PTSD: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

This is Brendan. He is a former colleague and good friend. Especially poignant this week, he has chosen to share his PTSD story with us. Just like us, he has discovered that sometimes he is just not ok. My heart aches that he is going through this, but I’m glad he has stepped onto the Yellow Brick Treatment Road. Welcome to the club, my friend.

I’m new to the PTSD scene. My trauma most likely comes from my deployment to Iraq in 2005; I didn’t have someone qualified look me in the eye and tell me I had it until very recently. It’s a very strange transition. Part of me always knew my brain was not quite working right in certain situations. The other part of me thinks about people who cannot live their lives at all because they are so traumatized. If I’m honest, I didn’t believe I had the right to not be ok.

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Not Ok

Note: This post is originally from December 19th, 2017

Do you remember Successories, those posters (and so many other products) that had “motivational” sayings on them? Fifteen or twenty years ago, they were everywhere – offices, dorm rooms, and gyms across the country. [Full disclosure: I had a desk calendar. Our office manager chose it.] I suppose the idea was that if you were struggling with Gratitude, Collaboration, Excellence, Integrity, Perseverance, (all those things you’re already bringing to the table), you could just look at one of those posters and muster the strength to be all you could be, to borrow an Army slogan from roughly the same timeframe.

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Where This Baby Came From

Do you ever wonder where you came from?

I was listening to a podcast this weekend where a woman who was adopted wondered about the hardships of her birth mother, whether she was wanted, and what worth she had as an unwanted child.  Eventually she came around to her own value –everybody has value, no matter what the circumstances of their birth.

Her story might have made me wonder about how I got here, too, but for better or worse, I figured it out a long time ago, with the help of a couple of family stories and a little basic math.

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Learning by Accident

As chronic and autoimmune patients it is vital to our state of health to know our bodies and how they react to certain substances, like the meds we take, and certain situations, like the ones that cause stress. Once we know ourselves, we can compensate for any adverse reactions. Sometimes you push yourself to see what happens, but then there are the times you find things out by accident, and it can feel more like a comedy. Or a tragedy. More often than not, it’s a combination of the two.

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I Bought A House!

Well, an apartment in a co-op building, anyway. The contract is signed, funding procured. In a month, it will be done. 

I’m excited about it, or I feel like I should be excited about it. Isn’t that what people do? They save for a really long time and then buy their “forever home”?

Instead, I’m more nervous than anything else. A little bit about the money. I’ve dipped into my what-if-I-lose-my-job fund, and it is by far the biggest investment I will ever make. It took a long time to save that much, and it was always a comfort that I would be able to afford most of my life should the worst happen. But I think my anxiety over money will ease once I settle into my monthly payments and figure out what my adjusted financial reality is. 

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Robbed

I read an article in the Washington Post today. It was about a boy who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when he was 8, and how that changed his childhood from carefree to one of limitations and responsibility, which sucked.* 

He’s right, of course, but for me, it went far beyond that.

The thing about diabetes is, it’s not fatal. It can be if you don’t accept all those limitations and responsibilities. But it doesn’t have to be. Perhaps the boy (now man) in the article had limits on Halloween and pigging out at pizza parties, and he had to carry the equipment and juice everywhere, which would be a pain, but I suspect he still had the luxury of a child’s perspective. He wasn’t old enough then to be told that he was going to die if he didn’t follow the rules. Things changed for him, but he didn’t have that particular monkey on his back for a while. I hope.

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Drink Up

Ah, water. The most constructive and destructive force in nature. Too much and it will destroy your life (hurricanes, sinkholes, floods). Too little and it will, well, destroy your life (drought, wild fires). It’s all about balance. The human body just can’t live without it.

Dehydration is a danger to everyone in the summer, but especially for those with chronic conditions. It can cause, worsen, or be a symptom of heart disease, hypoalbuminemia (too much albumin in the blood), hyper-/hypothyroidism, cancers requiring a certain course of chemo (cisplatin), and my own lovely monsters, diabetes and kidney disease. If I’m outside too long, I’m dehydrated. If I travel on a plane, I’m dehydrated. If I get sick to my stomach, I’m dehydrated. If my blood sugar is high, I am dehydrated. Around 66% of adult bodies are water, and if we don’t replenish what we use, it can make our conditions worse.

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