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Forums / PTSD & Trauma / Poor concentration due to PTSD

Topic: Poor concentration due to PTSD

  1. MarkJT
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    6 October 2016

    I like to think that for the most, i have recovered from PTSD, well as much as you can recover from it (just my beliefs) but my concentration is still very very ordinary.

    Has anyone experienced this? How do you improve your concentration? I know Dr Google will have some answers but I would prefer to hear from people who have lived it.

    I think a bit has to do how much mental energy it takes to keep yourself grounded and the lower amount of mental energy the harder it is to concentrate but even when i feel pretty energised, i still can't concentrate much.

    Be interested to hear other peoples ideas on this.

    Cheers

    Mark.

    3 people found this helpful
  2. Just Sara
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    6 October 2016 in reply to MarkJT

    Hey Mark;

    I didn't know I had PTSD until my psychiatrist diagnosed me, but it'd been around for many, many years. The most ordinary of symptoms of course was memory loss and lack of concentration.

    I had an assessment done with me in my home a couple of weeks ago, and stopped so many times to ask what she'd said or what I'd said, I felt quite stupid. At one stage I'd forgotten where I was and who was talking. (or doing?)

    I find it gets worse when the pressures on. Relating to people who have an influence over any part of my life no matter how small, is probably the biggest trigger. Because there's been so many trauma's, it's difficult to find the culprit most days. But every now and then I can put the pieces together.

    I try to identify what I already know and take steps to manage my levels. E.g..walk away, take a step back, take a deep breath or if none of these work or are possible, go to the toilet and cry. (Cringe! what can I say, it's worked. Why not keep it in my goody bag of tricks?)

    My assessment had to happen quickly as it was $130 pr/hr. So, she reminded me who was talking and what it was about. What a trooper!

    What I do know, is that our poor nervous systems, (can you believe I just went blank?) have taken a massive hit over a long period of time. It requires patience and time to recover. (Depending on severity)

    What I think is so important too, is our 'will' to heal...be the ball! And even more importantly, is our willingness to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to get there.

    We are great aren't we? Bloody warriors!

    Amazing...Dizzy xo

    2 people found this helpful
  3. romantic_thi3f
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    7 October 2016 in reply to MarkJT

    Hi MarkJT,

    Concentration is a hard one for me. I have a neurological disorder too which affects my memory and concentration a lot so I find that I have to modify a lot of daily living to manage.

    Here are some of the things that have helped me -

    - Making to-do lists. Knowing what I have to do helps me try to focus on the task at hand instead of thinking "should do that" "need to do that" etc. I also journal which helps a lot.

    - Try to focus on one thing at a time. The truth is we actually can't multitask - nobody can. Our brain's aren't designed to do it. For me this means one task at a time and one tab (Internet) at a time.

    - I play Peak - it's a brain training game. There are controversial studies about whether this helps long-term but I have found that it's helped a bit and it is free so there's nothing to lose. Science also tells us that general brain stimulation like Sudoku, Chess, playing music or just learning about anything can help boost concentration. I also read and listen to a lot of Podcasts and find them really helpful.

    - Meditation and mindfulness. This is something I have to practice constantly, but it does help. I do feel a lot calmer and more attentive.

    - Avoid constant sensory input. I can't watch the TV and read at the same time anymore. I pick one. Things like lighting and noise can be overwhelming so try to be aware of that. Some people find even small changes can make a big difference to how much they can focus.

    - Turning off notifications on my phone/computer.

    - Eating and sleeping well. This is pretty cliche but studies have shown this makes a huge difference. Food linked with concentration includes blueberries, dark chocolate, green tea, leafy green vegetables, fish, flax seeds, nuts and avocado.

    Hope this helps :)

    2 people found this helpful
  4. MarkJT
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    7 October 2016 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Dizzy, yeh my mates know now that if i am half way through a conversation and stop, they just remind me what i was speaking about and on i go! Certainly having the will to recover further is really important and fortunately i have no shortage of that.

    romantic_thi3f, thanks for the advice. Will give a few of those a go for sure. I'm pretty good on the mindfulness front. Always get a nice (sarcasm) reminder if i drop off on the mindfulness, my mood drops and i get antsy real quick. Will definitely be giving Peak a go.

    Thanks again

    Mark.

    2 people found this helpful
  5. Cornstarch
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    9 October 2016 in reply to MarkJT

    Don't even get me started on PTSD & it's affects on concentration. "Lacks concentration" is on all of my school reports.

    ......grrrrrr soooooo frustrating.

    Woof.

    Oink.

    1 person found this helpful
  6. HelenR
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    1 December 2016 in reply to MarkJT

    Your post has been so helpful! I didn't know why I've poor concentration. I do know I have a form of PTSD, anxiety and, as a consequence, depression. I think depression is a consequence because it only flears up when I feel unable to reach 'goals' (what most 'normal' people do). I even thought I've Alzheimer’s but I read about it and it didn't really match.

    I do keep drifting off when people talk to me, forget what I was talking about and (at work) forget instructions given to me almost on the spot or few minutes after. I carry a pen and paper at work everytime I'm going to be given instructions and make a quick scribble with key words that will trigger what they're asking me to do.

    I also study a lot and push myself to sit exams as a way to challenge myself. I've always believe that when I stopped studies my memory goes very soft and I can end up with a blank mind most of the time. I some times can't even bring myself to form words.

    I agree with you that lots of it has to do with the level of energy used to keep oneself grounded, stop yourself from exploding or ignore the constant triggers around you. That also explains why I'm always so tired and fall asleep early (8:30pm sometimes) .

    But, what I do to keep going is: I do mindfulness and meditation. I've downloaded a free app from UCLA "mindfulness and meditations". It's pretty good because it's only very short sessions of 5, 9, 12 minutes. or 19 minutes the longest. I do this during my way to work in the train and/or during lunch time (if working long hours). When I'm at home, I've to listen to it as well if it's been busy.

    Keep studying, reading, using your mind to excercise it and the memory does improve.

    Best of luck and thanks for posting :-)

    1 person found this helpful
  7. MarkJT
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    2 December 2016 in reply to HelenR

    Helen, thanks for your post - really insightful and some really good tips and hints in there.

    Certainly the same themes are coming up with mindfulness (which should be mandatory in schools now i think) and making notes to remind oneself of tasks.

    Diet is pretty important to. I have sharpened up my diet and seem to be better now but not near where i used to be. Maybe it is just another part of PTSD that I just have to accept and adapt to it.

    Mark.

    1 person found this helpful
  8. Just Sara
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    2 December 2016 in reply to MarkJT

    Hey Mark and all;

    What a brilliant thread!

    I wish I'd seen it a yr ago when life really sucked big time and I was ignorant and frightened.

    I'd like to add something if I could; well a couple actually, no maybe a few. Ha ha

    The major thing for me at present, is transitioning from old me to new me. That unhappy place where limbo lives. I've made major changes to my beliefs, behaviour and outlook on life. Each step in this direction, challenges the 'old ways'. It's as if a war of sorts goes on in my head trying to pull me back into old habits of thinking for instance, that has me experiencing symptoms seemingly out of nowhere.

    Sometimes it's not the bad stuff that triggers...it's the good stuff as well. That's one point I'm making. Using all the above tools and then some, are strategies for change as well as ongoing maintenance.

    I know we've mentioned sleep, but reiterating won't hurt. Sleep is the foundation that all else relies upon. Without resting our brains, there's nothing to hold everything together. If you need med's...you need med's. Please don't let Dr's frighten you with stories of addiction unless you're prone or have existing issues. They saved my life and others I know.

    That fog brain we've talked about is heading south for me; it does rare its head like in the above situation about change now and then. But you know what? I know 'me' so well I can pinpoint panic/anxiety just before it occurs. The strategies of maintenance have become integral in communicating with myself. I also use Lifeline like I did last night. They let me talk and have no emotional ties...after 10 min's, I hit on the trigger and felt kilo's lighter.

    We are our greatest ally...to thine own self be true...know thy self...be the ball.

    What does Corny say...? Ah yes...woof...oink

    Cheers...Sara xoxo

  9. MarkJT
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    3 December 2016 in reply to Just Sara

    Sara, awesome response and i love how you have identified "you" in that at any given time you know where you are at. I am pretty confident in saying that when i was able to achieve that, my recovery started to accelerate. It gave me the confidence to go out to places and i would know if i was getting anxious so would enact the coping strategies.

    Now that my sleep is well under control, thankfully, I have to say that my memory is getting a bit better but concentration is still south of being crap! I am pretty much at a point where i am going to accept where i am at and think that this is it, this is as good as it will be and that is okay, it's not ideal but hey, some things we just have to accept. I now take a note and pen wherever i go at work and write down what i have to get done. My phone calendar is also full of appointments as well. Put everything in there.

    Transitioning from the old to the new is also a great journey to be on. When you recognise that your behaviors are so different to the old you, it reinforces that you are going really well. When you make better decisions, we you successfully handle a trigger, when you don't go off your head at a small thing...all so very rewarding.

    So awesome to hear that you are on this course.

    Mark.

    1 person found this helpful
  10. HelenR
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    3 December 2016 in reply to Just Sara

    Hi all,

    I definitely agree with Mark on the Diet front. When I work (short assignments) I know I've to be very careful with what I eat. Sarah, sleep is also very important but sometimes one cannot sleep well and that's a problem. I also agree with you about the good things that trigger reactions. It's frustrating that our past experiences define so much of our later life. But, as you well said, we need to change. I belive we need to save ourselves and that is hard but must keep working at it.

    I cannot eat (or must limit to almost nothing) cakes, bics and chocolate. Must not have coffee (or have decaf in social situations) Must avoid at all costs sugar in any form and must choose plain food with vegs and fish/chicken(preferable).

    If I have coffee my anxiety/fears/reactions to triggers increase and are very difficult to control. I start to act hyper and cannot concentrate or retain anything that is said to me and start to act very weird (or feel very weird). I shake and I don't notice I'm shaking. Chocolate gives me a fuzzy head and a dry mouth (which my GP says is the result of anxiety) and sugars make me act hyper (with the consequent result that I’ve more ‘vigilant’ of other people’s "bad attitude" towards me and more defensive. Someone said to me they knew I’ve eaten sugar because I was ‘more shouty’. I’d actually eaten home made choc chip cookies.

    After failing several attempts, I’m enjoying fruits more to substitue my sugar cravings. I've been trying to change my diet and improve it for some time with the consequent ups and downs.

    These days I’ve been stricter with my diet and as a result my head is clearer and after reading the blogs in this website, I’ve started to recognise the triggers and have started to notice my reactions to them more clearly. I got sad because I’m noticing that my life has been affected 95/98% of the time! with symptoms that I didn’t even recognise I had and found out only by reading here in the forum. That is a very high percentage. How have I lived that way? I didn’t know this affected all my relationships. It’s amazing what I’m learning by reading your posts and being in these forums and I'm glad that I have started to notice my state of constant 'alertness'.

    Thanks for sharing guys J

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  11. HelenR
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    3 December 2016 in reply to MarkJT

    MarkJT's

    re: your concentration. Don't give up, mate! Never settle for what you have at the moment because the moment is in constant change. Where the moment/future goes is up to you. You've achieved a lot by working at it. You've improved a lot. There's no reason why things won't get better. Keep believing, keep trying and you'll get better. It's a matter of coming up with strategies and riding the roller coasters.

    I also have my mob full of reminders, appointments, etc. but there are things that I need to keep in mind like have to hang the laundry before going out, or the constant 'what was I going to do?' short things like, "Oh! I was going to wash my face or I was going to make myself a toast". Silly things like that.

    I've started to think that I need to dictate to the notepad in my mob a list of to dos. The problem is that I some times forget that I've a reminder/to do list in my notepad in the mob. So, the reminders in the calendar are the best so far.

    Another strategy I'm starting to try is when someone talks to me at home (not work yet because home is a safer place to start) I'm going to put all my concentration on listening and create images of what the person is saying as the person talks. It'll be pretty intense at first and I know it won't always work. Today I tried for the first time and it was a very rewarding experience for the person who was talking to me. I saw the face light up and a smile at the end. I felt good because I didn't frustrate that person this time and I was able to interact like "normal" people do. I'm a strong believer that practice makes perfect (or makes things easier) and with practice it'll become less hard and less tiring (I hope).

    We need to keep going. We've only one life and we don't really know what's in the other side. So, we might as well make the most of this life. And now to break/cut some links/connections between my past and my present :-)

    1 person found this helpful
  12. MarkJT
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    4 December 2016 in reply to HelenR

    Helen, a couple of brilliant posts by you. Certainly the diet has a massive impact on how we are. I know if i am feeling crap, I will look back and see what i have eaten and pretty much most of the time, I have let it drop. Just by making a few small adjustments, I have eliminated a fair amount of sugar which is awesome. Currently working on why i am so fatigued at early evening. More so than what i should be. Only got a couple of hurdles to go before i am comfortable with where i am at and then it becomes a maintenance period.

    I take your point on not giving up and trying to recover more but for me it is a safety barrier where I can "bank" what i have already got and then go out and earn more confidence, self worth, concentration etc and then when I "level up", bank that and start again.

    I have found my journey to be so fascinating and continues to be. I don't get frustrated with it, just intrigued as to why i have stagnated in certain areas. Trying to unlock the keys to further recovery!!

    I think of the forums are like a "pay it forward" type scenario. By writing what we have, you have gained something out of it, now you have wrote some posts which others will get something out of it and so on. A really cool chain of advice and lived experience to help others out. Love it!

    Mark.

    2 people found this helpful
  13. FrankA
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    4 December 2016 in reply to MarkJT

    Hi MarkJT and all,

    I am very new to the forum and this post really got me thinking. I have, for as long as I can remember, had trouble concentrating. I thought it was just genetic. I fade out in conversations and meetings and I have practiced very hard to 'stay in the moment'. Helen discussed using pen and paper. This is one of my key strategies.

    Unfortunately, my recent encephalitis has worsened my concentration. I would love to return to study but I have to be realistic about my recovery.

    Also, the relationship between diet and the body's function are not exclusive. I experience the jitters from coffee, the highs and lows from too much sugar and the good health experienced from clean eating. It can be hard to maintain though.

    Great topic. Absolutely enjoy the discussion. Franka

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  14. Just Sara
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    4 December 2016 in reply to FrankA

    Hey Frank-kaaayyyyy...wave your hands in the air like you just don't care!!!!

    (Sorry, that was a giggle fart moment...as soon as I read your name, the words to a stupid hip hop song came to mind.) Speaking of not being 'with it'!

    So welcome fellow traveller. You write like you're old hat at this stuff...nice. No matter how many posts or how long we've been here, we learn; that's the greatness of this site.

    Can I just mention your 'fading out in conversations' comment? This used to happen to me all the time, for yrs in fact. I started looking at the times it occurred and found thru trial and error, I was personally challenged by some content of the conversation.

    When it happened again, I forced myself to listen more intently to hear what could be the trigger. I soon learned more about myself and how to use this trigger to identify what scared me or made me zone out, and worked on it. These days it doesn't happen so often, but if it does, I use it to my advantage.

    That's the thing about recovering from PTSD, it's about the trauma obviously, but it's more-so about our responses to that trauma. If we can change the way we approach our own responses instead of those or situations around us, we become mindful with 'intent'...living with purpose and owning that moment.

    Great to see you on board!

    Cheers...Sara

  15. Just Sara
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    4 December 2016 in reply to HelenR

    Welcome HelenR...as a newbie you also write with oomph! Kudos!

    There are so many correlations with each of us and what affects our bodies, hearts and minds. We all have the same physiology, symptomology and will to survive. What individualises us, is our trauma/s, history, knowledge and level of courage.

    What I love though, is that due to our individualised stuff, we can offer so much to others. If we were to put all our knowledge, experiences and skills/attributes together, we'd be one mighty super hero!

    Like Frank, you can express yourself to inform as well as talk about your woes or frustrations. There's a knack to this; not all possess the ability.

    The whole sugar thing has gained much attention from me also. I include flour on this list, though like sugar, taking it out of my diet has been a trial. In my case, food has been my go-to emotional staple since very young.

    I saw a Food Therapist once who told me it isn't about the food, it's my 'behaviour' around food...addiction 101.

    Simple carbs are a 'quick hit' of feel good chemicals to avoid bad feelings...for me it's helplessness.

    Anyway, it's great to have you on board...keep up the good work...I'm listening.

    Mighty Mark!

    What a valuable thread! I'm going now to refer this link to other sufferers. Keep up the great work my friend!

    Sara xoxo

  16. HelenR
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    4 December 2016 in reply to MarkJT

    Hi MarkTJ

    The beauty of these forums is that you get to discuss PTSD issues with people with experience and wisdom at managing and getting better at this and that I can talk without fears.

    I really like what you said about banking what you've got and then go out and get more confidence, self worth and then when you level up .... that's a positive approach to recovery. It's good for the self because it helps enjoy and digest your achievements. Such in time builds self confidence. I need to work at it. There's so much to work at that I may go back and see a psychologist to get more guidance. Hopefully this time I get a better professional.... or my attitude will be more receptive to treatment? That's another insight I just came out with.

    thanks guys

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  17. HelenR
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    4 December 2016 in reply to Just Sara

    Ditto Sara! and thanks for the welcome message :-)

    Totally agree with you. There's so much knowledge, wisdom and compassion in these blogs that is amazing the amount of stuff we can get from this and together through sharing our experiences we, or I, can manage it rather than it managing me.

    I know psychologists are important but some of us may not have been lucky/ready? to find one we can trust and/or that we can tell all the things we feel.

    In my case, I've been battling this all my life but have not known what 'this' is.

    I'd treatment for depression and anxiety more than once. I think it's because I never gave an account of all my symptoms. I never thought to say, I can't concentrate or I keep drifting off conversations. My lack of memory I thought was the result of me being stupid. I've very little self confidence and people keep saying I need to grow resilience. I'm so terrified of things that shouldn't make me afraid, normal life and can go on forever

    I never said this to anybody and then I've read similar symptoms here. My first psychiatrist said depression. Since then on I believed I suffer from depression but it did not explain all the symptoms. As a result, no therapy has worked and it has been tough. Nothing to deal with the real symptoms. No strategy and the sense of worthlessness has been growing incrementally.

    But, there's light at the end of the tunnel! I've found it here. Now I need to find another psychologist because it's quite a lot to work with. My GP will be happy to hear this as she's been trying to get me to see one and I've been saying no.

    to all of you xxx

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  18. FrankA
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    4 December 2016 in reply to Just Sara

    Hey Sara and Helen,

    Sara, thanks for the upbeat welcome!

    I read your reply a couple of hours ago and have been reflecting on my concentration levels. Helen mentioned 'I thought was the result of me being stupid'. Wow... and here I thought it was just me!

    As humans, our adaptability is phenomenal. When we are faced with situations that challenge us, we find ways around it. When I am studying, I find reading hard. But I have taught myself to skim to seek key words then label sticky notes so that I can reference easier. I just thought I was dumb, much of which was drummed into me during my time living with DV.

    I also tend to paraphrase especially at work. This causes me to want to listen harder and when I notice the void, I pull myself back into the conversation. Again, I just thought I was not smart enough to understand the context. I have not been taught these strategies, they merely evolved as a survival instinct and I needed to save face!

    So, given all that chat I just shared, I wonder how adaptable I will be in the coming months. Recovery is a challenge. I hope I can 'bank' my learnings to date. I am so scared I will lose them during this time. Communication requires concentration, regardless of the medium.

    Happy learnings to us all. Franka.

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  19. MarkJT
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    4 December 2016 in reply to FrankA

    Gday Frank and a super welcome to the forums and the thread. It is awesome to have you here i can assure you of that. Just like what Sara said, to have yourself and Helen here as newbies is outstanding. So many people will learn so much out of what you have posted and that is pretty cool. Although mental health journeys are very hard to travel upon, I always think that if you can use your experience to help others then that is going to send of good positive joo joo your way.

    You won't lose your learnings Frank, that is learned behaviour so what you need to do is to make sure that you practice them when required and even times when it isn't, still practice. i.e. deep controlled breathing. If you do that when you are calm, you will refine your techniques. You don't want to be practicing it when you are having anxiety attacks.

    Recovery is difficult, there is no doubt about that but in recovery comes wisdom and knowledge. You can see what works and what doesn't work which is great as the times when you are in need of an action to calm you down or get you going or whatever emotion you are trying to overcome, you know what works.

    I think a really important thing in recovery is that if you do go backwards for a day or two or a coping mechanisms are not working, well so be it. It is not a loss, it is not totally relapsing. Just ride the wave of emotion and it will dissipate at some stage. Easier said than done, absolutely, but really important to realise the learnings that you have banked so far. Even if you think there is not much in the bank, you do.

    Great posting crew. Deluxe!

    Mark.

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  20. Navy Blue
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    6 December 2016 in reply to MarkJT
    A'hoy there shipmate,I just had this thread recommended to me by Sara after mentioning my mental note to her- pants, then shoes - having read through the thread now I can comfortably say my dress sense would fit in well with this crowd!For me my life many years prior to my PTSD event I was an officer in the ADF,navigator and warfare officer on submarines, followed by working counter terrorism as an intelligence officer.Needless to say concentration levels were,um,essential.Today however,some 8 years after my PTSD event (which was only diagnosed a few months ago) I feel I have lost my purpose due partly due to lack of concentration.I can lay part blame to some of the meds I'm currently on but needless to say,the "lack" was still present prior to the meds.Which leads me to question why?Going from being able to track,calculate ranges & bearings of multiple targets through a periscope whilst remembering where we are on a chart in my head,only to find myself now at the point of-pants, then shoes...idiot.I make light & joke of the statement,but in reality my concentration levels are not far off having to have a sign with said statement on my walk-in-robe! Again,I question why?How can a human brain,capable of conducting extreme concentration-whilst under pressure-dissolve into something that struggles to remember why I opened the fridge, what my wife said to me we were doing today,what this thread is about...How can a traumatic event strip away the grey matter that was once such a strength of mine.I had the ability to concentrate on multiple situations & through clear clarity of thought make quick correct decisions.Now it comes down to: pants, then shoes, d'oh! - ahah - PTSD! I eat well,I practice mindfulness regularly,it is only lack of or broken sleep that makes me wonder if this is the reason. I suffer nightmares,I drift off & day dream a lot during the day & find I struggle with the most simple of things.I know this drives my wife crazy as the frustration I cause must be off the scale on the old pistoff-'o'-metre! Yet here I am confused as ever...I know I have added nothing more than slapstick humour to the thread & nothing useful-sorry Mark and crew.Or maybe I have helped someone finally realise why they can't work out why they can't seem to get their trousers on! Like the rest of you I wish their was a book called-PTSD for dummies.I for sure cannot work out who I am at the moment & I look forward further suggestions to solving this...what was I saying again
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  21. Just Sara
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    7 December 2016 in reply to Navy Blue

    Hey my dear Navy Blue Man! I'm so glad you arrived!

    I'm not wearing my undies over my jeans anymore...oops...did I just say that? At least I'm not wearing my dressing gown all day...uh...wait a minute! Ok...so sometimes I do. he he

    You've asked about how you can go from extreme concentration, to the above statement. I liken it to when the body goes into shock. All the blood's taken from the extremities to flow towards the effected regions like broken limbs etc. The skin goes pale and grey, consciousness suffers as do the muscles/organs (the skin being the biggest)

    Emotional trauma is no different. Shock to the brain and nervous system causes the mind and body to shut down unnecessary components to make sure we have just enough processes to recover and get thru the day. It's an energy saving device.

    As we heal, this is slowly turned around, like your hip and learning to walk again. The damaged areas of our brains need time to recover and learn, not only how to do things again, but create maintenance plans and procedures (flow charts) to ensure survival and trauma/s don't happen again.

    When a bone breaks, it heals the effected area so well, it causes a mass of bone around the break which will sometimes bond itself to the surrounding area. This causes some distress to the soft tissue thru scaring and pain if it's not moved and massaged. Even then there's no guarantee's.

    Our brains work similarly. The bone mass I spoke of could be seen as fear on fear trying to 'prepare' for trauma again. We overstimulate thru fear of going thru things again, and this produces adrenaline and cortisol etc. Too much of a good thing!

    When you were on active duty, adrenaline was your friend. Heightening your sense of alertness and concentration (and male hormones) Now you're on overdrive and your system is shot. (No pun intended)

    There's no way of knowing how damaged we are except by symptoms and lack of ability. It's the difference between a broken back, which some people can come back from, or paraplegia where nerves have been severed.

    I hope this is making sense NM. I've covered a lot of ground here. Just know that giving up is our worst enemy. As Mark says; having a couple of bad days isn't a relapse...thank God! There's always tomorrow...

    Love and warm wishes...Sara xoxo

    Post Script..Thankyou to Frank and Helen for your lovely and informed comments.

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  22. MarkJT
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    8 December 2016 in reply to Just Sara

    Great post Sara - really well written and really makes sense what you are saying that is for sure. My phone is absolutely loaded with reminders to counter the memory being crapola. Whether it ever gets back to what it was is an unknown question but so be it. As I have written so many times, I am very fortunate to have had a really good run in recovery so if this drags on for a while, so be it.

    Navy man - awesome post. Much like the Military, Emergency Services workers deal in black humor all the time. It is the only way we can possibly stay mentally healthy and then sometimes even that does not help us! I am a big fan of taking the mickey out of myself. Some people kind of get offended by it but then how can they be offended when it is me that i am making jokes about? It is a coping mechanism so light hearted banter and jokes are very well received by me.

    Cheers

    Mark.

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  23. Croix
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    8 December 2016 in reply to MarkJT

    You all have some pretty good ideas. This prompted me to have some thoughts about my own memory faults. Amazingly after all this time I still tend to regard them as my failings, not symptoms – silly as they were not present before my illness

    1. When fully occupied reliving an old event, or worrying about a new or fancied one, everything’s out the window. Until that mental merry-go-round halts there is no possibility of remembering anything (or even realising the building is on fire)

    In time I’ve become better at being aware I’m in this state and come out of it – there is some control. Combined with the whole process being a lot less intense now means that this problem is reasonably manageable

    2. Concentrating on being told something, reading a document etc. At some point the mind often drifts - by being distracted by my own reactions - by the worry of not being able to remember it - by worrying about the ramifications before all necessary data is in. Sometimes by the mind just stopping – duh

    Notes taken at the time is a most helpful habit. This records the incoming info & also the act of note-taking helps my concentration. Anticipating the event and preparing is good

    3. Being limited to only thinking about one thing, going down that path to the exclusion of other thoughts. A bit like my wife saying men can only think/do one thing at a time -unlike wives whose mental feats leave normal mortals in awe:) Regular non-specific ½ hour alarms help – smartphones rule!

    4. Straight memory failure. Forgot it completely and total blank when reminded. This is the real killer and I’ve no defence as it could be about anything anytime, so no way to anticipate and take precautions other than calendar entries & the ubiquitous sets of lists

    5. Finally “tip of the tongue”. Know a fact or person’s name, and use it every day, then it’s hiding - and will not come out, or only returns for a moment

    I remember always having the top of a file visible on the passenger’s seat when driving to interview someone as the name always kept escaping me. The same holds true today, making visible written reminders as soon as the required info asserts itself is my answer

    All these seem to be directly affected by my state. Tiredness, hunger, lack of exercise aren’t good but its mainly the level of strong emotion, stress or worry. Years of umpteen medications may not have helped. Forcing myself to study does

    I guess it’s a work in progress

    My best wishes

    Croix (the absentminded)

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  24. Just Sara
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    9 December 2016 in reply to Croix

    Hi Croix and welcome to Mark's thread!

    The issue of lack of concentration/memory is a common aspect of PTSD, and as the popularity of this thread shows, is a major one.

    Something I find odd, is how I can remember stupid or inconsequential long forgotten info like trivia, but fail to recall what happened 5 min's ago. Songs for instance, can pull names and dates out of seemingly nowhere. Did you know that 'Karate' means 'closed fist'? Talk about random..that just popped into my mind!!??

    Or is it random? I'm a fighter for sure...not physically, but mentally. Is there a link or info my mind is trying to get thru?

    Food for thought me thinks...

    Sara xo

  25. Croix
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    9 December 2016 in reply to Just Sara
    Dear all
    I’m happy to say I’m getting an awful lot from this thread, both inspiration & techniques, in fact far too much to talk about in one post

    As for remembering ‘closed fist’ Sara – I’m surprised! :)

    You mentioned songs which I guess must inhabit a deeper part of the brain. My mother-in-law is in a home where the visits of a pianist are heavily attended and seem to promote lucidity and spark memories in the ‘guests’. She starts to remember facts and incidents from her past seemingly not directly related to the popular old favorites sung & played

    There does not seem to be total consistency in my personal experiences. I can concentrate wonderfully for long periods on the current fantasy novel I’m reading, going (probably retreating) into a different world. I'll be able to remember plot, content and notable phrases from it without effort - no fading out there!

    Talking or trying to read documents to gain information or just interact does not have the same sustained focus even if important - sigh. (I guess you may be right Sara about those having influence make it worse)

    HelenR, thank you – I totally agree that study helps and is, for me at any rate, self-reinforcing. The more I do the better I get all round. Also I share with you it’s great to find out it’s not personal failings, just never having been given adequate information

    I’m not sure about not disclosing all your symptoms has resulted in treatments being less successful, particularly as you might not have always been in the best position to judge what was significant, or remember it. I definitely wasn’t

    I think this is where the skill of the health professional comes in. They are the professionals after all.

    I consider that the GPs I went to when I began to seriously suffer from stress let me down by not extrapolating from my reported symptoms to find others and to unearth the link between them and the underlying cause - or anticipate worsening

    In fairness it was a long ago and neither diagnoses nor medications were as good. One of the things I find most heartening is Mark’s account of his level of recovery and ability to resume duties. This is a testament to his attitude & determination, but must be due to new treatments and techniques as well. Also his Force’s positive position. In my Force back then you were just written off – even by the Association.

    Sorry to talk about you in the third person Mark, don’t mean to be rude.

    Out of space again –probably a good thing:)

    Croix

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  26. Navy Blue
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    10 December 2016 in reply to Just Sara
    Hello Sara & to all my dear friends here in this thread.Whilst trying to remain cognisant of the fact that my surgeon keeps reminding me that the new meds I am now on (some atomic strength nerve blockers) combined with my depth charge pain killers will have a major affect on my concentration levels,I am still drawn to this thread & the actual thought that PTSD is the major contributor.Things have sort of gone down hill in the marriage part of ship.My fault,I guess there is a limit of things women can do all at the same time,my wife has clearly breached that limit - probably a while ago - & now voiced & acted on her distain.As I sit here watching the sun rise over our beautiful mountain view I am trying to draw on every ounce of grey matter in my head to think of ways to fix this.The grey matter I refer to currently reminds me to that of the Death Star.My wife suggests I write lists and set reminders,I try but in all honesty I forget.I either forget what to write or set, or forget the concept altogether.I must adopt the approach of becoming one of those poin-dexters & carry a note pad & pen in my top pocket-along with a scientific calculator & full geometry set.Or I could join the 21st century & get a smart phone,mine is clearly a dumb one.To get serious on the thread though,I realise I'm on some mind blowing & concentration killing drugs for surgical treatment.But with that aside,my memory & concentration was (I seem to recall) quite poor,prior to being on these post-op drugs.Therefore in doing the dot-to-dots after reading this thread my current state has to be caused by my PTSD.While I too remain in awe of Mark's recovery,I am truly scared of how long it will take for my concentration & memory strength to return but worse still what it might or will cost me whilst waiting..I like Sara have no problem remembering trivial stuff,like King Kong was Hitler's favourite movie,but the day to day "important" stuff,the stuff that really must matter to my wife-computer says no.I only make light of it because it hurts me so much.I have to wait until Feb to see my psychiatrist for the first time,wrong time of year to get a referral I was told..Like Michael Stipe says in Everybody Hurts - hold on,don't let yourself go.Unfortunateley it's not me I am worried about letting go right now.Without taking this useful thread off tangent into marriage counsel mode,I am seriously looking for help in the concentration/memory tips I can throw in the ready use locker! Hurting 💔NBM
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  27. MarkJT
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    10 December 2016 in reply to Croix

    Croix, 3rd person - no probs. Not rude at all as far as i am concerned and yes, the force has come along way since then but make no mistake, still has a loooooooong way to go. Working on it though.

    Music, such a powerful thing. Absolutely love it and all types. So many songs hold so many memories and there are a couple that remind me of being in hospital but i still listen and enjoy because it reinforces to me just how far i have come since then.

    One of my favorite songs is by the Foo Fighters,"Walk". There is a line that says, "Learning to walk again", I changed the words to, "learning to live again". That is essentially what you have to do when you get PTSD. Life is changing and you have to adapt and overcome.

    How do you overcome, well as has been said above, notes, smart phones (yes Croix - agree they rule), reminders, telling mates and colleagues that memory is terrible so remind me, calendar entries etc.

    One thing that really accelerated my recovery was that i was able to "accept" being diagnosed with PTSD very quickly. It was very much a case of, "Ok this happened, not much i can do about it, deal with it and move on". I am exceedingly aware just how lucky I am to have been able to do that.

    I take regular mini breaks to let the mind chill for a couple of minutes, if i have to read and absorb a big document, I will make notes and ask plenty of questions. The great thing about being really open about my injury is that everyone knows so i just tell them straight out.

    Loving the interaction here.

    Mark.

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  28. Just Sara
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    11 December 2016 in reply to Navy Blue

    Hi NBM (hurting) and all;

    I wish I had an answer for you, I really do. I have my own plight to deal with today so finding something important and relevant to say eludes me.

    PTSD has struck...I'm sad too NM.

    I do want you to know I hear you and acknowledge your hurt and the dilemma you find yourself in. Unfortunately I don't have the capacity to deal with a confident or memorable response as I'm finding it difficult to even remember what's in your post, even though I've read it twice.

    I'm sorry...

    Sara xo

  29. Croix
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    11 December 2016 in reply to Just Sara

    Dear Sara

    Please feel at peace resting on your laurels for a while, be easy on yourself, I have no doubt at all you will come back fighting later on.

    One of the difficulties when one keeps performing over and above - and you do - is that it seems to carry with it a feeling of obligation to always perform that way - it becomes your personal expected norm

    Being human is just that - being human, (only super-heroes wear their undies outside their clothes - and you've already mentioned you don't:)

    For myself I think in a topsy-turvey way, while unpleasant and frustrating, to crash now and then helps me relate to others suffering better - my experience is fresher in my mind.

    Croix

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  30. Navy Blue
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    11 December 2016 in reply to Just Sara
    Hello Sara, just knowing that you read my post, twice, is enough. Just as Croix said, rest, deal with number one - healing yourself is crucial. You give way too much, don't get me wrong, I think you are amazing, but take time out, please! I am OK, I'm dealing with things and accepting PTSD is difficult, for everyone. I'm done posting for a while to, I have enough on my plate right now but I have been given so much support by you Sara and everyone like you here on BB. I can login over the Christmas period and re-read all the wonderful and caring words that all of these beautiful supportive carers, just like you, have given me. They say Christmas is a time for giving? Sara you have given me the world, thank you. Merry Christmas to you all, I hope 2017 brings everyone the happiness they all truly deserve. I will do my best to post again soon. Loads of love from a very grateful NBM xoxo
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