Practicing What I Preach, Part 3

2009 Angelique Tulip

I’m not going to kid you, folks, complex PTSD is no fun.  It typically takes me a month to recover from a bad episode.

What is PTSD?  Post-traumatic stress disorder was called “shell shocked” after World War I and “battle fatigue” after World War II.  After the Vietnam War, it was further sanitized to “post traumatic stress disorder.”  Complex PTSD  (C-PTSD) is diagnosed after a person has experienced multiple life-threatening traumas.

Approximately 160 million people have PTSD.  Some have been involved in an accident.  Some have experienced rape, incest, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual harassment, violent crimes, etc.  People with PTSD tend to go to extreme lengths to avoid similar experiences in the future.

Unfortunately, the medical response to PTSD is more trial-and-error than exact science.  Hopefully, the research being done for returning veterans will prove fruitful for the rest of us.  Many people with PTSD benefit from having service animals like my muse Bitzie.  And, I stridently believe Artist’s Dates are especially crucial (see 3/04/09 post) to our healing and recovery.

Good nutrition, vigorous exercise, and a good night’s sleep will help prevent a PTSD episode from deteriorating into suicidal depression.

When I have a severe episode, I go into what I call Sound of Music mode:  I try to think of my favorite things and happy memories as an antidote.

I give myself time out.  It has taken me a very long time to accept that I am disabled by C-PTSD.  I didn’t want to acknowledge that my normally brilliant self can barely function when I’m having a bad episode.  I have had to learn that I need to take special care of myself in order for the impact of the episode to diminish and for the healing and recovery to begin.

My favorite things are my flowers which I can see as I work on this site:

2009 June Flower Box

My squirrel and stellar jay visitors:

Squirrel 2009 C


Listening to music.

My friend Carole Maymanages Grammy nominated pianist David Lanz’sweb site.  He participates in the annual Ten Grands concert in Seattle and Portland, OR.   For someone who loves piano music as much as I do, the concert is a dramatically awesome experience ~ especially when all ten pianists play together.  The stage is set as beautifully as the music is played.  This copyrighted photo of this year’s concert in Seattle is courtesy of John Carnathan.

©2009  John Carnathan

©2009 John Carnathan

George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is my most favorite symphony.   My lifelong dream has been to hear the piece played in a symphony hall.  I’ve heard it frequently played outdoors at Grant Park in Chicago and at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL.  But, I very much wanted to capture the experience akin to watching George Gershwin play it in a movie I saw a long time ago.

In the midst of this PTSD episode, I was blessed to have front row tickets with my dear friends Elena and Yury to hear Kevin Cole playing it with Marvin Hamlisch (be still my heart) conducting.  Music critics and the Gershwin family believe Kevin Cole plays Gershwin like the composer himself.  I doubt Gershwin had as much fun or enjoyed it as much.  I was further blessed to get this post-concert photo with Kevin Cole.  It’s an afternoon I’ll never forget.

Gershwin Carolyn & Kevin Cole

2 responses to “Practicing What I Preach, Part 3

  1. Pingback: Windmills of Our Minds: Faith or Fear? « Anne Caroline Drake·

  2. Pingback: Kate’s Couch: Sharing My Complex-PTSD Therapy Sessions « Anne Caroline Drake·

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