Archive for the PTSD Category
I have a thousand and one reasons to stop and reflect on all of the great running I have done in recent months. On Saturday morning, as I wrapped up an 11 mile run through my neighborhood, I passed the 1001 mile mark on my running shoes. Not running shoes in general — no, I’ve pretty much just been wearing the one pair (with limited exception), and that’s 1001 miles on that pair.
They are dirty and nasty. They stink like you would likely not believe, even though I have been washing them semi-regularly to try and fight that. Any sense of spring in them left a few hundred miles ago. If I believed Nike, they would have been retired on OCT 7 when I passed the 300 mile mark. I’m sure glad I didn’t.
Because last week, these are the shoes I used to outrun an angry adult bull. These are some good shoes.
I had started in these shoes in August 2009, when I formally returned to marathon training. I was in Iraq, I was under a lot of stress with my job, I was ramping up to start IBOL, and I needed to get back to running to help balance out life. Training for a marathon, the Honolulu Marathon set for after I returned home from Iraq, seemed like a good way to do that. New phase, new shoes. The choice of shoes was uneventful — I had bought one pair of Nike Pegasus when I was on block leave, liked them, and bought another pair through the mail knowing that Nike would phase them out before I was ready to try something else. That second pair is what I have been using.
I ran on them in Iraq. I ran on them in Hawaii, and Arizona, and California. On land and in the sea, and through too many puddles and creeks and streams to try and count. In the desert, and in the snow, on paved roads and muddy trails. I don’t think I ran on them through fire, though — I just never happened on any when running. I’m not some elite athlete, some fancy Ferrari of a runner who needs a special diet or special gear, and these are just running shoes. They’ve taken me where I needed to go.
And along the way, I learned a few things.
I enjoy running. OK, not the actual running part, but I love getting out and running. Maybe when I slow down some later, I’ll transition to hiking. But during all these miles, I’ve seen some beautiful scenery, run some awesome trails, and enjoyed getting out to run. Along the way, I’ve taken a few thousand photos (ah, thank heavens for the age of the digital camera), with some decent results. But I’ve found a way to get out and run and explore and see things no matter where life and the Army has taken me.
Replacing shoes every 300 miles, just because you’ve run 300 miles, makes no sense. A while ago, I was researching running at the Army website for safety, and they had very little to say about running and shoes — except that there isn’t scientific or academic research to back up a prescribed need to replace shoes based on miles — it’s the feet and the shoes that determines that, it said. And I’d have to agree.
Running injuries can be terrible, but a lot of them aren’t so bad. With these shoes, I’ve sprained my ankle five times — as in, swollen up like a grapefruit, hurts to walk on it, and people see it and say, “Damn!” The first time, I was 1.89 miles into a 4 mile run — and I finished the 4 miles. The 2nd time, I was a quarter mile into a 7 mile run when I rolled my ankle off the side of the road and went sprawling onto the desert floor — and I still went ahead and ran the 7 miles. #3 and #4 really hurt — I only finished half the planned mileage because the ankle not only hurt, but also started to swell a lot right away. #5 was bad enough to get me to take 2 days off from running — something I did not do for the previous 4 sprains. And I’ve had other minor aches and pains — a knee that sometimes hurts and sometimes just makes a lot of noise, a rotor cuff that really doesn’t like me, and then there was the period when my Achilles tendon and I weren’t really talking but more ignoring each other. All the while, I’ve kept running. At worse, on the earliest sprains, I took anti-inflammatory meds to help with the swelling, but other than that, I’d kept on running. I didn’t think I’d be able to.
And I’ve learned that old farts like me can do a lot more than they think. I am averaging close to 40 miles per week this year, at a time when most of my soldiers are doing 10. In 2005, when my PTSD was at its worst, I was a good 30 lbs heavier than I am now, and all I am doing these days is running and eating ice cream. And my PTSD? As stressful as this job is, it’s under control — like an alcoholic, I suppose, I’ll have to live one day at a time with it, but the running helps tremendously when my stress levels go up.
So, on Monday, I will break out the new shoes. I already have some miles on them — I took them to Prescott with me, and wore them one week here. And I think they’ll be good for some miles; they’re the Nike Pegasus model from last year or the year before, one year newer then the pair being retired, and they look and feel about the same — just new and springy. Give me a few months — I’ll beat that springiness right out of them.
On August 11, at Camp Speicher near Tikrit, Iraq, I snuck out at night and did a 3 mile run. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t good in any sense of the term. But it was 3 miles. And it marked the start of my training for the 2009 Honolulu Marathon, using the Hal Higdon training plan.
That week, I ran 15.15 miles, and averaged a pace of about 8:45 minutes per mile. All told, I did 69 other training runs, leading up to the marathon today. Of the 461 miles in the training plan, I managed to do 459 of them — I did not do the two miles on this past Thursday, when I flew from Lake Arrowhead home to Oahu (and I had missed one other run, due to an injury, but I had dutifully made up the miles that week). For those 459 miles, I averaged a pace of 9:37 minutes per mile, and I averaged over 6 and a half miles per run for those 70 runs. These past two weeks, when I was in the mountains and snow of Lake Arrowhead, were when I had my slowest average page: 11:37 and then 11:23 per mile, with every other week averaging between 8:42 and 9:44 per mile. Doing it all, I sprained my ankle 4 times.
I never really looked at all those numbers until now. It seems like a lot. Driving 459 miles would be a long day. Often, running six miles feels like a lot — all the more so when I am not running a lot or training like this. And 4 ankle sprains? I don’t think I had sprained my ankle that much over the past 20 years combined. And while an average pace of 9:37 minutes per mile is nothing to write home about, it’s pretty close to the pace I ran today — 10:37.
And I guess the thing that really strikes awe in me, for all of this, is that I ran a lot of this in Iraq, did more in Hawaii, and then did some both in Eugene (aka Track Town, USA) and at Lake Arrowhead. I went from running at night in the deserts of Iraq, to running through the pineapple fields on Oahu, to running through history in Eugene, to stomping through ankle deep snow up and down the quad-runner trails that covers the ridges near Lake Arrowhead. In 4 months of running, I’ve sure covered the globe pretty well, and covered most every type of running, from roads to trails, from flat to steep, from desert climate to snow.
And while this may not seem like a big deal to you, it is to me: I ran low tech. In Iraq, I wore my Army PT uniform. No special tops, no special shorts or running pants. I didn’t carry water or gel packs or fancy jelly beans, but relied on water points from the around the base to keep hydrated. I can think of only one time — the 18 mile run I did here on Oahu — where I stopped for Gatorade during the run, and that was because it was cheaper than water to buy on base. I ran — and in the most unfancy ways I could.
During all this, I used one pair of running shoes. That might not seem like a noteworthy thing, but the officials at Nike and Brooks and all of the other running shoes would want me to believe that I need new shoes every 300 miles. Well, I’m just not believing that. I’m not some high tech racer, some modern day Ferrari in Nikes. I am a runner, and I run. I’d just as soon take off barefoot and in shorts, to run down a deer, as I would take off to run across the island to my office. Super high tech anything would be, I fear, just lost in my running.
And in August, I weighed 214 lbs. Today, when I got home from the marathon, I weighed 202. I am happy being anywhere in that range. I really don’t care what the number is (and while it’s in that range, the Army doesn’t care either). What I do love and care about is the feeling of strength that I get when I am running often and farther. I feel ready for the world at times like now.
Also, I love how this much running has made me feel. For as crazy as Iraq was during those last months, with a new job and the IBOL project on top of trying to go home and reintegrate with my family, I can’t think of a bad day. Endorphins are an amazing thing. My stress has been under control. My PTSD has been under control. I feel good, life is going well and is under control, and I am happy with where I am in life. And that’s the influence of the running, of the preparations I made for this marathon.
If you’ve read the book, Born to Run, then maybe this will make sense: I’ve been chasing a deer. I’ve been running for fun, not for speed or anything else. No carrying water, not eating along the way, not using fancy high tech stuff — it’s been about reaching down deep inside, and finding me by running. And I would not trade that for the world.
I have been so unfocused on the training part of all this, that it probably could be called something other than training. I’ve just been running — while also following some guidelines for distances. I’ve had more fun getting out and putting in the miles, without care or regard for times or intervals or pace or personal records. Running in Iraq at night gave me time alone, to clear my thoughts and let my mind wander. And it led me to IBOL — which was a great part of my 2009. I spent the summer, fall and now winter investing in running, and looking back at how my year in Iraq ended, with work and IBOL and a great return home to my family, I would have to say that it was a hell of an investment; a little less sleep gave me some great dividends.
Anyway, enough with all that. Poor Jack has been suffering through all this, trying to get to the part where I talk about the actual race event, so he can decide whether to add Honolulu to his 2010 Marathon plan.
This is the second marathon that I have run. I’ve also run some half marathons, too. There are a few things about Honolulu that make this race noteworthy.
1. Egads, it’s beautiful. From running along the Pacific, to coming around Diamond Head, to zipping through both Honolulu and Waikiki, it’s a great place to go running.
2. Wow, it’s flat. If you’ve never run one before, this would make for a fine first marathon.
3. The people are great. It’s a wonderful social event, with folks dressed as Yoda and Darth Vader, Minnie Mouse, brides, etc. And at something like 20,000 runners, it’s a big happy crowd.
4. The race organizers love the military. I’ll be honest — this marathon is expensive (registration started at over $100, and late registration the day prior was $225). But they cut us slack, not just with the late registration but also with the super-awesome registration fee of just $30 for active duty military. Saving 85% on the registration price was a nice, nice thing.
5. If you have to go somewhere for a marathon, Hawai’i is a damn fine place to go. We’ve had wonderful weather this week (though it’s rained the past two years), and I can’t recommend enough coming to Hawai’i — to run a marathon or just for vacation.
One bummer, though, is that the race starts at 0500 / 5 AM. Which means getting into Honolulu by 3 or 4. Being active duty military, the race registration folks had advised me to go to the Hale Koa hotel in Waikiki, and park there. The Hale Koa is an Army hotel right on the beach, and they have a nice parking garage there that cost me all of $12 to park while I did all of the marathon events. Yeah — $12. Nice. I loved that. That raised the total cost of the marathon to $42 for me — about as awesome as they come. Anyway, I snuck into the parking garage at about 3 AM, geared up (iPod, Garmin Forerunner 305, military ID, car key, and a spare $20) and then headed to the starting point.
The starting area is on the road outside of the Ala Moana Shopping Center, across from the Ala Moana State Recreation Area (which is really just a nice, big park). The park featured the all-important banks of porta potties, which had a near non-stop line right up the start of the race. The race folks had marked off sections for folks to stage, based upon expected finish times. Which was nice, until abut 10 minutes before the start when everyone crunched forward. See video of the staging, here. See the video of the fireworks, here.
And by the time I started to run, of course, I had to pee. I had to make the 2 or 3 mile look around Honolulu and back to the start line, before I could peel off and use those same porta-potties. And by the time the race had started, I felt a) tall and b) Caucasian. The race is sponsored by Japan Airlines (JAL), and the race does cater to a lot of visitors coming from Japan — so much so that the race has two websites, one for US / other, and one for Japan.
It wasn’t just that folks came from Japan to run, or that they came with travel groups / through travel agencies. A saw whole packs of folks, lining up together, staging together, with matching additional stuff on their shirts or just plain matching shirts. My favorites were the packs of runners I ran into later — a gaggle of 30-something-ish ladies, running as a pack, with someone out front – maybe their coach, maybe their tour guide, maybe both. All, though, looked to behaving fun, which I thought was awesome.
It was good that we had started so early. Though it was dark, it did set a nice setting for the start — which featured a fireworks display over just a starter’s pistol. It made for lousy photos, but hey — small price to pay.
The run really was uneventful. I tended to let my mind wander, though I was listening to music the whole time. Nice and pretty, without too much elevation change. And yes, folks were dressed crazy, which was pretty cool. But mostly it was just a very nice run. When we started, it was in the low 70′s, though it was likely closer to 80 when I finished. I walked through every water point, which were about every two miles until near the end, when they were every mile. I mostly had two cups of water at each water point; once I had half a banana, and once I had 7 jelly bellies that some nice lady was dispensing. But mostly I ran and let my mind wander where it may.
I was, though, the little social butterfly. I ran into a few folks from work; a bunch of us from the staff had decided to train up and do this, some (like me) doing it solo, but one big clump doing it with the lawyers.
And you know how Superman has his kryptonite? And Samson lost all his powers when his hair was cut? I was on track to do about a 4:30 marathon (10 minute miles, or about the same as I did in Luxembourg a few years ago) when my enemies massed their forces and resources, and deployed a keg to the race course. Damn them! Not only did I get beer, but I got only a little beer initially, so I had to go back and correct them on what it means to run a beer point during a very serious race like this. And I had to take a photo, too.
There’s something wrong with being middle aged, and 20 miles into a marathon, and considering doing a keg stand, just because it’d be a hell of a photo opportunity. Looking back now, I wish I had. Instead, I opted just for the standard photo with the ubiquitous red cups — the only thing keeping it from being a great party was that we were out in front of their house, and not in their kitchen.
Posted by: art in PTSD, Running
All is right in the world.
Friday night, we packed out, headed to the airport, and flew overnight to Seattle and on to Eugene. We’re here in OR for 10 days to see the Grandma Sherr and Grandpa Doug for 10 days, with little planned other than a side trip one day to Beaverton for the IBOL World Tour, and a craft day for the wife on another day.
I, though, needed needed to get in some miles. 20, to be exact.
So, this morning, we all got up and had some amazing waffles at a local place (mine featured turkey and cranberries on top), before GPS Doug and I suited up and headed out — he in his cycling gear, me in my cold weather running gear. Doug was willing to tag along and help me with the route, in part to get his daily exercise. And it was awesome having him along — we chatted and talked about the world while the miles slowly passed by.
But still — it was 20 miles, and this is Eugene.
We headed out along the Willamette River, along the south and then west side of the river, before crossing the river and coming back on the other side. The route meandered along the river, making for a nice and easy and flat running route — so much different that what I’ve been running in Hawai’i, where nothing at all is ever flat. I was able to deliberately run at a place slow enough for us to hold a steady conversation — something I had beaten into my head again while reading the book, Born to Run (which is a must-read, in my opinion).
Here I am, at about the 7.5 mile marker. Doesn’t look like it, does it?
At about the 10 mile mark, we were near where we had started and near the start of Pre’s trail (you’ll want to go read about it). We stopped under one of the many bridges, so I could grab some water from Doug’s bag and reload my now-empty Camelbak. The 10 mile mark was also about the time we had passed two guys walking, given them a wave and a hello, only to be asked if I was really still running — apparently, we had passed them about an hour earlier!
So, reloaded with more water, we headed out along Pre’s trail, which with its smooth and padded footing was a nice change. We ran down the length of Pre’s trail, down a bike path some more, and then back to the start of the trail. One more short loop, across the bridge and back towards the house, and we’d hit 20 miles.
If you want to see the run, I have a Google Earth file, here. It’s color-coded by distance.
Doug, hero of the day, had even called ahead to tell everyone that we were about done, so I came back to the house and a hot bath, just waiting for me. The kids and I have settled in with some Top Gear, and I may snack on some apple in the near future.
Indeed, all is right in the world.
It’s very neat to be here and to be running. Yes, just being here and seeing family again, especially after a year in Iraq, is wonderful. But to come here and run in an area so rich in running history has been so very neat. This afternoon and evening, we settled in and watched Without Limits, a 1998 movie about Pre, the city and area, and other running legends like Frank Shorter (whom I met this summer in Iraq). And Eugene was home to the 2008 Olympic trials, and will be again for the 2012 trials, too. And here I am, just a nobody, out tooling around and doing 20 here. Pretty neat.
And one last thing. The running feels great. It is every bit the de-stresser that I had hoped it would be. It is making reintegration into family life that much easier, as it’s definitely keeping me on an even keel and in better moods. I am in a good mood almost always, and there’s great comfort in the strength that comes with this physical conditioning; I feel strong, and that’s great.
I could do without the cold, or the rain, but today was a great day for running, and a great run. I look forward to more runs this week (hopefully with Doug out to join me), and these last couple of weeks before the marathon. Should be great run.
Less than one week back from Iraq, and I’ve already covered just shy of 50 miles of running. I’m a little sore, but it feels great. Between server issues, moved half way across the world, and readjusting the life at home, I’m not said much about what’s going on. Let’s start with the running — it’s easy to talk about.
Last week, as we were waiting at the airport in Tikrit for our chance to fly to Kuwait, I stayed focus on my running and managed to put in three runs for almost 18 miles while staged on the flight line, ready to fly out on a moments notice. Sitting at a desolate airport, waiting for weather to clear or a plane to arrive, for several days can, well, be pretty damn boring. Lots of folks watched movies or caught up on their reading — I tried to go run.
But those were flat miles, in a dry heat. Looking back now at my Garmin records from the 16 mile run I did two weeks ago, it was a total of about 700 feet of elevation change — for the whole thing. There’s nothing flat about where I live — if you’re not on the beach, it’s not flat.
After I got back home last Sunday, after the day was done and the kids were in bed, I took off and did a 12 mile run. My training plan told me I was suppose to be having an easy week — thus 12 and not 17 miles — but 12 miles seemed pretty boring. I figured I could spice it up by heading to the hills. Ugh — it had over 1000 feet of ascent. When it was over, I was smoked — it part because I had just flown half way around the world, but in part because it was 6 miles up and then 6 miles back down. I slept pretty well that night.
This week, though, I have mixed it up — some loops through the neighborhood (still not flat) and some runs through the pineapple fields. And I gotta say — the runs have been a lifesaver. I’ve been able to self-medicate, getting healthy doses of endorphins, as I’ve tried to adjust to being home and as the family has put up with my crap.
If that sounds odd, well, it shouldn’t. The Army says that the #1 thing we as soldiers can do, post deployment, to help deal with the stress of reintegration, is physical exercise (cardio, specifically). It’s no joke — those endorphins are magical when it comes to dealing with stress. When I had first approached my wife about training up for this marathon, it was just this that as I cited as the #1 reason for wanting to do this — endorphins during redeployment and reintegration, since I know it’s always stressful not just for me but for us, when I come home.
And so, I’ve spent the week trying to find the balance — miles, vs. hills. The miles are good for me, but the hills are helping me build strength in my legs (and with how much they ache, I have no doubt it’s working). They were pretty uneventful runs during the week, but the long run today was noteworthy: I ran my our neighborhood not just to the Army base, by across it to my new office.
K and the kids had gone to see a performance of Annie last night, and I….. went to sleep. I was very tired. And by tired, I mean I went to bed before 7 pm. Yeah, tired. But I slept 7 and a half hours, getting up at 0230 and hitting the road just after 3. It was almost 6 miles through the fields, and then a little over three up to post and then across post to the office. I stopped, on the way back, at a 24 hour convenience store, to buy a 64 ounce Gatorade — most of which went into my camelback, to restock it since I had drained it on the way, but the rest went right into my belly. No food, no gel packs.
I had hoped to do the run in about 3 hours. Last weekend, I finished reading the book Born to Run, which at one point talks about slowing down slow runs, to burn fat and not what’s in your stomach. Since my stomach was empty, well, I was committed to trying this (and it totally worked). It was 18 miles in 3:05:40, a hair more than I had set as my goal. But there was the whole 2200+-feet-of-ascent aspect, too, so I’m okay with the time. My thighs are seriously smoked — even my hips hurt — but I feel pretty good. I’ll be drinking water all day, and I did eat that Buick when I was done running.
If you’re curious as to how the running has been going, here‘s the updated spreadsheet for my running and training. Pretty nerdy and geeky, but it does show what I’ve been up to. I have a Google Earth file, too, that I can email you – just ask, and I’ll send it.
Figured it out yet?
I had a coworker ask me today why I’ve been so pissed off the last couple of days.
It was as if time stopped. The words just hung there in the air, like cigarette smoke on a cold day. Pissed off? What the hell was he talking about?
13 years later, or what was probably only a second and a half, I spat out something about just having a lot on my mind lately. No, not angry, just lost in thought. Preoccupied.
1. Saying that, I realized later, probably made me sound like one of those guys you watch closely, because he probably just got a dear John letter or something. Take his ammo — he’s got a lot on his mind. I suck with words. Really. Yes, there is irony in a guy writing that on his blog. But I am horrible when it comes to interacting with others verbally. Speeches? Well, other than the before-mentioned nervousness and tendency to have my heart race abnormally fast, I do just fine. But waaaaay too often, just talking one on one, especially under pressure, words fail me. You might not think it, you might not notice it, but I sure do. I suck.
2. I take too long in responding to people. I know this. I’ve had this issue for a long time, but only really zeroed in on it a couple of years ago. Sure, I can brush it off a lot of the time, saying I’m deaf (I am) or something, but I know that what I think is an OK time to think about the question posed is outside the social norms for most Americans. My brain is like a virus, and it’s off and running all the time; if I wasn’t conscious of the need to actually answer people, you could probably ask me a question and then have to wait like 5 minutes while I thought it over and came up with an answer. It’d be a good answer, just not a wait-5-minutes answer.
3. I totally suck at answering rhetorical questions. Too often I’ll just miss the whole set of indicators that a question is rhetorical. My roommate thinks it’s pretty funny, I know, because he’ll just throw a question out there, and I’ll answer it. Or try to. And no sooner do I start than I realize that, uh, no, I really wasn’t suppose to. Did Iron Man, the song, come out before Iron Man, the cartoon hero? What’s making that damn glitching sound at the beginning of this MP3 file, and how the hell do I remove it? Did I just rip my shorts in the crotch?
4. I’m an introvert. Seriously. Stop laughing. It’s true. All those Myers-Briggs type tests all come back with the same two things: I am an analyst, and I am an introvert. And being deaf, these days I literally have missed the phone ringing on my desk. I tend to crawl inside, and ignore things. Well, ignore everything. Does that make me seem mad, or angry, or upset? I hope not, but I can see how it might.
5. I love the problem, and really am interested in the problem more than I am the answer. When the answer arrives, usually the problem is over. And, well, the fun stops. I love problems. There, I said it. I love problems. When things don’t work, I get to tinker. When things don’t make sense, I get to ponder. I favor the abstract, too, because then it’s all about the logic in the answer.
6. I joke with my wife that I probably have Asperger syndrome. I know what you’re thinking — it’s not nice not joke about that. But I didn’t say that I joke about Asperger syndrome, I joke that I probably have it. But it’s only a half-joke. The more I read about it, the more I realize that it could well be used to describe me.
7. On Sunday, while sitting in a briefing (in the peanut gallery seats), I got so fed up with the bureaucracy, I decided to take on a project, with or without the support of the unit I work in. Seriously, I have probably lost my mind. I am either going to be run out of the Army, or people are going to see that I am undertaking this mother-of-all-projects, realize that it is absolutely the right thing to do, and join me as I charge at a freakin’ windmill. Right now, I have three converts — one of whom does not have a choice, because she works for me. How big is this undertaking? I could employ 40 people, all day every day, to nug through this, probably for a month solid. And then we’d spend the rest of the year changing Iraq. Yep — done lost my mind. Why have I been a bit out of it lately? I’m trying like hell to wrap my head around a set of issues, in order to get to the root of the problem, so I can then force an American Army Division to go forward and do my bidding, in support of the people and government of Iraq. Preoccupied is probably a pretty accurate description….
So, there it is. My day, and seven things related to it.
Posted by: art in Army, Iraq, PTSD
Interesting article, here.
I read a lot of articles about PTSD and the military, and I had seen one other one on GEN Ham and his problems. From this observer, I’d guess he had PTSD, but hey, if he wants to call it something else, so be it.
I think it’s awesome that he’s willing to talk about it.
I am not surprised that he doesn’t see it as a big deal.
Now, how many other of our senior leaders are going to open up and talk about their stress and their combat experiences?
At 1005 the other morning, I was sitting in a conference room, listening to my heart. It was beating strong. It was beating a bit fast. More than anything, I wanted to put two fingers to my neck to better gauge what it was doing.
In minutes, it would be my turn to speak. No overhead projector, no big screen with my slides. Two senior officers sat at the head table, flipping through slide packs. Buried in there were four slides of mine — Northern Iraq 101. No chance to read from a script — I’d be cold-stone-talking about it, solo.
We all get the jitters before events. Pre-wedding jitters, the jitters before while waiting for the big race, the stomach butterflies waiting for that big test in third period. It’s natural. It’s the anticipation of what is to come, that moment when it will all begin.
I get that a lot. I talk and brief for a living. I don’t write long analytical pieces, I don’t make fancy slides. I do best sitting with folks, and talking them through complex ideas using the simplest of terms.
I should be good at this. I need to be good at this.
So, sitting there, I was wondering just one thing: Would my body drop into fight-or-flight mode, and dump a ton of stimulates. All that endorphin, from when your mind decides that survival is on the line, and it concludes that stimulants are what you really need.
Why? It’s called hypervigilance, and it’s a part of PTSD.
It wasn’t always like this for me — the worrying and waiting not just of what I am about to do and about which I am nervous, but the dread that my body is really sensitive to stress. This is one of those lively byproducts of PTSD — my fight-or-flight trigger has been out of whack. Like a lot of folks with PTSD, it goes off at inappropriate times – too early.
And sitting in a conference room, waiting to talk about a topic I know well, is not an appropriate time. Jitters, yes — my body getting the sudden sensation that it’s time to get up and go? No.
It is a wildly shitty sensation. Waiting to do what is a key part of your very career and capabilities, and waiting to see if your body is going to illogically go postal on you.
Can I influence it? Sure. Is it a problem? No. Do I have it under control? Yep. But it’s a daily struggle, something for which I start every day with just a clean slate. In a flash, it could be back, and with the stress levels up being back here, I am ever vigilant about it. If I had a good day yesterday, that’s fine, but I start all over again today. And I don’t see it ever going away.
It is, as I understand it, the kind of daily struggle that recovered alcoholics face — one day at a time, with a very conscious effort.
I don’t normally talk about this stuff, but I am going to try and write more this year, and specifically talk about what it’s like to come back to war with PTSD. I don’t think it’s something that people talk about, mainly because I know I don’t talk about it. It’s my own quiet struggle, something I have to live with and something for which there just isn’t a reason to talk about it.
(PS — I kicked ass at both briefings)