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What do I do or don’t do, when he/she has PTSD?

How do I act around one with PTSD?

What do I do or don’t do, when he/she has PTSD?

So you know someone with PTSD, or maybe you don’t and you are just curious about learning.

What can I do? How do I act around them? What do I talk about or don’t talk about?

There are many questions that come up, especially if you are not familiar with #PTSD. Many people who suffer from PTSD lose their friends, many times family, all because others do not understand these very things.

A person with PTSD is no different then you or I, they have just been through something traumatic which caused them to develop PTSD. They are still human, they still have feelings, and they still put clothes on just like the next person.

So here are some of many tips that are good to know:

1. Treat them just like you would anyone else! One of the worst things you could do to a person who suffers from PTSD is to treat them like they have a plague!

2. Don’t ask insensitive questions! Like “Did you kill someone?”. One, who really wants to talk about that in the first place, would you? No! Two, you may be opening a huge can of worms that really irritates them or makes them feel bad. Why? Because maybe they were NOT military or law enforcement. Civilians can have PTSD too and traumas include a wide range of what different people have experienced which lead to PTSD.

If they want to share their story with you, they will. Leave that up to them. Majority of the time they would rather talk about the same everyday things that the next person would.

3. Repeating themselves. Many with PTSD and/or TBI have some type of memory issues. If they do repeat something just go with it. No need to state “you’ve already told me that.” When you say things like that it makes them feel belittled and they are going to get really quiet on you.

4. Give them space. They my not always be able to keep a schedule, on rough days they will want to stay home. Those with PTSD do not like others seeing the rough side or what they battle that comes with it. Be respectful of that and something that might not happen today can always be rescheduled for another day.

5. Don’t make “fun” of anyone with a disability. One, It’s not nice or respectful in the first place. Two, You never know who it could effect or even someone else they might know.

6. Never judge them. You don’t know or understand what they have been through that lead them to PTSD so don’t judge them on something you don’t understand.

7. Have respect for personal space. PTSD can be caused by many different types of traumas. Many times a person needs their personal physical space from others. Avoid approaching them from behind without them knowing. Even touching them in a friendly manner sometimes can lead to a trigger. Read their body language, if they are joking with you and tapping your shoulder then it’s probably okay to do it back. Use your brain. 

8. Don’t put them down! One with PTSD has a hard enough time maintaining their self-esteem and sure does not need outside influence which could cause it to become worse! You wouldn’t want someone putting you down or talking bad about you, so don’t do it to them. Point out the good things don’t focus on the negative.

Would you walk up behind an elderly woman and put your hand on her shoulder? You might but if you do you stand a good chance of being waled on by her handbag! So no, don’t do things like that to one with PTSD either. 

9. Learn about PTSD! Even if you don’t think you know someone that has it, odds are you actually do! PTSD can affect anyone, it’s not only military related. It can be caused by a car accident, a rape or attack, a natural disaster, even from being in a hospital! It can be from anything that caused a trauma in a person’s life where symptoms last for more than a month. And many times you are not going to know about a sensitive matter.

10. Use your brain before your mouth. If it is something that you would not want said to you, then why say it to someone else. Every person can think before they speak 

A person with PTSD is still a person, a human being. They can throw a great cook-out, they can be a great friend, a great father or mother, a wonderful part of a family or workplace. They just have an unseen disability that causes them to react and/or view things differently but makes them no less of a person. Some of the most kindest, caring, and sensible people you will ever meet have PTSD… it makes them appreciate life more than the average person that takes life for granted. 

Take the time to educate yourself, and unfortunately… you never know when it might be you in their very shoes. Traumas can happen to anyone. What PTSD causes does bring changes to a person’s life, but you can make a positive change! LEARN now and you could change the life of someone else… or maybe even help save one!

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook page

PTSD and the Reality of it…

PTSD and the Reality of it…

This is one of the most crucial and critical topics we can discuss! Unfortunately, it is a topic and conversation that many people put off. Many people get into a mindset of…

Oh their PTSD is not THAT bad for us to have to do that.” or
Oh they cope just fine…

There is nothing worse than a crisis starting, or has already happened, and hearing “HELP! I don’t know what to do, this is what is happening…” or “If only I had done this…” or “I had no clue what was/is happening or what to do…“.

Folks, let’s face reality… we are talking about PTSD! 

PTSD is NOT something people should be fearful of! Just to state that upfront in a very serious way! It is however something you need to have knowledge about! Knowledge to know what to do, when to do it, how to respond in different situations, and how to manage things BEFORE something serious happens, etc. And the knowledge to understand that no matter how mild or severe you think one’s PTSD is, you never dismiss PTSD is in reality at hand, at all times.

PTSD can come with many different types of symptoms… flashbacks, nightmares/night terrors, frightening thoughts, anger, frustration, dissociative symptoms, concentration issues, cognitive dysfunction or memory issues, hyper arousal/being startled easily or feeling on edge, high alert, anxiety, avoidance, numbing feelings, loss of interest in things one enjoyed, depression, isolation, guilt, survivor’s guilt, suicidal thoughts/tendencies, etc. etc. etc.

Now, is this something that you just blow off or sweep under a rug? NOT on your LIFE or their’s! LITERALLY!!!

Spouses/Partners, keep in mind I am saying this with love and because I care about EVERY single one of you! But I have a bone to pick with many of you that I hope you take to heart, someone HAS to say it! So I’ll be the bad guy on this one and hopefully you will be thankful I said this later…

Many of you just simply have not been around PTSD enough to have the knowledge yet, you are still learning, so this will hopefully be of help. Then there are some others, well, you are tossing to the side reality. Whatever the reason or where you stand, I hope this helps! 

YOU need to, have to, step up to the plate when PTSD symptoms escalate! For yourself AND your partner’s BEST interest. (Family members or friends this could go for you too) There is nothing worse to me then hearing about a crisis at hand and a spouse saying, “But he/she will get mad at me.” REALLY??? Reality check, they have PTSD, most likely they are going to get upset or mad anyway if their symptoms are escalated, that’s a part of PTSD. BUT isn’t them getting mad or upset at you better then someone getting hurt OR you having a funeral to plan! REALITY! Fact is, they may get mad or upset up front but I can pretty much guarantee they will thank you for helping, later when symptoms decrease.

When a person is experiencing escalated symptoms, most likely they are not going to be able to think rationally, they are not always going to know what they need to do for themselves, and if they are in a flashback… well that brings a whole new ballgame, they may be physically there but in their mind they are completely somewhere else, and to them you may be someone else! They are right back to that trauma. If you sit back and do nothing, well, sooner or later it’s not going to play out as a pretty picture.

YOU are their spouse/partner! YOU are their support person, they rely on YOU rather you realize it or not, rather they say it to you or not, when PTSD causes them not to be able to rely on themselves. PTSD is NO joke! They did not ask for this, they do not do these things or act these ways on purpose, they are NOT out to purposely harm anyone or hurt someone’s feelings. PTSD is what happened to them! Even a person who has milder symptoms and/or has learned to cope very well can backslide into severe symptoms from time to time, and at any point in time! It only takes one trigger.

As a spouse/partner AND/OR as the one with PTSD… you need a plan for the worst case scenarios that could happen! Again, don’t say “that won’t happen“, if that’s what you are doing you are being blind to reality, have not truly accepted PTSD is a part of your life yet, or simply have not learned enough yet.

Oh yes, before I go any further here… I did not say exactly what this conversation is about, because many of you would have skipped right by this if I had said this up front.  It’s about safety! Safety protocol… as Craig, myself, and our family calls it. Putting a plan together, and knowing in advance how to handle situations when they do come. It’s PTSD, situations will come sooner or later. With every ounce of love, heart, and caring bone in my body I have to offer… THIS is a reality check!

Now that that is out of the way and hopefully I have your attention… 

What are things you can do in advance to help everyone when PTSD symptoms escalate?

* Emergency contacts

Do NOT wait until there is a crisis at hand to dig for phone numbers or ask people who you should contact! Make a list of emergency and crisis line phone numbers, addresses, even print out maps of how to get there!

When a crisis comes, you are NOT going to be able to focus clearly or may not have the time to dig for information. Make that list NOW! Hang it where everyone can get to it or see it in your home. Save info to your phone, carry a print out with you at all times.

* Medications/Weapons

This is urgent! PTSD as well as depression and survivor’s guilt DO in reality come with thoughts of suicide. Even if you have never heard a person say they have thought about it, reality is I personally have never come across a person with PTSD that the thought has not at least slipped quickly through their mind at some point in time.

PLEASE, I will beg you on this one! Use safety in your home! Lock those things up!

Weapons: I am NOT saying a person cannot own weapons or have a means to protect themselves, so please do NOT even start that debate here or it will be deleted, I believe in rights. But I also believe in being responsible and using safety precautions when owning weapons. I mean let’s be serious here, many with PTSD were or are military, law enforcement, or grew up knowing and understanding weapon safety… if anyone knows about weapon safety it’s THEM! Many others have experienced a personal attack and do have the right to protect themselves. So I am simply stating to have safety in place so when PTSD symptoms escalate no accidents happen.

Another thing I have actually heard of several cases of, and do want to bring to your attention are nightmares/terrors and weapons. When one is having a nightmare they are back to the time and reality of their trauma. Weapons under a pillow or beside the bed can be a safety issue during nightmares. It needs to be taken seriously! Even a person that is more than safe while awake, may experience things out of their normal during nightmares/terrors. I have heard of one confirmed case where a person committed suicide during a nightmare. PLEASE be cautious to reality.

Medications: Lock them up! It is an overall safety precaution for ANYONE that enters your home! Many people have children and/or grandchildren, friends with children that visit, even pets in the home. It also keeps PTSD from turning to medications as a way out when those suicidal thoughts come AND/OR accidentally overdosing when memory and/or concentration are at hand.

* Abuse

Unfortunately abuse can happen. It can come with anger and flashbacks with PTSD. PLEASE have a plan in place. No one purposely abuses another when PTSD symptoms are at hand, but it can happen. Make a plan together! “If a symptom escalates to this, we will do this…”. Spouses/partners, IF you have to leave a home due to abuse taking place, safety does come first… but for everyone!

PLEASE do not leave your PTSD partner alone! Have someone that the two of you AND the designated person have agreed upon go and stay with your partner! At least to just have someone present on or just off of the property until the symptoms decrease. Many times once a spouse/partner leaves, the one with PTSD can experience many different thoughts that could lead to self harm. No one wants this situations to happen! Make a plan ahead of time!!!

DO NOT be one to cry wolf! We all know where that gets a person and you won’t be taken seriously when something may indeed happen. There are many ways to talk one down from or manage anger or VERBAL outbursts. (See my postings regarding anger and outbursts and PTSD and Anger… some things to try which may help BOTH people and by all means talk to your doctors!) If you are being yelled at when PTSD symptoms have escalated, that is NOT physical abuse! There are many things one can learn to help manage verbal outbursts.

I know verbal abuse is very real, I know it can be very scary, as well as cause mental harm. Learn what to do for these situations even if it’s something as simple as saying “I’m going to another room so you can cope with your anger. If you need me I am here.” and remove yourself from the situation. Calling law enforcement every time one with PTSD (only) yells at you will eventually be taken as a non-serious situation. You do not want this to happen.

* Emergency Situations

If emergency responders are needed, contact them! It’s not the time to say “oh he/she will get mad at me”. TALK about this ahead of time! IF you have to call law enforcement or medical help, PLEASE tell them the person has PTSD AND how to approach them correctly so symptoms do not escalate even more than they already will, as well as you are not putting the one with PTSD OR the emergency crews in any unknown to them harms way, especially during flashbacks. Do NOT allow someone to walk into a home blind to what is happening! You can save a lot of extra stress and heartache by keeping everyone properly informed. And I will tell you right now, law enforcement is sent in as “get the situation under control”, it’s their job. ANY and ALL info you can give them BEFORE they get there will be of help to both them as well as the one with PTSD!

* Children 

I have written several articles regarding teaching children and safety. The largest mistake, in my opinion I see, is a parent who causes children to fear a PTSD parent. Many times a parent will allow their own fears or opinions roll over to their children. Many times conversations happen in front of children that are NOT for little ears. This is mentally damaging to a child, their personal development, as well as their relationship with BOTH of their parents.

TEACH children on their age levels what to do in different situations, TEACH them about PTSD on their age level of learning, TEACH them coping skills they can also use. You want your family to form and maintain a healthy balance. That balance only comes when everyone knows safety protocol and learn about life with PTSD. Children are still learning, they have not developed stigma yet, YOU can make a huge difference in their lives as well as others by simply teaching them about PTSD and how to live life with it, just as you would teach them anything else in life they need to learn.

* Focus 

Many people lose focus in escalated situation. BREATHE! As a spouse/partner these are the times that your focus is needed the most! Do not over react to the situation, focus on how to help or what needs to take place to get things back to a manageable level. These are the times that you have to focus so you can use everything you have learned and the things that could help BOTH of you. What you do, how you say things, even your body language will matter.

      
From time to time I do have to get serious about certain topics, this is one of those times that it is urgent and serious. These are just a few things of MANY that can be of great help when symptoms escalate. PLEASE do something now. Use this basic information to build a plan for you and your family. Don’t wait until things are out of hand to try to figure out how to handle a situation. I know you won’t always have the answers for every situations, no one will every time, but what you do now can sure help you and your entire family when situations do come. Please don’t dismiss the reality, embrace it and use it to your advantage so you are prepared. Again, PTSD is not something to fear, knowledge brings balance. 😉

Much love to ALL of you! You’ve got this, you CAN do this, it’s simply communicating and making a plan. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook Page

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

There CAN be good days with PTSD…

I want to share a special, personal story with you from last weekend. Something that REALLY touched my heart.

I had this best friend in high school, a male, I’ll go ahead and throw that in here… I grew up with mainly guys (my big brothers as I call them lol). This best friend was someone Craig knew also.

It’s been one of those hit or miss, life happens things over the years of being in touch or not being in touch, but it didn’t change the friendship I have found out. Well last weekend this old friend of mine contacted us. He and his best friend were coming down this way for a “guy’s weekend” and wanted to include Craig in their weekend. He and Craig have been talking a lot more recently… and let me tell you lol, those two are two peas of a pod lol.

They did come down! And ended up staying the weekend with us, which was allowing Craig to stay in his comfort zone, especially since we had not met his friend that came with him, so it gave Craig a chance to get to know him on Craig’s grounds by the guys still had their guy time. They also took the time to learn about PTSD, ask questions about it, and really cared about learning so they knew more about what Craig goes through and how to respond or not respond to certain things, do’s and don’ts.

You can not even begin to believe the difference it made in our weekend! We all talked, we laughed until we cried, we grilled out and had fun with the kids, and… ready for this? We went to one of the local springs (natural spring swimming hole) where we had hung out as teens! Yep, you read that right, Craig left the house and went somewhere on a weekend! Oh this was beyond huge! Okay, I’ll admit lol, it took the guys saying they were going rather we went or not and there were no expectations of us going with them. So… a little unspoken persuasion to get Craig to go, and when Craig said okay we will go you can bet I was in high gear getting us lunch packed, kids ready, and out of the house before he had time to change his mind lol.

But,  there was a plan in place… even though Craig really didn’t know it at the time lol. I had serious backup from the guys!!! My friend (our friend) went ahead of everyone and found a picnic table away from everything for us to use, so if Craig got overwhelmed he had a place to retreat to. Craig was not comfortable going into the water because of the people, so the guys swam with the kids and jumped off the driving area with them. When anxiety went up, all 3 guys hit the volleyball around by our table, which kept Craig’s mind off of his anxiety and onto something else. The kids followed behind Craig into and out of the park/spring area. Everyone chipped in to do their part so Craig was able to go and be as comfortable as possible while there. Mission accomplished!

Then we went back home and grilled out… awesome ribs by the way. The guys hung out outside by the grill and watching the kids play while I was inside fixing the side dishes for the meal. So it also gave Craig some time apart from me off and on. And when Craig needed a break, he knew it was okay, and was told by the guys it was okay, for him to retreat to the bedroom until he could come back out. Craig did awesome and the guys made everything possible by taking the time to learn and care!

We had an awesome weekend! And we are looking forward to a future visit from them. Sure Craig’s anxiety was way up knowing they were coming for a visit, but once they were here things settled down some. It was just an awesome weekend… and much needed for all of us!

It just goes to show you that things can still be accomplished even with severe PTSD, you just have to make sure you put a plan into actions! 

And the topper to it all lol, I think we started something here lol. I have several other old friends that have contacted me and said next time this friend of our’s comes down or we do a cookout or such, would we mind if they come over to hang out with all of us too. I took photos over the weekend and “showed” people in a round about way lol that one with PTSD is still a person too. There are a lot of accomplishments coming from one good weekend.  And it was awesome to see an old friend. (And yes, Craig was given a week of “down time”, no expectations after it  )

Make a plan and watch what it can do for you! 

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

Friends vs Spouses of PTSD

Friends vs Spouses of PTSD

“My friends have walked away from me.”

This is something that has become very real for those that live with someone who has PTSD, which I will refer to as “spouse” in this even though it could be any loved one of one with PTSD.

Just to state this up front, this is in NO way criticizing or being disrespectful to the one with PTSD! This is just a hard fact for many that are in the “spouse” position and I have been asked by several if I would address this. In many cases, the one with PTSD also goes through some of the same issues regarding friends walking away, but this posting is based around the “spouse’s” side of things. This is long, but really needed so please bare with the length! If you care about your friend then you should take the time to read this.

I have personally experienced some things related to this myself. There have also been quite a few things/comments brought to me that spouses are facing. Friends are walking away and when they do so, the support system which is so urgent for a spouse starts to unravel.

Friends are important! Sometimes there are things a spouse may not be comfortable with talking to family members about, sometimes family will be or become bias to one side or the other. Friends seem to be the ones that will in many cases look at the whole picture instead of one side or the other. They give a shoulder to lean on, they like getting together and talking and just having a good time away from all of the other normal everyday life stresses. They are someone you can talk to and share your deepest thoughts with. They help you through, just as you help them through things that life brings.

So what happens when PTSD becomes a part of all of that?

One of the most common things heard is…

“I can’t handle the way he/she is treating you and that’s the reason I have stopped coming around or don’t come around as much.”

OUCH! That hits the heart hard. You are glad they care and are being open and honest with you, however on the other hand the friend that has always been there for you is in a way walking away by saying your problem is not my problem and I’m not sticking around to watch this.

Another thing that is heard a lot is…

“You should not put up with the way you are being treated. You need to leave him/her.”

This puts a loving spouse in a really difficult position! A friend has made a quick judgement that you leaving is the best thing to do. Which is not in all cases the right answer and sure does not fix the problem. A friend is not going to know the whole situation, and will sure not understand it or your reasons for not leaving.

Other things heard…

“Take a break and separate on a trial basis.”

“I can’t believe you are putting up with this.”

“Your family must be mortified by the way he/she treats you.”

“Why doesn’t his/her family do something and set him/her straight?”

“Stand up for yourself and fight back.”

“Take your kids and run/leave.”

“I just want to deck him/her so it’s better for me not to come around.”

“I don’t know how to act or what to talk about around him/her, so that’s why I’m not coming over any more.”

“He/She’s faking this just to get attention. Stop letting him/her do this.”

“He/she acts weird, I don’t come over anymore because of that.”

Yes, spouses have heard just about everything. Sadly, these are just a handful of the examples heard. And all of these are causing serious problems with friendships.

So what do we do? The one with PTSD did not ask to suffer from PTSD, it’s something that happened to them. Those “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health” vows you took just got thrown clear out the window by the friends closest to you.

I hate to say, over time I personally have adjusted to friends coming in and going out of our lives. It becomes a part of life and also makes it difficult for a spouse to even want to make new friends for many. Sometimes the isolation on the spouse’s part is not directly related to PTSD, it’s because of how others handle or choose not to handle PTSD.

So what can friends do:

* If you are a true friend, and you truly care about the “spouse”, then don’t break lines of communication. That “spouse” needs you and the support system you can offer now more then ever.

* Learn about PTSD. Many things that are stated are said because real knowledge of why one with PTSD may act certain ways is not understood therefore statements are made without any consideration a true disability is at hand.

* If you see one with PTSD acting in a way that is hurting or putting down a spouse, take time to truly care. Have you asked what is being done to help change this behavior? Are they getting therapy and/or help? Is there anything you can do to help?

* If it is couples getting together. Sometimes it may be good for the same sex party to talk to the one with PTSD. A simple “I’m not sure if you realize you are doing this, and I’m not telling you what to do, but I noticed… is there anything you want to talk about or is there something I can do to help?” Come on, you are their friend, most likely they will respect and appreciate your input.

* Understand that at times one with PTSD may not understand how they are acting/speaking or how it is viewed by others. They are by no means treating a spouse badly on purpose! At times this could happen due to high anxiety or even alcohol. You are a friend, talk to them! You could make a huge difference if you just spoke up… in a calm manner by the way. Don’t attack them!

* Telling someone to take a break from a relationship or leave can be devastating to a spouse! If you do not live in the house with them and know everything that does go on good or bad, you can’t really make this statement. A spouse is there because they love their one with PTSD and has other good reasons to being there. Leaving or breaks is not always the answer and can actually bring more problems. Learning to work through things together, having a support system that backs them getting help is a wiser step then just leaving someone.

The only cases which would require immediate leaving is IF abuse is involved, and safety is needed. However it is urgent that if this is the case, the one with PTSD gets help to resolve this. NOT everyone with PTSD is abusive.

* There is a difference with PTSD then a normal relationship where there is not a disability involved. In a normal relationship you many times can address it head on. With PTSD sometimes you have to wait until that person is grounded, or if dissociation is involved as well, you have to wait until the state of dissociation passes so they can focus and comprehend what you are saying. Just because you happen to witness one with PTSD say or act nasty to their spouse does NOT mean they are that way all of the time.

If you do happen to witness it, side track it… “Hey didn’t you want to show me so and so you were working on…” or “Hey let’s go check that in the kitchen…” This allows the one with PTSD to get a grip on whatever the issue is and also takes the spouse away from what is happening at that moment.

* Adding family thoughts to a situation. This can be brutal to a relationship. Again, family does not in most cases live with them therefore may not be aware of the good along with the bad. Some my be biased. Some may not accept that PTSD is at hand. What does your family think type of comments are in most cases a bad idea to bring up. Leave that to the ones going through this to talk about if they choose to.

* Telling someone to stand up and fight back is NOT a good idea! When anxiety and everything else that comes with PTSD is at raised levels, PTSD is most likely looking for a fight. It’s a form of coping and releasing feelings in the wrong way. You do not want to advise your friend to put themselves into a situation of fighting and setting one’s PTSD off. All this does is lead to hurt feelings on both parties parts and regret later on. You can still stand up for yourself, but you have to remember that it is handled differently then a relationship without PTSD. A fight can bring many nasty words that are not truly how one feels.

* Advising to take the kids and leave. This is honestly an absolute last resort unless physical abuse is at hand. The one with PTSD is still a parent, you are not going to take that away. And if you try to, most likely the children will hold it against you sometime in your life. Every parent has the right to be a parent and rather the two are together or not that right is still there. It is better to handle a situation with recommending they get help and try to work through things. PTSD is not curable, however it is controllable. If one loves their partner that has PTSD and wants to work on things, then support that don’t tell them to just leave. In many cases parents can work through things. Just because one has PTSD does not mean they can’t be a good parent. Anger, outbursts, etc. can be controlled with help.

* You might have feelings at times that you just want to punch someone that has PTSD. But in all fairness, what have you done to change the situation or help? We are not always going to like everything in life, but there are many things that could be done to help change a situation. If you stop coming around because you feel like hitting them, the only thing you are doing is taking away possible help or support you could be offering instead of getting mad.

* The statement of he/she’s faking for attention. I can not imagine someone putting themselves through faking PTSD for attention! PTSD is not something anyone would ever wish upon another person. Those out there that do fake it, do need mental help lol! If one shows the symptoms and/or is getting help for PTSD, you can almost bet they are not faking anything! PTSD, as sad as it is, still carries a stigma and no one in their right mind would purposely claim that. PTSD is no joke, it’s not made up, and needs to be taken seriously.

* He/she acts weird. Okay, so you are saying he/she acts different then someone else, so what? PTSD bring memory issues, dissociation, flashbacks, triggers, anxiety, etc. It does not mean that person wants to be treated any differently then the next. All they want is to be treated normal.

Majority of the time if you spend time with one with PTSD, it’s a good day for them. Ones with PTSD normally don’t want people around when they are feeling “off” or having a rough day. They can still be great friends, and sure can laugh and have a good time on their good days. Don’t be one to cause stigma or judge, so they act differently at times, who cares, they have a real disability and may act differently at times or repeat themselves. Go with it and just enjoy that you get to spend time with them!

To say the least I could write you an entire book on this subject, but I think you should be getting the picture by now. Friends are important. Support systems are important. It’s up to each individual what type of friend they choose to be. But I can tell you this, if you choose to walk away from someone due to a disability in their life, instead of being there for them, I hope you can still look in the mirror of what type of friend you are truly being. Life with PTSD is hard, and it’s difficult for many to understand when they are not in those very shoes, but there can still be friendships. Take time to care, take time to continue being a friend and a valuable support system. Even if you do not have the honest ability to see someone, take time to at least keep in communication with them, it does matter. Hey, isn’t that what friends are for? 

Thank you for taking time to read this, and as with all of my posting you are more then welcome to “share” this. 

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

Friends and Life with PTSD

Friends and Life with PTSD

I was asked a question and I will be completely honest, this is a very hard one for me to swallow. But you know me and I say it like it is, so here it goes…

“Do you and Craig have many friends?”

Let me start by saying, back before PTSD became a part of our lives we were known as the social butterflies. We had many friends, more then some people would have in a lifetime. We have never been ones to judge people and we accept people for who they are and had friends of many different walks of life.

We had many friends growing up. Craig was actually asked recently “How many friends could you confide in, true friendships of people you could trust before PTSD?” His truthful answer, “About 20 or so.” The response back to him, “That’s a lot.”

We were the ones having cookouts, parties, family gatherings, always going out, always traveling. We loved to rv or jump in our plane at any given time and just go. We never met a stranger, and anyone who knows what RVing is like knows that ones that RV are always meeting new people and making new friends at every stop. It was always our “camping” site that everyone would gather in, laugh, joke, and tell stories. Craig and I had literally traveled across country and back many times and made many friendships along the way.

Then life changed. This illness called PTSD showed up. That part of our lives that we grew up knowing, being the social butterflies, disappeared.

Boy this one is hard to write lol.

I can honestly say, there are 2 of Craig’s military brothers that have always stayed in touch. They don’t live here, so it’s not like they can just drop by, and one I have never actually met but have talked on the phone to and through fb. The other lives in another country and has for some time now, but he did stop to see us a couple of times before leaving the states, and still calls to check on us. Craig has one person that sends him messages almost daily, but in honest doesn’t understand PTSD.

We have had a few friends come in and go out of our lives since PTSD. Nothing on what you would consider a long term “normal” friendship basis.

We have some that keep up with us through social media, some will like what we post or make comments at times, but we don’t ever see them face to face, so again, not what you would consider a normal friendship.

And I can’t and won’t say it’s always because of them, there have been ones to mention coming by or getting together, there have been a few to ask us to meet them out somewhere for a drink or to go to the beach on occasion. But that’s not things PTSD really allows in our lives. You have bar settings or crowds, and those are just things that PTSD does not allow in our case.

My friends? For those of you that have stuck by me through social media, trust me I love ya for it greatly and for you being on here! But I don’t have any that I could say is a true “normal” friendship anymore. When times were really rough with PTSD my friends could not take the way I was being treated, and they put distance between them and I. No, I don’t blame them and I never will, I still value them even though the friendships have faded. But they could not understand PTSD and why I stayed. I was told by my best friend, “I love you dearly, but I can’t stand by and watch you two go through this.” It was an honest statement.

And this is by no means meant to make any of you that know us personally feel guilty! DON’T. Life is what it is and over time Craig and I have accepted it. So please don’t pick up the phone and call just because I’m being open and honest here with answering this lol. 

Over time we have noticed that the phone normally only rings when someone wants something… and that doesn’t settle well to be honest. I mean we would give the shirts off our backs to anyone who needed it, however a true meaning of friendship comes with much more then calling when you need or want something.

Then there’s the “our lives are too busy”, we hear that one a lot. People are so consumed with their own lives, which again is a fair statement, that they don’t have time for friendships with a family that battles PTSD… or it’s a nice way of avoiding one.

The word friendship becomes something with great meaning and a lot to it once PTSD steps into your life. Not everyone can handle what PTSD brings or can bring. Having true friendships is something that is extremely difficult. And for others to understand why you cancel plans, or can’t make it somewhere, or need a down day with no one around… that’s hard for one’s that don’t understand or don’t live with PTSD to comprehend. And eventually they do walk away because it’s not something many understand how to handle, and many times they take it personally when it’s by no means meant that way.

The “friends” that understand the most, that are there for us to chat with, there for us to vent to or talk about things and life. In all honesty, they are the ones that know the shoes we stand in… and are standing in themselves. And you want to know something, they are also the ones we have never actually met face to face.

PTSD changed our lives it changed what social interaction with others is like. We no longer know what a “normal” friendship is. People coming over is extremely few and far in between, us going out is really almost completely out of the question, gatherings are extremely stressful and difficult to accomplish… even with family, travelling has been out of the question for years now except when we have to pick up Craig’s children for visitation which is there and back in one day… way more then anyone should have to do.

But you won’t hear me complaining. Life changes when PTSD becomes a part of it, that’s something we have accepted and understand. And we sure don’t hold anything against anyone. Craig does hold great guilt towards himself for life not being what we expected or wanted it to be, because of PTSD. Every day he tells me I deserve better. But let me tell you something, no matter what has changed in our lives and how PTSD has drastically effected it… I would not ever want what we lost back, if it meant I would lose him.

PTSD or no PTSD, my husband IS my best friend. He’s my rock, he’s still the other half of every heart beat my heart takes and I wouldn’t change that for the world! Friends may come and friends may go, PTSD may bring a lot that is not always going to be viewed as fair. But through whatever PTSD and life with it brings, there is one thing that never changes, him and I living this life together!

Well, you asked lol, so there it is. It’s just another part of our story.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

“It must be nice being able to stay at home all of the time.”

“It must be nice being able to stay at home all of the time.”

Oh I can already see staem and smoke coming out of some of your ears on that one. 😉 This is a phrase I hear a lot! Or other phrases close to the same. It is one that just makes me boil.

I’ve even caught myself becoming defensive in a way, and saying in a nice way things like “Well, I tell you what. You can come live in my shoes for 3 days and then let’s see if you still view that comment the same way”.

The response to that is normally “Why 3 days?”
Simple! Because day one you are going to be clueless to what you are experiencing. Day two, you are going to be frustrated and/or mad and saying “what the heck is wrong with you/him or her?”. And day three is when it is going to set in to how things really are in my life and you will be taking back that comment of “it must be nice…”.

To start with, this is by NO means anything negative about my husband! I love him dearly with no doubt and do not place any blame on something that was/is out of his control. It’s just the facts of life and the hand we have been dealt. We make the best of the situation, together.

So I want to explain to those that do not understand what a caregiver and/or even one with PTSD go through.

* Work. To set this straight, my husband and I were both work-a-holics. We loved what we did, and it wasn’t something either of us wanted to give up. However, there was no choice in our case. Due to his disabilities, it became where he could not manage through everyday life without help. This is why I’m his caregiver full time now. It’s not that we just choose to not work by any means!

When disabilities come into your life things change. Schedules are hard to keep. When flare ups happen you don’t know when or what you will be facing throughout the day, which happens many times. You are now in a position where another person is relying on you to help them make it from one day to the next, literally. That honestly takes a lot out of a person just within itself, and life begins to get juggled. I might not work, or work away from home, but being a caregiver is a full time “job” within itself. One that is urgently needed. You have to make sure that person eats, takes their medications, showers, gets outside, keeps appointments, turns off things after using them (stove, grill, lights, closes the fridge), etc. Without you there to assist or do things that person can not correctly function like a person without a disability can.

All of these things make it nearly impossible, if not completely impossible, for a person to hold a job or even keep a job. I know this personally, I tried everything I could think of, even right down to mowing lawns (and note, I was a dog trainer)! Nothing worked! Work requires a schedule and PTSD does not do very well with schedules in severe cases.

* PTSD itself. You don’t know what each day is going to bring, period!

– It might be a day of them not remembering anything. These are urgent need days for making sure medications are taken correctly and everything in general with helping them through everything that a person without a disability just assumes or does each day without thinking, and on their own.

– It might be a day where they are depressed and you have to pay close attention to how it is effecting them. Making sure they do things they need to, etc.

– It might be a day where they are suicidal, or have thoughts of suicide… these days you are right by their side every second helping them through it, past the thoughts, talking them through positive things, helping them cope, making them know the reasons life is still worth living!

– It might be a day where they are full of anger or right down to no feeling at all, numbness. Times when support is much needed.

– It might be a day for appointments. Getting a person with PTSD to even leave the house is difficult within itself, then you say “you have an appointment”? That brings on a whole new meaning as well as a harder job.

In all that comes with caregiving as well as to the one with a disability, there are many things that people do not understand are involved until you have actually experienced it for yourself.

Of course there is much, much more to it then just those things, but you get my point.

Now, you know the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side”?

Well, you might think it’s nice to be able to stay home all of the time, but how about this?

* You get to have “date night” where one that has a disability, and their family even, is in a position to where something as simple to you as a date night is something not possible anymore to us. It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s that a disability keeps us from being able to, and when we can it’s few and far in between. Maybe one time every 2-3 months if lucky.

When one does manage to make it out of the house then they still have all the symptoms of PTSD to face. The crowds, noises, not feeling safe, and the rush out and rush back home that comes with that. Makes it kind of difficult to relax and enjoy an outing, wouldn’t you think? YES!

* Vacations. Many people take one a year if not more. One with PTSD rarely can do this. You are talking about several days or more in a different place, out of your comfort zone, strange people, a different bed, etc. Then to add to it whatever you would do during that vacation.

* Shopping. Something many do every single day of their lives. Walking through stores, trying on clothes, taking time to pick out your food. Another thing that doesn’t come easy to PTSD or the ones who care for them.

* Parties/Gatherings. With what I’ve already mentioned I’m sure you get the point of what would come with these. Oh, and these include gathering of family as well let me add.

I could go on and on listing the other side to all of this, but I’m sure by now you get my point of how different things are when one has a disability or cares for one who does.

Saying to someone “it must be nice to get to stay at home all of the time” is just not a fair statement to anyone! Where you see it as we get to stay at home, we look at it as “look at everything you can do with ease, and everything in life we don’t have an option to enjoy like you do.”

Something to really stop and think about isn’t it?

We did not choose this, it happened. PTSD happened. And it’s sure not something someone can just snap out of or get over. We do the best we can to make life the best it can be, like anyone else in our shoes. But I do ask, before you make such bold statements, before knowing the facts of another person’s life, think about what you say before you say it. You might just find you are the one standing on the greener side of the fence to someone else.

Please take the time to educate yourself for the sake of someone else. It might just prevent some really hurt feelings… and very well even save a life!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

What do you do when a dear friend is diagnosed with PTSD?

What do you do when a dear friend is diagnosed with PTSD?

You simply remind them that PTSD does not change the way you feel about them, it doesn’t change the way you view them, they are still your friend and it just means they need you now to be the friend you have always been, unconditionally. They can still make you laugh and they can still be there when you cry, and you for them too. They are still a special person that friends and family love dearly and my goodness where would this world be without them!

It might mean they need a little more of your time, but time is just something on a clock that you don’t have to sit and watch pass by. It might mean they need you to listen a little more before giving your input or sometimes just being that ear, nothing wrong with that either. It might mean they have rough days when they don’t want to talk or see anyone, we all have those days, so that’s okay too. They might be the one that was the supporter and now might need a little support of their own, I don’t see a problem there either. It means that when you see their chin drop down you smile and remind them to pick it back up.A dear friend, is a dear friend through thick and thin, nothing will ever change that. So don’t ever forget that.Yes, this is to all of you, however this is to a special friend of mine and Craig’s…you know who you are. ;)SMILE our friend! It will be okay…you have friends! 😉 We’ve got your back too!!! :)~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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