Okay, So How Does PTSD/ Anxiety Affect Us Imagine that your mind is a working office. You are sat behind the desk dealing with the daily work load (Thought processes and information) that comes in and out. We have a big filing cabinet in the corner of the office to safely store away our memories and learned information once they have been used and dealt with. They are then safely locked away until such time we choose to use them. All good so far. On our desk, we have an in-tray and an out-tray. The intray is for thoughts that we need to deal with later because there maybe something more pressing to do or we don't have time or we don't feel ready to deal with them yet. Our out-tray is somewhere to put these thoughts once we have dealt with them ready to be put away in our filing cabinet. Normally, the daily running of the office is not too difficult and although sometimes we find that the in-tray can pile up a little, there is no problem in dealing with these things. everything is harmonious. Things can, and often do, happen to upset the daily running of our office. For me, it was a period of 22 years in the British Army. It was only when I looked at things in this way that I realised the amount of stuff that had piled up in the in-tray that hadn't been dealt with. (These are the memories we don't want to think of too much from active service or traumatic things that have happened by doing a hazardous job) Because the pile was now so high, I didn't know how to deal with it or where to start so i just left it there and tried to manage the normal running of the office. But every now and then the door to the office would open unexpectedly and a gust of wind would blow everything out of the in-tray. This 'door opening and gust of wind' was actually a trigger to remind me of something in the tray. In my panic, I would scramble to try to pick everything up off the floor but as I saw all of the information that I hadn't processed lying around I automatically start to remember all of the bad stuff all at once and lose concentration on my normal daily operations. I've just entered a flashback, reliving these traumatic memories but still not processing them. All I can do at this point is try to pick everything up and get them back in the in-tray. But because these events have traumatised us so much the office doesn't quite shut down when we go to sleep and we are constantly thinking of the things that we have been reminded of while we sleep. (nightmares). As you can see, it is now virtually impossible to run the office normally. So what can we do? TheFirstFieldDressing will help to place a hand on the pile and steady it until professional help can help to put everything where it should be. So What’s Involved? Although not essential it can be really useful to work through the programme with friend or someone who you can trust to help you go through the booklet. We will firstly look at ways to „ground‟ ourselves initially when we are affected by our symptoms. These are simple exercises that can make us feel temporarily well so we can implement further actions to stabilise us. After which we will look at and recognise our symptoms and then build plans to recognise, prepare ourselves and put measures in place to help us in the future. It is strongly advisable that when you begin any form of help or counselling, you inform the professionals of your plan. This will not only assist treatment but it may also aid in your recovery.
This booklet is an important step in taking control of your life and your issues Your booklet should be done a little at a time, take a few easy steps at the beginning and always avoid making plans you may not find easy to achieve. You should constantly explore and develop the programme as your wellbeing improves to encourage recovery. This booklet can be used over the long term. It may take weeks or months to develop fully, and it may take weeks or months to change. Always plan for what you think you can achieve easily – don‟t take risks with failure. One hundred easy steps are infinitely better than ten impossible leaps Once you have begun to move through the booklet you will find yourself able to make positive and forward thinking decisions about your life and care which may assist in further treatment of your illness. The “FirstFieldDressing” is divided into the following sections: 1. The Braking Strategy This will be our safety plan for when things are running a little too quickly, our stress starts to climb a little too high or we just need to relax for a short time to re-gather our thoughts. We have included some relaxation techniques to help you. It is important that we have this in place right at the start so we know we have a means of escape when things get a little too much. 2. Understanding our Triggers With our Braking Strategy in place we can look at the things that cause our triggers to kick in. Identifying these is key to understanding the root problem and how to move forward. We will also look at the early warning signs that show that the triggers are affecting our well being and also when these triggers have caused problems to take control of our lives. 3. Controlling the Effects By understanding how the triggers and memories are affecting us we can formulise plans to help control the way our minds deal with these events. 4. Future Plans In this section we will look ahead at different ways to cope, people whom we can turn to for support, and agencies who may be able to help. Someone once said “Take small bites out of Elephant sandwiches”. Apart from the crazy idea of eating an elephant between two slices of bread, I sort of see where he was going. Take your illness as a very big sandwich. The only effective way to finish it properly is to take small bites and take our time. Happy munching!!!