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fatigue and exhaustion

There are days I can get up and be so ready to start the day regardless of the pain levels. Feeling like I can actually do things, maybe not everything I want but things that may have been on the back burner for the longest time.

Maybe one or two items get taken care of and they are good for a while. Then it hits, the wall, the huge flipping wall that smacks ya down. This happens way too often to me, it’s the fatigue and exhaustion. I have blogged about this a lot over the years and yet it is something that anyone not suffering from a chronic issue does not understand.

We are not lazy, not just fat or don’t get enough exercise or eat enough greens. I have heard it all.
‘Just go sit outside for a while and get that sun girl! You will feel a lot better.’
‘If you spent just an hour or so in the gym, maybe you won’t feel so tired.’
‘Are you eating enough fiber and greens?? Because you know that helps a lot.’

OH if only the issues can be cured with exercise, foods and sun. Don’t you think maybe I have tried it already? Can I exercise more, sure. Try walking on feet that no matter what you do, feel like you are walking on tacks and pins. Yes y’all it actually feels like that no matter what, ohhh and toss in the bone spurs and broken toes that just materialized to mess with me. I can take some pain but not this much at every single step.
Eating….well there are days my stomach will only let me have water and crackers. What do you think that does to my energy levels?
Hmmm sitting outside in the sun…I actually like doing that lol but it does not recharge my batteries.

It is just fatigue, exhaustion and feeling like I need to lay down in order to do the smallest of tasks that makes it so horrible. It is a pain in the ass, yes resting is necessary but this is not resting. When you are unable to do anything because you are so tired it becomes an issue. Resting makes you feel better over time, when you are in the exhaustion & fatigue mode you do not feel better after laying down.

How can chronically ill people begin to get any help when hardly anyone believes in the battles being fought? How can you look at someone struggling with living a ‘normal’ life and tell them they only need to try harder?

This feeling comes and goes. Lately it comes more than goes lol but I deal with it. If you love someone who battles fatigue, don’t just assume they are lazy. Find a way to help them out with things they cannot get done. Offer to help with a meal, just sitting with them and letting them know you are there is HUGE.

If you are the one battling, allow others to help you. Do not feel guilty (yeah its hard, I know) about asking for that help. Take the time to get back to your normal, not the one others try to put on you.

Now I am going to lay down on the couch and try to read. This is a busy month, I am going to rest when I can so that I can continue to give back. So that I can keep bringing awareness to PTSD and the oh so many issues our Military and Veterans face. That is my purpose, these days of exhaustion and fatigue will make me slow down but they will not stop me.

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Surviving

When traumas happen, it changes your future in ways that you will never really be prepared for. You won’t immediately know what those changes are as they will come out during different periods of your life. We survive, we keep going and live through the cycle of reliving the traumas and having it throw us into the dark fighting to find our way out.

When does just surviving stop? At what point do we start to live our lives without the worry of a trigger sending us spiraling out of control? When will we start to see our worth?

I know that everyone’s journey in healing is different, I get it I really do. So many people will tell me that it takes time, then things will settle. Hell I have told that to people myself when providing them some guidance in their own battles. Yes time does heal, but it does not cure. Why is that I wonder?

Maybe it is the fact there is no cure that in my mind translates that to meaning there is never going to be an end. In my mind I know there are times I can go months without fighting so hard, there are times I feel like I am actually better and can almost let my guard down. Yet there is that little voice in my head reminding me that the demons are still there.

During these good times, it is apparent how traumas changed me. The affect the traumas suffered over the years have changed how I see the good times. It’s like I am waiting for the bottom to fall out, things are too good so something has to go wrong soon. Sadly, I am the one who sabotages myself because I get tired of waiting for the demons to do it.

The self sabotage over the years has been as hard to work on as surviving the traumas. It is a never ending battle. Yet I find a way to keep going because I am not just okay with surviving. I want to live and be happy, enjoy my marriage and children. I especially want to be around to spoil my grandson rotten and let his parents deal with the after affects, because that is what grandparents do, right?

The biggest struggle in all of this has been moving past the survival mode, wondering if there will ever be an end to just surviving. I have gone through tons of years of counseling which has helped me deal with things, yet every time I asked when things will settle down they could never give me an answer. I really think an answer does not exist. Just like there is no cure for PTSD, there will never be an end to fighting.

Until I can find that peace, I will keep fighting and keep surviving because right now its all I can do. I have to force myself to believe I am worth the effort, I usually fight because I fear letting my husband and kids down. Maybe that is enough for now, maybe at some point in the future I will fight for me.

No matter how long you have been fighting, how long you have been surviving….keep doing it. I can tell you that YOU are worth the effort. YOU MATTER. One day I hope to say that to myself, my holding on to being here is in hopes of helping others. If one person can be helped with my ranting & ravings, the posts and the messages then I will keep doing it.

Hold on, please and keep fighting.

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the AFTER

Today I went out to the All American Tattoo Convention in Fayetteville NC. Something I wanted to do for my Fuck PTSD bucket list. This year I wanted to do more things to push myself, to not allow PTSD to control so much of my life. This convention was one of them.

There are steps to doing anything outside of my comfort zone, for leaving my safe zone and preparing myself to be somewhere surrounded by people I don’t know, at a location I do not frequent. What is often times not talked about is The After. The way my body just goes into overdrive, pumping adrenaline the whole time is out and the anxiety/paranoia making me feel on guard all the time. .

So what happens after? Well every part of my body starts to shake, ache and even cramp up as I begin to relax being back in my safe zone. As the adrenaline begins to leave my body, as the breaths I was holding seem to expel out all I can do is just hold on and let whatever is going to happen, happen.

It is so hard to describe but many of us have been in near accidents or very high stress situations. The way you feel when you can finally accept that the situation is over is what I go through, just multiply that times 100. I feel ill, my eyes even bother me and I have to remove my contacts. My legs hurt so bad I don’t want to do anything but lay down.

As the day continues on, I want to kick myself in the ass for not talking my cane while there. So that I could have had that extra support. The walking and standing, watching everyone and not being able to completely enjoy it all.

Ohhh don’t let me forget feeling like I didn’t belong, wanting to talk to more artists but not being able to. Having my kids helped, we talked about the amazing artwork they had out there and being able to enjoy some of the exhibits. One of my boys has anxiety as well so we were both dealing with the crowds. Thankfully when he is out of the situation he is back to his normal self while it takes me hours and maybe another day or so to feel normal again.

All of these things is why I want to push myself more, so that I can go out and not feel like I got hit by a car after. Maybe only like I stubbed my toe lol. Just want to be at a point that I can be more comfortable in public, more with myself as well.

At least I did it, right? I did not find a reason to not go, I actually walked in and walked around. I did enjoy myself and was able to talk with some of the artists. More than I thought I would have been able to do so that is something.

For now I am going to lay here, hope to keep my food down and wait for the pains to ease a bit. Maybe I just need a nap lol.

Thanks to my boys for going with me and for the folks at Chop Shop Tattoo for letting me hang out at their booth.

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Relaxing time on the couch watching baseball.

I am resting

During my last doctor visit for the increased pains and aches in my whole body I was told to rest. Stay off my feet, limit use of my arms & hands and just rest. This is especially hard to do as a house wife, homeschool mom and manager of my nonprofit.

Who is going to craft all the items needed for Walter Reed and those requesting items to ease their comfort? Who is going to do our homeschooling lessons? And who will do the house chores? Yes, the kids and my hubby can help. They always do, but can I really sit back and just let things go undone??

The answer to that is yes. Sure I am still doing things, still on my feet but I know it is a lot less than before. Projects are not all getting done as fast as they normally do but they are getting done.

When I chose to take a more natural & holistic approach to healing and dealing with all the medical conditions, the doctors were not happy. Over the years they are seeing how dedicated I am to this way of life. Now when I go they are not offering the pain medications or other pills to ease things going on, they offer natural remedies and practices.

Resting is a huge part of my recovery, a large part at getting myself back on track and therefore it is something I am making a huge attempt to abide by. I can still work from the couch or bed, but limiting the use of my hands & arms has been tough. Really can say that so many things are not being done because I am limiting their use and with that the pains and aches are a lot more manageable.

The next few weeks into next month I have lots of appointments to do xrays, scans and testing to get an idea of where my body is from the last time these were all done. That baseline from a few years ago along with these new results will give the docs a good idea as to what is happening with my body.

We are all battling something, we are all fighting a demon that many cannot see. During the most difficult of time we just have to know that our support system is doing all they can to help keep us safe and help us deal with the pains.

Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement. Your kindness gives me the strength and push I need to keep going.

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I tried

This was one of the things I was going to do, or at least try to do  and well I tried. Getting there was okay, being in the small holding area for lack of a better word was alright for the first 15 minutes then more people came and the place was too tight, too many people too close to me and I started to hurt. As we were moved into the courthouse, I was able to sit in the last row towards a less crowded area and my back against the wall. Got through the briefings mostly okay but the person to the left of me was crowding me. They wouldn’t stop fidgeting and it was driving me bonkers. Then I noticed the openness of the room, it was too bright and too echo-ey lol. I could hear people in the halls, behind the judge, but I couldn’t see them. Didn’t know where people were and the exit was just one door leading out of the courtroom. It then started to be too much.

The anxiety was building and the pains started so badly. Don’t know if I can put into words how bad my body just started to hurt. I know it’s because I was so tense, so balled up and could not sit back, could not stand up or walk around.

After the briefing we were let go for a break and once we returned anyone wanting to be excused had to stand before the judge and plead your case. It was rather intimidating and honestly a bit embarrassing. As it was my turn, I went up and let him know that I wanted to try to do this, to serve. The whole area was just too much for me to handle. He asked me some more questions about employment and things like that, explained I could not work and he asked me to elaborate. Now mind you there are at least 80 people in the quiet and echoing courtroom listening to me as I explain my wanting to serve but not being able to handle it.  Told him I didn’t ask for a doctor’s excuse even though it may have saved everyone some time and me some discomfort, but I really wanted to see if I could do this. He thanked me for my attempt at this and dismissed me from jury duty.

To say this was a difficult experience is an understatement. This is the year I am trying to do more, go outside of my safe & comfort zone. One of these times I will succeed. The next time is in April. A convention to support my local and favorite too guys at this year’s tattoo convention.

If I don’t keep trying I won’t ever know if I can do more, won’t know how far I can go.

 

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Stepping outside my comfort zone

This is the year I am going to be pushing myself further and further outside of my comfort zone.  So far in the three months I have started to step out and it is exhausting. The physical pain that comes along with the mental pain is horrible, usually takes me out for a few days after. It is all worth it all.

When pushing myself I do not do more than I am comfortable with. The worst part is the days leading up to the ‘event’ because I tend to start driving myself nuts with the preparation in my mind. Feel like I am going 1000 miles an hour and yet getting nothing done. That is happening right now.

I was tagged for jury duty, who knows what will happen but soon I have to call and get the recorded instructions on what to do. Things are getting busy around the house as we start decluttering and organizing spaces that work for me and others in the house. My body is driving me bonkers with pain as the date for jury duty looms ahead.

It is extremely difficult to explain to someone the physical pain that I am feeling, the mental anguish I am putting myself through. None of this by choice, its the PTSD and anxiety. While I have some control over things there isn’t a lot that I can completely control, sometimes I just have to let it ride out.

My brain has too many tabs open LOL I am sure you guys have seen that meme. It is what I feel like. Just on overload with data.

For now I am doing tons of things and getting nothing done. When we get in these modes, it helps to have our loved ones just be there and understand what is going on. We need that someone to lean on and hold onto when it feels like things are just too out of control.

We push ourselves to that living outside of our safezones is easier. It can take a while, just be patient with us.

 

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I am exhausted

Physically and mentally I am exhausted, the pain feels like it is slowly killing me from the inside out and my mind is going with it. Fighting the fibro, migraines, tummy issues and mental illness all at the same time is wearing me down.

So many people are battling something, fighting for normal and fighting for their lives. PTSD is no different from any other sickness, neither is depression and fibromiaglia they all take a toll on your body and its hard to stay holding on.

I am tired, my body hurts so bad when I go to sleep that I cannot get good rest. When I do fall asleep I am punched awake by pains. Waking up hurts but I cannot stay in bed because it hurts to lay down. So I get up and move, gotta get things done.

When the pains and aches are this bad, it allows the mental demons to get closer to the surface and torment me.

This isnt the first time I have gone through this and sadly it will not be the last. It is during these hard times that I have to hold on harder to my family, friends and life. Times like this I have to remind myself that I matter, just like I tell people everyday who reach out to me for support and help. It is so much easier to tell other people to hold on, tell them to smile because they matter and to stay because they are needed.

The past few weeks have been hard on my mind and body, it as finally become too much and there are fractures in my shield that keeps me safe and it will take time to fix them.
I know when it is time to just sit and rest, when I can push more and try to get things done and I know when it is time to just stop. Thankfully I have not hit that stop point but I have hit the rest one.

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Who is PIFB?

I get asked all the time where my shop is located or who works with me and when I tell them there is no shop or a group of people they are always shocked.

This is where I do 90% of my work. Sitting in that little folding chair. Sometimes I have a small card table out for more space and this is right at the entry to our home. When I am in full craft mode I take over the whole living room. There are craft stashes all over the house since I don’t have a room, this is just a wall. In the future I hope to have an actual shop to work out of but for now this is it.
I am Paying It Forward Beading, just me. Sure my husband and children help with some items but for the most part it’s just me.

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And…this is me, yes I am a total goofball who just laughs at myself and most situations I get myself into. This is the face of PTSD, depression, anxiety and suicidal ideations. Not what most people expect but that is why I share this journey. Not all who suffer from mental illness fit that picture. We aren’t always crying and sad. This isn’t what people expect from someone with chronic pains, someone with fibromyalgia and other physical issues.
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These are my guys Cam, Jay & my husband Ash. They help me with a lot of prep work as well as most set up and tear down on my big crafting days. So much more help behind the scenes of what I do and I do know that without their help and support I would not get everything done. 2017-08-26 18.19.54-1
My oldest son Michael with his family. Aaliyah and Adrian, who we love and miss so much. They support my effort and keep me going. They provide me the extra push and encouragement to get out of bed each day, to do more and to give back. I am so thankful for them. 22522537_1559259274148189_1910503626_o

 

So while there isn’t a shop or huge area that I use to get all the things done, there are a good core group of people who support me, my family. Then there are all my friends locally and all over the world who give me all the encouragement and support that I could ever need. Each of you are so important and many have been with me since Paying It Forward Beading launched in 2012.

There are the people who get each handmade item and know that someone cared enough for them to make something special.

I am just an ordinary person doing some crafty things. Just someone who wants to give back and let people know that they matter.

 

 

Trauma Brain

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People ask me all the time about the traumas that brought me to a PTSD diagnosis. Like so many others, there is more than just one instance that led my mind to just overflow with things and eventually have a PTSD diagnosis. Having had a rough childhood with horrible events weaved into 90% of it was a basis for the adulthood traumas to take root and grow into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My mental health was not good to start with and that caused a severe/chronic PTSD Diagnosis. Yet you will find people who had great childhoods and very little traumas until their military service/deployment situation led them to a PTSD Diagnosis. There are not foundational building blocks that can lead anyone to say they are more prone to PTSD than others. Each and everyone is different, we all handle traumas & stress differently.

I don’t talk about the individual events that I lived through but I do discuss the problems they caused. The problems are what project outward and cause so much disruption in our lives. The symptoms affect those around us and those who love us.  The actual events aren’t needed for you to understand we are struggling with mental health disorders. What happened isn’t necessary to share with any who ask, how I have overcome the symptoms of PTSD to be here is what matters.

People with traumatized brains do not process information the same, no matter if you call it PTSD or PTS the outcome is the same. The brain is changed.  All of the things listed in the graphic above happen a lot andfor many they never ease. If you know someone with PTSD, they are changed.  Sometimes it is immediate and other times it is subtle changes over time.  One thing to remember is that PTSD is not a cookie cutter disorder. Everyone is different.

PTSDers will not just come out and say ‘this happened and it causes me to act this way.’ No matter how many time you ask them to tell you what is wrong, they wont. Not because we don’t care about you, its just that its hard to pin point exactly what is wrong.

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Often times with the PTSD diagnosis comes depression and anxiety. All of these symptoms shown in the graphic happen to us. Sometimes all at once and it is hard to just keep going everyday. If there is also physical trauma these symptoms are just worse. That is why you will often see so much medications being prescribed to the PTSDer. For me, the symptoms of PTSD, Anxiety, Depression and all the physical/chronic illnesses overlapped so bad I was on the maximum prescribed dosages of medications and still found no ease in the symptoms. Everything is just magnified when things get bad.

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I think this graphic is one that shows what many of us go through. It is truly a life changing illness when you have multiple mental health issues as well as the physical health issues.

It is all so overwhelming and sometimes it is too much and we either cocoon ourselves into whatever it is we are most comfortable doing or escape to a more ‘safe’ environment. Again, everyone is different. You know that person with PTSD and know what they tend to do when things get bad, just remember that even if it doesn’t seem bad to you, it is for them.

The traumatic experiences I went through were only all shared with one person and that was in therapy. Not even my husband will ever know it all. He is my everything and I just cant bring myself to tell him everything but he knows enough. For the care givers of people with PTSD, asking what happened is not always helping. In time we do open up more about things you just have to be patient. We know you are there for us, we know you care and love us.  It is always possible we may never share the experiences, that does not mean we love you any less. Sometimes it is easier to be with people who were there or know what we went through because there are unspoken understandings of the situations. It is why many Military/Veterans tend to be able to talk about things better with each other.

Look at all those graphics, read about each of the symptoms and just imagine all of that happening all the time. It is EXHAUSTING and truly overwhelming.

While I don’t have that happening all the time now, there was a time it was the only thing going on in my head unless I drowned them out with the medications and was a zombie. Now I have to stop all I am doing and find my way through it. With medications or without, none of this is easy.

Maybe in time it will be better and not so bad, who knows? All I do know is that today I am better than I was a year ago and lots better than a year before that. As long as I work hard at maintaining my safe zones and safe places I can thrive. It just took me a long time to get here.

Some people say there is a cure, I do not believe that. There are lulls in the symptoms but there are no cures. Of course, I am not a medical professional so you don’t have to take my word for it. I am just a 43 year old military veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who is fighting the demons everyday.

Accomplishment

Here we are again with our daily question and me giving you my answer. I got asked yesterday in an email what I am using for this and it is Tami Taylor 365 Questions. Do a search on it and you will find the information you need.

Today’s question is ‘What was your last major accomplishment?’ I have no idea how to answer that. No idea what would be considered a ‘major accomplishment’ in my life, but thinking it over all day I think I have the answer for it

The last major accomplishment was retiring after 20 years of honorable active duty military service in the United States Air Force as a Master Sergeant.  I never thought I would live to adulthood, never thought a Texas gal that no one cared much about could travel the world, meet a great number of people and serve with some of the best our military has to offer. Never thought I would look into the eyes of a parent and tell them their child was gone and there was nothing I could do to ease the pains of that loss. Never thought I would attend so many funerals and watch the flag be presented to the family of those left behind. Didn’t think I would see someone at morning chow then hear they were lost to an IED by lunchtime. In those years serving it changed my heart and mind to become so patriotic that no matter how many times the National Anthem plays, tears spring to my eyes. Seeing the American Flag flying proudly warms my heart in ways that not many will ever understand because it flies proudly honoring those who have given their lives to defend this nation.

Never thought I would watch babies being born to families of my troops over those 20 years. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have touched the lives of those I served with the way they tell me I did. Do you know how many men & women I was able to share the joyous announcement of promotion and later that year watch them grow in grade and maturation?? In my 20 years of service I was able to see someone so unsure of themselves that they would cry in the latrine, find their strength and be THE ONLY ONE who was coined for Outstanding Performer during a major inspection.  Watching a troop grow to become more than he ever thought because he was told he had no fall back plan.

Watching my son, my first born choose to serve in the United States Army and tell me after two years his goal is to match my rank or beat it. He got me right in the feels with that one. Damn onion cutting ninjas!

Okay so maybe I do know what that major accomplishment is, it was serving proudly with some of the BEST our nation has to offer, serving with Heroes.

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