~ Bedlam

As much as we joke about "hating people", a lot of vets and first responders can relate to this, I know I can. To those friends and family members who don't understand or get frustrated when your loved one misses parties and family functions or accepts and then decides at the last minute not to go, leaves early or just fails to show up; it's not that we don't WANT to be there, we do. Sometimes we genuinely think we can go and have a good time but, as the date nears, our anxiety increases and we start to think about all the things that could happen or go wrong. Please try to understand that, for us, a social occasion can be an agony of fear, doubt, confusion and even anger with unasked/unanswered questions and awkward silences; sometimes there is just too much going on around us and it becomes overwhelming. So we find ways to avoid them rather than endure the questions and the looks, the hurt, disappointment and anger from those we care about most. To my brothers and sisters who experience this, you know there is help available but beyond that there are things that we can DO for ourselves, that will let us still be a part of our family's and friend's lives. Try agreeing to a set amount of time to be there or arrive earlier in the day and spend time with family and friends who may have traveled to be there. Rather than riding with others, drive your own vehicle; it may be inconvenient but doing so gives you the option of leaving early or a quiet place to slip away to in order to decompress and regroup. If possible, arrange several smaller get-togethers so that you can see and spend time with everyone just not all at once. There are a lot of things we can do to accommodate or mitigate our issues with social events, just be honest with those you care about and find ways to make it work. You don't have to isolate yourself or be alone ALL the time.

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