PTSD Waiting Game

Yesterday, a coworker asked me about Ryder’s progress. Unaware of the depth of this answer, he was genuinely curious.

I repeated the same story I have told a hundred times. And then we started talking about me and where I am in all of this. Which got me thinking about where I actually am in all of this. Am I ‘over it’? Am I still ‘in the thick of all these feelings’? Where am I exactly?

He asked me, “What makes a professional cyclist continue on?” Since I don’t cycle professionally, nor follow the sport, I had no idea. So, I guessed and said ‘determination’. He said no. He then asked me if I have ever seen a professional cyclist who has never fallen off a bike. I knew where he was going with this. It was obvious.

Why do we fall? So we can pick ourselves back up.

Get back up on that horse.

If you fail, try, try again.

It’s not like I haven’t heard these before. I’m a smart individual, so I know what he was saying. Then, he asked me ‘Are you going to let yourself be a great trainer?’. Will you let yourself be good?

That’s a great question. Why did this event affect me this way? Was it because I had to watch Ryder die? Was it because I had to make the decision with the family to put him to sleep? As much as that was awful, it isn’t because of that. It’s because I wasn’t good enough for him. I couldn’t fix him.

But, I also know the same fate would have happened if he was with another trainer. I know that. Why do I still feel like I failed? It comes and goes. Sometimes, I know I did the right thing. Other times, there is that ‘what if’ voice in my head saying I have learned so much since I started working with him.

Hitting the Wall End of my LeashThen, I hear the words from my mentor. ‘You did the right thing. I would have done the same.’ And then, when I had my totally embarrassing day 4 breakdown during my certification course, she said ‘You need to get over it’. Not in a mean way or make things worse, but still – I need to get over it.

The pain is gone. The pain from putting him to sleep, the pain of losing him. That’s gone. The feeling of failure, regret, feeling over my head, not knowing what else to do, and ultimately FAILING…. Is still there.

We have decided not to get a great dane right now. I wanted a blue merle great dane to add to our family. Right now, we have decided to put this off. I also haven’t taken on another difficult case since Ryder. It’s not like I’m avoiding them, just… haven’t had one come along.

I know I’ll have to make this decision again, but how can I move on? How can I get over it when I’m feeling like I could have done more. Will this ever go away? It’s been almost 3 months since we put him to sleep.

My therapist says I have PTSD regarding this situation. She says it will take as long as it takes. But why won’t it just hurry up? I mean, I’m trying to get over it, and triggers keep pulling me back.

All great danes used to get to me after this happened. Then, just merle great danes. Then the name ‘Ryder’. Then stories of unpredictable aggression. Then, I was faced with working in the same facility with Ryder before he died. The same technique I was working on, the same words were spoken to me. I broke down, but I moved past it. Once I moved past these triggers, it’s driving past the pet hospital that gets me sometimes. And then, when I feel I’m stable and getting over it, something else triggers me. Like someone who didn’t know the whole story, asking me about his progress. And I’m back to where I was.

WHY CAN’T I MOVE ON?! I just want to learn from it and move on.

I’m frustrated because it feels like I’m hitting a wall over and over again.  It doesn’t affect my work, I don’t freak out at clients’ houses, but it’s all inside. I’m very good at hiding what I’m feeling in person. People don’t know there is a hurricane of emotions happening on the inside. But there is. And even when people ask me about Ryder or I hit a trigger, I have been able to handle it. Until my workshop. It hit me like a tidal wave, and I couldn’t stop from shaking, hyperventilating, and panicking in front of everyone.

PTSD Drowning End of My LeashIt feels like I’m climbing out of a deep hole, and every time I start to see the light and climb out, the hole grows and I’m climbing again. The hole keeps getting deeper, and it feels I’ll never get out.

Or maybe I’m drowning, and every time I swim to the top, water pours down on me and pushes me to the bottom again. How can I ever get back anything if I keep getting pushed back down?

I have this internal wound that won’t heal. Every time it starts to mend, it gets ripped open again, and I’m trying to hard to stop the emotional bleeding. I’m trying to stitch it up the best I can and say ‘it happened, get over it’, ‘suck It up, it was right’, ‘everyone else would have done the same’, ‘he’s at peace now’, etc. But it doesn’t help. Those stitches don’t seem to be enough.

I don’t cry, I don’t show I’m upset, and when people ask me, I put on a smile and say I’m doing fine. I’m faking it to make it. I’ve tried screaming, I’ve tried forcing myself into situations where I have to interact with my triggers. What else can I do?

Just wait. Waiting sucks.

Vulnerable

brickwallYou know the feeling of mentally drowning? The feeling of the world pressing down on you so much that it makes you feel so small, unimportant, and helpless?

Ok, maybe some of you don’t. This feeling makes me feel like it’s better for the world if I just cease to exist. It has been a while since I have thought about suicide.

Well, that feeling came back again today. And thoughts of my own demise comforted me. It’s like a security blanket, that when the world suffocates me, I at least have these feelings of release. An out, if you will.

I can’t seem to not cry. I can’t stop. The tears fall, and the thoughts start up again. And because my spouse doesn’t understand the feeling of having the comforting feeling of suicide, he says I’m selfish for thinking that way. Now making me feel guilty, once again. It’s not his fault. But… I don’t have anyone else.

It seems easier to not say anything at all.

I’m not judged. I die inside silently where no one can see. Sometimes, I feel so brave to ask for help, to talk about my emotions and expose a vulnerable part of me. And it seems, all too often, I’m poked with an electric stick and I regret talking at all.

This stems from mistakes that were made. Mistakes that were my fault solely. I take responsibility for my actions, I always have. However, I also take on more than I handle. This isn’t the first time, and it isn’t the last. This is a mistake I will continue to make. Because I challenge myself. Sometimes, I put myself in positions where I set myself up to fail. This is one of those times.

When I make a mistake, I can admit it, and I can learn from it. When I make a bunch of mistakes all around the same time, or on the same day, it builds up. I wish it would go away, and I could crawl in a hole and just have the world pass me by.

But I can’t, and it doesn’t stop. It seems I finally get into a mental state of ‘peace’ or whatever, and then one thing happens, then another. I’m overwhelmed, then I make a mistake. All the problems are unrelated, but in turn – they are related. And all of a sudden, my mental state crumbles and the brick wall protecting me is gone.

I’m a snail without its shell, and I’m sitting in the sun, baking. Can’t get into the grass, and can’t protect myself. Someone has to come save me or I will die.

I think it’s time to call my therapist again. I’m sinking back into the darkness. Again, and the nightmares started again last night.  No sleep. No dreams, just the demon. Back again from the graveyard of my mind. I thought I had buried that guilt so far into my mind that I wouldn’t see him again.

If I could take a vacation, I wouldn’t use it to travel or to do something fun. I would use it to take care of myself, and go to a mental institution to have someone fix the way I think.

Is that possible? To have someone just get in there, pop the hood, and change the oil? … in a brain? I hope so… because mentally, I’m done. I’m just going to let the thoughts of suicide comfort me for now. I’ll let the tears fall, and have some of myself die in the process.

I’m surprised I have any pieces left. I should just be an empty shell of a person by now.

Napoleon’s Temper Tantrum

sadness

I SERIOUSLY am at the end of my leash.

I am fighting back tears, or the will to scream… or both.

Napoleon has completely driven me crazy. I’m supposed to be a newbie dog trainer. I will make mistakes. But when I can’t even control my own dog… I am seriously a ‘frustrated owner’ right now. I feel like I’m in the position of someone who doesn’t know what else to do with their dog.

We were going on a walk, and practicing distractions as well as leash work. He was just doing fantastic. Just wonderful, and then I saw my neighbors, who wanted to chat. That’s fine, great opportunity for him to be ignored right now. Again, wonderful. So far so good…

So, because he was doing so well, he got to play with the neighbor’s boxer for a bit. They are friends, but we have to watch out for-yep, there it is… mounting. My dog always mounts this boxer for some reason. He’s 9 years old, and neutered. And completely … perfect. Then there’s my dog…mounting him. Great. I try to catch it, as I see the signs happening and ‘Ah-ah, NO!’. But he ignored me. I have no training tools with me, and he’s off leash. Great. So, I run over, and pull him off. Then, I have him do something else for a bit – “Puppy Pushups” I like to call them. Sit-Down-Sit-Down and so on and so forth. Eventually, he seems to have relaxed. Well that was embarrassing (“I’m sorry my dog just completely dominated your dog.”). Ok, they are playing now, good. Good play, everything is going well again…

Until a fucking idiot teenage kid on a skateboard was being pulled by a pit bull ran down the street. Napoleon FREAKED OUT! He started lunging, and snarling, and barking/whining. Behavior I have never seen before. Even in a fight, he’s not like that! Unfortunately, for me, he was off leash. I tried to get control by his collar, and then remove him from the situation. The little fucking asshat teenager decided it was fun seeing my dog all freaked out and then came back again! This time, as I was trying to get control of Napoleon, I was able to [somehow] slip the Halti back on, and secure it so I had more control.

Yeah, I decided that was enough of that, and that we needed to go. I wasn’t going to take him home yet, because he was too worked up. We walked around the block, and we went real slow until he calmed down.

When we got home, he was back to his out of control ‘I-want-dinner-now-mom’ attitude. I don’t respond to that at all, and he doesn’t get fed until he calms down. So, he was ignored. . . which resulted in ear-splitting howls and whines. This, again, doesn’t usually happen unless he’s in the kennel. So, the Pet Convincer was used on him. Then, another uncharacteristic thing- growling at me. This has never happened. So, I stood there, and waited for him to calm down. Then put him in the bedroom by himself to ‘cool off’.

My boy – having a temper tantrum is what it looked like. It was like my  high energy lab, just turned into a huge problem. Hmm… wow. Either I royally screwed up on something, or something is really wrong.

I feed the cats, and then eventually let Napoleon out again. He is jumping, knocking me over in the hallway, getting in the kitchen (he’s not allowed), and jumped COMPLETELY OVER a sofa and smashed into the window.

WHAT.THE.HELL.IS.GOING.ON??? No. No. NO. NO! I don’t even care right now. I am up to my eyeballs in these negative feelings.

I give up… feeling words:

-Disappointed
-Distraught
-Frustrated
-Ashamed
-Embarrassed
-Hopeless
-A failure
-Miserable
-Guilt
-KILL ME NOW

I want to ‘fix’ him. I want so badly to do this. I want to know how to solve ‘difficult’ problems like this one, and it feels like the whole damn world is against me. I ask for help from the organization I am a member of, and they tell me ‘It might be because he should be getting a 5 mile walk every day’, and ‘it’s something you might just have to deal with’.

Yeah. Well, if I have to ‘deal with this’ … seriously: Please kill me. Put me out of my misery and take me out back and just shoot me. I could run him 5 miles, and it wouldn’t make a difference. It really, REALLY doesn’t. It’s not an exercise problem. He’s OVER-ADRENALIZED. I was very unhappy with these responses, so now I’m even more frustrated.

FAILURE. I CAN’T DO THIS EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF FOREVER WITH MY BOY. He is so good when he’s not over-stimulated. I just can’t do it all the time. I need a break every once in a while. Ignorance was bliss. Before I knew what ‘over-adrenalized’ meant and before I realized that he wasn’t just ‘a really happy dog’, we were all really happy. Now, it feels like I have one of the worst dogs in the world. My poor boy, getting all these emotions from me. If he can read my mind – I’m sure he feels awful. See, there I go -putting human emotions on a dog. FAIL.

But if he could talk, I think he would be saying, ‘But Mom! I’m really trying! I’m working so hard, see? See me work so hard? ‘. And now, GUILT.

I can’t even talk to my husband. It’ll start a fight. When I get like this, I have to attack something/someone. And I don’t want to start a fight. I think I’ll just sleep downstairs. By myself.