Archive for the Category » Changes in Emotional Reactions: Anger, Outbursts, Irritability, Self Destructive Behaviors… «

Words are everything…

Words are everything…

There is one thing that I learned a long time ago with PTSD, and the reality is, in life itself… your wording is and means everything!

I’ve spoken to a few people recently and those conversations really made me realize I needed to share this, and this REALLY comes from the heart.

PTSD can bring a lot of things with it. At times it can bring out some of the most nastiest sounding and hurtful things one has ever heard or felt, but NOT only from the one with PTSD, but from a loved one as well.

PTSD is going to try you, both of you, all of you! It will try to push every button you have. It will look for that fight when symptoms are increased… fight or flight is very real with PTSD. It at times will cause or try to cause emotional pain. It is a human reaction that comes out when a person is hurting emotionally, any person.

NO ONE purposely does this!!! PTSD and responses to it are what does this. Emotions are what causes this.

There is no long write-up on this one  No long in depth conversation like I am known for. This is simple.

If you do not ever learn anything else from this page/me (which I hope will NEVER be the case! There’s a lot to learn and share!) I want you to really think about and learn this…

This is real life. With it, we are never promised tomorrow, we are not even promised another hour or minute. When this life brings those harsh words, misunderstanding, emotional hurt, and struggles… find ways to correct it! We know words and feelings cannot always be avoided, we know at times they come out wrong or in harshness. We know this life can get thrown into chaos at times and then it comes again. NO MATTER what happens, who it is to or from… step back, take a deep breath, and work through it TOGETHER!

Live each day as if there may not be another. That is one thing in this life that you own, it is your’s, and nothing or no one can take that away from you! Learning to live as such will rarely leave any regrets for later.

Today, take a moment no matter how good or bad things are right now… and share a smile, share a hug, share an “I’m sorry” or “We will be okay”.

Words can be and mean everything, please make sure you find the positive ones in there too. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

PTSD and Driving

PTSD and Driving

We had a very good question come to us this morning and I wanted to talk about this in depth.

“Question; does anyone here see a difference in their loved one’s driving? My son has had an accident with every car he’s driven since coming back from Iraq. He speeds and appears to be paying more attention to what’s going on everywhere else except for the important things like speed limits, brake lights etc. He notices the person coming out of the store but not the stop sign he just blew through. He honestly scares me when he drives. I spend my time saying things like “red light, stop sign, watch the guy at your 3 o’clock…” -Pat

I want to start by saying, the thing I hear most from those with PTSD regarding driving is, “I fear they will take my driver’s license away.

That is a very valid fear. PTSD does change so many things in life, as well as how one has to manage things, that one just does not want to lose one more thing especially since driving is a form of freedom and self reliance, helps with self-esteem, as well as self worth. It brings independence.

However, many do notice changes in the way their loved one drives once PTSD becomes a part of life. The examples given with the above question are very real life examples. And I’m sure many are raising their hands or nodding their heads yes right now. In a way, many times the passenger becomes the co-pilot.

Those of you with PTSD, don’t worry,  I’m not going to throw you under the bus on this one! (figure of speech)

So why do these changes in driving happen? Let’s start there.

First off, just because a person has PTSD does NOT mean in all cases they can no longer drive. There are many that have no issues with driving. Then there are others that have issues at times. Then there are those that driving is just no longer a possibility. Each case will be different even though so many may have things in common.

This is not only military or first responder related, even though we do hear of many who do have driving changes that are/were military or a first responder. Other examples of ones that may also have changes in driving skills may include those that have been in car accidents, witnessed a severe car accident, lost a loved one due to an accident, or any trauma where a vehicle relates to the trauma one experienced. Those that have PTSD from a personal attack or stalker related trauma may also experience changes in driving. And then there is just plain and simple, PTSD itself and what it brings.

It all goes back to the symptoms. PTSD can cause anxiety to increase when one leaves their “safe” environment or home. The “what if’s” or questions that can go through one’s mind can increase. Hyper-arousal can increase. Looking for an attacker/enemy or trauma related objects, can increase. PTSD triggers can be experienced. And even flashbacks can occur.

When any of these symptoms step into play when one is behind the wheel it causes or can cause concentration to decrease, which can lead to one not noticing the things a driver would normally watch for or pay attention to. Instead the concentration goes towards watching for that trigger and/or being alert to or looking for anything that is related to their PTSD trauma. Many may not even realize they are doing this, or to the extent they are doing it.

So, now we know the “why”. Now what do we do?

First and foremost, we want to make sure everyone stays safe! That means the one driving, the passengers, as well as those also out and about. Here are some examples of things that may help…

* From the start. If you know PTSD symptoms are high, avoid driving for the time being. If you HAVE to go somewhere, ask someone if they could drive for you. If you don’t HAVE to go somewhere, waiting a little while for the symptoms to calm down is okay!

* If you know, or someone else mentions they notice, PTSD symptoms are increasing while one is driving, be honest about it! There is nothing wrong with saying “Hey can you drive for a little while?” and allow someone else to take the wheel. What’s the worse case scenario? You get a chauffeur for part of the day.  There’s nothing wrong with that!

* Pull over. 

If symptoms are increasing you can always pull off the road and use your coping skills. Once you are feeling less overwhelmed, then continue your travels. Take a break when you need to.

* Talk to yourself. 

Nope, you are not crazy if you do this! Talk out loud or to yourself, tell yourself  “I’ve got this, I can do this, focus on that light coming up. I’m in my town [or a place, even a destination you are going to] and nothing is going to [whatever the fear is].” By doing something along these lines, you are forcing yourself to stay grounded.  Time, place, and to people who are with you. Tell yourself for example, “There is a light coming, if it turns yellow I need to start breaking.” You can do this with anything! All you are doing is maintaining your focus on driving and taking it away from those symptoms and what if’s. This works great to keep triggers from flowing into full flashbacks and also helps you stay focused on those things you need to pay attention to while driving. 

* Road Rage.

It happens! PTSD at times will look for that fight or be triggered into one, especially when another driver could have harmed you and/or your loved ones. Those out there with poor driving skills will become PTSD’s target. DON’T allow them to mess up your day! If something happens, do NOT chase them down. Unfortunately if something happens many times PTSD gets the blame and that is not going to lead you to a good day when you were actually the victim, of sorts. Pull over and take a deep breath, use those coping skills. And if another driver out there is being careless to the point they could hurt someone with the way they are driving, it’s okay for you to call their tag and location in to your local authorities. Allow yourself to release from the rage and let the authorities handle it, that makes you the good guy that may have saved a life. 

* Co-pilots. Yep that’s all of you that raised your hands at the beginning of this 

Sorry folks co-pilots or side-seat drivers are going to be there. And many act like they have an invisible break pedal on their side of the vehicle. Just love them for caring about you and making sure everyone stays safe! And try not to become snappy at them if they point things out. If you need to say something about their co-piloting, try to use a calm tone. “Would you like to drive?” is what Craig uses as his code phrase with me  And at times the answer is YES! Other times he tells me “thank you” when he may honestly not have noticed something. Whatever works, communicate so the drive is a decent one.

Now Co-pilots (yep I’m one of them  ), you have to make sure you do NOT over tell things or talk too much, it just becomes static noise to one with PTSD that is trying to focus. It is okay to direct or point things out when NEED be, just be cautious to not over-do it or it is going to spark PTSD frustration which could make the situation even worse. It is very common for co-piloting to become a bad habit, make sure you give the one with PTSD a chance and only say things when they are NEEDED.

* Navigation Systems

Oh these are awesome! There are many different types of GPS systems as well as apps available that can be used. My absolute favorite is a phone app! It “talks” to the driver so no looking at the phone is needed AND it tells you or alerts you not only to directions, lights, stop signs, but to your speed as well… if you are going over or under the speed limit for the location you are at and as you travel. I LOVE it! No more saying “Watch your speed”, I can sit back and relax with a little chuckle now.  There are many different systems or apps available, research them and see which ones can help.

Speeding is common with PTSD. When anxiety levels and other symptoms go up that gas pedal seems to go down. It’s almost like a “hurry up let’s get there” that takes place. Focus can go to destination instead of those dash gauges.

* Come up with an agreement ahead of time! 

Craig and I actually have this in place. It helps keep anger or frustration down while driving… for BOTH of us. If his symptoms are high, he does not drive, period! If we are out and symptoms increase, we switch drivers. If he needs to pull over, then we pull over. If I start needing to co-pilot too much, then I drive. If he’s having a good day, no questions asked, he can drive. Whatever agreement and plan you come up with, just make a plan of action. By already having this in place it can save a lot of pulling your hair out (so to speak) for either person.

These are a few things that seem to work well, and that work well for us personally. Feel free to add things that you may have come up with that helps when you or your loved one is driving.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

Anger and Frustration… they are PTSD symptoms.

Anger and Frustration… they are PTSD symptoms.

I asked Craig a long time ago to explain to me what the anger feels like to him. It’s something that is really hard to explain to others but I think Craig found a way to explain what anger and frustration with PTSD are like, that is the best explanation I have ever heard…

“It’s like the anger and frustration are just sitting right there, under the surface, at all times, just waiting to come up for air” -Craig

Anger is another one of the hardest things for others to understand. A person can be, or “seem” in reality, okay then what seems like out of nowhere… there’s the anger exploding out of the water for air.

The reality is the anger was there all along. The one with PTSD was just being able to manage it or keep it at bay… was able to cope with it. For many with PTSD, the battle with controlling and managing the anger and frustration is a constant fight within themselves, for others it may come and go as it builds then decreases some.

When anger surfaces, it most likely seems directed at a person or an object. This is NOT something that is purposely done. It’s not a contious thought of “I’m mad, I’m going to throw this glass against the wall”, for example. Most likely that glass just happened to be what was there when anger could not be managed any longer. The outburst, release of anger, is a reaction to the symptom.

Anger can be triggered. A trigger is something… a place, smell, touch, sound, vibration, ANYTHING that pertains to any of the body’s senses that brings back the thoughts of and relates to the person’s trauma. Even the weather can be a trigger if it relates to the way it was at the time of the trauma. Anger can surface right away when a trigger presents itself, or it can build then come to the surface with an outburst.

Anger is a real symptom of PTSD. It’s going to come sooner or later, and each person may experience it in different ways.

So what can be done when it does? MANY THINGS!

The FIRST thing always, make sure safety protocol of some type is in place. For the one with PTSD as well as others. No one wants anyone to get hurt!!! But the reality is, it can happen.

Anger that comes with PTSD is not the same, so to speak, as a person who is an abuser, even though if nothing is done that is exactly what one may become until they get help. Abuse unfortunately is very real and it can be in the form of physical or mental abuse. Anger with PTSD CAN be managed so abuse does not happen, or stops happening!

Learn and use coping skills! I will preach this one to you because I have seen with my own eyes how well coping skills and techniques CAN work if you practice and use them on a regular basis.

Craig himself use to have outbursts of anger. He would never touch another person (thank you survivor’s guilt and the true person he has always been!) But he could sure throw things or hit things, and he could sure throw some nasty tones and words. Anger has never gone away for him, it’s still right there just waiting to come to the surface, but he learned what works for him and how to manage it.

Yesterday was an anger day for him. I as his spouse have learned the signs of when anger surfaces, and I have learned how to respond or NOT respond. We both have to do our part when anger symptoms come.

I could tell by his body language, his quietness then when he spoke the tone that was obvious he was fighting to control. I watched the frustration throughout the day, how he would sit in a chair, then lay on the bed, then go out to the boat and tinker on it, then repeat. How unsettled he was, like his skin was just crawling and he could not get comfortable. I saw that PTSD glare when he did not want to do something, like eat. Simple things that are a part of daily routines. I heard him complain about having to take medications. Patience was not something the day consisted of for him. Those are all cues that anger is trying to break the surface.

It was a day that his personal space was needed and the only conversations were ones he started. I sat here and worked on writing, did my stuff around the house, spent one on one time with my daughter, and just gave him space. I could see what he was battling, I could see him working hard to cope with what was obvious he was feeling. So I just kept things calm around the house all day, and did not push any expectations onto him. With him working so hard to cope, coping is where his focus needed to be. Late last night he finally said to me, “I have been so angry all day.” I simply responded, “I know. I love you.” Then he replied, “I love you too.” Then he opened up and talked about how he was feeling. And I listened.

And we made it through the day without any outbursts or negative words.

It took us a long time to understand what works for us. It does take time to figure out what works best for each person. With Craig it’s taking a nap if all else fails. But he does pretty good these days with using coping skills and preoccupying himself with something that keeps him busy. He also avoids other people when anger comes, it’s just a precaution so harsh words do not surface that he will regret later, avoidance… another very real PTSD symptom that can also work to your advantage at times.

For me as the spouse, seeing the signs that anger is surfacing and knowing his limits during those times have been the keys. Giving him his personal space to cope, even if we are sitting in the same room. Avoiding deep or heavy topic conversations that could give PTSD the debate or fight it wants, is a huge help. Not pushing for expectations during those times, helps. Not over talking to the point is causes him to be overwhelmed with static noise, as I call it. I just simply allow him to focus on himself.

We do have code words/phrases of sorts also, for times he does not recognize his symptoms are increasing. It does not take much, just a simple, “I can see you are struggling today with [symptom]”. No deep conversation, no pointing out everything he’s done or doing. Just a simple bringing his attention to a symptom I notice. That’s worked well for us.

These things have made life with PTSD SO much easier. When he’s ready to talk, he will. Just like last night, he opened conversation with telling me his struggles of the day. And I don’t take those types of days personal. I use them to do things for me, things I like to do, things he would not normally do with me. It gives a balance and keeps him from feeling like he needs to be doing something else. It leaves his focus on coping, as well as opens myself for a little me time and self care.

It does take time, lots of trial and errors, a ton of patience, but anger is something that can be managed. Don’t expect it to go away, but work on managing it and learning ways to cope through the symptoms. You just have to find what works best for you and your loved ones. Don’t give up on yourself or your loved one, even if things are really rough right now… it can change and get better then where things may be at this moment.

Now, take a deep breath, yesterday is behind us and today is a new day. Try something new. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

Let’s talk about PTSD and Anger…

Let’s talk about PTSD and Anger…

Anger is a huge topic with PTSD… in other words you have been warned this will be a long posting. I am breaking it up for easier reading. 

One who has PTSD can be seemingly doing okay, then what seems like out of nowhere BAM! There’s that anger or high frustration. When this happens most likely something has triggered PTSD and/or possibly one has become overwhelmed.

Anger, frustration, and outbursts ARE symptoms of or do come with PTSD. They are very real and majority of the time do get taken out on those closest to them or whomever is right there at that time. It’s not done on purpose, anger is a response of what PTSD causes.

This is one of the most difficult things for a spouse/partner to handle, or to comprehend it’s not actually personal towards them, even when words spoken makes it seem as if it is. It leads to the arguments, fights, unsettled feelings, and also many times gives PTSD that fight it’s looking for. The “fight or flight” which also comes with PTSD. You guessed it, that one trigger sends a vicious cycle into motion.

I learned a long time ago arguing with someone who has been triggered or in heightened levels of symptoms, or anyone that’s angry for that matter… is just not worth it. They are not going to always view things as rational… how could they? They are now in a high alert, high anxiety, hyper arousal mode. Many times, survival mode! When one does give into the fight, normally later it’s nothing but tears and hurt feelings towards each other.

After the fact, the one with PTSD many times is truly sorry, feels guilty, or may not even recall what took place. Ever have an argument or disagreement then notice the one with PTSD later acts normal like nothing ever happened? Bingo, right there is why. It’s not that they are pushing what happened to the side, it’s that the state of mind PTSD caused was at hand.

When anxiety and other PTSD symptoms go up, including stress, concentration and the brain processing things can go down. This can prevent things that happen from making it into long term memory. Memory issues, cognitive issues, and concentration are not directly stated symptoms of PTSD, but they are VERY real with PTSD, and anxiety itself.

Okay, so we get the why now. But what can we do?

Without learning how to manage the arguing, fighting, or the stress and conflict that comes with it, sooner or later it will mentally effect both people, and sure does not help relationships. This is when that good ol’ trial and error comes into play. You have to try something!

A few days ago I shared an old posting of mine “Anger and Outbursts” which shared several different ways of learning how to cope with anger. Yes, there are ways to manage anger, it’s not going to make anger go away, anger is a PTSD symptom, but it can be managed better. It does not mean the same thing will work every time for every single situation, trial and error.  And you keep trying.

Craig has always best described anger as “floating anger”. As he says it, “It is right there, all of the time, laying under the surface just waiting to come out.” It’s one of the symptoms he has learned to manage pretty well. Sometimes it takes more effort then other times, sometimes I will step in and calmly prompt that a situation is becoming too much, overwhelming or stressful, time to step away from a situation so he can focus on coping.

The largest thing I personally found that helps as a spouse, is simply listening AND watching how I respond or word things, as well as when I respond can help. It does not mean I just sit back and take it! I don’t. But my choice of wording etc. can help anger be managed, and find ways to calmly help in order to allow the feeling to be managed.

Many times when symptoms are high, one does not realize how they sound, how things come across to another person. Many times it’s a build up of trying to hold everything in and it vents out, other times it’s triggered.

Now, just to note here, flashbacks are a totally different subject! One needs to be grounded if in a flashback. We will talk more about those another time. This is not relating to flashbacks… only anger, frustration, and outbursts.

Over time, Craig and I found that body language really breaks through PTSD more then words, even though I learned how to word things and those work also with him. All I have to do now when I see he is becoming frustrated or angry is sit back, raise my eye brows a little, and give him that “okay, I’m listening” female look.  Even if he does not realize how PTSD is causing him to act, that look cues him coping skills are needed NOW. Arguing is really a thing of the past with us, but the PTSD symptoms have not gone away, we have just learned how to manage them. 

So, other than body language, what are some of the things we have come up with that help?

You start with tone. Speaking when anger is present, your tone is everything! If you are snappy, bitter, have a raised voice, or toss anger OR hurt feelings back, you will most likely get the “fight” with the anger. It takes a calm tone in my opinion, to break through what PTSD is causing at that moment. As I say it  (figure of speech), this is when you really have to “bite your tongue” and do not lash out, back towards one. You focus on your tone, your wording, and your own coping skills.

I found that even telling myself, “This is PTSD. This is not him.” helps me keep focus, keeps things from being taken personally, and allows me to look for what will get through to him. It keeps over reactions down as well. In reality, it’s in a way forcing a sort of dissociation in order to be able to cope and help him through an anger state. I’m right there, I’m listening, but at the same time I’m maintaining my own balance so I can help him.

I get asked quite often, “What do you say when anger comes?

Now, keep in mind, every person may respond differently! It is trial and error to find the words that work best for each individual. I will say that over the years I have learned to notice anger very quickly and we have learned how to get it managed before it escalates. Craig has also learned to notice the symptom and feeling of anger when it starts to increase, and manages it very well with coping skills. But it was not always that way.

NOTE: I am not a doctor of any sort, these are things from our personal experiences that have simply helped us. I am NOT giving medical advice and if you are unsure how to handle a situation or what is best for your situation please contact your doctor or local crisis hotline.

How I, or we, word things for different situations…

Personal Situations/ One on One:

“I notice you seem angry. Do you need some time to yourself to use your coping skills?”

This one addresses what I am noticing in a caring, concerned tone. At the same time it is presenting an option or prompt that coping skills are needed.

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“You seem frustrated. Do you want to talk about it?”

If talking is an option this is where listening and not over talking or giving too many personal views as a spouse takes place. You don’t want to add static noise when you are addressing anger and frustration. That could lead to “fight”. You are simply allowing one the option to vent and communicate.

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“You seem like you need some down time to unwind. I’ll be in the next room if you need me.”

Again, it’s prompting that you notice a symptom is escalating. It’s allowing personal space to cope. But at the same time it opens communication in case one is wanting that, it’s not just one walking away.

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“What’s on your mind right now? Is there anything I can do?”

Straight forward in a calm tone. Prompts one that you are noticing something is bothering them and opens up a line of communication.

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What became the golden line for us in the past…

“I know this is PTSD talking this way, you do not talk to me like that.”
Followed by, “I am simply listening to you.”

VERY calm and level tone! That line was our original breakthrough. It was the first thing that ever worked for us to break through the anger and arguing. I would wait until he said “Why aren’t you saying anything!” or something along those lines, you know… PTSD looking for the fight. It was a pause and I used my response to break through to Craig through his PTSD. I always waited for that break/pause in the anger before I would speak. No arguing back! It’s not something that happens the first time, it takes time and you keep trying, repeating it, but this worked for us.

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Outside Negative Influences:

There are times in high stress situations where anger will rise and I will step in to help manage it if in the situation Craig cannot focus to recognize it. Normally these times are based around outside negative influences such as… Someone brings on high stress even when told not to or “that’s enough”. Someone tries to start an argument or becomes verbally out of control themselves first. Or someone stepping beyond personal boundaries such as the stealing from us episode we experienced a few days back.

There are many outside negative influences that can trigger PTSD anger.

I have become rather quick to tell others when they are bringing on too much stress or triggering anger. Some of the following things Craig uses also. High stress can lead to anger. Unfortunately, some people love to push a person to see if they can set PTSD off. Many times these are the people who are not happy within themselves or with their own lives and they take things out on others or cause conflict… those with PTSD seem to become almost like targets for these types of people. Other times they dismiss the fact one has PTSD or they don’t understand it. So you have to be the one to take control of your boundaries when these situations are at hand.

Unfortunately, many times if there is a conflict the one with PTSD gets blamed simply because they have PTSD. It’s not always PTSD that starts things! Anyone can cause conflict, and anyone can have anger. Learning what to do for your best interest in these situations to manage/cope with your anger and the situation can help prevent blame as well.

This is when “flight” comes in handy.  WALK AWAY if possible! If someone is bringing on too much stress or triggering anger, or is angry themselves… there is nothing wrong with walking away from them and the situation in order to help control your anger or frustration. Even if it’s simply walking to another room until everyone calms down. Learn your boundaries.

Here are some things we have used for these situations:

“You are causing too much stress right now. This needs to be discussed at a later time.”

You are addressing what they are causing, prompting the conversation ends for now… in other words you are leaving the situation, but at the same time not dismissing that something needs to be discussed.

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“We need to be heading home”

Quick out without anything else needing to be said.

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“You are angry, we do not need to talk while you are this way. Let’s talk later”

This can be used by anyone really. One with PTSD can point out when it’s actually someone else that is angry. The one with PTSD is NOT always the instigator or “bad guy”. You are addressing it and at the same time avoiding you being the one who uses anger back. Then you allow the conversation to end there! Your points can be made at a later time when anger is down in both people. Very seldom do any conflicts get solved when two people are angry.

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There’s another thing that we learned years back that also helps greatly, especially if it is a situation where important information is included, needs to be remembered (keep in mind remembering things in any stressful situation and if anger is up, with PTSD, can be difficult!), but yet it’s a situation that could bring conflict, anger, or fight between people…

It’s called EMAIL! 

A form of communication where face to face conflicts, telephone/verbal conflicts, and anger can be avoided! You can type it out, save it to review later when your coping has been used and you can think without so much anger, proof read it, all before you hit the send button. Just keep in mind, once you hit send there’s no taking it back.  Email and saving emails can be a way of maintaining communication as well as remembering the important things… just use it wisely.

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There are many coping skills that can help with anger, there are many different ways to address or say things to help keep anger low or help manage anger. Learning to communicate correctly can help greatly! The things I mentioned are just a few of MANY!

Anger can be triggered in many different situations for many different reasons, hard fact is, life brings stress and conflict anyway. But, what you do, how you learn to cope and manage anger, can make a huge difference in positive ways. It’s not something that you learn to do over night, it takes time, patience, and a lot of learning but it’s well worth it!

Anger is not just going away. It does come with PTSD. But everyone can do their part to help manage it. I don’t miss the arguments and conflicts, it’s a part of PTSD that we learned to manage and things have become much better for us since we learned what works for us and how to properly communicate. Don’t ever give up on yourself, and don’t ever stop trying. And don’t forget, you are better and stronger than PTSD  Find what works for you, your partner, and your situation.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook Page

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

PTSD and High Stress… an example and options to handle it

I mentioned last night on my page that we had a couple of high stressful days around here. I also posted yesterday morning about PTSD and outside negative influences, there was a reason for that… It was a gentle reminder. 😉

The past couple of days I watched Craig struggle with increased PTSD symptoms. Stress does play a huge toll on one with PTSD no matter what level of coping they have accomplished. Honestly, I think just about, if not every symptom showed it’s mask of PTSD over the past couple of days. Times like that are when you use every single tool you have gathered in your “toolbox”, and you keep using them as you need them.

I heard that snappy tone, frustration… Which was responded to calmly with, “Please remember that it was not me that caused this, breathe, we will work through this together.” A simple, calm sentence spoken that carried a reminder, gave focus, directed to coping skills, and showed support and help to find a solution.

I heard the words of anger… Which were responded to calmly with, “You are better then this situation. I know this situation is not right and it is not fair, but we will find a solution. Relax, slow down, breathe“, which lead to taking a nap and breaking from the anger cycle/buildup.

I heard “How do I handle this situation? This is unreal!”… Which was responded to calmly with, “Try [this]. Not too many words, short sentences, and then take one sentence/issue at a time before going to the next. This will get worked out.” Which allowed the thought process to not become too overwhelmed through the triggered symptoms, again allowed focus without cognitive/memory weighing in too harshly, and reassurance that a solution would be found and this stress will end. Help was asked for.

I heard “I don’t understand?”… Which was responded to calmly with, “Talk to me and let’s talk through this together, I will help, and we will find a solution. Let’s ask one question at a time since there is not good communication in this situation.” Which allowed the frustration and confusion of the situation to be talked out and different points of view be given, support, and again the result will lead to a solution so this stress ends. Solution options were given and passed along.

I heard slurring of words… Which was responded to calmly with, “Enough for now, step away, this amount of stress is causing you and your brain to shut down. A solution is now offered, basically in place, and there is nothing more you can do until tomorrow.” Symptoms and what they were causing were pointed out and we stepped away from the situation for the day.

I heard increased nightmares… Which were responded to calmly from a distance with, “You are dreaming, it’s just a nightmare, you are at home and I am here with you. You are okay.” Then once awake, “Yesterday’s stress has just played a toll on you and PTSD, this will be okay.” The why and reassurance.

Day two.

I heard increased frustration and anxiety… Which has responded to calmly with, “If we do not hear something by [time], then we will make contact. Until then I will make arrangements and phone calls, then let’s watch a movie and try to focus on something else.” Which set a time frame to follow without it remaining an unknown amount of time waiting, other things were handled during this for a just in case situation so a plan was in place to help relieve symptoms (the what if’s), and focus was taken off of the situation some by adding in a different focus, a movie.

I heard increased anxiety of time frame is up and we have heard nothing… Which was handled calmly with, “Okay, let’s make contact and see if the unknown info has been found. If not, then let’s offer [this] as the final solution to this.” Which ended anxiety and other increased symptoms of waiting, the unknown, and a solution was offered.

The outcome… the solution was accepted, plan in place, this two days of stress and increased symptoms can now work on decreasing.

I heard, “You know I trusted you through this. I wanted to go off with anger. This was way too much for me to handle, too much stress on me. I listened to you.” Yes, and we made it through it and managed PTSD together.

This was a very short version of what our two days were like. My point of telling this, rather you are the one with PTSD, the one beside them, or the other person a situation involves… Stress, especially something that is not normal stress, can play a huge roll in how it effects PTSD. Symptoms can increase rather quickly, which in reality can lead a stressful situation to an even worse situation.

How you handle every situation, your wording, and anything and everything involved with the situation, can make a huge difference to how one is effected and how the symptoms respond. Even people who have PTSD managed okay, can backslide during high stress, cognitive dysfunction and memory can become severe, and if that takes place with no understanding or help, it’s going to be difficult to come to a solution without PTSD taking control. Everyone involved in a situation needs to do their part so a solution can be found instead of it leading to increased PTSD symptoms or even outbursts.

Keeping things simple without a lot of extra “noise” (extra wording), which is how PTSD in many cases will translate what it can’t process through, can greatly help in high stress situations.

When I say that everyone really needs to learn about PTSD, what it is, and things that could help another person, I really do mean that for very good reasons. Those things help everyone! Not only the one with PTSD.

What you choose to do or say, how you choose to handle every step of every situation, how you choose to keep PTSD in mind or not… will make all of the difference in the world, good or bad, to a situation. Just something to think about.

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

NOT everyone with PTSD is physically violent!

If you had the opportunity to explain something, anything, to a person who does not understand #PTSD and/or it’s symptoms well, something that would help reduce stigma and false information from spreading… What would you say?

Here’s mine:

* NOT everyone with PTSD is physically violent! 

Believing that a person with PTSD means they are violent or a threat to others is a HUGE misunderstanding about those with PTSD. Just because a person has PTSD, and PTSD symptoms include anger, frustration, flashbacks, and more, does not mean those things are out of control or not managed in all people. There are many with PTSD that would NEVER harm another person. Anger, frustration, and other symptoms CAN be managed and proper coping used so the symptoms are managed. It does not mean one does not have the symptoms, it means they have learned how to manage them so those symptoms are not physically taken out on others.

Many with PTSD also suffer from survivor’s guilt. Survivor’s guilt is when one lived but another person did not, and guilt of being the one who survived forms. Ones who suffer from this also, even in a high rage are unlikely to physically take the rage out on another person. High rage if not managed correctly might be taken out on things, objects, or even one’s self, but rarely and I mean rarely taken out on another person physically. Again, there are ways of coping with these symptoms when they do come.

Flashbacks. Flashbacks are when one with PTSD believes they are honestly reliving their trauma. They may lose realistic time, place, and even people present during a flashback and believe they are experiencing their trauma from the past, but to them it is presently taking place. To my knowledge, the only time a person with PTSD becomes physically violent towards another person during these, is when their trauma did include some type of physically altercation with another person.

However, flashbacks/the person can be grounded in majority of cases. A person can learn to ground themselves in many cases once learning the onset of symptoms and/or recognizing their triggers and learning how to properly cope when triggered. In other cases where this is not possible, it is important for those around them to learn and know how to ground them. Grounding is bringing one back to present time and place. This is normally done by talking to the person in a calm voice out of their reach, and telling them where they are, who you are, the time and date, and even letting them know they are experiencing a flashback. Repeating these things until they are grounded.

There are many, many, with PTSD that have worked hard to learn how to and do manage their symptoms well! Many maintain constant treatment in order to help themselves as well as those around them. Many have never become violent towards others.

Labeling someone as “violent” just because they have been diagnosed with PTSD is one of the most false and stigma related labels known to PTSD.

Having PTSD does not mean a person is “bad”, it simply means they went through a life altering trauma that maybe another person did not.

Before you indulge yourself  in the stigma, take the time to learn the FACTS!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Arguing and PTSD

Arguing and PTSD

Arguing, this is a topic I get many, many questions about. I also get asked how much Craig and I personally argue. So let’s talk about this…

First thing I want to say… If you are experiencing this, it CAN change! Don’t give up on a relationship because you feel the arguing will never stop!

It takes time to figure out what will or will not work, just like with anything else that comes with life with PTSD. I am not a doctor of any sort, and can only give my personal opinions and experiences on this based on what we have been through and what helped us.

Back at the beginning of us trying to figure out what was going on with Craig, we fought! He was not acting like the person I knew, picking fights, saying mean, hurtful things, just pure mean with an I don’t care attitude. And I was fighting back, I am a very strong and level headed southern lady who knows how to stand on my own two feet, and I was not going to stand for this attitude coming at me. I fought back trying to make him see the changes in himself. I mean the arguments were just heartbreaking, hurtful, and so damaging beyond words… which was totally out of character for us and our relationship.

There did come a time right around the time we were told he has PTSD, that I was struggling. I was worn out, I was tired of the picking and arguing, my anxiety level was so high I was passing out and having panic attacks, this strong southern lady had met her match and I so badly wanted to walk away at times, but just could not! I knew Craig and I knew this was not the true him, that’s when I started learning and looking for anything and everything that could help me understand and help us. I knew I had to be the one to make that step and move past the stuck arguing position and find a solution. Arguing with him sure was not working, it just brought a larger fight.

It goes back to what I always say, stop, listen, and really hear what is being said. When I started listening to his words, feeling where this anger was coming from, it in a way gave me a direction for finding answers, and with answers came things to help.

See, to me, my opinion, PTSD causes them to “look for the fight”. PTSD causes anger, frustration, numbness, they don’t sleep well, they experience flashbacks, and all of the other symptoms that come with it along with the fact that their life has changed. When all of those symptoms are being experienced it can cause them to just be angry, and many times not understand why. Craig actually now calls it “floating anger”, it’s anger that is always there, underneath the surface, just waiting to come out. Which leads to them lashing out at others, normally towards those they are closest to.

Once I realized this is exactly what was happening, I had the tools to make a change and break this arguing cycle. Again, I was the one who had to, because Craig could not, there was no real balance within himself for him to. Now lol, I won’t say it was easy, it took time, patience, listening, not taking things personally but recognizing it was PTSD causing this, and then holding my ground in a gentle caring way, not visible headstrong way. This new approach for me was all we really had left to try to break the cycle, and I added in coping skills to my side of it. 

I stopped fighting and arguing “with PTSD”. And I am sure I literally bit my tongue at times, but I stood solid I was not going to feed his anger and frustration. I sat and I listened. Sooner or later he would yell, “Well aren’t you going to say something?” And I would softly reply, “I love you and care about what you are going through, so I am just listening.” Craig has never been one to purposely lay his hands on another person, so I assumed that would not be an issue, which I was right. His anger when I started this did get worse, he would hit objects or throw things. He would yell at me “Get away from the door so I can leave.” Fight or flight was coming into play. I would calmly say “leaving won’t fix this and I will sit here so we can talk.”, but he never touched me.

***Just to note, if you are in a situation where a person will lay their hands on another, DO NOT do this! Safety first.***

Craig would eventually max out on the anger, then the “I am so sorry, I did not mean that” stepped in, then we could talk. Not to sound funny or disrespectful here, but it was kind of like breaking a horse. It’s still psychology. They fight until they wear out then you can ride them and teach them, you just have to hold on tight until you get to that point of settling down and learning. That’s in a way what I was doing to PTSD. No human can yell forever, there will be a break in it sooner or later. And that is exactly what happened, the break came and there was my Craig again, and we calmly talked.

I was holding the reins, but WE were learning together how to “break” PTSD. 

Then coping skills came into it. The next time he lashed out, I sat on the bathroom floor and used the breathing exercises the doctors had taught him. I mean hey, if they will work for him then they should work for me too. He yelled “What are you doing?” I calmly said breathing exercises. He asked why and I told him. He stomped off to another room mad. But you know what? It was not long before I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye and HE was using them! 

Nothing happened overnight, it did take some time. The more he saw how I had changed the way I was handling things, the more changes started showing in him. He started using different coping skills to keep the anger from coming out on others. Things like the breathing, listening to music, sitting quietly and doing different meditation techniques, and even laying down and trying to sleep if the anger is beyond everything else.

His PTSD and symptoms are just as bad as they were when we were arguing all of the time, but what we do to manage them changed.

He still has times of lashing out verbally, but he and I can quickly get it under control again. He has issues still with getting frustrated with people outside our family, and I help him through those times. But us arguing? I honestly can not tell you the last time we had an argument, we talk and communicate now, we don’t argue.

We understand that we will not always agree on everything, no human will in reality. We understand that at times one of us will have to give in and other times it will go the other direction. We lay facts on the table and both accept looking at the facts to decide together what the best outcome or solution is. We remind each other when coping is needed, if it’s not noticed as being needed. We don’t take it personally when one of us points out something to the other… such as “you seem anger”, “you really need a break”, “you seem off balance today”, etc. All of those things provide a platform for us to work together now, helping each other, and arguing just isn’t a part of it anymore.

So, don’t think arguing is a permanent part of life with PTSD. It does not have to be. It does take work, but it is a part of PTSD that can change so to speak. It’s all in how you handle it, manage it, what you actually put into place and use, and finding what helps you get past the arguing. Each person might need a different approach on what works for you, look for it and find what works for you.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Increase in Anger and Frustration…

Increase in Anger and Frustration…

My question to everyone a couple of days ago on my FaceBook page was:

“I’ve noticed a pattern, so wanted to reach out further on this one…

Be HONEST! 😉
How many of you are battling anger and/or frustration right now? 

NOT only those with PTSD, everyone!”

I received an overwhelming amount of responses, both publicly as well as privately, which did back what I have been seeing over the past week or so. MANY suffering from increased anger or frustration. BUT, more came to light then only those two things! Which is exactly what I was looking for, the why. There is also a higher level of feelings of loss, guilt, hopelessness, and even resentment which seems to be a huge root to many having increased (from the normal level of) anger or frustration issues right now.

Part of my theory was we just had Valentine’s Day and that day seems to be the day of the year people reflect on what use to be, how people use to be, expectations, and compare those things to life now. Something that can play on a mindset in a very large way. However, I did have another opinion brought to me that also fit into this, we have all settled down from New Years, the resolutions… what has or has not been accomplished, the year moving forward. BUT, many are not yet seeing the positive changes they were hoping to see or experience for this new year.

Another large part that surfaced was situation of circumstances. Rather it’s treatment, lack of treatment, job related, lack of support system, and the big one, other people not understanding unseen disabilities.

All of these things are VERY real and seem to be a big picture view of why there are above normal levels of anger and frustration. All leading back to those very real base feeling of loss, guilt, hopelessness, and/or resentment forming.

Loss.

This could be a wide range of things causing this feeling of loss. The largest thing seems to be loss of who a person was or who you were, or the life that you had. This is VERY common with PTSD. It’s what I refer to as part of the mourning stage. Even people who have had PTSD as a part of their lives for years seem to be refacing the mourning stage. It can and does happen in many cases. Just like one with PTSD can re-experience symptoms over and over, mourning is no different, one can experience it again.

I am no different then the rest of you. 😉 I had a touch of this the other day. On my FaceBook page I shared that song I had heard, I took all of you on a small trip down memory lane with photos from our past. BUT, what else did I do? I turned those negative feelings of loss around. I focused on a plan for the future and how even though PTSD has done to our lives what it has, and it’s still here hasn’t gone away or decreased, I don’t allow myself to stay stuck in the mourning of a loss. I do face and remember what the past was like, I allow myself to experience those real feelings, but I also find ways to look at the positive the future can bring. Finding the positive helps you move forward as well as helps keep you from being stuck.

The other things I heard a lot about were loss of job or difficult time with or getting treatment. Even though these two things are separate situations, both of them can change for a more positive outlook. The key here is DON’T give up!

If it’s regarding a job, keep looking, that right job that is perfect for you will come along. I know it might not be in a timely manner that you need, and it sure does not help financially when that money is needed to live on, or you have to take a job you don’t really care for or a place where others just don’t get it, but don’t give up! There is something out there that is perfect for you, it might be in a totally different line of work then you are use to! You might discover something you like more and is better suited for you. Keep your eyes and mind open to different things. No matter what, don’t give up on trying.

Medical treatment. Another thing you just can not give up on! I know how rough it can be when you don’t feel you or your loved one is receiving correct treatment, or even none at all! Push for it, with every ounce of energy you have. If you are not getting it and you want it, you demand it… for lack of better words. If you feel you could be getting better treatment, then change doctors! Ha, we have done this before. 😉 You know what? It made a huge difference in a positive way! Don’t settle when it comes to treatment. It’s part of your lifeline and making sure you get to the best point you can possibly get to. Don’t accept anything less then what you know you need and is best for you!

Resentment.

This is one that spouses seem to have the most difficult time with. In many cases it starts with the loss, the mourning, as well as taking things personal, then it turns to frustration or even anger. Many times towards the one with PTSD. This can lead to your life, both of you, becoming unbalanced and things being taken out on each other. Take a deep breath and look at the big picture at hand. There is not a single person out there who asked for PTSD or any other medical condition. I know life with PTSD can become frustrating, and that frustration will, if you do not get a grip on it, roll over to including anger, them towards the one with PTSD and/or the rest of the people around you.

Resentment can form because of the changes in life, the weight of many more things being placed on your shoulders, again the loss of the life that was. Then the vicious cycle begins of PTSD symptoms going on defense and fighting back. STOP, take a good look in the mirror and face what this is doing to you and what is causing it. Remember that this is no one’s fault that life changed, stop pointing fingers or placing blame and remember you are in this life together, live it together, learn and use coping skills, get professional help if need be, and find the positive ways to get past the resentment so you both can work forward from this point. Things can get better then they may be right now! I know this for a fact based on how far we have come in our own lives. PTSD is not going away, but the things you do, the way you start viewing things in positive ways, and communicating and working together can make the symptoms and life so much more manageable. DO something.

Guilt.

This can come in so many different forms and for different reasons! Rather you have PTSD or not, guilt can play into this life big time. It can form from what PTSD has caused and to others, to guilt of taking time to yourself in order to cope, to everything in between! Guilt causes one to pull away from others and/or society itself, it can be damaging to relationships or family, it can cause people to stop taking care of themselves. No matter what the case may be at hand, work on things that can help you control this very real and extreme feeling.

If, for example, you are one with PTSD and you feel guilt because PTSD symptoms causes you to not spend enough time with your children/grand-children. I’m using this example because it is one of the many I hear of most often. This could go for spending time with your spouse or partner as well. Try taking more often short periods of time with them. Time is about quality, not quantity. Especially with PTSD involved. Overwhelming yourself with long periods of time may very well in many cases lead to a few days of not wanting to be around anyone, just a fact that comes with PTSD. Try short periods of time, and more often, and build from it! Focus on the quality of that time, one on one attention, finding things in common or new things that you like and enjoy together. This is one of those small step, stepping stones of getting guilt under manageable control, at least for short time frames and using that quality time to have something good to focus on when guilt tries to step back in. 😉 I’ve seen it work, try it! If you are the other person, give them the chance to do this! Do NOT play guilt trips on a person who is trying!!!! You are only hurting yourself and your family if you do.

Guilt also comes from either person when “me time” is involved. You HAVE to make and take me time, time to yourself, in order to be there for others as well as to make sure you are taking care of yourself! Life with PTSD does bring a lot with it, it’s just a hard fact. You have to take care of yourself in order to keep a balance in this life as well as within yourself… which leads to being able to cope with all of those other negative feelings or situations when they come.

Hopelessness.

This is HUGE and again, very real. Rather you are the one with PTSD or not, you can experience this feeling. Those golden words… DON’T give up! Kind of like that old saying on gravity, what goes up must come down, very true but if it went up once then who’s to say it won’t again? 😉 PTSD is very well known for being a roller coaster ride. It’s the term that fits best. But even through the worst times that can come, that ride can shift to a different gear and things can get better. You have to learn to embrace the good and use those times to battle the not so good times. The good times or better times can give you strength! Use it to your advantage and don’t get stuck in the negative when it comes, use the positive to get through things.

There are many situations that will test you as much and far as they possibly can, beyond belief that it’s even occurring. During these times you have to use every single thing that you have learned about PTSD, use them to your advantage to find the good. Try different things, do different things that can help or to learn what helps, make sure you communicate, use those coping skills and a support system.

If you are one feeling hopeless because you do not feel you are getting “better”, ask yourself, “How far HAVE I come to this point?” Use what you have already experienced to your advantage to build on and from! If you are not sitting at rock bottom, and I mean the bottom of rock bottom right now at this point for the very first time, then you have something there to build from, use it!

And, if you are one at that first rock bottom, hang on tight because there are MANY things and people that can help pull you out of that spot and back to a more balanced ground!!! Ones with experience, knowledge, and all sorts of things that can help you! DO NOT lose hope! Even when it seems that there is no hope left (again, a VERY real feeling) or you are in a state where you do not see it or feel it, it is there, it’s just masked by what PTSD causes. Learn the “tools” and reach to the people who can help.

Anger and/or frustration…. two very real things that come with life containing PTSD. Many feel these things on a daily basis, “floating anger right under the surface just waiting for the opportunity to come up” is the way Craig describes it. Even at times when there feels like there is no reason behind the feelings, if you look deep enough, to the roots, there is a good chance you will find the cause… the WHY. Like I always state, and truly believe, when you see/feel the what then you can look for the why to it, that why will help you find and use things that help. PTSD is not just going away, we all know that, but learning and understanding the why to things/symptoms when they happen can sure help you take that step forward, even if it’s a small step. 😉

As always, these are just a few examples of what I am sure are many, but after so much input from all of you, which I GREATLY appreciate! I found a few very common roots to the high levels of anger and frustration many people are experiencing right now. Use those roots of the why to find ways to cope, manage, communicate, and move forward. And remember, no matter how low you may feel right now at this moment… YOU are awesome! Don’t allow PTSD, or life beside it, mask that. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Movies

PTSD and Movies

With some of the new movies out, I have heard many debates and have had a lot of questions come to me about mixing PTSD with certain movies. It is in reality something very real and also something to think about on many different levels, good and bad. 

Again as I always say, I’m not a doctor or in any medical field, just a spouse  So the information I provide is coming from personal experience, from other’s experiences, and/or through research.

Majority of people love watching a good movie! Movies bring together or family time, help get your mind off of other things for the moment, bring a different sense of fantasy or reality, they might be a way to get one out of the house… if they can manage movie theaters, they even in their own way help exercise the brain.

Craig is actually a huge at home movie buff. Which he never was before PTSD. Movie theaters are not a place he can manage. But with PTSD and the different symptoms it does bring, we have to be picky about which movies are watched depending on the symptoms present at that time. Some days he can watch a movie that might not have been an option yesterday, some movies he has to completely avoid, then with others that he really wants to watch but we know might trigger him, we have found ways to be able to manage PTSD but still watch them, just different from “normal” movie watching.

So it really boils down to what you put into place, your coping skills, and being honest with yourself if that movie is something you can or can not handle based on what you know about the movie. Sure, there might be that surprise in some movies you were not ready for or expecting, but knowing how to manage it if that happens can help.

But let’s go a little deeper. Why would one with PTSD push to see a movie that they and/or others know will most likely trigger their PTSD?

In a way, the best comparison I can relate this to… Why would a woman want to watch a “girly” movie that she knows is going to make her cry? 

It fills a void or pushes an emotion. A situation, feeling, or an emotion that one actually longs for OR feels the need to experience.

There could be many different reasons for this, rather one realizes it or not. The most common seems to be they are missing a part of their life that that movie reminds them of. The movie let’s them for a brief period be back in that time period, experience the feelings of the rush, what they loved to do (especially if job related), or something that they themselves have experienced… it gives them a sense of normal and something they can relate to. Other times, it may just simply be a way of fitting in and feeling normal, being able to talk with others about a popular movie.

I have noticed over the years that movie watching is extremely common for those with PTSD. It does make sense, think about all of the PTSD symptoms, then how movies trigger or even help process those symptoms.

Anger and/or Frustration.
(Hypervigilance or Hyperarousal)

Have you ever noticed that when there is anger, frustration, high alert coming from PTSD, which movies a person wants to watch? A high power military movie, a boxing movie, a high speed chase, bad guys good guys shoot-out, mystery, spy movie… a thriller.
The rush!

In a way it can be coping with the anger, frustration, high sense of being on alert mentally without it coming out on others. BUT at the same time when those feelings are experienced you have to make sure they do not escalate to the point they roll over to real life more then normal once the movie ends.

Depression, Sense of Sadness, or Loss.

These seem to bring about the want to watch movies that are sad or have a not so happy ending, a relationship that did not work out, movies where one of the key actors died. These movies experience the alone feeling, the sense of loss, the feeling of “normal” to experience things that might not be such good positive feelings or emotions. Many times they allow you to cry or push you to experience the emotion.

Inability to relate to others.

Ever see a “manly man” want to watch a romance movie when it was something he would never have watched before? Yep ladies, he’s doing it for you! To understand you, get a sense of your needs or wants. PTSD brings numbness. It goes back to what I have said before “motions lead to emotions”, those romance movies give a sort of guideline to help with the numbness. 

What about movies that have an actor with a disability? These movies bring a sense of normal to the disability and relation that others are experiencing the same or commonly related things.

Reliving the trauma.

One of the main things of PTSD. Many wonder why someone would want to watch a movie that has a similar experience to their own trauma… what happened to them. My guess, most of the above. It brings a sort of exposure, facing it head on in a different way that seems “safe”, come on, it’s just a movie so that in a way makes sense. With all of the symptoms PTSD brings, some handle it in different ways and that movie may bring the face to face to battle all of those feels and emotions, a way to say “I’m stronger then you are PTSD”.

Okay, so there are a few examples of how movies play a role with PTSD. But now, what can you do when it comes to movies being watched, and the good or bad that can come with them?

* Know your limits.

Don’t push too hard to watch a movie that you know for a fact is going to send you into a flashback or be highly triggered beyond your coping ability.

* Pace your watching.

If you are watching movies at home and find yourself not coping well, step away from the movie or hit the pause button! It is okay to pause a movie, do your coping skills, then return to it.

* Listen to others.

If you are watching a movie and are having negative effects from it, listen to what others are telling you. Now to the “others”, don’t limit watching on the “what if’s”, if one feels they will be okay or can manage watching a movie they want to see, let them try! Have your coping skills and how to handle triggers ready for that just in case, but don’t over react.

* Retreat.

If you are able to go out of the house to watch a movie, but the movie becomes too much for you, it’s okay to retreat to a bathroom or in the lobby away from others. Gather yourself, then return if possible. If you can’t, don’t feel guilty about it! YOU made the effort to go, you tried, and that is an achievement! You can always try again another time or watch a different type of movie next time! Don’t look down on yourself if you can not finish watching a movie.

* Use your coping skills.

If you see you are drawn to a certain movie, think about why and if you are coping correctly with your symptoms. Does not mean you can’t watch the movie, but knowing the why or what you are feeling can help. Use your coping skills! They can make your movie watching experience a good one.

* Reverse psychology.

HA!  This one can actually help with symptoms, and I have personally seen this work. If you find yourself drawn to one type of movie and recognize why, such as anger, try watching a movie that brings different meanings or feelings, in a positive way. This can help lessen negative feelings and bring a sense of positive things.

As always, these are just a few examples of many. Whatever the reason or the “why” behind watching certain types of movies, or a simple love for watching them, maybe this will bring a little more understanding when it comes to PTSD.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Overwhelmed…

Overwhelmed.

Such a simple word, but yet it carries so much weight. When it’s spoken, it is normally followed by a deep breath and a huge sigh. Sometimes the word won’t be spoken, but the body language lets you know it’s there. It’s that feeling of “this is just too much” or “too much at one time to handle“. With paying attention to yourself or one with PTSD, you can see when being overwhelmed is coming. It is one term and feeling that does not hide itself among other symptoms, it stands out like a freight train’s whistle blaring “Here I come get off the tracks!”

There is good news though, becoming overwhelmed is something that in many situations can be controlled or managed. All of those things I talk about… coping skills, pacing yourself, taking “me” time, not having too many expectations, knowing your limits… taking control of the situation or events and placing them in some type of order so they can be handled without one becoming overwhelmed. All of these things placed together and used correctly, majority of the time will help one from becoming overwhelmed or too overwhelmed.

But what happens when situations are totally out of your hands?

You feel your heart sink and it feels heavy, you are trying to keep a situation or group of situations within a reasonable level, you can see the most likely results, you play different scenarios through your mind of what move to take next or which is the best and safest option at hand… it’s like a game of chess and the outcome is unknown. Your personal coping skills are always there, you can take your “me” time, but your options to preventing becoming overwhelmed have been limited. Then the unknown chimes in. What if this happens or that happens, what if it becomes too much for yourself or your loved one, what if you believe there is another move that may be better played. Fear, fear comes into this game of situations… but it’s falling upon deaf ears. Your gut is telling you one thing, but you are trying to convince yourself it may be wrong. That next move may not be your’s to take, but yet it effects others and it also effects you.

There’s not really an answer that will work across the board. You do what you have to, you take things one day at a time, you mask the what if’s while keeping in mind reality. You simply make the best of the situation and hope the best is what comes. At times no matter what you say, what you think, or what you feel… situations are going to be out of your hands. You hold onto yourself and do what you know in your gut and mind is best, and you cope through what comes the best you can to prevent becoming overwhelmed. You set your mind to positive outcomes and the good things that can take place. You make a plan, and you make a backup plan.

I know many are having issues right now with extra events and gatherings coming soon. Make sure you are taking care of yourself through them. Make sure you are doing all of those things that you have learned to help you make it through the more overwhelming times and situations. And don’t forget to breathe.  You’ve got this!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD