Goal Setting

There is no remote in life, get up and change it yourself.  From Facebook photo.

Years ago before I knew that I had PTSD I had to make a decision about how I was going to live.  At the time, I could be up for 20 minutes a day, medical tests all came back in the normal range, and I had 6 little kids to raise.  I didn’t seek counseling.  I didn’t believe anything was wrong mentally.  I wanted to die, but praying about it my prayers were answered with a sure feeling that I would live a long time.  I then prayed that I couldn’t live this way.  The impression on my mind……what are you going to do about it?

I had gone to the medical doctors and they had no answers for me.  I talked to people I knew and they had no answers for me.  I prayed and the answer I got was a question…..I hit rock bottom, sat there for awhile then got up, dusted myself off, and went to work.  My first attempts to change were massive changes.  I failed.  I did what I had done before when I wanted answers, I went to the library.  (This was BI, Before Internet.)  I started researching.  I learned that through the Holy Ghost I could learn the truth of all things, I put it to the test again and again and again.  We moved a couple of times and ended up in the town I grew up in.  In was in the early 1990’s, the library there had an intranet that linked all the hospital libraries in the state.  For 10 cents a page I could print out any medical article.  Armed with a medical dictionary and a lot of determination I entered the realm of heavy research.  I learned about a lot of illnesses I am very thankful not to have.  I learned that it is a miracle that any of us are functioning at all.  I finally hit on what worked for me, Seven Simple changes.  I chose 3 physical, 2 emotional/relationships, and 2 spiritual.  Instead of seeking massive changes I sought to make small, baby-step changes.  Here is what I mean.  Instead of leaping to 8 hours of sleep a night, I moved my bedtime up 15 minutes.  Instead of eating no sugar, I cut my desserts to one instead of two.   I kept nudging myself in a new direction slowly.  After 5 years I started to see some real success.  I could be up for several hours of the day.  I passed out only 3-5 times a week instead of daily.  It didn’t seem like much to other people but for me I was up 10 times longer and passed out half as often.  I still didn’t know what I was fighting.  I called it a Shadow Warrior.

2001 my world rocked on its axis; I was diagnosed with cancer.  It changed me.  My priorities, my values, my whole belief system came under question.  I spent a lot of time talking to God and trying to wrap my mind around this new challenge.  With hindsight, I knew I was being prepared to go to counseling.  It was a few years after cancer that I asked to go to marriage counseling.  Within 6 months it changed from marriage counseling to me being diagnosed with PTSD with dissociation at a severe level.  After 6 years of counseling, my counselor asked me if I would rather be a pioneer under those harsh conditions or do what I was doing in counseling.  I snorted and told him I would make it easy to understand.  I would rather have cancer again than to do what I was doing.  Cancer just eats the body, PTSD can destroy my soul.  PTSD ravages a person body and soul.  Now I was in for a fight that made cancer look reasonable.  There were marches and support groups for cancer.  There is condemnation and shunning for PTSD.  I learned to be careful who I talked to about PTSD.  I learned how the mind affects the body and the body can affect the mind.  I learned that the baby steps I was taking – WORKS.  (Yes I am aware that all caps is yelling.)  Baby Steps WORK.  Small goals WORK.  PTSD is an emotional elephant that will take up not just your living room but your whole life if you do nothing about it.  If you are diagnosed with PTSD please understand you are in the biggest fight for your life.  Your chances of surviving cancer are better.  But that doesn’t mean you need to give up.  Absolutely not.  Giving up means PTSD wins.  Giving up the abusers win.  Baby steps may not feel like much but moving forward, even falling on your face is moving forward, is one more tiny battle in your favor.

I worked at this for over 20 years with 10 years in counseling.  Set multi level goals….the one that you will reach in 10 years and all the baby steps it will take to get there.  Focus on the baby steps.  Afraid to leave your house?  Set a goal to stand in the door way for 10 minutes a day.  Using food to stuff your emotions… Choose to research and choose a diet plan that addresses your emotional needs not just the physical ones.  Can’t stand having your wrist touched, wear a bracelet.  First time I wore a bracelet, I threw it across the room after 15 minutes.  I had to up the time slowly.  I emphasize setting goals because you can get their in a zigzag path.  Resolutions always felt like once I broke it the resolve was gone.  Hated that breaking glass sound of all my resolutions breaking before January was over.  However, a goal stays put.  I can inch toward it, back slide and move forward again.  After what I learned I would change my seven simple changes, 2 physical, 2 emotional/relationships, and 3 spiritual.  When I heal my soul, the rest follows.

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