Living with PTSD

To some who see the title of this blog, the first thing that may pop into your head may be, “I thought this was a site about Full time RV Living”. And, it is. Plus, everything that comes with it daily. Believe it or not, a big part of our discussion to become full-time RVers revolved around the fact I have PTSD. How would the decision to travel affect me? It has turned out to be one of the most helpful things I could have done for it. Getting out of the town and even the entire state that caused my pain has done wonders. But no amount of travel or anything else can help 100 percent all of the time. For anyone with PTSD, whether it is a solider, back from a war, or someone who has experienced a traumatic, life altering event, nobody can be prepared for the physical and mental challenges you will face from that moment on. And the government, no matter how much they say they want to help, they just don’t understand the extent. They don’t really help all that need it and they don’t give everyone access to resources. They have “paperwork” they look at, but they don’t have the time to look into the individuals and people get denied when they are sinking deeper and deeper into an abyss. There just isn’t enough people educated enough on what a person with PTSD is going through. It is extremely painful. There are those who might think with therapy and medication, a person can get back to normal with time. While those things do help, nothing helps with the nightmares. Nobody can predict when they will happen. I can have several days or weeks or even a month or so go by and not a nightmare. But then out of the blue, I will wake up from one, sick to my stomach with a headache, crying inconsolably, and afraid to close my eyes again. My entire day after that is usually one big nightmare as well. I will be in severe pain over my entire body. I try to get up and function and I just have to go lay back down because I am in so much pain. And my head will be throbbing and spinning. It’s different than a migraine. It’s a pain of feeling like I’m hung over from something. My eyes will feel as if they have rolled to the back of my skull and are rattling like ping-pong balls inside my head. It is a terrifying feeling. I can’t be around anyone except my husband, who knows how to handle me when I get like that. I feel terrible for those who don’t know who to turn to when they have such flare ups. Suicide is a constant demon to fight off. There are some who feel like they don’t have any other option to get rid of the pain. In my case, I have my husband and our cat. Animals do help those with PTSD. They give them a purpose to survive. I am thrilled with our decision to live in the RV full time. It has helped with the depression and some of the pain. It has been good for me to get out and explore the beauty of nature. No crowds, just wide open space in the outdoors to breathe and not freak out. Some may never understand people with PTSD and there are some very mean people who say things like, “oh it’s been long enough, just get over it”. It’s not that simple. It is something in your brain. Once it happens, there is nothing you can do to truly “fix” it. You may think it means you’re labeled for life. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It allows you to accept yourself and your condition. It is very difficult to accept though, regardless of how long it’s been. You just have to try to deal with it the best you can when you jolt out of your sleep in horror from having been forced unwillingly back where you’d rather die than go. I usually wake up saying things like, “I can’t do this anymore”, but our cat is very sensitive and she’ll come curl up as close as she can get next to me and lick me lovingly and meow softly to try to calm me down. I start to to hold her tight and know I couldn’t leave her or my husband who tries to do everything he can to help me get better. So, I just deal with the horrible pain and sickness until it passes. It used to never pass. If we had not become mobile and gotten away from those awful surroundings, I truly believe I would not have had the strength to fight. Traveling is much better for my brain. The surroundings at the campgrounds, the hikes, the waterfalls, the mountains or the beaches, all have such a calming effect to my anxieties. If not for this decision to become full-time rvers, I probably would not have had the strength to continue fighting, even with all the love I have with my husband and our kitty. I would like to think I wouldn’t leave them, but it is hard to say when the nightmares appear and the pain comes. It is still a daily grind being around any crowded areas, or keeping my eyes out when people with certain characteristics are spotted near, but as long as I am not alone, I am improving. PTSD is very real, very painful, and very exhausting. It is, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, a mental handicap that affects your daily lives for the rest of your life. How society accepts and treats you is, and this is a rough part as well, not your concern. If they don’t understand you, it’s not your fault. You did not do this to yourself. They can’t understand because they have not been through your trauma. They say all day long how they would have handled it, or how they could have handled it, how they are stronger, etc., but unless they have actually been through it, there is no way they can say with certainty any of those things. They are just spouting off. You are strong if you are fighting your battle daily and not giving up. If you are living through the pain and the torture, you have made an accomplishment. It may seem like small steps, but they are very important. I am so thankful to my husband for recognizing what I needed, for our loving cat, and for full-time RV living!FOTFCC1

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