How to Survive the 4th of July if you have PTSD - From a Veteran

Re-bumping this post from last year. This year I live in a state where fireworks are illegal! But for people who live in states that sound like warzones right now, have some helpful tips.

How to Survive the 4th of July if you have PTSD - From a Veteran

How to Survive the 4th of July if you have PTSD - From a Veteran

Happy 4th of July everyone! As you all enjoy your beer, grilling, drunk-grilling induced injuries, and setting off explosive rockets, as is your right as a GOD DAMNED AMERICAN, I thought I'd reach out to another community out there - the PTSD crowd.

Can we just all agree that 4th of July, in fact the whole week leading up to it, is just the WORST?

My husband was diagnosed with PTSD a few years back after a particularly bad Afghanistan tour, and I probably have more symptoms of it than I like to admit publicly. Independence Day is just a minefield for combat veterans. First of all - you have the day off. There is absolutely nothing to distract you. Second - everyone you know is drunk, and you probably are as well. Not a good way to cope with intense emotions and flashbacks. Third - everyone in the world is lighting firecrackers. Half of these firecrackers sound like gunfire, the other half sound like mortars. For a lot of people, this is a huge trigger for flashbacks and memories we usually repress (the chosen coping method for middle class Americans everywhere!).

So how do we survive?

1.) Invest in really good earplugs. Noise-cancelling headphones, if you can afford them.

2.) Set yourself in a comfortable setting. Is there a town nearby that outlaws fireworks? Take the holiday there. Find somewhere quiet, if you can. If you live on a military base, you're in luck - military bases ban people from setting off their own fireworks, and you can plan for and be expecting the post display, which will limit the shock.

3.) Find someone to take your pet for the weekend. Your dog's anxiety over fireworks won't help yours.

4.) If you must drink, avoid getting completely wasted. Limit yourself to just getting a good buzz on.

5.) Get yourself some good, nutritious, easy-to-make food tonight, before everything closes tomorrow.

6.) Line up some old favorite movies. Nothing war-related.

7.) Tomorrow, eat good, comfortable food, and watch a lot of fun movies. Spend the day with family or a good close friend. When it gets dark, put in your earplugs or headphones, and try to go to sleep early.

8.) On the 5th, get out of the house. Do something physical - go hiking, go to the gym, ride a bike or swim. Burn off some of that amped-up nervous feeling that you gained on the 4th.

Happy 4th of July everyone. Be safe, and please for the love of God, if you are my downstairs neighbor, stop lighting off fireworks right below our balcony.

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