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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Her name was Rachel

I'm sharing this in honor of the brave folks of the Twitterverse, who participate each week in the #PTSDChat hashtag conversation on Wednesday nights.

Sometime I may tell more of her story, but for now, this is as far as I can go. 

The rain is falling outside and I’m not thinking of anything really. Just watching the drops come down, splattering on the grass and road and window, when you come to my mind, uninvited, rushing in as always all bright eyes and out of control curls, grabbing my hand and pulling me from my reverie.
Come dance! It’s raining! Come dance with me!

Giggling, tugging, skipping, you lead and I follow, pulled by an unstoppable force, unadulterated joy in its purest form. We dance… You dance, and I watch as you spin and twirl and run and stumble and move through the rain, letting it splash over you, letting it wet your hair, which makes it even more unmanageable, letting it wet your face and your teeth as you smile into the sky, laughing all the time.

Dance safe my beautiful sweet girl. Let the rain fall and splatter on the grass under your brown bare feet. Let it soak into that wild hair and make it even more wild. Spin around and laugh and laugh. Let heaven ring with your laughter. Let it embrace that joy and keep it safe. Someday, maybe, I’ll be able to dance with you again. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sticky Fingers Rant

Dear Jerkwad-

Yes, we're on first-name terms now. I hope you don't mind. I figure that cleaning up after your little "prank" this afternoon has earned me the right to call you by your given name.

Did you think it was clever, opening five separate beverages, drinking about half of each, and leaving them behind the shampoo on the shelf for me to discover when I recovered my store tonight? Normally, recovery consists of making the shelves neat and pretty again after a long day of being shopped. Shoppers are notorious for making a mess of the shelves as they peruse the product lineup. This is normal and expected.

Open bottles of pop on the shelf, stashed behind the shampoo? Not so much.

Coke creates a sticky mess on a retail shelf.

So, dear Jerkwad, I hope you'll understand if I am less than amused by your shenanigans, and if I happen to catch you leaving your ill-gotten (stolen!) beverages behind, I will surely rain down the terrors that only a provoked Mama Bear, who has spent far too many hours scrubbing, cleaning, and straightening over the years of raising her own offspring, and more recently earning minimum wage and cleaning up after thoughtless customers (which is surprisingly similar to cleaning up after children,) can unleash.

You don't want to make me angry.
You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. :-p

There may be bloodshed. Or, at very least, a call to the local constabulary. At any case, be warned. Your days of pop pilfering and vandalism are limited. Next time you come shop(lift)ing at my store, I'll be waiting.

The Fed Up Cashier at Your Local Shop

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

How Not to be a Jerk to a PTSD Survivor

Never read the comments section. It's my mantra. I know better. I truly do... but sometimes I click, and sometimes I read, and sometimes some idiot will write "triggered" when what s/he meant to type is "butthurt," and my bloodpressure starts to rise.

Sometimes my family or someone I love will say something that hits me like a clothesline to the knees. Sometimes I can catch my balance and stop myself from pitching head-first, but not always. Sometimes I have a bad week, and all the ignorance and well intentioned but misguided words add up, and the result is a rant. So, guys, I apologize in advance, but this is most definitely a rant.

I hope it's a rant that will educate and edify you, if you happen to love someone with PTSD. Or, if you know someone who lives with it, like me. If you're reading this because you want to understand, thank you.

Things to never say to a PTSD survivor:

1) You've got to let it go.
2) It's in the past.
3) Why can't you just get over it?
4) Why does it still bother you? That was years ago.
5) I don't know... it just seems like you want attention.

Let's break these down just a little, shall we?

1) If I could "let it go" it wouldn't be called a DISORDER.

Stop and think for just one minute. Break it down. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

2) It's in the past. Yes, I know. That's what Post means- it happened in the past, yes. My condition is a result of something I experienced in the past.

3) Getting over Traumatic Stress?- What happened was an extreme trauma. It left me deeply wounded. Do you tell a car accident survivor who's left a paraplegic that they should "just get over it," or "you know, you could walk if you tried hard enough?"

Of course not. That would be unsympathetic, to say the least. A denial of the physical reality of their injuries. Asinine.

So, why do people say things like that to PTSD survivors? It's ignorance, plain and simple- they don't understand what PTSD is, or that the damage, although there's not always a visible physical component- has left scars.

4) It was years ago. Yes, it was. And yet, I re-live some moments as if they're happening right now. Confused? Look back at #2.

5) Attention seeking, seriously? Do you think that's what this is about?

Think about the word, Disorder. That, my friends, is the kicker. PTSD is a disorder.
Granted, it's a disorder of the mind and emotions, rather than the fragile nerves that make up the spinal column, but the damage is equally deep, permanent, and disabling.

The point of this brief rant? It's not to shame or lash out. It's to educate. If you love someone with PTSD, it will be difficult to understand them at times. You may not understand their emotional out bursts, their moodiness, their withdrawal, nightmares, or other symptoms. You might not understand why they can't "just let go" of something from their past. Why they keep mentally revisiting such a dark place. Trust me, we don't do it purposefully.

Have you ever seen someone put themselves into a wheelchair "to get attention?"
Of course not, because although a wheelchair is an incredibly useful tool for someone who needs one, and can be fun to play with for those who don't, it's an inconvenient way to live. No one who has the ability to walk normally will put themselves through the inconvenience of using a chair all the time.

The anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of PTSD are inconvenient, too. We don't use our coping skills because they're fun. They are our lifelines, necessary to our ongoing mental health.

What can you do to help your loved one with PTSD? Just listen. Be there. Learn to recognize the bad moments, and what helps your person, whether it means giving them some space or just being there with them. Educate yourself. Learn about the disorder. Trust the survivor to know what works for him or her. Respect their need to make their own decisions. Respect their self-knowledge. Most of all, just think. Develop empathy. Educate yourself, and remember that the disorder is not the person. It's a part of their lives, but it's not who they are.

A PTSD survivor