In the first blog, I mentioned that my family “doesn’t do” mental illness. So, when I was hit with having PTSD I didn’t really know what to do to help myself beyond the pharmaceuticals the doctors were prescribing. For those of you who walk that road I am sure you are familiar with the lethargic, unmotivated feeling that sometimes accompanies those medications. I would work 8hrs for my day job, attend classes, then work a 12hr night shift before allowing myself to come home where I would pass out from exhaustion. My family didn’t ever speak a word against it, I kept on this cycle until it landed me in the ER from inexplicable pain that would leave me crippled. It wasn’t until I received urgent care at the clinic I had managed to drive myself to (they wanted to rush me to the local, larger & more equipped ER because my stats were through the roof) followed by horrendous care (the larger ER dismissed me once the pain was controlled and no urgent labs were found) that I realized the pain was my anxiety & stress telling me enough was enough.
There’s not many who can push their body through a 22+ hour day, let alone for two to three day stretches at a time. I would never recommend it, no matter how bad you think that you need it, there is another way to alleviate that stress. My problem was the only other thing I had known prior to the stress was the Army, and let me just say- I loved that life beyond imagination. Except during my brief time spent as a soldier, I was programmed to run on low hours of rest and considerable amounts of work expectations. Field training in my mind was always the best, I got to spend more time picking at the doctor’s brains. Human anatomy and physiology is fascinating to me and I had the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds out there. I was young and I was happy, so the physical demand was next to nothing for my body.
There’s a belief that everyone you meet comes into your life for a reason. Without a doubt, one of the men I had a brief relationship with after leaving my ex-husband was the man to set me on this path I am on now. This man struggled from an early age with anxiety and depression due to losing his father in his pre-adolescent years. He shared with me that his passion for fitness was something found through struggling with his loss. In the beginning, I shrug his idea off to the side. I had never been a fan of getting up to work out while the government was paying me to be a fit soldier, why on Earth would I take on that challenge as a single mom. It wasn’t until he broke his leg and COULDN’T work out, that I could really begin to understand just how important lifting was to him. The relationship became toxic at that point. He started drinking again to cope with his feelings. I had to feel like I had completely lost all control before I gave in. After all, I was the ignorant one who had let this happen in my own home (that I had worked extremely hard to obtain, alone.)
So, I started working out. It was far from pretty, unless you think along the lines of “pretty disturbing.” I could barely achieve 15mins at a time, cussing and fussing the entire time. The thing is, I hated the person in the mirror more than I hated getting up. I found a passion for punishing my body, it achieved short term goals that I had set for achieving a better lifestyle; I started eating more regularly, and I started sleeping through the night. I began to feel like finally, I had regained some control in my life. Then, I did what most women hope to do every time they take on a new fitness routine- I began to lose weight. Achieving short term goals gave birth to long term goals. Long term goals give you something to fight for. Now, I hope to share my passion for fitness to combat PTSD in every way possible.
I would never suggest entirely giving up on your medications, rather find a healthy medium in which they are not your only tool. Fitness is a broad avenue that can help you find that relief, whether that be in running, weight lifting, swimming or any other form. The endorphins that are released when your active are incomparable to the medications. Empower yourself, the feeling of accomplishment will help you pull out of your darkest hours when no one else is around. You are a survivor, you have gotten through a lot in life, time to put yourself first and find what makes you happy.