I’ve heard it has been said that a dream shared, an intention shared, has a greater chance of becoming true so that is what this week’s blog is about – my dreams and hopes for the future. As I struggle to write this blog, I came to realize that my dreams and hopes are all about my ability to find work that I could perform while managing my physical and mental illness. In an article in USA Today (July 10, 2014), it states that 80% of people receiving public mental health services are unemployed while 61% of these same people are wanting to work. I am one of those people desperate to work again. My dreams and hopes are the only ways that I could see being able to be back in the workforce because being on disability haunts me every day. (More on this next week.)
I need to live my life with determination, purpose and passion. It is my nature, my true self. Also, it is what gets me up every morning and working so hard to manage my physical and mental illness. I work hard at it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year because that is what it demands of me if I am going to have the best, most creative and meaningful life I can manage despite the pain and suffering I have on a continuous basis. I deserve it, I am worthy of it. My dreams and hopes for the future help guide the hypervigilant energy of my determination, purpose and passion.
I have learned that you can be defined as permanently disabled but still have the joy and terror of having dreams. Right now, I have two dreams. The first is to become well versed in the craft of writing. Writing is a solitary and independent task I can do at any time of a 24 hour period. These are necessary requirements for me to manage. Furthermore, I could do this work from the basement of my home where I manage best because stimuli are at a minimum. However to do this, I need to teach myself the craft. I could not handle the pressure and social piece of learning even online. The stress would further debilitate me at this point in my life. Just having this dream and making it public is anxiety producing at times.
The second dream I have is to become knowledgeable in PTSD. Specifically, I want to look at how to improve the education of urban youth who also have PTSD. Statistics from the Center of Disease Control states that 30% of urban students suffer from PTSD. I want to look at how we can improve the climate and culture of the schools and classrooms so these same youth have the opportunity to learn. These improvements will also lessen faculty and staff’s risk of having vicarious trauma, which is part of what I have. I want to look at how we make these environments safe for learning and how we address issues of power and authority in the classroom. Power and powerlessness are very important topics for anyone but it is especially important when you have PTSD. In addition, experience has shown me that urban students are very aware of power dynamics in the school setting and in the world.
Reality is that I face many challenges to ever realizing these dreams. The first piece of reality I must face on a daily basis is that some days it is difficult for me to manage personal self care. They can be daunting tasks despite the fact that I have daily routines for managing them. The second reality check is that I can only focus in short spurts and the amount of time of extended focus usually comes to about 2-3 hours a day spread out over a 24 hour period. For instance, right now it is 2 am. This seems to be my best time to focus today.
The third item is that it is a challenging experience to travel outside my home. Any work I could do on a consistent basis would need to be done on line from the basement of my home. Another piece is that these two dreams are near and dear to my heart. They stimulate my intellectual curiosity, my passion, my deep desire to achieve and my need to make a contribution to the betterment of the world and universe. These aspects of myself illicit my arousal response which brings about my hypervigilance and a prefrontal cortex shut down. In other words, intellectual stimulation, passion, desires and needs heighten my PTSD as much as my fear and terror do. It is always something I need to deal with and negotiate if I want to ever realize these dreams in my lifetime.
Finally, I need to deal with my processing of information challenges as well as my memory problems. Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way, talks about doing what interests you, to think about mystery not mastery. Researching and writing about PTSD interests me and stirs my passion. However, I want to master the content. Most importantly, pursuing these areas of interest will give my life meaning and purpose – a reason for living and working hard to negotiate my permanent physical and mental illness. It will also help me to continue to grow in my ability to live a more sustainable, social just, and meaningful life.
To begin my work to reach my dream to become experienced in the craft of writing, I have decided to publish past writings I have done about living with PTSD. These writings, published today under Further Reflections (in the main menu) come from a thematic analysis I did of my journals over a three year period – 2008 to 2011 (The Dark Years). These writings will give you an opportunity to see the transformation that has taken place in my thinking over the last decade. Clearly, there is a difference between my thinking in the past to my thinking that I have been sharing in my most recent blogs and reflections. Also, I have been through many stages that you as a reader might relate to. In addition, it is my hope that as I attempt to teach myself the craft of writing that you will see an improvement in my writing in the years to come.
Cameron, J. (2002). Artist’s Way. NY, NY: Penguin Putnam Inc.
CBS San Francisco Bay Area (2014, May 16). Hood Disease: Inner City Kids Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. http://www.SanFrancisco.cbs.local.com.
Szabo, L. (2014, July 10). ‘Bleak Picture’ for Mentally Ill: 80% are jobless, 60% want to work. USA Today http://www.usatoday.com.