointments. When my PTSD brought about anxiety or panic attacks, I needed to set times to do the things I needed to do for my own care. especially when that included leaving the house. For a long time, I intentionally scheduled my medical appointments spread out throughout the week. This forced myself to go outside. By knowing I had to go somewhere In confronting the fear, I was able to use those abstract skills that worked for me in training myself to overcome the fear. I still suffer from a touch of agoraphobia, but am better able to close its door and open my own.
Anxiety and Panic-
What used to happen when I would get an anxiety attack would be the self dialogue and worry syndrome. The thoughts went something like this: Okay you have one hour to pull yourself together and get to where you have to be. I can do this! (Time is ticking, the phone rings, the cat meows, the dinner is burning) Jumping in the shower, jumping out of the shower, running to pull the burnt dinner out of the oven, feed the cat, answer the phone…30 minutes, I only have 30 minutes? I am never going to make it! Oh no, I am going to be late…forget the make up..blow dry your hair, put on some clothes, brush your teeth…doing these now there is 15 minutes to leave the house…Where are my car keys? Frantically looking under, on, through, in between…oh no I can’t find my keys, damn, I am going to be late! Starting to cry…who needs dinner anyway? I need to find my keys!
Okay, anxiety attack here it is, full blown tears streaming, good thing I didnt put on makeup…now the self talking goes something like this: What an idiot, I should have gotten ready earlier, should of ordered a pizza, why didn’t I take my keys out hours ago? Okay, the tears will stop, the tears will stop. I will make them stop! I am not going crazy, I am not going crazy…yes you are yes you are…This sucks. Cancel the appointment. No I have to go, I have to go.. Oh there’re the keys…time to leave now, wash my face, put on makeup and out the door I go.
Now who wants to go through that sort of experience at any given time?
I was on an anti-anxiety medication and it helped for a long long time…But my diagnose changed, my symptoms changed and therefore my PTSD changed. My therapy or medical needs changed. The anxiety ebbed and flowed along with the way life often does. I worked, I didn’t work, I was highly functioning, my functioning decreased. I was able, then I was unable. Being tired of being sick and tired, made me angry. Then self determination came on the scene and surviving became a mission of survival to not live trapped behind my disabilities any longer. Being off of medication for over a year or so, is a good thing, but, that doesn’t mean that the bottle of Buspar that I have just in case I cannot get through a PTSD, or anxiety ridden moment, will not be used.
Michele Talerico-Renaud’s personal domain and blog is http://survivorsharingstrength.com or http://survivorsharingstrength.wordpress.com
She started it when she became a NYS Action Leader with MADE (moms and dads for the education of dating abuse) who is sponsored by Liz Claiborne in conjunction with Love is not abuse curriculum and lobbying for laws in the educational arena.http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/made/index.html At the same time she had bowed out of a local grassroots organization who could not support her efforts. Immediately in that very same course of time, due to her son’s health problems that hindered his education, she had to re prioritize her activism and advocacy with the focus on her child while in her own recovery. In order to deal with extreme life situations, it actually pushed her over onto the Healing side of things where self focus and PTSD triggers came in floods that just made her stronger! Yay!
She is a partner and contributor to The Courage Networkhttp://www.couragenetwork.com/stories.html where her story and a couple of poems are on.
The ideas contained in this post are solely those of the author. To contribute to the Survivor Speaks series, contact Michele.
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