|Phoenix was up at 0318. That was about right. With the nightmares, he usually woke up around that time. It was usually between 0100 and 0300 in the morning. Phoenix was used to it. That did not mean that he liked it one bit. It is hard to find things to do for hours at a time in the middle of the night without waking a sleeping spouse. It throws the gecko off, too. Phoenix tried to maintain normal "daytime hours" and "nighttime hours" for his gecko with the lamps. It seemed to work, but Phoenix always felt bad when he turned his office light on because that was also disrupting the gecko's active time, since he was nocturnal. A cricket always seemed to make it better, though. Phoenix took his daytime meds at around 0400 every morning so that he could suffer the side effects early, before he had to function as a member of society later in the morning.
Phoenix was doing some calligraphy work and letting some of his feelings out on the paper that he was working on. He then decided to play a game that helped creativity with rolls of different dice that corresponded to possible characteristics of the artist's new creation. Nothing came to mind except PTSD. Phoenix was immediately frustrated. What more could he write about it? How could he express it in images? The "blood spatter" watercolor that he did the day before had made him ill. It triggered him and he had to be careful about that no matter what he was doing. It was maddening. Phoenix seemed always to feel himself to be at the edge of insanity. He wanted to take a walk, but it was the middle of the night and he lived in a bad neighborhood. It was a historic neighborhood across from the south side of the city, which was rough. The roughness knew no boundaries, and you could get mugged or beaten up just as easily in the historic district as you could on the south side, especially if you were wearing anything worth stealing or carried a wallet. Maybe, Phoenix thought, if he did not carry his wallet, he could go for a walk. He was never without his cell phone, though. That would be a hot item to steal. Phoenix was not in the mood to be mugged or to have to defend himself. He was still a warrior, and chances were good that the assailant would end up seriously injured or dead. Phoenix did not need that. His anger would get the better of him in any of those situations and he would not give up without a fight. Phoenix knew how to fight.
Fighting. Phoenix fought every day. Not physically, but mentally. He fought not to shoot himself. He fought not to buy a gun. He fought not to buy the ammo for the guns that were already in his bedroom. He fought to get out of the basement apartment and into the sunshine every day, as not to become housebound. He fought to make it between appointments with his psychiatrist without going into the clinic on emergency and ending up in the inpatient psych ward. Everything was a fight. He fought to keep going to school, to complete his studies. He fought to socialize. He fought to exercise, which was a losing battle so far. Phoenix used to be in top shape. He was in the best shape of his life in the Middle East. He was strong, fast, muscular, healthy. Now he was overweight, slow, weak... Phoenix felt like a slob. He looked in the mirror and could not believe what he saw, so he avoided mirrors and scales in general. His doctor was concerned about his weight. Part of it was diet. Part of it was exercise. Part of it was medications. The trifecta was hard to fight. It undermined everything else that Phoenix tried to do. He would see his reflection in glass doors and store windows and think badly of himself. He seemed to lack the motivation to stay with a program to remedy the situation, though. The VA did not have a dietitian at present and Phoenix's energy levels, health conditions, and injuries made exercise difficult. Phoenix had gotten to know a fellow at the gym, but was afraid to get attached. That was a commitment that he could not make. That went back to the detachment he had to maintain in the Desert because he might lose one of his guys at any time. And that made Phoenix feel bad. He wanted a friend. He just could not commit to that, though. The medications were another thing. With the anti-seizure medication added in, he knew he was over-medicated. He told his psychiatrist that he was. He had to take the medication, though, or he would lose his driver's license. He had to have that driver's license to do anything in the city. Phoenix did not live close to anything that he had to do or anywhere he needed to go on a regular basis. It would take him a full day, for example, to walk to the VA clinic from his house because there was no public transportation - no bus route despite two petitions - out to the VA. It took him an hour to walk to the mental health clinic and to the university. Anywhere else he might need to go was a full day's walk away, too, just like the VA. Phoenix no longer knew what to do. It seemed that his options had been taken from him by force in the case of the medication vs. the driver's license. What could he do? But what could he do about any of it? PTSD was king.