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“PTSD vs Avoidance”

“PTSD vs Avoidance”

You know how you do things and just don’t think about it? Well, back when I first injured my knee I was headed for another cup of coffee, bummed knee so hobbling, and I thought, why don’t I go the other way through the kitchen? It’s a pass through kitchen and I take the long way…every time. So I turned direction and went the other way, the shorter way. Then I realized why I take the long way…there’s not a light switch for the kitchen at the other end.

**Again, I’m not a doctor of any sort and can not give medical advice. These are only my personal opinions and experiences.**

Ahhh…I was going somewhere with that, wasn’t I? 😉 One of the true symptoms of PTSD‬ is avoidance. You avoid crowds, gatherings, family, friends, events, relationships, the news, tv or newspapers in general, maybe things that seem simple to others such as a trip to the grocery store, emotions, thoughts, etc. You may avoid getting close to others, relationships (emotional or physical). The list is endless.

Are you really avoiding all of those things? Or are you really avoiding the “what if” that comes with them? The situation which may arise or happen? The feeling that you are different? The mind set of something bad is going to happen? The chance of a trigger happening? The avoidance of feeling or emotion?

Avoiding things has it’s good as well as it’s bad that comes with it. It’s a way of coping right then and there, short term. It helps you get through a situation or the what if’s. You might feel like you want to cry, or on the flip side lash out. Avoiding the thoughts and emotions of what you have been through can help keep these things from happening. One that many do, you get quiet. Which at times, and I clearly state at times, can help avoid tricky or uncomfortable situations, arguments, conflicts, and helps give you time to cope and think… which can be a good thing.

However, long term avoidance can be more damaging. Avoiding things and seeing it helped you hold back those feelings or did avoid that tricky situation, can lead you to being numb. Pulling you away from family and friends or even things you used to enjoy doing. I know, that feeling of if I face it am I going to lose control or something bad happen? Control of the tears, control of the anger, and everything else that may come with it. Are expectations going to come?

Sometimes you have to just have that trust, that trust within yourself. If I face this, I won’t lose control, I can have a grip on it. Sometimes it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to face things…you are human!

I have watched my husband become a hermit because of PTSD avoidance along with it’s other symptoms, and depression. I have also seen him bounce back at times for small amounts of time. And when he does find the strength to face some things, it’s not easy! Anxiety goes through the roof. But I also see his reaction when he has made it through something, done something, gone through a motion even without emotion…and nothing bad happened! That smirk on his face of ”I did it.” That smirk is priceless!

Walking out that front door is one of the hardest things for him to do. It takes a lot and every ounce of energy he has, and many times I do kindly remind him it’s healthy to go outside, how he will feel better when he does even through the anxiety and what if’s. The fresh air, seeing things around you other then four walls, the sounds of nature. It all plays a roll in being the best you can be, even if it’s just for that moment.

Mark it on a calendar, I’m being serious! “Today I made it outside for 10 minutes”. Do you know what that can do? Come tomorrow when you look at that calendar you might think “Wow, yesterday I went outside for 10 minutes. Hum, today I can make it for 15.” It gives you something to look at, to put into perspective of what you accomplished and a goal to work forward from. Maybe today is a day you can’t pull yourself from your bedroom. Mark that too. When you start seeing on paper, in your own handwriting, hey I haven’t made it from my bedroom in 4 days, what do you think you will do? I bet you make it to the living room. 😉 It’s okay to have those bad days, they are going to be there, but they are also something to build from.

I always direct you back to a wall calendar. My reason, you can see it plotted out by days. You can see how many days have passed by, you can see accomplishments you have made, you can figure out where you want to improve things from here. How about “Today I didn’t have any triggers”, then another day you might have 4, write them on there. It helps you notice the triggers and at times may help you figure out exactly what they are. It can help you face them in a way that you don’t feed the avoidance…with your own writing. You can also flip back when you want to an look at things. Just something to think about. 😉

There is something else that works really well that a doctor told us once. Take a sheet of paper. Write down what it is, whether it’s a fear, something you want to do, etc. Then make 2 rows. In one row write what would be positive or accomplished…the facts of the situation. In the second row write the negative or the facts that could lead to a negative outcome… the facts. Everything is based on the facts. For example, “I don’t want to go on a cruise because the ship will sink.” Okay, that might very well be true, but what are the odds? Take the facts and numbers of how many incidents have in reality happened and weigh them against the unlikeliness of it happening. Odds are, you are more apt to have a good time and enjoy your trip than the likeliness of the ship sinking. You can use this method for viewing the reality on paper which can lead you past the fear to try. No, I’m not saying the fear will just disappear, we know it doesn’t, but it gives you a factually based guideline to help you do something that you would normally avoid.

Avoidance is going to be there, it’s all a part of PTSD and what you have been through and I’m by no means saying it’s not. However, sometimes in some situations looking at the facts can help you get through the avoiding feelings and help you get a little piece of life back that you thought or feel is gone. You might just find out that you are stronger than a lot of those avoiding feelings. Again, it won’t happen every time, so don’t view yourself as a failure if something doesn’t work out, but trying will make you stronger and help you find new boundaries to your limits of avoidance… as well as the limits you thought were there that you can step past, even if it’s just a small step.

PTSD is so overwhelming that you can lose sight, and focus on the “who I was”, “what I was”, “I let you down”, “I’m such a burden”. Getting past that, or to a better place than you are right now is hard! Beyond words! Finding the good and positive in things is a difficult task and no one can do it for you. It’s a step you have to take or try for yourself. Does it make the horrors go away, no. Does it make the triggers stop, no. Does it stop the anxiety, no. Does it stop avoidance, no but it can help. But does it put things into a perspective you can understand and look at? Yes. It helps you with the avoidance.

Battling avoidance… Easier said than done? Absolutely! But then again, what in life is easy? Especially when PTSD is with you. Nothing! The calender idea and making a fact sheet are just a couple of ways for you to be able to learn and watch your path, to see when coping is needed as well as what does or does not really need to be avoided, and simple ways that may help you learn to live again. There are many things you can try. PTSD is not the end, I refuse to believe that! You all are worth more than anything that could be put into words.

A simple example. How many of you have avoided posting on here? I bet at times every single one of you. I know I myself bit my tongue at times. 😉 Why? Because someone may judge you? Someone might not like what you say? Someone might think you are crazy? SO WHAT! Do those things really matter? You are who you are, and that is a very special human being. One thing you think and don’t post, know what that one thing might do? It might just save someone’s life, might make another person stop and think, it might even educate someone close to you that didn’t understand you or PTSD. Look to the good my friends, at times it’s there and just hidden or masked… and you might be surprised at what you find there. (And no, I don’t expect everyone to post! I leave that to each of you and your comfort zone! That was simply an example 😉 )

Sometimes avoiding things is needed, but other times it’s not. Will I stop taking the short way to the kitchen when it’s dark? Yes, I sure will, there’s no way of having light from that way. But will I take the short way when it’s daylight? Yes, it helps me with my bummed knee. There’s 2 ways to look at everything, always remember that. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

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PTSD and Disconnection From Others

PTSD and Disconnection From Others

You know, we live this life with or beside PTSD‬ and/or depression‬ day in and day out. It does become our new normal. What we do now, how we handle or manage things as well as symptoms, how we support each other and help each other. We learn the tricks of how to make it from one day to the next, and keep on making it.

Craig and I have been battling this life and forming a new normal for 11 years now. This morning while I was looking for one of my older articles for someone, I came across one that I wrote almost 2 years ago regarding PTSD and numbness. Unfortunately it made me realize that in reality Craig has become more disconnected, much more, than he was two years ago.

Disconnection is the one part of PTSD that has been a battle for so long and no matter what I try or come up with for him or us to try, it just does not seem to help him, or us. Every symptom with PTSD and depression that he and we battle, I have been able to find something, no matter how great or small, to help it be battled, but the disconnection? It’s the one that gives me a run for my money, so to speak. And I say that with no disrespect towards him, it’s just a part of the battle at hand that is real life.

I’m one that will not stop for anything to research, read, try new things, find new ways of doing things, I send Craig links to articles that I think may be of positive help to him and us, as a couple. Things to think about or that give different views that may help him battle what he feels (or doesn’t) and that may help in some small way. I try to enjoy each day we have together and just live in the now, and make the best of each day. I accept him for who he is and the disabilities he has.

I mean I love Craig. I will never give up on him or us. I’ll never stop researching, reading, and trying new things in the hopes that something helps. I will never stop trying to make the most of each day. But the disconnection that comes with PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder makes things and life extremely difficult. It’s just a hard fact that comes with this life.

This life beside PTSD can be extremely lonely which in turn brings a lot of guilt to those with PTSD, they don’t want or mean for their spouse/partner to go through that or feel that way, they know or view it as it’s not fair, and in return it causes them to pull away even further. Another vicious circle in this life with PTSD and/or depression.

I was asked, “How do I keep my partner from being or feeling so disconnected from me? I know I’m loved, I’m told I’m loved, but it ends there. I know their disconnection from me and even others is really strong, I know PTSD causes this. What can I as the partner do to help?”

In that older article I wrote, there were two quotes that really hit me hard.

The first one was a quote from the movie “The Vow”, a true life story about a wife that has TBI, that Craig and I can really relate to due to the memory issues involved…

I wrote: The husband in the movie told his friends, “She fell in love with me once, so I won’t lose hope she will fall in love with me again.” -Quote from the movie “The Vow”

The second thing I wrote in that article that hit me was…

“Sometimes one with PTSD needs a guide so to speak through the numb feelings. Craig told me last week he needed help through the numbness, he’s not sure how to get through the numbness to feel the love he knows he has for me, how to find the motions or what they even are.”

(I’ll add the link to that full article at the end of this for anyone that would like to read it.)

The only way I know how to answer that difficult question that came to me is this…

Don’t lose hope, don’t stop trying, don’t stop showing your love for and to your PTSD partner. And make sure you are taking care of yourself through this life, that is one thing that you are capable of no matter what.

A spouse/partner is not a cure, you cannot make PTSD and Depression or their symptoms go away… so don’t put that on yourself. All you can do is be your best, be patient, supportive, learn, find new things to try, and do what you are capable of doing and be there for them. The rest is not up to you, one person can only do so much, not everything. There are many things one with PTSD and/or Depression can work on even with the symptoms they do experience, some things can change… at least to some level, one can at least give things a try to see what helps and what doesn’t. Other things may never change and there will have to come a point in time where you just accept this is the way they are now. And I cannot answer, which will be which or what will be what. Each person will be different and have different circumstances.

Disconnection and avoidance are very real life symptoms of PTSD, as well as depression. Too many are faced with having to let go or are let go of, the disconnection PTSD brings is normally a huge factor in that. PTSD and depression can cause life to feel or become very lonely, for both the one with PTSD as well as the one standing beside them. Don’t lose hope, don’t stop learning and trying new things, don’t stop believing in each other, and don’t lose that grip of each other’s hand. You, your partner, and your relationship are worth it, hang onto each other.

I myself will not lose the hope I hold onto, that Craig and I will someday have that connection again like we used to have between us. It was the most amazing feeling two people could experience together, full of love, passion, excitement, mental and physical closeness. It was a connection that people envied and were jealous of, they wanted what we had together. I will not give up on finding that personal connection again that we had, even some small part of it… even with PTSD and Depression being a part of our lives now.

As I am known for stating and believing,
“The battle is PTSD, not each other”

April 4, 2013: “PTSD vs Numbness

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook Page

The “What If’s” of PTSD: explained

The “What If’s” of PTSD

This is a topic that many may just not understand, unless they are standing in the shoes of PTSD‬ or one that stands beside them. I had someone mention to me how they do not understand how something that should be not a huge deal, is huge to someone with PTSD. I have also discovered some new views that may help others with or standing beside one with PTSD. So I wanted to see if I can explain this so it makes more sense to others.

You know, everyone experiences something in their life sooner or later that changes the way they view things. It may be something simple such as, let’s say for example you got food poisoning. Something that unfortunately is common and many can relate to. So what happens then? You will most likely never eat at the place that food came from again, you may even avoid eating that certain food from there forward. You start relating that specific food to what you felt and experienced, getting sick. You see this happen all of the time. You experienced something that was bad or unpleasant, so you avoid it. You get those thoughts of “If I eat that, what if I get so sick again?” You just did a “what if”.

This relation is something that is human nature, even animals experience it, it’s the way the brain works. There is the relation of bad followed by avoidance because you have already experienced something unpleasant and don’t what to repeat that experience.

Now, take that to a severe, life changing experience… a trauma. Think about what traumas may consist of, a life may have been in danger or even life lost, fear is involved. When this happens those “what if’s” become more up front, thought about, in-bedded in the brain “I can’t go through that again”. The feelings become extremely strong. It can start effecting majority if not all of the decisions you make in life. It becomes a survival skill.

Those what if’s can start running your life, which is not a good thing as we all know, and people who experience this on high levels do not like the feeling or what it does to them. It’s not something that they purposely do, it’s in a way how the brain and mind reprograms itself so bad experiences can be avoided. And it’s why avoidance is a huge part of life with PTSD.

It takes a lot for a person who has experienced a trauma to push themselves through the what if’s as they come. It effects things related to or that remind them of their trauma, but it can also effect every aspect of their life. What if’s can start forming around anything, large or small in other people’s eyes.

We had something that had to be done this week (without going into details of what it was). It was something that Craig and I chose to let go of several months back (his decision which I agreed with for the best interest of his health), but not long after that decision Craig started second guessing himself, it started weighing on him, it lead to him feeling like a failure for not pursuing or completing what he felt like he should, which lead to guilt. I have watched this cycle happen time after time around this same “situation”, we will call it. So I knew something had to be done so he could find some sort of peace regarding this situation, so there would not be any more guessing of “what if’s”. There had to be some type of resolution, an outcome, done had to be done so this does not weigh on him any longer, which also means weighing on his health.

When Craig set in his mind “I have failed and I really need something to be done about this”, he and I talked. We had to find some way to relieve this stress, guilt, and his negative thoughts of himself that kept returning. So with help from one of my support ladies who understands this type of situation, we came up with a plan. I discussed it with Craig and he agreed with this plan, he would give this a try one last time. The plan included me doing what I can so to relieve him from as much stress as possible, so he could make it through this. Any level of stress effects him greatly, so this was an urgent part that had to be managed.

See, stress and those what if’s go hand and hand. They play off of each other in huge ways. It’s not situations where one can just say “Oh no big deal, I’ll just handle it”, because those what if’s are there that bring those negative thoughts of “What if I go through the same thing again?” or “What if the outcome is not good?” or “What if I fail?”. Those are huge worrisome thoughts, especially for one with PTSD and/or depression!

Over the month that this “situation” has been worked on, even with me handling as much of things as possible, Craig’s not blind and he is very intelligent. He knows what is at hand, the importance of it to him personally, and he obviously sees me working on it. His symptoms have increased, those what if’s have increased, but he also knows this is something that had to be taken care of for the best interest of his health and so his focus can remain on his health. So this is seriously important to remove it from his plate, so to speak. In other words all of the what if’s have to be faced and there has to be an outcome.

I was already prepared for what Craig’s PTSD and depression may do to him, which it has done to him, this is something that again we have faced before. So my plan had to include more to make sure Craig could make it through this. I informed the important people involved in this of what it is causing for Craig as well as my concerns regarding his health, I talked to his doctors so they could do their part in helping him make it through this, we have put every precaution in place here at home, and we have a serious support system on call… for BOTH of us.

Yesterday was Craig’s largest hurdle in this, his part of this that I could not do for him and he had to face. The people involved and his doctors that I informed really pulled through for him. He made it through yesterday, he’s still exhausted from it, and knowing him and his disabilities I know he will need a few days down, but he made it through it! And I am so proud of him!!! Now we wait for the outcome.

The what if’s are still here, but the hard parts are now over. His doctor said something that I felt was extremely important. He was told that no matter what the outcome is, he has to choose a final decision, will he accept the outcome or will he continue to pursue it if it’s not the outcome he feels is fair? He has to define what fair is to him and decide where acceptance is for himself so this can finally be over and stops weighing on him.

It’s not a failure if you define where your personal acceptance is. That’s a huge thought! It makes sense. It can also help you change those negative thoughts of yourself that do come.

There are certain things or situations in your life that do come, some things just cannot be avoided because avoidance at times can haunt you. There are things that you have to decide how far you will, can or can not push, set a goal, and there is no right or wrong to that goal as long as you define and set in your mind that this is where acceptance within myself lies. Then you make a plan and make sure that every aspect that is in the best interest of your health and limits is in place, as well as anyone who can be a positive help to you.

The past month has contained many what if’s here, but one step at a time we together are getting through them, and we reached for help to do it.

What if’s can become so damaging, they will weigh on you. But we have learned that it is possible to take control or at least the best possible, of many situations. Choosing what things need to be faced and what may not need to be if not of great importance, setting those goals, defining where acceptance is for you personally, and then when you reach it allowing that to be it, you reached your personal goal… it can take some of those what if’s away or allow them to be done so they do not keep returning, an outcome that you define is your acceptable point. It can lead to taking those steps, small or big, forward.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

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Motions lead to Emotions… the meaning behind this

I need to take a step backwards for a moment 😉

The other day I posted about “motions lead to emotions”. Many people took this as an intimacy or sex thing/saying, which it can be, but it’s MUCH more than that. Let me explain what it actually means.

Many times with PTSD, people develop numbness. This is VERY common and is a symptom of PTSD. When numbness comes it causes one to not feel love or closeness to anyone (avoidance can also join in with this), which can also cause one to believe they no longer love or care about someone they really care about. It can cause the spark to go out in relationships, emotionally as well as physically. It can cause you to lose interest in things you use to love to do, things like hobbies, sports or activities, being around friends or family. It brings an emotional divide between you and, in reality, living life. It brings kind of a “If I have no feelings then why bother doing it”.

It can cause one to feel very lonely or alone.

Not a place anyone should be. So in order to try to help take some of the PTSD numbness away or fight it, you go through the motions… of living life.

A “motion” can be anything that includes physical movement of the body or an action. It could be setting one on one time with your spouse/partner to talk. It could be a date night/time. It could be spending a certain time of day with your kids/grandchildren. It could be going outside the house. It could be a weekly trip to the store. It could be helping someone with a chore or doing one. It could be walking the dog. It could be working on a hobby etc that you use to like to do. It could be giving a person a hug or telling someone you love them. And yes, it can include intimacy, at whatever level. 

A motion can be anything that leads you from one physical place or action to another. Those “dance steps” in life.

The motion is something you tell yourself you are going to do AND you force yourself to do it, or at least try, whether you have the feeling to want to do it or not.

By going through the “motions” it can lead you to the “emotions”. In other words, taking the physical steps can, with practice, lead you to creating new or jump starting old emotions and feelings… unmask them.

You HAVE to practice! One time trying something may not be enough, most likely won’t be enough. When numbness takes over, it is going to take effort to get back what PTSD has caused to you or masked from you, but it is possible.

I can give a great example! Using my dearest Craig.  The boat. Craig use to LOVE going boating and was very active in water sports. Yep, he owns that one, he was REALLY good at water sports! I mean the man LOVED it and could not wait back then to get off work to hit the lake or ocean! PTSD numbness took that love away from him. He had absolutely no interest. He had become numb literally to everything in life, literally.

We took a chance on buying the boat, hoping to spark something, anything within him by bringing back or giving him something he use to love doing. (Now I’m NOT saying go out and buy a boat lol! That’s just one example here.) It took time, but it did! He was excited the day we got the boat… excitement, an emotion and feeling. But it took about 5-6 weeks to actually build up to taking it out. Then a goal had to be set to try to take it out once per week. Goals are very important! (We are also battling a level of agoraphobia that developed with all of the PTSD symptoms and depression). We used his “wanted to do things with his kids” over the summer to help push the motions. And he did it, it was NOT easy, but we managed to take the boat out once per week while all of the kids were here for half the summer.

Now that his PTSD anniversary time is approaching, it has been more difficult. All of the increased PTSD symptoms are already here. We have not been out on the lake since the kids left almost a month ago. So at times there will be back steps also, accept that fact and don’t allow it to stop you, you keep trying and practicing. The boat needed a new prop. Guess what arrived yesterday?  It’s another jump-start to working on pushing forward again.  But the boat over all has spark his feelings, his emotions… and let me tell you  when he’s enjoyed a day on the lake, even with all of the anxiety and other PTSD symptoms that come with it AND after it, I see my Craig that I know so well through the PTSD. It has helped with the numbness, it’s helped him break through it at least a little at a time.

Motions lead to Emotions“… it’s taking the actions and steps of living life, to help bring back the feelings and emotions of living again.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

“As a home bound PTSD suffer I was wondering how often does your hubby leave the house?”

I had a very good question and topic come to me…

“As a home bound PTSD suffer I was wondering how often does your hubby leave the house?”

I don’t think I can answer this in a short answer  It’s just a huge topic.

I have to say, this is probably one of the most drastic changes in Craig. He use to be that type of person you had to beg to get him inside. He was always outside, he loved water sports, travelling, washing his car, even mowing the lawn lol. Going out to eat… oh he loved dining out! We had our favorite meals at different places. We use to get together with friends all of the time, cookouts, parties, meeting up at different public places, going to the beach. You get the idea, life changed once PTSD came out of it’s box.

Now, in all fairness to answering this question (and Craig said I can share this), he does suffer from more then only PTSD. His original diagnoses was conversion disorder, which developed after having the West Nile (same time PTSD came out of it’s box as we and the doctors say it), and conversion disorder and west nile have gone dismissed for the most part since he was discharged in 05, and the focus has for the most part been on his PTSD and Depression, until recently.

We do not have solid answers yet, but his awesome (so far) new doctor believes that a huge part in why Craig just has not seemed to respond to therapy and some medications as one with PTSD normally would, and why he has difficulties with daily activities and taking care of himself, is because the “executive function” of his brain has actually not been functioning correctly. So, no solid answers on that yet, but it sure makes sense to the other symptoms that don’t seem to be PTSD related. We have been told for years it is severe memory issues and/or permanent memory impairment, but this new view on his medical might actually be what has been going on with him, along with PTSD. Depressive disorder is also a part of everything, which many with PTSD also suffer from. Craig is considered agoraphobic by doctors, he rarely leaves the house and when he does it is a task to do so. The doctors consider his case as “complicated” and “complex”.

So, with that said, Craig is for the most part home bound.

He does make an effort to go to the end of the driveway almost daily to check the mailbox, and will majority of the time stay outside for a few minutes up to 10 minutes each time, because we both know he needs outside time.

I do try to get him to take his dog out into the back, fenced in yard one time per day. Which is good for both of them  she is a retired service dog so she still needs her “daddy time” outside with him even though she is no longer working.

Craig does go to all of his doctor appointments, and I go to all appointments with him. They are for the most part a straight there then back home. Then he won’t go outside the rest of the day. Sometimes, I can slip in if I see it’s a better day for him an, “oh we really need to stop by the store” on the way home, and he will go in the store with me, but it’s a mission of get what we need and get out. At times if I softly push the “I really need you to go with me” card on a better day, he will go with me, say to the hardware store. It’s still a mission, but at times he will go. So he does try.

Once in a blue moon we will take a walk around the neighborhood. His anxiety does go to a high level and I have to remind him to slow down his pace, so I can keep up with him. 

Craig is required to do ALL visitation travel to get his kids as well as take them home (hotels are not an option with his medical). That puts travel as 14 hours in one day for us, unless by chance the grandparents can do a leg of travel. This is one of the hardest and most challenging things that comes with his medical, being able to see his children. He only gets to see them 2-3 times per year when they are out of school, and there have been times that no matter how much he wants to see them, his medical does not allow for that travel. After this type of away from home, it normally takes him a couple of days to recover.

Getting him out of the house is something that he and we do put a lot of effort into, and the doctors are working with him on building his outings up. I do have the goal of getting another RV, which the doctors are on board that it could help Craig leave the house more, and have that “safe place” to retreat to when needed that is his space, his things, and a sort of comfort level… also getting something back that he loved but lost when his medical became severe. Only time will tell on that one, but we are going to try.

Bottom line to the question, on average he leaves the house one time per week unless he has multiple doctor appointments. There are some weeks that he just cannot leave the house.

When it comes to PTSD, each person is going to be different on how much they can leave the house. Again, with Craig he does have more going on with his medical then only PTSD. Some people can make it out of the house every day, some still work or go to school, some have found that having a service dog helps, it all goes back to individual cases and what is at hand, to what level of outings away from home they can manage.

PTSD does make it difficult no matter what the level, so to speak is. It does take a lot of effort and trying, in order to make it out the front door. For many, the time away from home can be built up slowly to more time out. It’s one of those things that a person can work on. Getting help and learning coping skills do play a huge role in this, and the sooner the better! It doesn’t change or cure PTSD, but it makes it more manageable. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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PTSD vs Numbness…

PTSD vs Numbness

You know, one of the toughest things that comes with PTSD is feeling numb. Last week we touched on the “motions lead to emotions”, but when you have felt numb, and sometimes for a very long time, how do you get to the actions, the motions?

I have found that many with PTSD lose a sense of the “what”, what do I do?

Craig and I watched a movie last night, “The Vow”. It was about a couple that was so in love, so happy together, showed all of the funny things they enjoyed together, etc. Then, there was an accident and she ended up with a TBI (traumatic brain injury) which lead to her not remembering anything about their relationship. This movie really hit home base with me, with Craig’s memory being so severe with PTSD. I kind of related to what the husband was going through… and I’m sure Craig related to the wife.

But you know what? There was something in the movie that hit home base with me. And I realized it is really how I view things actually.

The husband in the movie told his friends “She fell in love with me once, so I won’t lose hope she will fall in love with me again.”

That was a very strong line in that movie! And kind of fits with my life I think. I know Craig loves me, there is no doubt in my mind about that. But I also know he feels numb to love and feelings.

I have had many people say to me “How do you do it? How do you manage to stay? How do you cope with the memory issues? How do you cope with his PTSD?”

I think it’s all because I never give up on him… or us! Like the husband in the movie, I know what our relationship was like before PTSD. I know all of the laughter, the goofy things we would do, the things that made both of us smile, the things that we like or don’t like, just everything that made us, us.

I act on those things. Craig will get me for sharing this one later hehe 😉 There is one thing that I use to do when we were teens, silly thing, but it became a huge part of us. I use to squeeze his lips from the corners, making what I call a fish face, and say “fishy wishy… say it lol I won’t let go until you say it” and sooner or later he would give in and say it. We both would just laugh at it and yep it normally ended up with me being tickled. LOL! So silly, but you know what, when he was really down last week I did that. He said no, not doing it. And I said I won’t stop until you do. Before I knew it he was giggling and I was all smiles and laughing. That silly and childish “fishy wishy” is a part of us and who we are. No matter what PTSD brings to our lives or how serious life is now, that silly thing broke through the PTSD. For just a few minutes I saw it break through the numb.

Of course the movie had a happy ending and was based off of a true life story, the couple ended up back together and had children and a family even though the wife’s memory never returned she fell in love with him all over again.

It was a true life story about TBI and life. I see it being no different then life with PTSD. You might lose something in a relationship, you might feel numb, you might forget things, but are those things really lost? I refuse to believe so. You have to just work around them and find that new love in your relationship so to speak. The motions that lead to emotions and can help with the numb feelings.

Life and relationships don’t have to end with PTSD, they can in a way start over. Don’t dwell on what you have lost, find the new. Use those little things that you and your loved one found special. Even if it is only for a few minutes, they can help take that numb feeling away and remind you of the good that is there and the feelings. Don’t give up!

Sometimes one with PTSD needs a guide so to speak through the numb feelings. Craig told me last week he needed help through the numbness, he’s not sure how to get through the numbness to feel the love he knows he has for me, how to find the motions or what they even are.

I have pondered on this. How do you show someone how to love, how do you show them actions that they can do to bring a sort of happiness?

The only thing i could come up with were the things I knew in the past we laughed about, the silly things, the little things that meant something to us and no one else…anything to break the ice of PTSD and Depression.

Our fishy wishy worked! I saw my husband giggle at me and how silly I’m sure I looked doing it. Especially with how serious life has become and everything I have to stay focused on. And it was worth every second of it!

So what are things you can do to help other then your personal things?

* Watch movies together, ones that are what Craig calls girly movies, the ones that have romance, facts of life, and what life is about.

* Take time to look through old silly photos of yourself and what you were like and don’t focus on what you lost, but what could still be there hidden that you can find again.

* Do something that you use to do. Step out of your comfort zone to something you use to enjoy, even if it’s just for a little while and nothing that is beyond what you can handle.

* Spouses, uh huh I’m talking to you now! Think about what made you laugh and your spouse laugh and take away the seriousness of what you are going through now and act on what you know made both of you happy in the past. There’s something, find it!

* Talk about good times and memories you have. Come on now, every single one of us has those, those crazy or silly things you use to do.

* Use the good and positive memories or thoughts. Don’t worry about how silly they might be or what would someone say… who cares! Relate to the good times and get a good laugh from them!

* Go out of your way and daily routines to try something new! You can still stay in a comfort zone and find something nice or funny to make new good memories.

Life may have changed, you may feel as if you have changed, but there is good there… use it! PTSD is a battle, but in reality, even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time, you have the tools to fight it and break through it! Don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on your loved one. Being stuck is really hard and does come with PTSD, use the tools of life to get through it! You might just be surprised what is still there but just hidden. 😉

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

Avoidance? Oh that couldn’t be it… but is it?

Avoidance? Oh that couldn’t be it… but is it?

It’s Monday lol! Coffee in hand, okay second cup 😉 and thinking about getting this day started. I have this to do and that to do, and don’t forget that other thing. Oh yes… it’s the sit and “think about it”. Does that sound familiar?

PTSD brings many things, and that sure can be one of them. You think about everything before you do it, you over think at times about what good or bad could come from it if you do it, you wonder how it will effect you, will it set off a trigger, will it effect someone else, what if I fail, what if it doesn’t turn out like it is suppose to, then comes the maybe I shouldn’t do it.

Avoidance. A huge part of PTSD that is extremely difficult to get past. So many questions, so many possibilities of the outcome. Many times things get over analyzed or basing our decision on one episode! To the point we think we are better off by avoiding things.

It might be going out, going to an event, saying something, acting a certain way, or even being intimate with someone… In reality it can happen with anything!

Then there is the old standby. Remember that Popeye cartoon? Wimpy would always say, “I’d gladly pay you next Tuesday for a hamburger today”? Isn’t that kind of what PTSD does to you? You will put off something that really needs to be done today. Then you might have trouble when that day comes and the quote comes back into play again.

Avoidance. It can sure play a toll on you. Then what happens? You feel bad, or you feel like you let someone down, you feel like you are not worthy, it plays on your self esteem of not being able to accomplish things, etc. Now you are in even a worse frame of mind about yourself, that’s not good!

Sometimes, you just have to take that step. Try. You might be surprised what you can actually accomplish. There is something that works really well that a doctor told us once. Take a sheet of paper. Write down what it is, rather it’s a fear, something you want to do, etc. Then make 2 rows. In one row write what would be positive or accomplished…the facts of the situation. In the second row write the negative or the facts that could lead to a negative outcome… the facts. Everything is based on the facts. For example, “I don’t want to go on a cruise because the ship will sink.” Okay, that might very well be true, but what are the odds? Take the facts and numbers of how many incidents have in reality happened and weigh them against the unlikeliness of it happening. Odds are, you are more apt to have a good time and enjoy your trip then the likeliness of the ship sinking. You can use this method for viewing the reality on paper which can lead you past the fear to try. No, I’m not saying the fear will just disappear, we know it doesn’t, but it gives you a factually based guideline to help you do something that you would normally avoid.

Avoidance is going to be there, it’s all a part of PTSD and what you have been through and I’m by no means saying it’s not. However, sometimes in some situations looking at the facts can help you get through the avoiding feelings and help you get a little piece of life back that you thought or feel is gone. You might just find out that you are stronger then a lot of those avoiding feelings. Again, it won’t happen every time, so don’t view yourself as a failure if something doesn’t work out, but trying will make you stronger and help you find new boundaries to your limits of avoidance… as well as the limits you thought were there that you can step past, even if it’s just a small step.

Try! You might just impress yourself! 😉

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

Where did the spark go?…

I want to touch on something today that many people avoid. I’ll be honest, I hear about it in the “background” more times then we know how to count. Some people do or will speak openly, others won’t, but it’s something that has been misplaced in all of this battle of PTSD. Just to note, this is aimed at adults!

It does not matter if you are male or female, married, in a relationship, single, it’s something that can and many times does effect you. PTSD brings a huge battle. In that battle you can become numb. Where the emotions and feelings are something you lose… or at least you think you lose.

The spark goes out or fades, that flame of passion is something you no longer know or see, you might know you love someone but that feeling that goes with it seems to be missing.

The numbness. A huge issue with PTSD that pulls you emotionally away from your loved one, the spark and excitement seems to be gone and many times might send you looking for love in the wrong places. Not because you don’t love your partner, but because you are trying to get that feeling back, that spark of life and excitement that seems to have vanished. That bond between you.

I can not even begin to count how many people have come to me and said they love their partner and then ask how to keep the bond between them alive, to get that spark back, that passion they use to feel. They don’t intend on cheating, but they are looking for that normal, anything that can bring that passion and excitement back to their relationship.

Well, I hate to say, that looking for love in all the wrong places is not going to work out very well in the long run. And when your partner you love so much finds out… and they always do… you might end up with no one.

So what do you do? How do you rekindle your relationship? How do you see that person you were so excited about in the beginning again?

Oh wait! Let’s back up for a minute. You are saying you know it is you, not your partner. You no longer have the want, the energy, and sexual relations as well as emotions are totally out of the question.

But are they? I doubt it.

Many with PTSD go through all of this. And to be honest, it really does a number on your self esteem in the process which makes it even more likely you will avoid feelings, emotions, as well as physical contact… and that does not refer to only sex, but any physical contact.

We all know what PTSD does to your mind. How it makes you feel. What it tries to avoid. And I have to stand up for the male partners for a second here. I have had many come to me and ask questions about how they can rekindle that passion with their partner with PTSD being involved. Ladies, your guy loves you! I will vouch for that one!

Now you ladies are thinking I’m off my rocker, aren’t you? 😉 How can he say he loves you when he doesn’t say it or he says it but there’s no emotion to it, there’s no physical contact, he seems so distant.

That love is still there! It’s masked by what PTSD does to a person. If your partner, male or female, tells you they love you, you can bet your money on it they do. They have just lost or misplaced that bond of emotions and physical contact. You can trust me on this one, when that happens they would do almost anything to find it and to feel those normal feelings again.

So back to what do we do about this? How do we rekindle or bring that spark back? How do we save our relationship?

I’m going to go out on a branch with this one. We’ve been there! Many of you… wives in on this one too… have come to me and asked how do you and Craig do it? How do you have the passion we see in your photos? The love we have between us even after almost 24 years of knowing each other (just to note we weren’t together for 24 years, we have been married 10 years this summer… long story for another time.).

This really came to light this week. We’ve struggled through that spark just like the rest of you. Then this morning I realized what it was!

When all of our issues started happening we had one of Craig’s doctors ask us about everything. He sat and talked in depth with us. He said he could see the strong bond between us but could also see something missing. He was right. It hit me this morning what it was and what I have done not even realizing it!

Just to note this up front, this has nothing to do with religion or certain practices of religion, it can be for anyone.

This doctor told us there was something that he himself practiced, he also taught it. He gave us an example and it hit me this morning that that example he gave is something I do quite often, and I didn’t even realize it! Anyway, the doctor thought we should attend one of these classes. Craig and I looked into it, really thought about going to be honest, but did not attend.

It kind of makes me wonder now if our own relationship bond would be stronger if we had attended? Would we have gone through the rough times of trying to find the normal? It brings up a lot of questions.

This “practice” the doctor (male doctor by the way) spoke of kind of makes much sense now. I think he was onto something. It’s not something that will make you unmanly for you manly guys out there lol 😉 It’s something that might just bring back some kind of feeling of normal, the emotions, the physical connection between you and your loved one.

No matter how off the wall it might sound to some of you, when everything else has failed, you have tried but can’t seem to get there, wouldn’t you at least try? I’m mean you try everything else, medications, therapy, marriage counselling, etc. So why not this?

Rekindling… now that’s a strong word! If you love him or her, that’s a word that is dynamic… especially with PTSD involved! It’s never too late to try. 😉

So what is all of this mumbo jumbo I’m talking about?

Tantra. Tantra is what the doctor years ago introduced Craig and I to. And when I think about it now, I think what the doctor showed us and said to us stuck somewhere in us.

HA! I’m not going to try to explain this one lol. But I have found a link to a website that explains it pretty good I will share with you. It might sound a little kooky to start with if you are not familiar with it, but if you really read it, I bet it will make sense and hey it’s worth the fun of trying! What can it really hurt? Nothing!

Rather you are single or not, or when you are finding yourself on that last limb of a relationship, don’t let go, maybe this is something worth looking into. It’s actually fun, exciting, and something that I really think can bring that spark back and take some of that numbness away… even with PTSD being there. 😉

http://www.tantra.flowguide.com/index.html

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story… PTSD”

“PTSD vs Avoidance”

You know how you do things and just don’t think about it? Well, I was headed for another cup of coffee, still have the bummed knee so hobbling, and I thought, why don’t I go the other way through the kitchen? It’s a pass through kitchen and I take the long way…every time. So I turned direction and went the other way, the shorter way. Then I realized why I take the long way…there’s not a light switch for the kitchen at the other end.

“PTSD vs Avoidance”

**Again, I’m not a doctor of any sort and can not give medical advise. These are only my personal opinions and experiences.**

Ahhh…I was going somewhere with that, wasn’t I? 😉 One of the true symptoms of PTSD is avoidance. You avoid crowds, gatherings, family, friends, events, relationships, the news, tv or newspapers in general, maybe something as simple as a trip to the grocery store, emotions, thoughts, etc.

Are you really avoiding all of those things? Or are you really avoiding the “what if”. The situation which may arise or happen? The feeling that you are different? The mind set of something is going to happen? The chance of a trigger happening? The avoidance of feeling or emotion?

Avoiding things has it’s good as well as it’s bad that comes with it. It’s a way of coping right then and there, short term. It helps you get through a situation so you can do something. You might feel like you want to cry, or on the flip side lash out. Avoiding the thoughts and emotions of what you have been through can help keep these things from happening. However, long term avoidance can be more damaging. Avoiding things and seeing it helped you hold back those feelings can lead you to being numb. Pulling you away from family and friends. I know, that feeling of if I face it I am going to lose control. Control of the tears, control of the anger, and everything else that comes with it.

Sometimes you have to just have that trust, and that trust within yourself. If I face this, I won’t lose control, I can have a grip on it. Sometimes it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be angry…you are human!

I have watched my husband become a hermit because of avoidance. I have also seen him bounce back at times. And when he does find the strength to face some things, it’s not easy! Anxiety goes through the roof. But I also see his reaction when he has made it through something…and nothing bad happened! That smirk on his face of  “I did it.”

Walking out that front door is one of the hardest things for him to do. And that’s when I remind him it’s healthy for you to go outside, how you will feel better when you do. The fresh air, seeing things around you other then four walls, the sounds of nature. It all plays a roll in being the best you can be, even if it’s just for that moment.

Mark it on a calendar, I’m being serious! “Today I made it outside for 10 minutes”. Do you know what that can do? Tomorrow when you look at that calendar you might think “Wow, yesterday I went outside for 10 minutes. Hum, today I can make it for 15.” It gives you something to look at, to put into perspective of what you accomplished and a goal to work forward from. Maybe today is a day you can’t pull yourself from your bedroom. Mark that too. When you start seeing on paper, in your own handwriting, hey I haven’t made it from my bedroom in 4 days, what do you think you will do? I bet you make it to the living room. 😉 It’s okay to have those bad days, they are going to be there, but they are also something to build from.

I always direct you back to a calendar. My reason, you can see it plotted out by days. You can see how many days have passed by, you can see accomplishments you have made, you can figure out where you want to improve things from here. How about “Today I didn’t have any triggers”, then another day you might have 4, write them on there. It helps you notice the triggers and exactly what they are. It can help you face them in a way that you don’t feed the avoidance…with your own writing. Just something to think about. 😉

PTSD is so overwhelming that you lose sight and focus on the “who I was”, “what I was”, “I let you down”. Getting past that, or to a better place then you are right now is hard! Beyond words! Finding the good and positive in things is a difficult task and no one can do it for you. It’s a step you have to try for yourself. Does it make the horrors go away, no. Does it make the triggers stop, no. Does it stop the anxiety, no. But does it put things into a perspective you can understand and look at? Yes. It helps you with the avoidance.

Easier said then done? Absolutely! But then again, what in life is easy? Nothing! It’s a way for you to be able to learn to cope and learn to live again. PTSD is not the end, I refuse to believe that! You all are worth more then anything that could be put into words.

A simple example. How many of you have avoided posting on here? I bet at times every single one of you. Why? Because someone may judge you? Someone might not like what you say? Someone might think you are crazy? SO WHAT! Do those things really matter? You are who you are, and that is a very special human being. One thing you think and don’t post, know what that one thing might do? It might just save someone’s life, might make another person stop and think, it might even educate someone close to you that didn’t understand you. Look to the good my friends, you might be surprised at what you find there. (And no, I don’t expect everyone to post! I leave that to each of you and your comfort zone!)

Sometimes avoiding things is needed, but other times it’s not. Will I stop taking the short way to the kitchen when it’s dark? Yes, I sure will, there’s no way of having light from that way. But will I take the short way when it’s daylight? Yes, it helps me with my bummed knee. There’s 2 ways to look at everything, always remember that. 😉

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD