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Code/Safe Words or Phrases and PTSD

Code/Safe Words or Phrases and PTSD

Last two days of winter break here, then back to the regular schedule around here lol. The weatherman is saying it’s “suppose” to be up to 84 degrees here today…. IF that happens, it did not yesterday, that’s outside weather!  “OZ” will be getting a visit, lol. It’s been awhile since I used that word, I might need to explain that one.

“OZ” was my code word, of sorts. You know how it’s good to have code/safe words or phrases for each other when PTSD is a part of life? Well “I’m off to OZ” was/is one of mine.

In the past I needed to use it a lot. When it got to the point that I was tired of responding to the fight PTSD would bring and knew it was not working anyway, just made matters worse, this became one of my many tools. That was back before Craig and I figured a lot of things out and how to communicate without upsetting each other or anger coming to the surface. Before there was any type of balance and understanding. “OZ” probably saved us from some serious conflicts at times.

Everyone knew when that phrase was said it meant I’m right outside the back door if I’m needed, but it’s my time to myself so please just leave me alone unless it’s an emergency. It means I’m taking a break to get some outside time, time to think, soak up some sun, and with music and ear-buds in hand… by myself.

It gave me time to cool down, now remember  I am a southern lady that will stand my ground, especially if I know I’m right about something… so I had to learn not only how to manage PTSD symptoms, but also my own reactions to them as well. It gave me time to think about things before speaking, relax, breathe and use coping skills, and alone time to figure out other ways to manage situations. My “OZ” worked, and saved us from a lot of conflicts and heartache. I never had to leave, but it gave comfortable space for both of us to think, and calm down if needed. I always felt better after that little time outside by myself, and was ready to tackle anything when I went back inside.

I could not tell you the last time I used it for it’s original purpose, to be honest. It became such a well known phrase around here to everyone that it in a way became a joke over time, after we learned more about how to manage this life and it was not needed for that purpose. It is always there and known if needed though. Facial expressions and tone say a lot when it’s said. Now if I say, “I’m off to OZ” with a smile everyone just takes it as I’m taking me time outside or I’m needing time to think, so don’t bother me if it’s not needed. These days I hear “Uh oh, she’s heading to OZ, make a path”, in a joking manner lol.

Code words or phrases can be used for a lot of things when life includes PTSD. You can have them for when symptoms are rising, when a break or time out is needed, when children need to exit the room or one needs to head to a room themselves, when you need to switch drivers when out, when you need to leave somewhere, etc. These words or phrases can help in so many different ways, and at times can help prevent a scene or hurt feelings of others that you may be around that don’t understand. They can in a way guide you to what needs to happen without having to directly say things in depth or where it would lead to conflict.

So add code words or phrases to your tool box for life with or beside PTSD. They are a huge help!

I’m off to OZ” just happened to be one of mine… and a favorite.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

“Stop, Drop, and Roll” in PTSD Terms… “Roll, Drop, and Move”

“Stop, Drop, and Roll” in PTSD Terms… “Roll, Drop, and Move”

You know, as a child many people learn “stop, drop, and roll” for when there is a fire involved… it’s a safety protocol. For some reason that safety guideline really sticks with me when#PTSD nightmares come. It just fits so very well when you have to leave the bed quickly to make sure you are out of the way of physical actions which may come with nightmares.

I heard “Leave” shouted, no other twitching or warning they were coming, which was odd actually, and I was out of bed! No hesitations.  (Leave me alone… being the first noticeable sign of the nightmare) I’m not sure who responded first to this one, Alex was coming up between us and I was rolling out of bed.

By the way, Alex is my trusty sidekick dog who I trained to get me out of bed when Craig’s nightmares start so I’m not in the way of the physical actions that come with them.  This also allows Craig and I to still go to bed together for at least part of each night and safety still be in place.

There are many that do experience physical aspects with their nightmares. And let me tell you, it makes them feel awful as well as guilty. Especially if they unknowingly make contact with their loved one during them. It can also scare their spouse/partner and cause relationship and/or fear issues to start. The hardest part is understanding that what happens during nightmares is not intentional, however some type of safety does have to be put into place if you are going to remain sleeping together in the same bed.

There are many that can no longer sleep at night with their PTSD partner because of nightmares, rather it’s due to the physical actions, the talking out during them, and/or lack of sleep the partner gets. If this is the case, you have to make sure the two of you are still taking your one on one time together before you part to separate beds or sleep areas. It helps maintain the personal relationship.

For me, the “stop, drop, and roll”… which is actually “roll, drop, and move”… has been one of the largest things to help, besides Alex of course. 😉 It allows me to roll out of bed safely which keeps me away from swinging arms or kicking feet. It puts me out of reach because I am not sitting up in bed to get out of it or in a position to be grabbed. It puts distance between me and the nightmares, and allows me the room to move to a safer location. It’s not a human response during a nightmare to reach down beside a bed. 😉

I do have to say something though, even if your PTSD partner does not have active nightmares, PLEASE do not ever get into the mindset that they won’t. I have had some spouses come to me and state that after 20+ years of no activity during nightmares, their partner has now started having physical nightmares. So it’s something to be cautious or aware of, that can happen. Same as with touching one through nightmares, take caution and make sure you make wise choices. No way you will ever catch me touching Craig during a nightmare lol, no way not happening, already experienced that rodeo years ago. 

Just because you have always received a positive response to touching one through them, does not always mean you will… it’s still a nightmare and they can not control it. That is another thing some have come to me with because the actions or response to them has changed over time. It only takes one time of one of these things happening and it can change your life (either one of you) and/or your relationship, and there is no need for that when there can be safety protocol in place to begin with.

There is one thing about PTSD that is no fault of anyone… you don’t know what’s coming next, no matter how well you know your partner and their symptoms. I personally can tell you what the night will be like before it even comes, I can tell you what body language or words (and lack of) will lead to what reaction or symptom, I can tell you if it’s going to be a good day or a rough one, I know the triggers… but no matter what, it’s still PTSD and you are not going to know everything, every time, no one can. Having some sort of plan, safety protocol, in place no matter how minor or major it seems, saves a lot of hurt feelings and/or physical mishaps. And safety can sure help cut down on the guilt one with PTSD can have, compared to if something out of their control happens and nothing was in place to help prevent it.

There are many things you can try or put into place, rather it’s for nightmares, triggers, flashbacks, children, and the list goes on…

Caution, safety, and awareness can help prevent fear, mishaps, and/or broken relationships, and they can sure help prevent some of the guilt from forming. Do not dismiss that.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Medication Bag and To Go Bag

Medication Bag and To Go Bag

I had a few questions yesterday regarding our to go bag and medication bag so let’s talk about those…

I do have a separate medication bag for Craig. This bag goes where ever he goes. It is a very small backpack style bag which contains his medication bottles (many areas require the actual prescription bottles to be present to prove they are legal medications). The smaller backpack is easy to carry with being the style it is, not too big but not too small. It is also small enough that if we have our to go bag it will fit inside that bag as well if we choose to do so. The photo has a few bottles by it so you have an idea of the size.

This bag also contains a flash-drive with a copy of medical records on it. This is handy for doctors or if seen by doctors that are not up to date on your medical case. In times of emergencies you may not recall everything that needs to be known so this provides that information without having to carry a stack (or truck load haha) of papers with you.

At home, the medication bag is locked in a safe so there is no chance of others or animals getting into the medications OR an accidental overdose happening due to memory issues, the medications are closely monitored. NEVER leave this bag in your vehicle!

The to go bag, which we “normally” 😉 keep in the car, contains a full set of clothing for each of us, extra socks, flip-flops or slippers, night clothing/pj’s, an extra sweatshirt or light weight jacket, personal items such as toothbrush/paste, deodorant, brush/comb, hair band for me, large zip-loc bags (great to use if you are sick to your stomach because you can zip them shut when done and no mess in the car), a hand towel and body wet wipes, and a deck of cards.

Having these two bags ready to go makes life so much easier rather it is for a daily outing, last minute decision to take a trip, or in case of an emergency.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Tips for having medical procedures if you have PTSD

Tips for having medical procedures if you have PTSD

Make sure the doctors and staff know you have PTSD! Let them know the do’s and don’ts of how to address you, approach you, etc. This will help prevent episodes or triggers from happening when they can be avoided. 

The surgical staff did really well with Craig during his surgery. There was only one nurse that “forgot” about PTSD and touched him without him knowing she was going to and he reacted (yanked away from her) when she tried to remove medical equipment from his body without him knowing she was there. But all was okay, the other nurse stepped in, got Craig grounded quickly, and reminded the other nurse of speaking to him before touching him.

Craig was very happy with how the team handled his PTSD. Besides the one incident, he said they would say to him they know he has PTSD, asked him questions about approaching him or for him to let them know if something made him uncomfortable, and they would make sure they were within his vision and telling him what they would be doing next before doing it when he was awake. It made things SO much easier for everyone!

Tips for medical procedures:

* Let each person of the team know you have PTSD or ask the main doctor to discuss it with the team.

* Discuss beforehand how you need to be approached.
Example: Within your sight or announcing before they will be touching you.

* Ask the doctors to talk you through what they will be doing before each step if/when you are awake.

* If under anesthesia, ask if a nurse can remain with you to ground you if a family member can not be present, as you are awaking.

* If you have questions before a procedure, call the doctor and ask questions! This helps relieve some of the “what if’s” that come with PTSD.

* If your anxiety gets high, let the team know it is high. Many times they can and will help, so don’t try to just handle it on your own.

* Take a support person with you that can help you and/or the doctors out if needed. Many times your support person can give extra information to the doctors that can be very helpful.

* As with anything, you can always make a list for the doctor! Sometimes things get forgotten when anxiety rises, so lists are always a great idea.

These are just a few tips of many that can help things go smoothly and uneventful when it comes to PTSD and medical procedures needing to be done. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Halloween…

Witches, Goblins, Ghosts, and Werewolves… OH MY!

Today actually can be a difficult day/evening for many…

It’s Halloween!

It brings more activities to your streets, crowds, children running around going door to door, laughing, making all sorts of noises to match their costumes, etc… oh the strangers at your doorstep YIKES!

Halloween and PTSD, some do okay and others not so much.

So what are some things that can help you through this day?

* If you are the non-PTSD parent and the kids want to go trick or treating, make sure you do not pressure the PTSD parent to go! Let that one be up to them. If they choose to stay home, and need someone with them, ask a friend or family member that they are comfortable with to come over for a little while while you take the kids out.

* Start a new tradition if going out is just not a possibility. This actually can be fun! Maybe an early dinner out or dinner and movie time at home, let the kids pick out their favorite candy at the store or something special, use your imagination to do something fun but within PTSD’s limits.

* If you are one that hands out candy, but the door knocking doorbell ringing is just too much, set up a table outside that blocks the door 😉 even decorate it if you want to and sit outside to be able to pass out candy to the neighborhood kids but still have a comfort zone.

* Not the most favorable to the kids out later, but you can always make up little candy bags and put them in a container outside with a printed sign that asks for each person to take one bag. Using a sign with a hand with pointer finger raised can help the little ones know to just take one.

* Another one that can really help, put a sign on the door with an arrow pointing to a neighbor’s house “Pick up your candy from us next door please” and ask a neighbor to pass it out when they pass out their’s. 😉

* My kiddos favorite was having the outside table and THEM being the ones passing out candy! They got to see more people, more costumes, and even make new friends. Sometimes their friends would be having so much fun they would stick around and pass out candy with them instead of going door to door.

* If the one with PTSD does go out, always remember that if it becomes too much for them it’s OKAY for them to return home, don’t over-do it!

* If you are not interested at all in this evening, make sure you turn off your outside lights and you can place a paper over doorbells so they can’t ring or turn them off. Place a sign on the door to help prevent people from knocking. There are always the ones that are going to try anyway, but this idea can help back down the number of people coming to your door.

One that is good, “Happy Halloween… but please Do Not Disturb/Knock

* And I have to add this one in here 😉 PLEASE do NOT leave pets outside on Halloween! It’s just not safe and not all people think before they act, especially with the excitement of the night. We don’t need animals teased or fed candy/other things!

* Flashlights and/or glow sticks. These are awesome! If your kids are trick or treating make sure people can see them! My kids have always loved glow sticks, we would put them in their bag and also have one on them that could be seen. These things just help provide a little more safety.

* And always use safety! No eating candy until an adult checks it! Many hospitals will actually scan candy bags if you would like to stop by one or are passing one while out.

* Use your coping skills and keep an eye out for triggers. But you already know that. 

Well, these are just a few ideas to help you through the day/evening. If you are going out tonight please be safe, and if you are attending an adult type party (drinking) please be careful mixing alcohol or too much, with medications, and make sure you have a designated driver. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

How to manage life with PTSD

How to manage life with PTSD

WOW, that sounds like something pretty serious. Well, it is! Life with PTSD and Safety Protocol comes in a lot of forms, it’s NOT just for physical things that could happen… it can be used when an episode happens, to prevent something from happening, to help keep a home running smoothly, balance in a family, etc. It’s a simple set of rules that you make for you and/or your family to follow. Rules come with life, so why not use some when it comes to life with PTSD as part of it. 

It does not matter if your home and your family is running smoothly at this time or not, safety protocol as I call it is urgent to have in place no matter what. It’s a combination of things that help physically, mentally, with daily routines, etc and help your entire household.

I have an extremely long list of things that work or have worked for us over the years. So this will be SOME examples and broken down into sections so you can scroll to which ones fit you and your family… even though you might want to read all of this. 

My note: I am NOT a doctor or in any medical field! If you have an emergency please contact your doctor or local help line. This is only information regarding what we have used to help or know of and not intended to replace medical or emergency attention.

* If you live by yourself and have PTSD.

That may sound odd that you have to use “rules” if it is only you living in your house, but it’s really not that silly.  You never know when you may have a quest or someone new entire your life. So having things in place for when that happens is a good thing and something set in place that can prevent issues from happening in the future or when you are around others. So to those of you that live alone, please take the time to read the rest of this… you never know when it may come in handy. 

* Adults.

Okay, so there are no kids in the house, just the adults. It’s important for the two of you to have things set into place as well. It can help keep arguments down, reduce stress, and help you continue to have a strong relationship.

– Make a plan. Things may have changed when PTSD came into your life, roles of who handles what may change. It does not matter who does what as long as things get done so life runs smoothly. PTSD tampers with the man/woman roles many were raised with or use to, and when that happens it can bring much stress, arguments, guilt, and so on. DON’T get into this mindset! And if you are already there, you might need to do a little re-looking over your situation and try something different. You are there to help each other! Work together and figure out which roles you will do now that PTSD is a part of your life.

– Take breaks. If things are getting heated, agree to disagree and come back to it later if it’s something that HAS to be discussed. Arguing is not going to help anyone and is just going to make things worse and cause hurt feelings to come for both of you. Take a break, actually say “I need a few minutes to cope so we can talk and not argue”. Sounds silly but it can work.  Step to another room and when BOTH are calm then start again.

– Talk and Pause. Again raised voices and emotions do not get you anywhere. If you start raising your voice, PAUSE. Breathe. Then try again without the raised voice. And this goes for BOTH of you! Partners of one with PTSD can get just as loud or vocal as the one with PTSD. When either of you yell or yell back, you are doing the same damage to yourself, them, and your relationship as the other is doing if they are using a raised voice. Pausing during conversations is okay to do. When voices are raised that is when a lot of hurtful things are going to come from your mouth, and many of those things are not meant in the first place and will lead both of you to tears later. Talk and Pause, it helps prevent that.

– Retreat. If you are having an episode there is nothing wrong with retreating to another room away from each other for a little while. This gives you the chance to cope with what you are feeling and calm down. AND if your partner retreats to do this, no matter which one of you is doing it, DON’T follow them (unless there is a chance of self harm). Allow them the space to regroup then come back to you.

– Set Guidelines/Rules. Do this ahead of time, do it right now! It’s a simple “if this happens then we will handle it like this”. Sit down together and come up with what you can do, actually write them out if need be until you both get use to them. This can include when flashbacks happen, with nightmares, with anger, memory issues, anxiety, etc. and partner stress also. This is for BOTH of you!

Example: If you have a flashback then I will stay out of your reach, but will talk to you calmly to help ground you to present time, place, and I will say my name and who I am. I will stay until the flashback passes.

– Reassurance. This is nothing to just assume! EACH of you need to hear the verbal reassurance that you are there for each other and will make it through this. You need to hear I love you and I’m here for you. PTSD can cause some VERY mixed feelings even when your heart knows you love someone or they love you. Don’t assume even if they know, say something.

* Parents/Grandparents

Oh boy! Not only do you have to make sure things are in place for you and your partner, but you have children in your life too! There are more things you have to consider and more things you have to keep an eye on.

– First, the above “adults” applies to you also! Those things can help keep things from effecting children as much. Little ears and eyes are always there, and making sure children do not get exposed to some of the things PTSD can bring is urgent for their well being and development. You can not shelter them, but you can do things to teach them and have things in place for adults as well as children for times that something may or does happen.

– Teach. Children can learn at ANY age! My two started learning at ages 8 and 3 years old (they are the two that live with us). You do not have to tell them what happened or details, and please don’t… children are very visual and will form pictures of what you are telling them in their minds, and if you tell them some details without telling everything about what happened they will form their own images of everything else which can actually be worse then what actually happened. So telling them details of what happened that caused PTSD can cause a lot of mental damage to them, especially at young ages.

Example: It’s better in my opinion to say things such as “Dad had something bad happen to him that caused him to have PTSD, but don’t worry we are doing things and working as a family and with the doctors to help dad.” (of course change “dad” to which ever name it needs to be)

By saying something along this line, you are letting them know “dad” has a reason for what he says, acts like, or goes through ( a help if or when a child may copy actions or behaviors that are “owned” by PTSD and not the child), but at the same time letting them know they don’t have to worry because there is help to get dad better or the best he can be.

As children grow older, they will ask questions and be curious. Teaching about PTSD on their age and learning levels is the key I have found. Don’t try to teach them everything at once or beyond their level or age, of learning or understanding. Don’t overwhelm them 

– Coping skills. Children can learn coping skills at any age! And you don’t have to tell them it’s a coping skill, you just simply teach them as you would anything else in life.

Example: My daughter for several years now has done this… She writes her feelings or anything that is bothering her on paper then balls it up and throws it away.

To her, this is her way of getting her feelings out (by writing them), she talks to me when it’s something she can’t figure out or needs to talk about (normally paper in hand), then she throws the paper away… that is her way of releasing the feelings or what’s bothering her. She lets go when the paper is thrown away. In reality, she is coping without realizing that is exactly what she is doing. 

The sooner children of any age learn to cope, rather they realize it is coping or not, the better they can handle things in the present as well as their future adult life.

– Rules. It is actually easier for children to learn rules that can apply to PTSD then adults. Why? Because they are still learning and not yet set in their ways.  There are many things you can use to help children and your home function smoothly.

Adult space. Have a room where children are not allowed unless invited in. This gives BOTH parents breathing and coping space when it’s needed.

Play rules. Don’t jump from behind things or around corners. Don’t jump on someone’s back without them knowing. You get my point 

You can teach them that if a parent is upset or angry to go to another room until they calm down. AND as the parent, when you do calm down, go to them, hug them, and let them know you are okay. That sometimes adults get angry and it’s not because of something they did. By doing this you have given the child an option of knowing they can leave the room and away from whatever is happening if the adult hasn’t. You are reassuring them you care about them. And you are explaining that sometimes things happen in life but it’s not their fault. That’s a lot coming from one small act you taught them they can use if need be.

Discipline. DON’T discipline if you are mad! When you do, you are reinforcing your angry behavior is okay (and a child may copy it), you could cause the child to fear you, and most likely you are not going to discipline with a clear mind or in the correct way. Sometimes it’s good for BOTH of you to take a “timeout” to be able to handle the situation correctly.

– Helping Out. Oh the chores word  It is good that children learn to do things that will carry on to adulthood. It helps keep a balance in the house without one person becoming overwhelmed with doing everything. And it also, rather they know it or not lol, helps them be an active part of the family. LET children help. It gives them one on one time with either parent which is important. If you are doing something, just simply ask them if they can help you. It raises their self-esteem, teaches them, and helps them know life still has a normal even with PTSD being a part of it.

Some people make chore charts. I personally found this was more work and stress on me then it was worth, but it does work for many. I just ask or nicely tell, when I would like the kids to do something or help with something. It keeps the personal interaction with the child, gives them the feeling of being needed, and less stress to me. And they respond so much easier then if they think they are being ordered to do something or have a set schedule of this must be done on this day.  AND it works GREAT for teenagers!!!

– One on one time. URGENT! Children of any age think and view things differently. They are each their own person, with their own personality. You can’t treat each of them exactly the same way. Taking one on one time, even just a few minutes per day, forms a communication between you, gives you input to what they are experiencing, feeling, or areas they may need help with. Gives them the time to bond even with PTSD as part of your lives. And is urgent for their development. A lot of things can be stopped before they get too far, if you just take a little one on one time with each child.

– Adult talking to children. Watch this one! There are many cases where a parent will talk about the other parent to or in front of the kids… of any age. I promise you… sooner or later this will backfire on YOU. DON’T put you or your children in this position. If you need to vent, vent to another adult. Children will make their own opinions about each parent no matter what you say or tell them, don’t let your negative words or bad mouthing about the other parent result in you being the one judged by your own child. Parenting 101, PTSD or not. 

This can also lead to children worrying about each parent and cause harm to the child’s well being and development, which can roll over to their adulthood life.

* To everyone.

Get help! Rather you choose a doctor, therapist, couple or marriage counseling, church counseling, support groups, etc. Get some type of help and a support system. Learn coping skills and use them! And try… try different things, form your own safety protocol and things you can do to make life run a little smoother with having PTSD in it. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Not everything is going to work for everyone, so try different things and put effort into it when you do try. It can make ALL of the difference in the world, to your life and your family’s lives.

Again, I could write you a novel on this one, but these are just a few things that might help. Please take time to educate yourself about PTSD and the symptoms that come with it. Knowledge gives you the upper hand to learning to live life with or beside PTSD.

Love to all of you! <3

~Bec
A Spouses Story PTSD

Memorial Day (USA)

Memorial Day

Many know this as a long weekend, a chance to take a short vacation, time for parties and/or family gatherings, a time to start the grill and have a cookout. It is a start to summer time. However, what is the TRUE meaning of and for Memorial Day?

Let us not forget…

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday, it started as being known as “Decoration Day” at the end of the Civil War to honor and commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War. It was a time when ladies placed decorations/flowers on the graves of the fallen, a tradition which carries on today.

Today, Memorial Day honors and remembers all of those fallen during military service, man and woman. It’s a time of remembrance and a time of respect to all of those who gave their lives for us.

As you honor this time this weekend, please don’t forget the true meaning of this day. If you fly a flag in honor of this time on Memorial Day, please remember to fly it at half-staff until noon, then raise it back to the top for the remainder of the day.

Memorial Day can be a difficult time for veterans, military, and loved ones. Please keep that in mind if you are celebrating this weekend. If you know of a veteran that is alone this weekend, take a little of your time and visit with them, many of them have lost a battle buddy or a loved one who served and did not come home.

To those that know someone or have a loved one who suffers from PTSD, here are a few things to remember and/or things that can help through this time…

* Remember that many suffer from survivor’s guilt. This can make this time a very difficult one for them, even more then normal.

* Don’t push them to participate in gatherings. Let them set their own pace of what they are comfortable doing.

* Talk to them and be there to listen.

* Be careful with your words! Be respectful with things you may say or ask regarding service time.

* If you are setting off fireworks, PLEASE make sure you let them know ahead of time or let them know if your community will will setting some off. Even if it is not loud or from sound, remember the smell can be a trigger to some. By mentioning it ahead of time it can help keep triggers down or help them be able to control them.

* Some families remember by setting up small memorials or even place settings for an empty seat at the dinner table as a sign of remembering those lost in battle. If you have someone joining you or in your family with PTSD, PLEASE be careful with doing this, if they have survivor’s guilt and/or PTSD this could easily trigger bad memories. If you plan on doing this, ask if it’s okay first.

* Allow one to grieve during this time if they need to, don’t push them to be happy and join in events, let that be up to them.

* Know the signs of suicide and be cautious to them. This is a difficult weekend for many and PTSD could be more severe then normal.

And please, teach your children the history of Memorial Day, and what it really means.

These are just a few things to keep in mind this weekend. If you are out and about please try to enjoy yourself, be safe, but always keep in mind the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Those lost in battle may not be with us in body, but they will never leave our hearts. Each and every one of them gave their lives for each and every one of us.

Not one of them, will ever be forgotten! <3

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

PTSD and/or Dissociation… Suicidal Thoughts/Self Harm

PTSD and/or Dissociation… Suicidal Thoughts/Self Harm

We talk a lot about how suicidal thoughts or any thoughts of self harm are very real to many that suffer from PTSD and/or Dissociation.

Just to note, I have started posting more about dissociative disorders as well because many do not know about them however they are extremely common with PTSD and many times give the explanation for symptoms that do not seem to fit the common PTSD symptoms.

So we know these thoughts can be present, some experience them quite often, some all of the time, and some from time to time. So what can you do when you have these thoughts of self harm?

* Professional Help.

By all means one of the first steps you can take is getting help! Having someone to talk to, vent to, even rant to can help you battle these thoughts on a professional level.

*Suicide Hotlines.

USE the suicide hotlines. There are there for you! The VA has a hotline for veterans and family and there are also many local hotlines available in many locations.

* Safe Room.

This is one that many do not have or use but could be very helpful, especially if you live on your own. Create a room that would be safe for you to go to when you are having feelings of self harm. A room that in painted in relaxing colors, no objects that you could harm yourself with, maybe just some photos of relaxing things to you or what are important to you that could help you focus on the good things in your life. You could have a wireless/cell phone in this room for outside help communication. Make it a quiet place where you can help yourself focus on getting through your thoughts.

* Comfort Animal.

I you have a pet that you love, use it to comfort you. Pets can do amazing things to help turn your thoughts to a positive direction. They are known for reducing blood pressure, anxiety, and offering a way to cope. Animals bond to their human and show you a sign that you are needed. All it takes is just simply sitting with them and petting them.

* Movies.

Have on hand a few good, happy, funny movies. Watching movies that have happy meaning to them can help you avoid the feelings of self harm as you sink yourself into what you are watching, actually a normal form of dissociating that we all can do. Even if you watch two even three movies, that’s okay. However many it takes to help you focus on something other then the harmful thoughts.

* Call a friend.

Call a friend and talk about anything! A friend is good for distracting yourself from the self harm thoughts, talk about the weather, a sports event, anything! Use the company of the friend to help you through this time.

* Take a shower.

Let the water help soothe you and help release the stress. While doing so talk out loud, cry, let the emotions and feelings out. The sound of water and how it can soothe the body can be of huge help.

* Drawing.

Draw out your feelings. If you are one that wants to cut yourself, try this instead… use a red marker and draw on yourself instead of using an object that could harm yourself. Let the feelings out but with avoiding the actual act of harm.

* Hit a pillow.

This is a very common one used. Instead of taking the feelings out on objects of harm or other people, hit a pillow over and over to release the stress and feelings.

* Rubber band.

This is also another thing that is commonly used. Put a rubber band on your wrist and when self harm or even stress comes, snap the rubber band.

* Journal.

Writing or typing out your feelings, thoughts, emotions can do wonders! Put your thoughts on paper and allow them to help release you from what you are experiencing.

* Read.

Same as with movies, read your favorite book or a good new book to take your mind off of the self harm and focus on the words you are reading.

* Clean.

This is one that women are very use to using, clean the house top to bottom. It keeps you busy, releases stress, and is an activity of exercise.

* Exercise.

Exercising or even taking a walk can help release built up energy which can be helpful with coping through harmful thoughts.

* Music.

Music soothes the soul… seriously. Listen to soothing music, focus on the music, it can help.

* Online activities/games.

We all know how hypnotic and time consuming they can be. In times of suicidal thoughts these things can be used to your advantage. Just be careful of becoming an addict which can easily be done. Use these things in times of those harmful feeling to help you refocus.

* Sleep.

Sleep is a hard one for one with PTSD, however taking a nap during harmful thoughts can be very helpful. In many cases, naps during the day might not bring the same nightmares/terrors the night brings, and you could probably use the extra sleep anyway. It can also help reduce feelings of anger or frustration.

* Kind people.

Some time in your life there has been someone that was kind to you or many people who were kind, look up to you, value you. Think about them and their kind words, focus on all of the good things they find in you, the good things that ARE there in you.

* Meditation.

Allow yourself to focus in your mind of a happy place, a place you enjoy, a vacation. Someplace peaceful. There are many forms of meditation, learn some of them and use them to help yourself.

* Talk to someone close to you.

Sit and let it all out! Lean on a loved one. Ask them to just listen and not judge or tell you what to do, just listen.

Whatever it takes, get help and know the things you can do to help yourself!

These are just a few things you can do to help yourself. Thoughts of self harm with PTSD are very real, but having the right things to use to fight those feelings are urgent. And YOU are well worth the fight! Never give up on yourself and know that there are many things and many people that can help you through this! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Perimeter security and PTSD: Paranoia and/or Alertness

staying safe

Perimeter security and PTSD: Paranoia OR Alertness

This is something that becomes a huge part of life with PTSD for many. Checking the window and door locks seems to be the most common, but it can go much further then that for many. It’s linked to paranoia and/or over alertness that PTSD can bring related to one’s safety.

See, once you experience something that possibly threatened your or your family’s life, and most likely linked to PTSD, you become alert, many times over alert. This is common in veterans/military, assault/rape victims, and abuse victims… I like the term survivor better personally. It’s your natural defense for the “I won’t let that happen to me again.”

Caution to me is always a good thing, however it can consume you if you allow it to. The fear of the attacker or situation, and belief it will happen again takes over. All of the “What if’s” that can come with PTSD.

You could find yourself not only checking doors and windows but also constantly looking out the windows, seeing and hearing everything, noticing and being alert to everything that moves from the corner of your eye, find it hard to make eye contact with others or letting them too close to you, being over cautious to your loved one’s safety, etc.

Your defenses for protection can go into over drive. Extra security around the house, cameras, lights, video recording systems, electric fences, fences in general, guard dogs… and even weapons. There are some that use geese for their alert system, and some that go to extra measures of the type of landscaping and gravel/rock around their homes. Many even move out of populated areas or to ones that have more space to where it is more noticeable if someone approaches. And also gives PTSD a breathe of space and silence from the busy world.

The measures one may take for their safety and piece of mind can be great but again, they can also consume you… which is not a good thing many times.

So what are things that you can do to help you feel more secure yet not let it consume you?

* Window treatments.

– There are so many different kinds these days! There are blackout curtains where you can see out but others can’t see in.

– Curtains that are more thin so you still get light in and not feel confined inside but can be followed up by a heavier curtain for times they need to be closed.

– Sometimes if the paranoia is really high, it’s good to just close the blinds and focus on coping.

* Electronics.

Cameras, computer systems, house alarms…

With technology these days this one is endless. Whatever system you choose to use, if you choose to use one, just make sure it is not going to be to the extent that others within your home feel like prisoners. As well as your neighbors not feel like the FBI moved in next door. Paranoia can roll over to others very easily and you sure don’t want people saying you are out of your mind or feel threatened/scared of you.

* Lights.

Think out of the box on this one. Sometimes those fluid lights are not always needed. Motion sensor lights can be an easy fix as long as you set them in the right locations and remember that sometimes they can be set off by animals and strong winds.

But there are other things these days you can also use. Landscape lighting, glow in the dark stepping stones and/or garden fixtures, lamp posts… Things that will blend in that are appealing to the eyes of outsiders and not cause alarm or over reactions from neighbors, but still give you the sense of security.

* Locks.

Fort Knox is not needed to feel safe. There are many products on the market now that can be used and do just as good of a job. There are lock sets that can easily be changed or code changed after someone has had access to your home such as a repair man or relative. Locks on windows can be updated. Just whatever you use, remember if there is an emergency and people need to get out, they can get out… this is where you don’t let the security consume you to the point it could cause harm.

* Dogs.

I am putting this in here for a very good reason, this seems to be the first thing by human nature to turn to. I know just a little bit 😉 about this subject lol.

For those of you that turn to using dogs for protection and/or alert purposes there are a few things to keep in mind.

– A dog is a responsibility.

– Getting an aggressive breed of dog and putting it in a back yard and/or confining it from people outside your family is only going to cause you more problems and heartache and could very well damage your checkbook.

– Dogs are pack animals, they in majority of cases will not protect someone they are not bonded with. In many cases they will welcome an intruder that gives them attention. You also have the chance of them attacking a child or someone they should not, that isn’t a threat, if they are not properly trained. Majority of dog bites happen within the dog’s own family.

– If you are one that decides a dog is what you feel you need for protection, make sure it is trained and socialized, it could save you from possible legal action and problems within your own home.

– In my opinion the best dog is a quiet one unless there is a true reason for alarm/alert, well socialized and trained, and one that is a family dog I can almost guarantee you will do the job it needs to if that time arises. On the norm, not by any means in all cases, just the appearance of a dog present can detour one.

Okay, I will spare you there, you know I could write a book on this one.

There are many things you can do to help lessen the feelings PTSD can bring. Use your coping skills! There are also many worksheets out there that can come in handy when these feelings overwhelm you, they allow you to see with your own eyes the differences between the facts at hand and the “what if’s”. Once you are use to using these skills, they don’t have to be done on paper but can be used mentally. Always look at the facts at hand and learn to face what you are feeling, which is very real, but find ways to not let it consume you and your loved one’s lives.

Caution is always welcomed, just don’t let it consume you to the point you become a prisoner to it.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Storm Season/Disaster Preparedness…

Preparing for Storm Season or Disaster

We have to make a “Sam’s Club” run sometime soon. That is one of those times of run in get what you need and run out. So, goofing off this morning I was looking online. I have always been one to be prepared for hurricane season here, common sense for our area. But I could not believe the products they have! Emergency preparedness section with food for a family of 4 for a year. Not use to seeing things like that I guess, I sat here going “wow” lol.

So… it is about that time of year again and I always like to do a hurricane/disaster preparedness posting so no better time then now!

During hurricane season, or any storm season it’s always better to be safe then sorry. Prepare ahead of time! Don’t wait until the weather station says a storm is coming to prepare and get those things needed… it’s not very fun for PTSD.

Things to remember/include:

* Plastic, sealed, water proof totes/boxes. And label them!

These are awesome for keeping things dry and protecting valuable documents/foods/clothing.

* Make sure you have a sufficient supply of food and water. 

Things that have a shelf life to them that can be stored through the season. Rule of thumb is a 3 day supply for each person.
– Don’t forget the can opener!
– One gallon of water per day per person (same for animals)

* Means for cooking, boiling water, and keeping warm.

These can include:
– Waterproof matches
– Gas stove/grill (travel size)
– Generator
– Bowels, utensils, and at least one pot

* Clothing, rain jackets, and proper shoes. Blankets.

Make sure you have long sleeves and long pants. This helps protect the skin from things in water or in the air.

* Flashlights and Batteries.

* Garbage bags, Duct tape, Tarps

* Battery or hand crank radio. (Batteries if needed) Cell phone charges, inverter or solar charger.

* First aid kit.

Also include any prescribed medications and allergy medications, wet wipes, a (or one for each person) whistle for alerting purposes, and dust masks. If you wear glasses, keep an extra pair in the kit.

* Local Maps.

Also make sure you know in advance where shelters are that can accommodate your needs as well your pets. Mark them on your map!

* Pets.

Don’t forget about your fur-babies! Make sure you have enough food and enough water for them as well.
Along with:
– Proper fitting collar and id tags
– Leash
– Pet waste bags
– Food/water bowels
– Shot records
– Kennel/crate
– Any medications needed and first aid animal kit
– Feet protection especially for dogs.
– Make sure you know which shelters will accept pets! Not all shelters will.

I personally make an emergency box of all these items in a water proof, sealed plastic tote.

* Cash and/or Travelers Checks.

Don’t plan on using ATM machines or credit cards during a disaster.

* Make an emergency plan!

There is nothing worse then family members being separated during a disaster.
– Make sure everyone knows the plan of where to meet and wait.
– It is good to have a few locations (1 and 2) in case everyone can not make it to one specific place until roads are open or cleared, and forms of communication are back up if down. This also helps keep chaos down during high anxiety times.

* Bleach and Medicine dropper.

* Cards, board games, crossword puzzles, anything easily packed for yourself and children to have something to do.

* Important documents, ID per person, Medical bracelets/jewelry.

I know this seems like a long list, but it all can be packed in just a few totes/boxes and can sure help things be much easier if a storm/disaster happens.

Don’t wait! Always be prepared and have a plan! ♥

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD