More Ramblings


I woke up this morning and my first conscientious thought was fear. It felt like a drug permeating all my thoughts. I kept struggling between waking and not waking to make it go away. But the fear won out. I have panic disorder. I was born with it and my kids both have it. However, for quite a number of years now my panic disorder has been successfully treated by a wonderful little pill that replaces the “stop light” in my brain!!

However, I have a keen sense of awareness of many sensations that most people do not. That is because of the disorder. I know when I am getting sick several days before most people would be aware of illness. I sense danger before most people’s adrenaline kicks in to sharpen their senses. I can sense emotional conflict in others before they realize they are in conflict.

At times this is a burden. But most of the time I have an edge. As an employee I am a diligent worker. I remain fixed on task until completion. Skills developed over the years to handle the panic of the disorder carry over to all aspects of my life.

But that was all before I developed PTSD. Now I live in a daily hell that goes up and down in intensity until I am often left drained until I finally go to sleep. But fear of my dreams caused me to avoid my sleep until I was so tired I simply collapsed into sleep. Then I slept. Sometimes for hours, sometimes for only three or four. Before the panic disorder was controlled it was worse. I had all the physical symptoms of the disorder co-mingled with the PTSD.

MY legs weakened. My breathing was more difficult. My thoughts were clouded in shear terror. I felt like I was wearing a swimmer’s cap that tightened on my head until I felt like my head was being crushed. My heart raced so fast that on numerous occasions I was put on an EKG to monitor my heart. My throat closed up and I felt like I was choking. My vision blurred. I went for days without sleep. I was either in a heightened manic type state of activity that lasted for weeks or the complete opposite, weeks of inability to function at all. Depression was like a cloak thrown over my entire body that weighed me down.

Now I have all these symptoms, but as much as possible I am able to work through them to some level of functioning. Though I cannot work at a job, I am able to live independently, drive a car most of time, go to malls, ride in elevators sit in a movie theater. Sporadically I am a great house keeper. But again, at times my house work will get done but a few things will be put on hold for several days. I usually do the simpler things like cooking meals, washing my daily dishes, taking out the trash caring for my kids, and taking care of my pets vacuuming. Although the dishes will sometimes get rinsed and set aside for a couple days. I really hate doing dishes and dusting. Vacuuming, laundry, grocery shopping all seem to be things I enjoy.

Although I really have to watch any shopping I do. I try to make a list ahead of time and follow it. But that doesn’t work out too well. So, I have discovered a system that works for me. Whatever type of shopping I am doing I just go with it. Then before I get to the check out I go through my basket and place all the items I really need and have money for in another basket. Then I go through whatever is left over. I put them in two piles, what I could really use and what I want but don’t necessarily need. I always pay my bills as soon as I get paid once a month or they won’t get paid. So then I can go through the remaining items and if I have enough money left for gas and cigarettes, I keep or put back the other items. I go through the “can use” pile first.

By this time depending on whether or not my self control is holding out I put the rest back. But on the days my control is off I have learned to buy something small and cheap, but not junk. My particular fetish is watches and calculators. I have a lot of small and inexpensive calculators I bought before I finally settled for watches.

Ever since I was a kid and first saw those Timex commercials by John Cameron Swazi about how they “take a licking and keep on ticking,” I have had a fascination for Timex watches. Though they don’t last as long now as they did then, they still last longer for the money than any other watch I could afford. I love the Explorers. I have one that has a digital compass on it. One looks like the basic military watch, a simple face plate with big readable numbers and a night light button and a simple green military band. Some are digital with chronos, alarms, and 12 hour or 24 hour options. They have single or multiple alarms. I still can’t figure out the damn digital compass or all the features of some but they help me regain my focus when I am left or right of “center” and need an unimportant but detailed task to help me organize my thoughts.

But, I have found one thing I can do that really helps me give in to my impulses in a cool way that is harmless when all else fails. I go to Toys-R-Us and go through the store with a basket and look at the toys. This is especially great when I feel consumed with fear like this morning when I woke up. First I usually check out all the Star Trek Micro Machines. Now they are really fun. I love Star Trek. And I can play with those Micro Machine toys any time I want. And, they fit in my pockets so I can carry them around with me whenever I want.

Then I go to the Stuffed animals. I used to buy stuffed animals every now and then but you can quickly run out of room for those in a small place. But then I discovered the very soft ones that are life like but really cuddly that make sounds seem real. I make them make the sounds. If there are kids around this is really fun because they laugh too. I make them all make their sounds at the same time. I just keep doing it and I try to see how many I can get to make their sounds at the same time. One day, there was a lady there buying for her grandchild. She kept “peeking” at me like I was a nut or something. Anyway, in no time we were both making them make their sounds as many as we could at the same time. The whole time we were laughing like children. Soon a couple kids and another lady joined us.

I haven’t done this in a while. The Toys-R-Us moved quite a ways away. But I think I will start going back there again every now and then. I forgot how much fun this was and how much it helped. See I get fixed on a routine of activities. Once I come across something else that enters my routine my routine is interrupted and I must “re-sync” again to re-establish a new routine. I cannot function at all without a routine.

The death of my nephew in Kuwait over a year ago took away my routine. I was devastated. His death was so senseless. He was a Navy man. But to me even Navy men ought to be allowed to die as a soldier if they must die. I Began to scour the Internet to find all the news accountings of his death I could find. I read all the Newspapers on line I could find in the Middle east in English looking for accounts and information about his death. I saved them all. There were stories from all over the world. But they only reported his death with no further information except his vehicle was hit by another at 100 mph. Sometimes even that fact was missing.

I found out contrary to what the Navy, DOD and my Senator told me/us that Kuwait was a combat zone. Even the IRS has it listed as a combat zone. But none of that information helped me accomplish my goal of finding out how Mike really died. We have been told so many different “truths” that I wonder if any of the sources are aware of what the truth really means! Then my grief turned to anger. An all consuming anger that at times was and is irrational. I found I could help control that anger by going to support forums for families of deployed and ones for deployed troops. I found if I helped offer support to the people who came their it helped me too.

However as the deployments cycled, situations changed for the deployed, etc., the frequency of postings was very sporadic. These forums still work, but they are very much dependent on peoples’ personal situation. Of course that is to be expected. Then I found my first blog. I felt like I had been given a gift from heaven. Just reading the blogs of the troops and their loved ones was such a help. To be able to offer support to a troop or their family is so rewarding. It has helped me with my grief. And, it makes me feel like maybe I am helping someone else too. At least, I hope so.

The hardest thing to handle when you lose someone in the war is the isolation you feel. In my family we just can’t talk about Mike’s death. I am sure many families feel the same way. The grief and anger, the rage, is all consuming. For me it has carried over to our troops. I worry about them. I can identify with their families. I remember the constant daily fear and prayers for Mike’s safe return I felt every day until we learned of his death. I felt it like a living breath entity that hung over me and followed me around like a mist. I hated every knock at the door. I hated every ring of the phone. I watched the news as often as I could, all the while afraid Mike’s name would appear on the casualty list before we found out in person first. I dreaded I might see his name there and call my sister to offer my support only to find out she didn’t know yet.

On the blogs, the families and troops put their fears, hopes, and dreams into words. The guys talked about what it was like for them. Their fears for their safety, fears for their families, doubts or certainties about the war, everything was laid out and shared. The families did the same thing. They shared their fears, their family sacrifices, their family struggles. The troops give an accounting of the horrors of war. They give an accounting of the positive things that have come from the war, like the smiling children’s faces when the troops give them a toy or candy. They tell us about how the Iraqi and Afghans feel about rebuilding their schools and homes. Voting for the first time in their lives. They even tell us what it’s like when their buddies get killed. Or how easy it would be to give in to the urge to just kill everything in sight because the enemy is every where, but they resist that impulse. They tell us about dignity, courage, honor, strength, sacrifice. Through the blogs our troops and their families have helped create a huge family of the troops, their families, the Americans at home, people all over the world, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. If you have lost a loved one, or are sitting at home supporting your loved one, fighting the war or silently observing the war from the sidelines as an observer, the blogs have brought you into this family that otherwise couldn’t exist.

But even though the blogs have made me feel part of this huge emerging family of wonderful people, I feel the need for someone or something I can physically touch or hold. That will give me uncomplicated love or allow me to express the same. That will provide a moments respite from all the emotions war, death, and, PTSD, and life in general throw at me. That doesn’t ask from me more than I can give. Get upset if I can’t share my thoughts or feelings verbally or otherwise. Something that unconditionally accepts me at any given moment. That doesn’t care if I am afraid, or can’t do the dishes or some of the house work. Doesn’t ask me why I can’t be like everyone else. Why I don’t just stop dwelling on things, put them out of my mind? Takes my mind away from all these same questions I ask myself every day, every moment of my life since I became ill. Doesn’t require more from me than I am capable of at any point in time.

I found that with my pets! They give me comfort when I am afraid or feel alone. They get me through my flashbacks. They make me feel real when I begin to feel unreal. They bring me back to now when I feel caught up in all the yesterdays that grip me in their terror. They love me when I feel unlovable. Some of them have been my companions through the very worst of times when I wanted to take my life and end it all. They have given me hope in moments of despair. Through them I have learned to get close to people again, at least as close as a childhood incest survivor is capable. The make me feel some sense of contentment and sometimes even peace. Now that my kids are grown and I know they will soon be gone from our home they help fill that lack of purpose I got from raising my kids and no longer have. My kids and my pets were my salvation. They gave me a purpose in life bigger than myself. Outside myself. They even gave me a part of myself I never had before.

My pets help me let my kids go as any good parent ought to do. Especially when every thing inside me screams please don’t leave me! They help me let my kids be their own selves, proud, independent, capable, loving, compassionate individuals as they make their own life. And, now I am being asked to chose between them one so I can get “rid” of the rest. I just can’t do it. I won’t do it.

If I were no longer able to give them the care they deserve and need, or keep my home clean, then, yes, then I could let them go, all of them. But that isn’t the case. A few unwashed dishes every now and then neatly stacked in the dish pan is not a mess. They are all healthy, well fed and cared for and happy.

So, I woke up this morning with this terrible, crippling fear. I am afraid that if I talk to the management they will not listen to my pleas about how good and clean a tenant I have been. Or how I have always paid on time. That all the things I have done inside and outside my apartment to improve my place won’t matter. That the fact that they don’t run lose or break any laws or bother my neighbors won’t matter. A few lousy drug dealers and users have hurt me and a couple other tenants. One of my neighbors has two miniature dachshund that he got his wife when she found out she had cancer. They kept her company while he worked and she was at home alone up until she died. Now he is alone and they are his companions. He will have to give up one if they won’t allow him to keep both. He always walks them on a leash. His home is immaculate.

Well, I will talk to them first and pray they agree. If they refuse, I don’t know what I’ll do then. But I will think of something. But I will not give them up! My next door neighbor said I could tell them one of my dogs or cats is his. I thought that was nice. Especially since he doesn’t like cats or dogs. But I feel that as long as they allow drug dealers and users to live here and do nothing then they can stick it over my pets. As long as they allow people to live here who stay drunk and throw parties all the time and keep the cops in here, I think they have set a precedence of leniency. They don’t make those people put there trash in the cans properly or clean up outside their places. My apartment is always clean. I constantly clean up all outside. They allow abusive husbands to fight with their wives and fight outside. They always tell us if we complain to call the police or resolve it ourselves!! I think they are being discretionary! It stinks!

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~ by devildog6771 on May 3, 2005.

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