Thursday, July 9, 2015

How Working From Home Helps My PTSD

Disclaimer: I don't recommend that everyone that has PTSD suddenly start working from home. Working from home is not for everyone. It's really, really not. However, if you believe that more time alone or in the safety of your own home (if your home is a safe place for you) is in your best interest, I think you should look into it (although people will tell you that you shouldn't spend so much time alone...and most of those people do not have PTSD or degrees in mental health).

I was diagnosed with PTSD as a teenager. Just suffice it to say that I had a really, really, really bad childhood. Being married to the father of my children damn sure didn't help matters. In fact, it took me getting a protective order to get him to leave me alone after he left me for someone else. As of 2012, I was very, very damaged. I was teaching college. I was exhausted. I constantly looked over my shoulder. I always carried police grade pepper spray. I kept an emergency response silent alarm pulled up on my phone. I rarely took the same way home. I had safe calls any time I left my home and arrived somewhere (and then when I left and made it to the next location or home).

I always looked over my shoulder. Always. So, due to some health issues and the fact that I felt like I was always being watched the decision was made that I would make the leap and work as a writer full time from home. It hasn't been perfect. It hasn't been stress free. However, it has removed a lot of the crushing and often debilitating belief that I was being watched. Oh, and for the record - it wasn't paranoia. I was being watched and I still have the private messages, old text messages, and old blog posts (from another person's blog) to prove it. So, no...I wasn't and am not crazy (although sometimes he convinced me that I might be crazy).

Anyway...this is what working at home has done for me:

Control of the Environment

I have total control of my environment...from the noise level to the people...nothing changes while I am working from home unless I'm the one to change it. I've been remarried for almost two years now and my husband works out of the home during the day. So, if I am having a day where loud noises freak me out...I can minimize or eliminate that all together. I don't have to turn on the television. I can turn off the ringer on my phone. I can totally control my environment.

Feelings of Safety

Working from home has increased my feelings of safety. Yes, I still have days when I feel like a sitting duck. I have a choice: I can leave the house or I can just take the time to be mindful that I am not in immediate danger. I don't have to answer my door if someone comes by. I have a very large, very protective dog that will not let people near me if she does not know them. I know my home. I know what noises are natural. I know what noises are not natural. I can leave and run errands at odd hours. I don't worry nearly as much about being followed as I did in the past.

When I Feel Overwhelmed, I Can Take a Break

People who work from home are often big proponents of taking naps during the day and participating in other things that traditional workers don't get to do. Personally, I feel like unless you're making up that work time after you wake up that making a habit out of napping is probably a bad idea in terms of productivity. However, with that said - I think it's a great benefit that people who get overwhelmed or who deal with a chronic illness have the option to take a break. Good luck not feeling guilty about it. I take an occasional nap during the day...or at least I try to (the guilt of trying to sneak in a nap keeps me awake - which is weird since I go days at a time without sleeping. In fact, I'm on day 5 of no sleep. Yay chronic insomnia).

I Don't Have to Worry About What Others in My Work Environment Might Say About Me

One of the biggest issues when you come out of an abusive relationship is that even if you don't make it a habit of telling people what happened (and many of us don't like to talk about it), there are still people who, once they find out, defend the other person or somehow know the other person and tell that person everything they find out about you. I went through it. Now that I work from home, that's not something that obviously happens. The dbag generally isn't a topic of conversation in our home, but if something does come up then I don't have to worry about my husband blabbing to anyone.

It's had other benefits, too. The benefits I get won't necessarily be the same as what others get from working from home. Like I said, though, if you think that being able to create your own environment would help you get even just a little relief from your PTSD, then it might be something that you begin to look at to figure out how you can make it a reality.