Fireworks and PTSD

We are heading into the weekend before the 4th of July.  The holiday lands on a Wednesday this year. The firework store billboards are now up, looming huge on the side of the road, and the fireworks-stands seem to pop up out of nowhere in the parking lot of strip malls. Business must be pretty good, because already many, many people are shooting off fireworks and firecrackers at all hours of the day and night.

I understand the fun and enjoyment some people may have from setting off fireworks. Although there are many legal fireworks for sale in the state where I live, there is a never-ending supply of both legal and illegal varieties lying in wait for the excited revelers to buy just across our state-line. There you can purchase the big ones, the percussion of which shakes the houses in the neighborhood.

We have become accustomed to many of our local county fairs shooting off a fireworks display at the end of the night before they close down for the day. But over the last few years, people are shooting them off at random times during the day, and the night. Sometimes at midnight or later, we will hear a loud percussive blast coming from somewhere in the neighborhood. Just one, loud blast that jolts you from sleep, and can cause great distress for animals, and young children.

Unfortunately for some of our combat veterans, the random fireworks/firecrackers going off can be extremely anxiety provoking and be triggering. For some vets with post-traumatic stress disorder, that string of firecrackers may sound like automatic weapons fire, and the big explosions may sound like the IEDs that threatened so many of their lives.

Flashbacks are a horrible reliving of past traumatic events. When you are setting off these illegal fireworks, chances are there is someone hearing them who are struggling with their combat-related trauma.  If you are unable to resist the urge to set-off those huge explosions, then please consider driving out somewhere that is less populated.

For many dogs, the sounds reverberating off the other houses can often make them disoriented and traumatized.  Their stress level becomes unbearable and some of our animals run away or get lost. There are numerous stories about the many dogs winding up in shelters, especially during the days right before and after the 4th of July.

If this is happening in your neighborhood, try talking to your neighbors who are setting off the big ones, or write them a letter. Many people don’t know that they are harming some of our vets, scaring our little children, or making our animals shake with fear.

In many neighborhoods where I live, the 4th of July has gone from, the ooh and ahh of fireworks displays at the local parks, to a lot of houses on almost every street having their own sunup to sundown fireworks/firecrackers celebrations.

People who suffer from PTSD, (whether it is combat-induced or trauma-related) will try to do what they can to take care of themselves over the next week. I’m trekking off to the secluded boundary waters canoe area for four days, coming back after the 4th.

Please be courteous when setting off your fireworks and firecrackers at your home. Be thoughtful not only of our veterans but also the small children, the elderly, pets, and others who may suffer from illness and startle easily.

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

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Soul-Repair

The injury of a frayed
and tattered soul, repaired
by being seen, being heard
and loved.

Reminded and mirrored
that the truth of who
we are at our core
has always been there
it just needed acknowledgment
and tender loving care.

The pain and suffering
eased by a witness who
listens with respect
with belief, sadness, and anger
at the injustice of what had been.

Learning to trust that the
frayed and tattered soul
is safe, and it’s okay to mend.
To cease inserting that second arrow.

With compassion, tenderly nurture
your present and future self.
Connect and attach
begin to feel whole.

Breathe…rest in it as long as you can.
Let yourself be one.
Exhale, knowing that injuries heal
frayed edges become softer, and the light will begin to shine through.

©Alexis Rose, Photo by Andrei Lazarev on Unsplash

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

Shadow-Side

The shadow cocoons us
with the promise
of flat light and invisible details.

Sometimes looming ahead
sidled up next to us, stretching behind
living inside us all; The Shadow-side

It’s not necessarily a dark, dank
scary place to be ignored.
It is simply the Yin to our Yang.

A place where peace is felt from
the adventures of yesterdays
or a spark is ignited
for the risks of tomorrows.

The whispers of things we think
we don’t want to do, or hear.
Patiently waiting for the light
so we can hear the things we need to know.

It can cloak us in a protective incubator
or feel as if it will swallow us
in the depths of grief, and despair.

Bending, changing, pulling, letting go, dissipating.
Its fluidity is as impermanent as all the other quirks
and talents that make up the whole of who we are.

We can learn to befriend, listen, and
hear the messages whispered
from our shadow-side, as it reminds us
it is time to turn our face towards the sun.

©Alexis Rose, image: Pixabay

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

 

 

Secrets of 1,000 Lifetimes

The secrets of 1,000 lifetimes
lay within those deep dark eyes.
When she sits upon the water
she shares her burden with the
ancient ears of the seas.
Breathing in, she closes her eyes
and feels the crest of the wave wash over her.
She is at Peace.

©words and photo: Alexis Rose

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

 

 

Resting In My Thinking Place

I have found myself deep inside that thinking place of mine.  I don’t hang out here very often. I believe it’s because for the past nine years I have been in an almost constant goal-setting mode while learning to live with PTSD, and experiencing great growth and change.  I haven’t really allowed myself to just sit and think for a while.

Resting in my thinking place I have been pondering change. Change is a fact of life. Our bodies change, as do our cognitive abilities. Our circumstances change, the weather changes and so do the seasons. We change our minds, our clothes and our cell phones. Sometimes we embrace change, but sometimes change can be frightening. The fear of the unknown, and the anticipation of what could be can often be paralyzing; the feeling of vulnerability can prevent us from moving forward.

But change is inevitable. There are unforeseen events that occur daily. Some may feel insignificant or be a nuisance such as a flat tire. Some are life-altering such as the diagnosis of a terminal illness or a disability that has progressed to the point of impacting income streams. Even then, we have the ability to choose how we handle the challenges in our lives. We can use the momentum of change to keep growing as a person.

Since I was diagnosed with PTSD, I have had to change almost everything about my life. I had to learn how to cope with sometimes debilitating symptoms, adjust to the dramatic change in my financial situation, understand the continued lasting effects of my trauma, and accept that my ability to be self-sufficient is now somewhat limited.

I realize that nothing stays constant and there is always change. In the context of what I am writing about,  I believe there are two kinds of change. One is the day-to-day events that happen all around us, and the second kind of change is mindful and purposeful. It takes courage to work through both. It is a courageous person who is willing to purposefully seek change and personal growth.

Right now, we have some incredible life changes to navigate in my family. My husband has had to face his continued decline in his abilities due to a neurological disorder, called Essential Tremor. As a commercial cabinet maker, the fact that he is no longer able to use his hands to successfully do his job has been devastating for him. Yes, he knew this day would come, but I’m not sure you can ever be prepared to hear, this day is here.

The change in my family has brought to the surface an immense amount of fear and anxiety for all of us. Fear for the future, fear of declining health, and fear of the unknown. It also brought out anger, disbelief, confusion, and definitely grief.

In my thinking place, I smile at the knowledge that change also can bring compassion. It has been amazing in my life the amount of compassion and support I receive. I have seen the same compassion, support, and offers to step in and help from people, who are the voices of reason and action when emotions run high, and decisions seem impossible as my husband deals with new challenges.

We also must have self-compassion. To be as kind to ourselves as others are to us. To stop the negative self-talk, and shame spiral that often brings us down to a level where we begin to shut-down and push away. Taking responsibility for our lives and having self-compassion brings a sense of freedom and empowerment. With that freedom, a calmness and understanding create the peace of mind, the knowledge that things change, it’s inevitable and that is part of living a very lived life.

As I think about all the change I have experienced in the past nine years, and now what my husband must face, I acknowledge how huge this undertaking has been. Allowing myself to feel tired, introspective, and content, I can rest in my thinking place. I’m not sure what happens next…Maybe I’ll have to think about that.

image source: pixabay

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph