Thursday, March 25, 2010

Does PTSD Last a Lifetime?

Realizing that many may be roaming on my blog, due to my guest post on 100 Pounds, please feel free to explore past posts.  My blog certainly isn't as specific on its content as others may be, but life isn't specific either.

Lately my life has been emotional and physically whelming.  I never realized how I would react to my gym closing, but when it happened, I became very stressed.  Where would I go, would they have the equipment that I've become so accustomed to using.  I think the comfort zone that we all end up in can have a profound effect on our confidence, as well as our ability to deal with things that come up in our lives.

I started this post last night, at about 10:30.  Mostly, it was because that was when I had finally been able to process my busy day, and all of the information I had discovered; it was painful, yet relieving. 

PTSD.  Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder.  Most people know that the Soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan or dealing with this psychological problem in more numbers then expected, and in more numbers than we realize.  But what about older veterans?  Does PTSD last a lifetime?

In this case, it does.  My stepfather, who will be hesitant to tell you anything about his service in the Vietnam War, has been dealt a tough hand recently; I believe his past is finally catching up to him.  His problems didn't start until after he left the service.  While his history is long and details may be grim, his only physical proof is in his poor hearing and through his eyes.  I would like to say that it started when the recession hit; when a small town that survives on the operation of a potato plant started to feel the pinch of people not wanting fried potatoes, but for him it started decades ago.  He is only now able to come to terms with all of his emotions, and since he has only recently publicly admitted them, he refuses to be in his own house.

He served in Vietnam.  My great uncle once told me he remembers when soldiers came home and people spit on them; it didn't matter if they were walking, in wheelchairs or still in stretchers, the soldiers were a disgrace because of the war.  But my stepfather still had hopes; he started a family, had 3 children and a wonderful home.  It was a wonder why alcohol would become his problem and would ruin that happy home.  After a divorce, and living a lonely life for several years-maybe even decades, he met my mom.  I can't describe why or what it was that drew the two of them together, but after ten years I still see love.

Although I have a close relationship with my stepfather, I don't know that much about his past.  I mean, I KNOW about his past, but I don't know how he feels about it, or how some events effected him.  When his oldest daughter died, life became abnormal.  It involved a lot of alcohol and my sisters and I walking on our toes to avoid any negative disturbances.  I remember a night where he had drank quite a bit, he told me right in my face (literally), that I was just like his oldest daughter-his favorite.

I can't describe my reaction just then, but I know I have remembered it.  It had become part the start of the intertwining of our father-daughter relationship.

Since then, he has healed-as much as a father could-but every year there are two days where no matter what is going on in life, he isn't smiling; his daughter's birthdate and the date she died.  Nonetheless, he was still able to enjoy life as best as possible, he had a loving wife, wonderful grand kids and had been able to form a close family between my mom, sisters and I.  Since he retired, 4 years ago, things just haven't been the same.  His life is now drowned in one medical problem after another; a rare nerve disease, leg problems, back problems, heart disease, small strokes, he's suffered a major heart attack, is living with severe depression, and he falls asleep in the middle of sentences, the list just keeps getting longer.  While the VA has been supporting his medical needs, they are hesitant to say any of this relates to his service in the war. 

My stepfather copes with alcohol.  Looking back, I realize that its more to for his sake, than anything else.  I was recently told by my mom that he still has nightmares, he always has to have a drink, or three, before leaving the house-I didn't realize that was why they had 'happy hour' before we would all go out to dinner.  I had finally been able to understand his world, but just barely.

Now, my stepfather has finally shared intimate details of his past with his therapist.  Now, his therapist is understanding to his drinking and his defensive attitude towards talking about his past.  She told him, "This is clearly PTSD."  She will recommend he recieve in-patient treatment to overcome his lifelong obstacles.  But is this too little too late?  After a lifetime of living with nightmares, cold sweats and violent reactions that a person can't explain, does it matter if he goes through treatment for those now?

Yesterday, I discovered the depth of their hardship.  With my stepfather unable to work, and my mother laid off every few weeks from work, their income has drastically declined.  While they aren't behind on their house, in a few days it won't have heat, electricity or water.  They just had their phone shut off, and are going to my sister's in order to make phone calls and watch tv-one of their only 'escapes' from their situation.  It is sad to see my parents go through such turmoil.  It is sad to know that I can't help them.

Before yesterday, well, really, before a few months ago, I would've told anyone that I hadn't seen the effects of the recession, that PTSD was just a problem for veterans in this most recent of wars.  But yesterday my eyes were opened wide, and I saw the effects, not only of the recession, but of war, hatred and violence.  I wonder, maybe if the recession hadn't come along for my parents, would my stepfather had faced his demons?  Or would he still be sitting at home, with a bottle of wine, wondering when life will finally give out on him?  And after all of this is over, will he finally feel as though his past is really behind him, or will this only make it worse?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Maybe Life IS Too Much, But At Least I Have My Blog

Most of the time when I write it isn't necessarily a topic that I think about for long.  In fact, most of my 'better' posts were written the moment I thought of them. 

It makes me wonder if all bloggers are the same?  I know that professional bloggers have a more detailed arrangment of how a blog or vlog is created; what the content is and when it is posted.. But to me, writing isn't about planning, it's about spontaneity (I spelled it right on the first attempt!).  I can't sit down and compose a piece of writing without have some sort of emotional drive to write it-which means I can't start a piece of writing and then come back to it later..

Many times I'll read Penelope Trunk's Blog, and I just don't believe that she has an editor.  So much of what she writes sounds like it came off the top of her head and without a second thought she posted it-this might have something to do with her content, it can get a little 'crazy'.  But there are other posts she has regarding 'advice'; her How to Blog category of content is almost silly to read through.  I don't feel a great writer can be created-I don't think anyone can read that advice and have a successful blog.  But I do believe that people will try. 

I think this all comes down to talent-passion-focus-desire.  These four elements of a person's personality always seem to follow the successful and people who are happy in their life.  I've already discovered that I need to do something that I'm passionate in my life in order to fully enjoy it.  Usually, what you are passionate about is what you have talent for.  When you have passion and talent in something that you do, it sparks a desire to have the focus to succeed.  Therefore, you feel fulfilled and that leads you to feeling happy. 

Of course nothing ever goes perfectly, or as planned.  But knowign that life only takes 4 simple elements, makes getting out of bed when my internal clock hasn't caught up to daylight savings a lot easier.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

iPhone: A Story

My iPhone died last night at about 9pm.  And I really mean that.  It is non-responsive to my fingerly love...

iPhone: A Story...

There once was a young Gentleman who decided to purchase an iphone way back in February of 2008.  He loved his iPhone, but hated the service, for he lived in one of the only black holes AT&T had in the Minneapolis area.  So this gentleman decided to jailbreak his beloved iPhone.  It took a while, and he didn't succeed on the first try, but eventually there was success.  His iPhone would work with his Tmobile account, he could bond with his iPhone and make changes to it and add apps.  He would become the most popular at the bar; any question could be answered, as long as the young Gentleman brought is iPhone with him.  It was pure love.

After a while, the young Gentleman started to feel distant from his beloved iPhone.  He had discovered the iPhone 3G s; a much faster, prettier and skinnier iPhone.  Taking a huge risk, the Gentleman bought this new iPhone 3G s and worked on it for hours to jailbreak it.  He spent several hours talking with AT&T to transfer the account so that he could keep his iPhone 3G s, and not the horrible service.  Miraculously, the software proved easy to jailbreak.  It was love...All over again. 

But what about his original love: iPhone?

Well, this gentleman had a human love as well; a young Lady.  After a little coaxing, this Lady was able to use the iPhone as her own.  This was absolute heaven for her.  The iPhone provided just about everything she could possibly need to function on our technology laden world.  iPhone went everywhere with the young Lady; she checked it more frequently then necessary, but she couldn't resist. 

Of course, there were a few accidents...iPhone fell on the tiles at work; this caused lines across the screen.  The iPhone had an accident with her keys while snowboarding, which caused the glass to break at the bottom..Everytime, she would pick up iPhone and apologize, hoping it would still work for her.  IT wasn't the prettiest iPhone and she knew that...Nonetheless, she kept her iPhone; it was far too dear and important to her to let it go.

After time she noticed that it was getting even more worn, and very slow.  She didn't want to have to give up her iPhone unless it was for something absolutely perfect:  a White iPhone 3G s.  But they were too expensive for her to buy, so she waited...And waited..She was giving up hope.  She didn't want to upgrade to something that would disappoint her, iPhone had made her so happy, she didn't want to sacrifice it.

All the meanwhile, she kept an eye on her iPhone to make sure it kept working properly-though slowly.  A few days after the young Gentleman left town for a 2-week road trip, the phone couldn't take it anymore!  It was too much work to try and process apps that were far beyond the software and hardware in the phone!  The young Lady decided to watch a video from when all of a sudden everything stopped!

She tried to get it to go again, but nothing would move!  The home button did nothing for her, the iPhone was completely unresponsive..

She tried to sync it with her Mac, take some memory off of it; frantically she tried to save her dear iPhone...But it was no use! 

The iPhone had left this world, it went to a better place.  A place, where hardware never wore, software never became old.  A place where iPhone could find many other friends that had been abandoned, or were also too old to keep going. 

Meanwhile, the young Lady was left to her unattractive, not-anywhere-near-as-awesome Blackberry.  She talked with the young Gentleman and they had decided there was nothing to do.  The time had come for iPhone to say good-bye.  "Game over" as the Gentleman would say...

The End