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“PTSD? How can that be? It’s been years since my trauma! I thought I was fine.”

“PTSD? How can that be? It’s been years since my trauma! I thought I was fine.”

I want to discuss something a little different about PTSD that many are not aware of. I have people ask me quite often if it is normal or possible forPTSD‬ to show up after the fact, as in years after a trauma occurred.

The answer is ABSOLUTELY!

Many that have experienced a trauma(s) do manage to keep PTSD and it’s symptoms “in it’s box”, as I have always referred to it as, many times for years before it becomes severe or more noticeable. My own husband did it, he is one of the many numbers of people this happens to.

This can happen for many different reasons, but I want to talk about a few of the most common possibilities to why this happens…

A trauma such as child abuse, rape, or an assault for example purposes. Many that experienced traumas such as these or other traumas, lock those memories away. They don’t want to talk about them, many times those traumas bring guilt, embarrassment, the feeling of shame, and most of all fear, which cause one to avoid talking to others about the trauma.

Then there is the brain and mind itself. The brain/mind itself can lock portions of or at times full memories away of the trauma experienced. It can be a way of the mind protecting you that is not done on purpose or a way of you yourself trying to forget about what you experienced so you can move forward in life. It can be for many almost like a “it’s done, it’s over, I can’t change what happened” and it gets locked away in a box.

No time to process what happened. This really affects those that are in a line of work or duty to where there is no time to process or think about what they experienced, duty calls and they are expected to be there and they are. They push through what happened and keep going, they had to and were expected to. Once pushing on they later get almost a false sense of “hey that did not bother me, I’m okay”. That is the end of the thought or conversation, the trauma is placed into a box.

Workaholics. This is very common! This happens quite often when one that has experienced a trauma and the next thing you know they indulge, or over indulge, themselves into their work or a new career. They stay busy. They want to feel normal, honestly believe they are okay, and many may not realize why they like staying so busy with constant work. They avoid talking about what they went through and just push forward with everyday life as if nothing ever happened. Many times this is something that is forced due to providing for their family, they have no choice and must work and the trauma gets set to the side, so to speak. So that trauma gets placed into that box as they carry on with life and what they must do.

When examples like these situations occur, one may go years without any symptoms of PTSD, others may show milder signs of symptoms but they are mistaken as personality traits or as if one is just having a bad day. There are many that mask or numb themselves from their traumas with alcohol or other substances, so that bottle or other form of self-medicating gets blamed when the root of it is actually that trauma and PTSD… why they do those things. It numbs the pain of what that trauma has in reality caused them.

When I say years, some studies have shown that PTSD can remain in it’s box for up to 60+ years before it gets triggered. Our beloved Vietnam Veterans (and this does happen to civilians as well) are a prime example of delayed onset of PTSD for 40+ years or it not being recognized as PTSD until years later. (And I love and respect every single one of you and we would be lost without you! You all are a huge part of the reason my husband is alive today!)

So if PTSD can sit in it’s box, on a shelf, for years upon years, then why all of a sudden does it come out of that box?

It only takes one trigger or reminder of a person’s trauma for PTSD to come out from hiding. When it does it is normally severe levels. One can go years without being faced with a trigger before one appears. It could be a movie, it could be a ceremony, it could be seeing a person who reminds you of someone from your trauma, it could be another natural disaster, it could be a reminder at the same time frame as a trauma anniversary and the combination sets everything into motion. One trigger can also unlock the memories that the brain has locked away for years.

Do you know what else may cause PTSD to come out of it’s box?

Retirement! For those that pushed through the years working, staying busy, and never processed or were unable to process what they experienced for whatever reason, stigma is a part of it for many, that change in routine can very well set PTSD free. This is extremely common for those that have reached or are getting ready to reach retirement age.

When you hear our elders, your elders (Had to use the term elders, love ya Dean! “My elder”… there’s a story behind that 😉 ) say “Reach for help”, take them seriously! Traumas and processing them as soon as possible, getting help for them, are nothing to “man up” about whether you think they have affected you or not. Trust me, it is better to be safe than sorry years down the road. There is nothing wrong or shameful about reaching for help right now.

In fact, if you do there is a very high chance you will learn now how to manage and cope with the symptoms when or if they come and what you experienced, before PTSD tries to consume your life, and can avoid a lot of pain and suffering later on in life. Many people years ago were not given that option of reaching for help that is available now. I personally do not believe PTSD will go away, but I do believe if you take the right steps in getting correct help you can learn to manage it, but you need the tools to do so. Do it for yourself, do it for your family, do it so you can live the most fullest life possible.

Traumas are not a joke, they are not things to brush under a rug until later. There are many people that did not have the choices and resources that are available today. What you do now can make a huge difference, positive difference in your future. Delayed onset of PTSD or it coming out of it’s box years down the road seemingly out of nowhere, is not a fun roller coaster for you or your family.

I do not know of even one person from the Vietnam era and that age range civilians, or even my own husband, that would not tell you they wished they had the help and knowledge at the beginning that is available today, and wished they had known to reach for help sooner. Listen to them, they are already living in the shoes of what may come later.

I will also say to those that are in that “years later” of symptoms showing up, reach for help if you have not, keep reaching for help until you find what is best for you, the help is available to you now. YOU ARE IMPORTANT! None of us can change the past or what you went through, but we can stand together now, help each other, and learn from each other.

Here is a great article from a few years ago from “Stars and Stripes” regarding PTSD and retirement for those that may be interested… (May contain triggers for some but does not tell detailed traumas)

Stars and Stripes “Retirement might unleash PTSD Symptoms in Vietnam Veterans

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook Page

Stress and PTSD

Stress and PTSD

Well, that’s a given isn’t it!

Stress is one of the things that Craig and I have been told time and time again that he needs to avoid in every way possible, which I know many others have been told the same thing. Think about it. That’s in reality a very difficult thing to do. We are talking about life, everyday life in general, and then disabilities themselves mixed in there.

Just with PTSD alone think of what the symptoms are and what they bring. Nightmares, bring stress. Lack of sleep, brings stress. Avoidance, brings stress. Anxiety, brings stress. Triggers and flashbacks, bring stress. Negative changes in thoughts, feelings, emotions of one’s self or others or the world itself at times, bring stress. Guilt and/or Survivor’s guilt, bring stress. The trauma(s) itself, brings stress. And the list goes on. PTSD… “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”. Oh look, there’s that term “stress”.

Then take all of the symptoms and add them to everyday life and trying to manage it, trying to be the best you can be, trying to function as normal as possible, trying to maintain relationships with family, friends, people in general. The mind can become easily unsettled, even overwhelmed, by simple things. So you can imagine what more important things, issues, or must handle situations can bring to one? It can cause one to shut down, become stuck, and not be able to function.

To those of you that understand PTSD and what it is, you are probably thinking “What is Bec writing? Of course PTSD is all about trauma and stress.” 😉

But what about those that do not understand, or brush off what stress does to someone with PTSD?

It becomes an additional battlefield for the one with PTSD, as well as their spouse/partner… and in many cases their advocate. Stress is the one thing that is always there, but at the same time stress has to be managed, and many situations even avoided. Because it’s what is in the best interest of the one with PTSD. You have to maintain a healthy balance and environment.

Some people look at the suicide rates linked to PTSD alone, they are in awe over the high numbers. But yet what is being done to help? What is each person doing or not doing? What can help make life better? What can help a person get to the best point they can get physically and mentally?

Many spouses/partners are in the shoes of, well, playing referee. Many do see and know what external stress can bring to their loved one with PTSD. They know what it also adds to their own life, as well as their family. When stressful events occur or even the “what if’s” of what may be coming, for one with PTSD, symptoms are going to increase. Then the vicious cycle of managing those symptoms continues.

Many people wonder why many of those with PTSD have difficulties leaving the house, many cannot work or are limited, many have a “safe room” that they can retreat to when needed. Many are disconnected from others. Avoidance is a very real part of life with PTSD, and a symptom.

Those with PTSD do try! They really do not want to be a hermit closed off from society or that stays locked away in a room. They WANT to be and feel normal, like they used to. But PTSD does bring a serious challenge, much of the time.

When PTSD becomes a part of someone’s life, life changes, it’s the reality of life with PTSD. You learn different ways of wording things, you have to tune the communication skills, you have to learn how to manage the symptoms and learn coping skills, you learn safety protocol… as we call it here, you learn signs of depression and suicide, as well as what to do when or if they come, and much more.

The “normal” you knew for that person cannot be expected from them any longer. It does not mean they can’t do anything or are helpless, it just means life has changed and does have to be handled and managed differently. You will still get glimpses from time to time of the person you knew before PTSD, enjoy those times when they come, but you cannot expect them to remain that way all of the time. You can not dismiss that PTSD has become a part of life, and with that a new normal forms.

Which brings us back to stress. When one cannot accept that PTSD is a part of a person’s life now, and that life has changed, it is going to bring additional stress. Why? Because the expectations you hold are going to be too high for one to accomplish or if they can it will not be permanent. Another reason if you see one with PTSD, and you are not living with them, I can pretty much guarantee you are seeing them on a “good” day, because they do not like you seeing their rough days.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times over the years I have seen external, as in outside our home, stressful situations brought on where they lead Craig to “shutting down” or pushed towards that and I had to step in for the best interest of his health. Which of course I don’t mind doing if need be. But the fact is if people would just think once in awhile and take the time to learn, and face the facts, there are many situations that could be avoided all together to where a certain amount of stress is deleted.

Craig and I had a situation recently, well reality is it’s been an on going battle off and on over the years but came up again and this time came to a head. His docs had already said he won’t be able to handle this type of stress so in the best interest of his health, it was put off again. Our focus HAS to be on his health. He gave up, shut down, became completely numb, and just could not handle the stress of fighting for what was right anymore, several months back, again.

Recently I noticed it weighing on him again. There it was, like this demon haunting him. This was a fight that he wanted to try to do himself, but it became too much. He shut down again. I also saw that at times he would try to push himself hard but would feel like a failure when he could not manage getting things done. Honestly, shutting down is probably the best thing for him at this point, but he can’t stay there, something had to be done. This cycle had to stop!

So as his advocate it was time for me to really step in heavy on this from a different angle than we had tried before, because those ways obviously got us nowhere good, and not just help out but to see if I could get this done, so this burden on him could be done and over with. I thought about it carefully, talked to several people, weighed the options to what the best and less stressful path would be on Craig, and I took it this past week.

I know that this “battle” we will call it without stating details, has to end, it’s been going on way too long (off and on as we could face it and dependent on Craig’s health, what he could or could not handle at the moment) and there has to be an outcome. If it was completely avoided and left alone, just let go, I have already seen the stress and guilt it has been causing Craig or how it leads him to completely shutting down, so I can only imagine what more would come to him by just letting it go completely. I can’t let that happen. Our focus HAS to be on his health.

I took my leap on Thursday with fingers and toes crossed that someone would hear my voice and my cry for help with this “battle” of Craig’s. To my total shock I was heard, the very same day I asked for help, after years of trying someone listened. I heard back from another person on Friday. We don’t have an outcome yet, but something is actually taking place and it’s not a stagnant situation of “what if’s” or “failure” or “ok we need to handle that again” anymore. No matter what the outcome is, it’s going to finally be over, at least that’s the hope.

This is one of those situations that in reality should have never existed, but this is life and things happen. My point of telling this is life with PTSD does and will come with stress of many different forms.

If you are not the one with PTSD, please keep in mind that what you do, how you act or react, and taking the time to learn will matter. Do not place additional stress on others, especially if they have a life large battle they are already having to manage. Please take the time to learn so you can form good relations instead of causing undue stress on another. If you are the one with PTSD or their spouse/partner, you have to figure out what is the best way to handle things, what is going to be in the best interest of your health, and always know that if you can’t seem to find what works best… ASK FOR HELP! 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook page

There IS a PTSD Crisis!

This is to EVERYONE that it can possibly reach, whether you know someone with PTSD or do not believe you do.

I am a very strong woman, and I will be the first to tell you I have a lot of pride, but I will fall to my knees and beg you to PLEASE listen to what I have to say!

I know PTSD, my husband battles it every day of his life just like many others do. This is not from a story or a text book, this is not some movie that was made up, this is from firsthand knowledge of REAL LIFE, in hopes that it will help open eyes and save lives!

People are dying! MANY people are losing their battle to PTSD. Do you understand and know why? Do you even care? If not, I’ll explain why you should!

There is a PTSD CRISIS at hand! I have sat here in deep thought after receiving word of another “PTSD brother” that has lost his battle to PTSD. I thought, how can I help people understand that there is a crisis, it is real life, and the crisis is world wide? How do I get people to take the time to care about others in this fast paced world we live in? I’m only one person.

Even with the amount of awareness there is out there, it’s still not enough! Too many people are letting the term “PTSD” pass right by them like it’s no big deal. Too many people are not hearing or learning the facts, and many are still carrying stigma. Too many people are still saying, “That could not happen to me or my family”. Too many are saying, “Why should I care?” Others are saying “My PTSD is not that bad, no big deal, I can suck it up.”

If you are one of those people, I need to tell you with all of my heart the truth, “YOU are WRONG!”

Every day I educate others on PTSD and the seriousness of it, around taking care of my husband and our family. I share our personal story and what each day is like living with or beside PTSD. I share things in hopes that others out there may understand that they are not alone and there are many things that can help. I hope that what I offer will help just one person and/or family if not many, find a shorter path to learning how to manage life with PTSD, something my husband, family, and I did not have when PTSD became a part of our lives. I hope that what I write, will make one person if not many, choose to dismiss the stigma they may hold and realize that stigma kills human beings, real people that should have a chance at life.

They are no different than you or I, they have just experienced a trauma that changed their life, something no person should have to experience. Those with PTSD can still have relationships, they can still be good fathers and mothers, or grandparents, or friends. Many can still be great at their career and in the workplace. Many walk through society and no one would even be able to recognize they have PTSD. Many you would have to be around when symptoms are increased or live with them to understand or actually see what they battle. It takes a lot to manage PTSD, no matter how well manged or bad the symptoms are, and so many do not have the tools and support that are needed, yet.

PTSD is not an individual problem or issue! The reality is, with the number of people who do suffer/survive with PTSD, every person this reaches most likely DOES know someone with PTSD. Whether you realize it or not! It may be your spouse/partner, your mom or dad, brother or sister, or another family member. It may be your best friend or a co-worker, it may be your neighbor, or that person you pass on the street everyday.

It only takes ONE life changing trauma, for PTSD to develop! That one trauma changes life forever.

Traumas effect military, police officers, doctors, nurses, emergency personnel, emergency operators, news reporters, military subcontractors, prison guards, teachers, etc. All of the people who are there for you. It can effect those who have experienced an assault, rape, child abuse, adult abuse, car/transportation accident, dog/animal mauling, cancer or stroke patients and more, natural disasters, kidnapping, school/workplace shooting, mugging, home invasion, the loss of a life of someone very close to them… The traumas are endless in this world we ALL live in, life threatening traumas are endless. They are experienced by military and civilians.

Now take all of the traumas in life people can experience, everything you hear through the news as well as from people you know, and think about how many people could actually develop or already have, PTSD. Until there is peace on this earth, accidents and natural disasters stop, which unfortunately reality is… will never happen, there will be PTSD! History has already proven itself. And the reality is, the numbers are growing. It’s no secret that this world is in a state of chaos, all you have to do is watch the news, read the papers, or listen to the stories of others, and you see it. That chaos brings more traumas.

No, one person cannot change the world or the things that take place in it. I know I sure can’t. But each person can change themselves, and slow down the pace to care about others. It’s actually pretty simple and really does not take that much time.

Stigma does not hurt people, stigma kills people! My opinion is stigma comes from the lack of knowledge or fear of the unknown. There are too many people who are still choosing to hold onto stigma. Which in return is causing those that really need help, to hide in the shadows of PTSD. They are suffering in silence, and many are losing their lives in the battle PTSD does bring. Many are losing their support systems because of stigma, people are walking away from them when they need their family and friends the most.

As far as “sucking up PTSD”, those that do it, are told to do it, or are in a position where they are forced to do it, the hard fact is you will only be able to suck it up for so long. There have been too many people to try to manage PTSD on their own without learning the tools needed or ignore it all together, too many have just dismissed that they have PTSD, or feared what would come from reaching out to someone for help. If you or someone you know are one of them, sooner or later PTSD will break you, or them. Even one who would never have suicidal thoughts or any type of self-harm before, PTSD can change that, negative changes in thoughts or feelings of one’s self, others, or even the world is a VERY real part of PTSD, do not dismiss the facts of PTSD.

It does not matter how strong you believe you are or who you are, PTSD will break you without proper help and support. PTSD has affected some of the strongest, most intelligent, will powered people there are. It effects the strong minded, the ones that take everything that has been thrown at them and keep on pushing forward. Everyone has their limit, you are human. Do not allow PTSD to find your’s. There are too many things that can help, PTSD does not go away but it is manageable and life can continue to be lived! Do not put off what could save your future, as well as YOU!

Why should you care? Because PTSD can in reality happen to anyone! Again, it only takes one trauma, and no one can predict the future to who will be affected. I can guarantee, if you are one day in the shoes of PTSD, you will hope there is someone there that cares about you!

A strong person is one that knows and accepts when they need help. If you have PTSD, I can pretty much guarantee you, you are one of the best of the best. Learning the tools to properly manage PTSD, so you can not only survive but live with PTSD as a part of life, makes you even stronger. It takes a strong person to battle and live life with PTSD each day, and you can do it! Make that reach, you ARE worth it!

A positive support person is one that chooses to step past stigma, and learn, whether you can truly understand PTSD or not. One who takes the time to care about others, even if it’s something as simple as listening. When someone reaches out to you or you see changes in someone after a trauma that brings questions, take the time to care and pay attention. Unfortunately the truth is if you don’t, there may not be a second chance or tomorrow. I have been speaking out publicly about PTSD for close to 4 years now, and the most heart wrenching things I hear from others are, “If only I had taken the time to listen or say something, he/she may still be here.” and “If only I had believed PTSD was real, maybe I could have helped him/her and he/she would not have lost their life to PTSD.” I do not believe anyone wants to be in those shoes, those are very real life shoes.

You may be the one with PTSD, a family member or friend, you may be the one that does not understand PTSD or believe it is real, you may be the one that is just curious. Whichever shoes you are standing in, I want to say “Thank You” for taking the time to read this, by doing so it really could change another person’s life… or even save one!

Unfortunately, many lose their battle to PTSD each day. ONLY of the Veteran reported suicide cases in the USA, there are 22 Veterans losing their battle to PTSD daily. That does NOT include unreported PTSD cases, un-diagnosed PTSD cases, law enforcement and other lines of work related PTSD cases, or civilian PTSD cases… and not world wide numbers. If we were able to add ALL of those numbers up, folks, that is a PTSD Crisis!

Not every suicide can be prevented unfortunately, but WE CAN change those numbers and decrease them by educating ourselves and others, and by taking the time to care about others.

Please take the time to care! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Increased PTSD symptoms?

Increased PTSD symptoms?

I am hearing from MANY who are saying they or their loved one are experiencing increased symptoms that seem to have come out of nowhere. We are actually in that boat ourselves right now, but… it did not come out of nowhere. 

I am hearing “But he/she seemed to be doing SO much better, but now everything is even worse then before. Why?

I am hearing about many relationships that are on the brink of destruction.

There are many different reasons symptoms may be increasing, let’s go over a few of the largest things that can cause this, things to keep in mind, and even some cues that one may be seeing…

What time of year is it? Right there is probably the answer for many!

PTSD anniversary times. 

Old faithful with PTSD, an anniversary time of a trauma. You can pretty much count on symptoms increasing the same time of year every year. Even if you do not know an exact date of a trauma, one will not discuss it with you, are they might not remember, you can take a guess based on the time frame symptoms increase every year. If multiple traumas were at hand, you may notice longer time frames of higher symptoms or several different times per year symptoms increase.

Increased symptoms can start at different time frames. Some experience increased PTSD symptoms up to a month or even two months before the actual trauma date/time frame. Others may start experiencing them a week or even a few days before. Each person will be different.

The hardest days will be close to the date of the trauma, at least in my experiences over the years that is the way it is here. They can also last after that date/time frame.

As an example: Here with Craig, I can pretty much count on higher symptoms from August through the end of the year or through the end of the holidays (beginning of the year). His main trauma which caused PTSD to develop occurred in October. followed by a few other traumas after that date. So for him, the increased symptoms last longer then some people experience.

This time of year we are stepping into, 9/11 anniversary time frame, can be an anniversary time. It is a time that effected the entire world. There are many military, civilians, law enforcement, doctors, nurses, fire fighters, paramedics or EMTs, 911 emergency operators, etc that also have PTSD from what happened. So there are many that experience increased symptoms based around the same traumatic event, even though each personal experience/trauma may have been different.

We are also entering the time of year of back to school, change in routines, the holidays are coming. The expectations and changes that come with this time of year can also cause an increase in symptoms. Routines are very important with PTSD and this time of year can throw those routines off and bring on more expectations.

Holidays. 

Any holiday can effect one with PTSD. Especially if they also have survivor’s guilt. (Which Craig also has). Survivor’s guilt, in short terms, is when one survived/lived but another person did not. The one who lived carries guilt, of sorts, of being the one who lived. If survivor’s guilt is not at hand, you can pretty much guess the expectations coming are the reason for increased symptoms. The “what if’s” that come with PTSD, also the gatherings or large events, crowded places, people rushing around out of their normal… all of the things that can effect PTSD symptoms and increase alert.

An example of a trigger that many may not realize based around holidays or events: Halloween. As soon as one sees candy hitting the shelves, which it’s already there! It’s a sign of what’s coming and can cause the brain to hit overdrive. The “Will my kids want to trick or treat?” “Oh I have to go out that night with my family. I don’t want to let the kids down.”, “Is anyone going to knock on my door!?!”.

Then the day of… there are different vehicles coming through your area, people walking the streets, people in costumes, knocking on doors, playing tricks, etc. THAT ALL brings a lot to those with PTSD!

I used this example because it’s one many don’t think about. 

So what about cues? How do you know those rough times of year are coming?

The largest and one of the first signs for me are the movies or shows Craig starts watching. BINGO! That is one of the largest. neon flashing light signs you can get. With him, it’s military related or high action flicks, more than what he would normally watch throughout the year. I’m going to take a guess that it does not matter what career field or trauma was at hand, it’s probably much the same for others, and is from what I have heard from others. Movies that relate in some way to what was experienced. It’s kind of like a self forced exposure, for lack of better words. I have found this is very common for many, especially those who are military, law enforcement, or any line of work that brought that “rush” of duty. PTSD likes that rush, adrenalin.

The obvious cues would be based around PTSD symptoms themselves, symptoms increasing to more then normal levels seen throughout the year. Withdrawing from others, anxiety increase more often, becoming snappy in tone, frustrated, or angry more then normal, loss of focus or concentration more then normal levels, becoming stressed easily or faster then normal, more talk of not being worthy, loved, or needed… all of the signs which needed to be taken note of as possible suicidal signs. The comments of “You would be better off without me” is a huge one that starts being heard more often.

Spouses/Partners

These are the times that your role is larger then any other time with PTSD. Everything you have learned and placed in your “toolbox” comes into play. You take that deep breath, raise that chin, have patience, make sure you are taking care of yourself, and remember PTSD IS at hand and this is the time that taking things personal may really do some damage to your relationship. This is the time they need you to be supportive in positive ways! The largest time of year I hear about couples separating or divorcing is when an anniversary time frame is at hand. You HAVE to use your toolbox, everything you have learned! You HAVE to believe in yourself and know you ARE strong enough to make it through these times, if you want your relationship to survive what PTSD will throw at it. Reach for help yourself if you need it, there’s nothing wrong with doing that.

Those with PTSD

PLEASE talk to your spouse/partner! Even if you are not sure how to express how or what you are experiencing, give them a heads up that you feel “off balance”. If you notice your symptoms are increasing, call your doctor or get in to see one. Even if it’s just talk therapy to help you through this rough patch, do it, it can help in many ways you may not realize.

Note: Some people will not notice their own increased symptoms. This is common! If those around you are mentioning things to you or telling you they see changes, please listen to them. And hopefully they address this in a kind way to you (hint… spouses!).

Increased symptom times are when some sort of good communication is needed the most. “I need you to just sit and listen to me…” seems to be a good line to use. Even if a spouse does not get it, or not yet, ask them to just listen, then explain whatever it is you feel you need to. To them directly, “I feel [angry, frustrate, lonely, sad, numb, etc]” This gives them the opportunity to know what to do or not do without adding in a PTSD blowup from EITHER person.(Spouses… reread your section here and remember it for these times please. It’s not a time to take personally or to start an argument. They need you to just listen.)

In a nutshell, it’s just that time of year that many experience increased PTSD symptoms. If you are in this situation right now, you are by no means alone. Hang on tight, the ride will pass until it comes around again of course. Come on it’s PTSD we are talking about, but it’s NOT and does NOT have to be the end of life or good relationships. Work together, you can get through this. 

Focus on what you have learned, use that toolbox, use those coping skills, communicate, take breaks or retreat when needed if that’s what it takes to manage symptoms (either person!), allow the one with PTSD to focus on themselves when coping is needed!… It could save a bunch of heartache and broken relationships, as well as hurt feelings.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

A Perspective of what PTSD is like…

comparison of ptsd

Many times, in order to learn how to understand something better, you have to have something to compare it to that can bring an understanding.

I was trying to come up with a description or comparison of what PTSD is like, especially when the fight or flight and other symptoms are high. There is only one example I could think of off the top of my head that I think fits and helps explain what it’s like for one with PTSD, and at times even their spouse/partner…

It’s like when a bird flies into a room, through an open door or window, it does not matter how it entered, it’s still, so to speak, closed in the room, and it’s desperately trying to get back outside, but can’t find the way without a lot of effort, struggle, and help.

Picture that in your mind. How the bird acts, the way it flies around the room, it panics and struggles to desperately find an exit, to escape from. Some birds will hit the walls or windows of the room trying to find an exit. Other birds will shut down, fall to the floor, seem almost dead but are actually in a panic stage and it takes time for them to recover from that stage. Then sadly, others hit the walls so many times, so hard, that their life actually ends… in essence, they lose their own life in the process of trying to escape what happened to them.

I imagine that those of you that know PTSD are agreeing with me right now. But maybe this will bring a little better understanding to those of you that do not understand or have a lot of knowledge of PTSD yet.

No one knows why the bird flew through the window or door, maybe that opening was just on their flight path, maybe it was a direction they were forced to go and had no other option, we don’t know… it just happened. PTSD is no different. It’s something traumatic that a person experienced, whatever the path or reason was, it still lead to the same place… what happened to them.

It happened, the bird is there, it flew into a room. Now it’s trying hard to find the exit, the solution of how to get out. It flies around in a panic and fears for it’s life. PTSD is the result of a real life, extreme trauma that caused one to fear for their own life or that of another. It causes a person to feel trapped, really no different than the bird.

Where as the bird makes that quick response of “have to find exit now” and everything it experiences happens quickly in time frame, take that experience and multiply it. PTSD drags the experiences out, they last for more then a month in memory and can last a lifetime. Repeating that same experience of the trauma over and over again in their brain, through flashbacks, nightmares, triggers, anxiety, and many more symptoms.

Can you yell at a bird and say, “Hey bird! Stop flying around, stop and look for the window or door“? You can yell all you want to, but that bird is not going to hear you or listen, it’s a bird. The fear has it in a panic, fight or flight, and it can not slow down, it’s fighting for it’s life.

PTSD is no different. Sometimes it just can’t hear one’s voice because of the results of the experience being there, replaying itself. Voices and reasoning are just static noise compared to a real life trauma replaying itself through the brain, in many cases much of the time.

At times the bird will wear out, find a safe place to perch as it regroups to fly, try to find that exit again. PTSD does the same thing. There can be outbursts, anger, frustration, fear, panic, then the brain and body get tired, worn out, and one just retreats to a safe place, away from everything and everyone.

What happens next? The bird has perched for whatever amount of time, long or short, then starts the same things over again trying to find an exit. Again, PTSD does the same things.

At times that bird will find an exit. After the struggle and fear it finds an open window and flies away. Other times, maybe a human that saw the bird trapped stepped in and helped it get out of the room safely. Other times the bird falls in a panic and it takes time to recover in order to start flying again.

These things the bird experienced can be compared to PTSD. Some people push themselves through their trauma, it does not make the trauma go away, they won’t forget it, but they learn coping skills, they reach for help, they allow others to help them, they find ways not to escape, but to live with PTSD. They learn how to manage it even though it is a constant “bird trapped in a room” feeling that is very real. They learn how to survive and live with PTSD being a part of their life.

Then sadly, there is the bird that flew so much, hit the wall so many times, and just could not find that open window or door, that it died. It happens, it’s real life. There are 22 Veterans per day that commit suicide. Now that’s only veterans of reported cases in the United States, that does not include civilians, unreported cases, or world wide numbers.

Folks, these are those “birds” that did not make it out of that room they were trapped in. They are the ones that did not have enough or any help, they are the ones that tried and tried and just could not find that exit to safety. This HAS to change!

You just watched that bird in that closed room fly around and around, hitting the walls, struggling to find that exit. Did you help it? Or did you sit back and watch?

If you see or know anyone that is struggling, lend that hand, open that window to help… open your ears and listen, even if you don’t “get it”. You cannot make PTSD go away, but you can help by learning and caring about others. Understand that PTSD is not something they can just get over, it’s VERY real and what they experience every single day is real. Do not be the one to sit back and just watch, or you might be the one to watch that final “bird” scene when you could have been the one to help save them. Open that window, be there for them, take the time to care. PTSD is not just a personal issue or problem, it effects everyone and it needs EVERYONE in order for the one who suffers from it, as well as those around them, to survive and learn how to live again. Please do NOT be that person who just sits back and watches the “bird” trapped in a room, be the one who does something, be the one who helps save another person’s life or loved one.

Whether you know someone who suffers from PTSD or not, odds are you actually do. Take the time to learn, take the time to care. Others need to understand and the only way to get awareness out there… is to spread it!

Please share if you care!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Website

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook Page

Weak minded? Are you sure about that comment?

Weak minded? Are you sure about that comment?

This is actually a pretty personal posting, in a way, but one I wanted to address and share with everyone, which I’m sure many can relate to.

I was watching my news feed on social media last night and this link came through. It was an article regarding how weak minded people need to learn from strong minded people, basically. X number of tips that mentally strong people don’t do.

I’ll be honest, my first reaction to it was… well, I was offended! My quick thoughts was how on earth could a person who personally knows me, as well as our story, post something like that? As well as knowing how many people we both know who suffer from different mental illnesses. It was like a slap in the face to me, especially with how much time and effort I put into educating others.

Then curiosity had me, I had to read the article. I read it, and I thought about it on a personal/our life level. Really not a wise thing to do, but with articles like that, how do you not compare them to your own life? That’s what they are about. It was like reading that people do have COMPLETE control over their mental state… nightmares, being around others, etc., basically it was like saying suck it up and get over it. Honestly, I wish I had the link but you don’t need the stress of that one article lol. I use to be one that believed completely in “mind over matter”, at least until I truly understood what mental illnesses do to one, how they do or can change the way the brain functions and even in a physical aspect, and I saw and continue to see it first hand on an everyday basis, the changes they do in reality cause. My mind altered in my thoughts quite a bit as I watched my husband honestly try and still could not completely defeat mental illness/PTSD. He has by no means given up, and we work hard at him being the best he can now be, on a daily basis, but each day is a true battle.

Then I read a different article this morning without taking it personally. It was actually a good motivational writing, now I was not taking it as personally, but stopping to think about it and how it does apply to life. It was about things to try or experience in order to maximize success and happiness… tips on what “strong minded” people don’t do in order to accomplish things. Actually, many of the things addressed are the same things I talk about here. But I sure don’t use the wording strong or weak minded!

As I read it I still thought, how could someone address something as weak minded vs strong minded? What does that do to the many people who have real mental illnesses? And honestly, are they even going to bother wasting their time reading something that would in reality consider them as weak minded? 😉 It went right back to my saying, wording is everything! I have been around ones with mental disabilities my entire life really. My mom taught children for 30 years that had mental disabilities, and I volunteered for many years myself, and do have a husband that has mental disabilities.

I have never viewed mental illnesses as being weak minded, and I sure won’t start viewing it that way now! This was the part of the two articles I had read that caused me to take it personally, and caused me to become offended… it was the wording of the titles, not the complete articles themselves.

See, one’s with mental illnesses are actually not weak minded at all. Many times they are actually the ones who have the strongest minds, as well as high intelligence levels. They are not weak minded, they have just been through or experienced something that no person should have ever had to experience. It’s not that they became weak, it’s that they were so strong, for so long, that the brain basically said enough is enough, then protects itself, and/or the brain itself changed. And I will tell you right now, if you know or could see what any person who has a mental disorder goes through every single day to make it to see the next, you would not and could not view them as weak minded at all! They are actually very strong minded, even though they have a mental health related medical condition. “The Best of the Best“, as I say it.

Then, some people were born with mental disorders, many cases it was in the genetics. That does not make them weak, it just means they are different then another person. For an example, take a child, or adult for that matter, that has Autism. I have met and known many with autism throughout the years. Of all of those people, I have never met even one, that did not have a special “gift”, a talent. And I mean a talent that will knock your socks off they are so precise and perfect at it. Now, is that a person who is weak minded? NOT in this lifetime! The way they function is just simply different.

Weak minded, strong minded… it’s really all just wording that is a part of stigma. I have known, as well as communicated with, thousands upon thousands of people since I myself was a child, children to adults of all ages, that have some form of mental health condition. I have never met even one of them that I could honestly say was weak minded. Just because a person has a daily battle that may be different then what you or I go through, doesn’t at all mean or make them weak. If anything, it makes them stronger individuals then we are.

Wording is everything, it also feeds stigma. My personal definition of stigma… “Fear of or the lack of education regarding something you do not understand“. If you view a person as weak minded, would it not be wise to take a good look in the mirror to see where weakness actually lies? Wording as well as stigma can be very harmful. Just something to honestly, from the heart, and with an open mind… think about.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Shell Shock, Battle Fatigue, Soldier’s Heart… PTSD. What’s next?

Shell Shock, Battle Fatigue, Soldier’s Heart… PTSD. What’s next?

Throughout history the term or wording has changed, all of these terms that have been used throughout history relate to the same medical condition, what we now know as PTSD.

This week there have been news articles regarding this, again. A name change for PTSD is being readdressed. There are studies being done to see if the term does make a difference or not, aimed at the Veteran population, their integration back into society and the job market.

I speak many times about how wording is everything when it comes to those with PTSD. Which is very true, I know this personally from how my own husband reacts or responds to things spoken to him or the way a person will phrase something. The look on his face when someone says something, the way he will distance himself from people or move closer to join a conversation. By how he will later say, “Hey they kind of understand.” or “They don’t get it at all.“.

The way things are worded or not worded effects communication, the way one will view things said to them, how the words will effect them mentally and emotionally.

So, if wording does play a huge part in everyday life with PTSD, does the term itself make a huge difference?

To note up front… this is not being written as or to bring a debate, but as a question seeking opinions, conversation, and just really… something to think about.

A few years back I wrote about this same subject when there was a name debate over the wording of  “disorder” or should it be changed to “injury”. My view back then was, “Does it really make a difference what name is placed on what we now know as PTSD? The symptoms are all still the same, life with it is still the same, the stigma that follows it will still remain as a new mental illness term becomes known.

I do have to add to this. My largest personal issue with terms of the past is the fact that awareness, advanced studies, and technology in the medical and social world have proven that PTSD is NOT only military related, but can effect anyone, military or civilian, that has experienced a life threatening trauma. The terms of the past were all related to military, which understandably makes sense, because the military is where this medical condition was best known or from. Stigma of mental illness kept the majority of civilian cases, for lack of better wording, hidden and kept within the family structure.

Many believe with another name change it will change the way people view PTSD. Studies are ongoing, however showing that dropping the word “disorder” can change the view or state of mind of the one with PTSD. It is believed with the word gone, society will not view a person as “there is something wrong with them”. Leading to more jobs and acceptance in society.

I still have a personal issue with these views. It goes back to my original statement, PTSD is still PTSD no matter what name is placed to it. I can see how changing the name could help in some ways, like the way one with PTSD views themselves or how they feel others will view them under a different term. But, reality is, whatever it is called, it’s still there.

But society? I’m not sold on that one. I still believe that once a new term is learned, we would be right back to where we were. I still believe that instead of playing so many name games with something that is so real and effecting people’s lives every day, awareness and education is the key over trying to mask PTSD under a different name.

We talk all of the time about how acceptance is a huge first step to moving forward when PTSD is a part of our life. Doctors tell us how facing your fears, traumas, symptoms, etc. can help you. Think about all of the things we, as the ones with or living beside PTSD are taught, in order to move forward with positive steps. Now, again, “people” want to change the name? In my eyes that contradicts everything we have learned and been taught, that help each of us take positive steps forward. Isn’t a name change, in a way, avoidance itself? The very thing we are all learning how to manage life through.

My question here is, hasn’t history already repeated itself? And how did that work? This medical condition is still here, it has not gone away, the symptoms are still the same, sadly… there is still stigma.

The gradual positive changes are happening because of awareness, people speaking out to educate others, people learning because they know someone or met someone who has PTSD. I know it is a long road to changing society, but it’s happening.

Look at the children that are learning and educating others! My own children educate others about PTSD, they show people through a child’s eyes that PTSD is not something to fear or hold stigma towards.

This morning was a very good example. My daughter will soon be 14 years old. I have educated her (on age appropriate level of learning) about mental illnesses since she was about 4 years old. This morning she said, “So what are you writing about today mom?“. I responded to her, “I’m writing about people wanting to change the name of PTSD to something different.” She looked at me with the most puzzled look on her face, paused for a moment, then stated, “MOM, that’s outright stupid! Why would anyone want to change the name when everyone knows or is learning the term PTSD already? What about all of the awareness already out there that can help people? That makes no sense what so ever. That would be like starting all over with the same thing but a new name, how will that help anyone? Are they crazy?” From the mouth of a babe 😉 there you have it. I said one simple sentence to her, and that was her response.

What would changing the name again do for the next generations? Honestly, I feel it would put the next generations back to square one, right back into our shoes we have already walked in.

Changing a term/name, again? Will that really help or will it put society right back to starting over on awareness? I honestly believe the latter. PTSD would just be added to the list of terms in the history books and we all would be starting over with a new term, re-explaining it as “Oh it was PTSD, but now it’s…“, as well as new stigma that in reality does come with new mental health terms. It would be history repeating itself when in reality we all are changing history right now! We can and are moving forward with the term already at hand.

I really, honestly, believe that another name change, even with the good aspects it MIGHT bring, and the psychology view that wording does make a difference… which I do believe… would in reality cause one of those huge steps backwards in this case, one that is not really needed.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

“Why are they lying?” A misconception!

I do ask that you read this completely, and I know it’s long but extremely important. There is absolutely no disrespect towards anyone here… in other words you are NOT going to find me throwing anyone under the bus on this one.  I honestly believe and have proven in our personal situation, that there is a root to everything, you just have to find what it is. I have been asked to write about this, and I will be honest, we have been there, but many will be shocked at what I discovered and the outcome! I am adding links to older postings of mine within this for you to view after reading, to help shorten this but still give additional information.

Why are they lying?

Right or wrong in actions and/or words… This is one of the most heart-wrenching, mind boggling, relationship breakers I personally think there can be over many other things that can come with PTSD.

A person’s word, honesty, is one of the greatest positive characters of a human being. It is the basis of who they are and basis of forming relationships, friends, or co-worker relations. Trust drives the human race. But what happens when trust is tampered with? What happens when you discover you have been lied to? The one thing about a person’s word is, sooner or later the truth will ALWAYS come to light. It might be today or it might be 30 years from now, but the truth, rather great or small, has a way of coming to the surface.

The things I hear the most are:

Why would he/she say that? It’s not true!
Why would they lie about something so small?
Why didn’t they just tell me the truth?
Why are they blaming me when it’s something they did?
Do they know how much their lies have hurt me?
There is no situation large enough for him/her to feel they need to lie to me!

Okay, that’s a short list, but you get my point.

The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Was this person known for not telling the truth before a mental condition?” It’s really a fair question. Some people for some reason do lie, it’s a part of their personality and character. And I am sure with a lot of help those that are this way can get past the “need” they feel to not be truthful.

But if the person at hand did not fit into the being known for telling lies category, then why are they telling lies now? Have you stopped to think about that or are you focused on what was said or what has hurt you? It’s a fair question.

I know the first thing I am going to hear on this is, “A lie is a lie, period.” You are right. A lie is a lie, however you have a little more at hand here then the normal. Have you stopped to view those not so normal things going on? This is not an excuse by any means, but what is the reason? Lies do have to stop! But getting to the root of what is causing these things have to be found in order to stop them.

See, majority of things that can come from PTSD or other mental conditions, can be worked on, things can get better, and those hurtful things you can majority of the time get past if you choose to… but you have to find the root of what is causing them.

So what are the roots when PTSD is at hand? We all know what PTSD causes, how it makes a person feel or not feel, and we know the symptoms. Not being truthful with someone does have to stop or a lot of damage can come from it.

* Memory 

This is one of the largest causes of so called lying with PTSD. Memory issues are very serious, when one can not recall details, stories, what happened or did not happen, to put it bluntly it’s embarrassing and can make one feel stupid. Imagine being in the middle of a sentence and BAM! You don’t know what comes next! The natural defense to this is what I call “filling in the blanks”. They place in what to them makes sense would be there. Sadly, what gets filled in may not be what actually happened or the way things actually were. And now it’s viewed as a lie.

MANY arguments start due to memory issues. You know the truth and the other person’s perspective is altered which leads to a fight. Which many times then leads to PTSD’s fight or flight. See, a person that is having memory/cognitive difficulties will honestly fight to their death they are right, they are not lying to you. Why? Because they honestly do not know when they are wrong, they do not remember! So they honestly do not know they are lying! Their brain is simply and honestly filling in the blanks, and many times they are probably not even aware of it.

This is where a lot of your problems can stem from. The “why did you hide or take my stuff?”, “I didn’t do that!”, “I never said that”, “You are crazy! That never happened!”, “You never told me about that!”, “Why would you accuse me of that? I didn’t do or say that!” How about trouble at work, at home, with friends, with family or the community? If you have heard or experienced things like these, you can almost bet there is a memory issue of some form at hand. Anxiety is linked to memory difficulties with PTSD.

Here is an older posting of mine regarding memory issues and things that we found can help:

“PTSD vs Memory”

*Dissociative Symptoms

This is a whole new ballgame within itself. These symptoms can come with PTSD and a VERY basic definition to this, it is a way of the brain protecting itself. One will not recall anything that takes place when these symptoms are present, therefore like with memory issues will fight to their death, so to speak, “that did not happen” or “I did not do that”. Dissociation does not happen all of the time and majority of the time takes place during highly stressful situations.

Here is a link to more information I have wrote about:

“PTSD and Dissociation”

* Guilt 

Guilt can weigh heavily on one with PTSD. However, when this happens majority of the time the not so truthful things being told are known by the person, but guilt outweighs the truth. I’ll be honest, this is a hard one to cope with for that person. They feel they let someone down or should have done something differently, the stories may be exaggerated, and those twists in stories may become to them viewed as the truth. Avoidance is a huge part of PTSD in the first place and them viewing the truth of a situation can be difficult, to the point it turns into what is viewed as lies.

It does go back to the truth will always surface, so facing it up front and being honest is the best thing whether you view it as such or not at this moment. This is when a lot of honest, sit down talking can sure get things back on a positive moving forward as well as getting help for the way one feels. Guilt and survivor’s guilt can be deadly way beyond just lies, please don’t let it get to that point. Reach for help.

* Numbness/Relationships

I know no one is going to let me slide without bringing this one up. Relationships and lies. Surfing for others or actual cheating. It did not seem like a big deal but now it’s known and consequences, hurt, and unbalance to a relationship are present. It’s that trying to find or feel normal in all of the wrong places, and it happens more than one could bear to imagine.

There are many things you can do within your relationship to help prevent this or from it happening again. Those other people are not going to fill the void that one feels (and that’s for either person, PTSD or non-PTSD, this one is NOT one sided). Finding a balance, help with PTSD and GOOD coping skills, communication, and being honest within your own relationship are great tools for helping with the numbness that comes and finding what you use to feel within your relationship. No matter what “high” that other person may give you at that moment, that high is going to wear off and reality of what has happened set in.

Be careful not to let what PTSD can bring (to either of you) misguide you from what is truly meaningful to you, your partner. The lies formed from outside relations OR communication can destroy your true relationship with the one you love. PTSD does come with numbness and lack of being able to have or feel emotions, that can change with effort and time, “motions lead to emotions”… don’t let lies destroy your relationship.

An extra link regarding relationships:

“PTSD: The Flat-line in Relationships”

These are just a few examples of many. Lies hurt, whether they are intended lies or ones that are unknowingly told. As I said, PTSD comes with many things that are out of the normal, there are many things to think about before just jumping to the “you lied to me”. Sometimes one may honestly be at fault, but honestly you have to get to the root of the why, in order to know the truth of a problem.

Many things that come with PTSD causes the brain to function in different ways, causing what appears on the surface to be a lie when in reality it’s not a lie to the other person, it’s what their brain has placed there whether as a defense, as a way to survive, or simply there is a memory issue of some form at hand. There are many things that can be tried or put into place to prevent the untrue from happening, good honest communication can form, and you can move forward. But the first thing you must do is accept that you are not in a normal situation and things do need to be viewed as such. Find the root to the why, it will help you move forward in a positive way.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Website

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook page

Fight, Flight… or FREEZE?

Fight, Flight… or FREEZE?

We have discussed fight or flight before, but what about freeze? Many people do not know the term freeze when it comes with PTSD, but guess what! Freeze can be a part of your response as well.

So what is freeze when talking about PTSD? Freeze takes place when you are in a situation where you can’t fight and you can’t take flight… you simply freeze. Motionless and can’t respond when danger, or the fear of, is there.

Freeze is a natural response to panic and fear of the ultimate level. It is when nothing else can happen and you have no choice but to face the fear you are confronted with by dissociating… oh wait! Dissociate, a word we are more familiar with. Freezing is another term/form of Dissociation.

When a person experiences a freeze response, they may hold their breathe, have a long or spontaneous sigh, you go motionless when danger is presented.

We all know the association of freeze to animals, humans are no different. Like with animals, the deer in the headlights… does the deer run when car headlights are approaching? Does it stand and battle the car? Nope, sure doesn’t, it freezes in place, doesn’t move, and stands there still so the danger will go away, but most likely in that case will be hit by the danger. It’s simple the way the nervous system is hardwired for when fight or fight is not an option. It’s also a survival mechanism… what does an animal do when a predator approaches? They freeze! That natural instinct of don’t move, won’t be harmed, predator will go away.

Freezing is linked to the nervous system of the brain. It’s a non-conscious response to an overwhelming threat. Many people who experience this response feel guilt or shame for not responding or the outcome of not being able to respond, once or after it has occurred.

It’s also a way the nervous system handles arousal during moments of high stress. This is also what causes many to develop trauma symptoms long after the threat or danger has passed. You may have gone into the freeze mode and not be aware that you did.

Let me add some info on this part from Dr. Suzanne LaCombe to explain it…

“During an traumatic event an enormous amount of energy is released by our neuroendocrine system. This enables us to fight or flee. However, fight or flight is not always an optimal strategy in modern life.

For example, if my boss infuriates me I don’t really want to punch his lights out (i.e. fight). If my car is about to collide with another there is usually little advantage to jumping out of the car (ie. flight)–even if I had time to do so.

However, if there is sufficient resiliency in your nervous system you will be able to discharge this energy without being traumatized. For many people however this life-threatening experience sets the stage for dysregulation. The energy mobilized by the perceived threat gets “locked” into the nervous system when we go into freeze.

In these situations you may not even realize that you went into freeze, yet several months later you can still be reeling from the effects of an accident. One theory is that the nervous system has not yet discharged the energy that was mobilized for fight or flight.
This freeze response sometimes reveals itself when you breathe. Holding your breath and shallow breathing are both forms of freeze. The occasional deep sigh is the nervous system catching up on it’s oxygen intake.” (from myshrink.com)

Traumas locked away from freezing, that’s something Craig has heard recently. He was told that when his trauma occurred (and out of respect for him I will not write details) and there was absolutely nothing else he could do to prevent the event from happening, it was something totally out of his control, he froze briefly then went back to work. He basically put his traumatic event in a box and sat that box on a shelf, for years, and managed through what he had experienced the best he could on his own. When you have a duty at hand, there’s no handling your emotions and feelings right then, you have a job to do and are expected to do it, and that’s what Craig did… and I’m sure many others are/were in the same shoes. Then he was triggered. That box opened up full force and here we are now… #PTSD chronic,#anxiety#depressive disorder…

Now you see why I said so many suffer from guilt or shame. Even that “what if” after the fact. That freezing can cause all sorts of thoughts and emotions to form. But you know what, that freezing can not be stopped, it’s a natural defense to trauma that your nervous system/brain does that you have no control over.

Freezing can happen anytime danger or threat are involved. It’s just another response that comes when fight or flight are not options. However, research is being done to see if the freeze response can actually be beneficial to regulating the nervous system, and with that PTSD symptoms.

And just to add it in here, anxiety symptoms and/or depression by definition are a dysregulation of the nervous system. For more information on self regulation click here.

Bottom line, get help. There are so many different things now that can help with PTSD. I won’t say it’s going away, but it can be better then it may be right now. And the sooner you reach for help, the better things can be for you.

With the conversation yesterday regarding motionless body function, I thought this was a good topic to touch on considering it does come with PTSD. I myself am still learning about the freeze response, so as I learn I will pass it on to you. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD vs Basic Life Needs

I spoke briefly the other day about “Needs”. These are the basics of psychology and life itself, and there is just no chance I could let it go with just a short posting. I think it really explains a lot when it comes to #PTSD and why so many are, well, lost within themselves. Your balance in life and what you have accomplished to this point has been thrown off, as I always say it, because in reality that is exactly what has happened.

PTSD is known for being a roller coaster, a term that describes it so very well. You hit every twist, turn, dip, high point, low point, upside down and then some, then go through it all over again when PTSD is a part of your life. But, I also believe that when you have some idea of what is coming, the best possible knowledge you can that is, then the ride becomes a little more easy to understand. In order to be able to help yourself or to help someone else, you have to understand what is actually going on. So hopefully this will help!

So what are needs? Not wants, not things that are optional for living, but the must have needs for life in general.

Now I will say, there is debate that level/importance of needs can alter from one population to the next/community, area, between if it is war time or peace, etc. Some category parts can parallel each other, and some can fall into different levels depending on the circumstances, but the ultimate need in life seems to always be the same. Now don’t let me lose you here, I’m going somewhere with this.  So keeping that in mind, here are the original 5 stages of “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” from basic at the top to most important at the bottom…

* Biological and Physiological Needs 

Air, Food, Drink, Shelter, Warmth, Sex, Sleep, etc.

* Safety Needs 

Protection, Security, Order, Law, Limits, Stability, etc.

* Belonging and Love Needs 

Family, Affection, Relationships, Work group, etc.

* Esteem Needs 

Achievement, Status, Reputation, Responsibility

* Self-Actualization 

Personal growth and fulfillment: expressing creativity, helping others… desire to give to society, pursuit of knowledge… achieved when all basic and mental needs are essentially fulfilled.

SO, now that the basics of psychology, needs, are out of the way, now lets add those to life with PTSD. Told you I was going somewhere with that. 

You have a person with PTSD, or even their spouse/partner, that most likely had accomplished all of the steps above. They had reached the fulfillment of self-actualization, the top of the pyramid, the grandest place in life. Then somewhere in life something happened, a trauma. Resulting in PTSD.

What just happened to all of those steps you/they had accomplished? I can tell you what happened, you/they just got knocked off your/their feet and right back down to the bottom basic steps. Maybe the effects of PTSD cost them their career, maybe they lost their home, maybe they worry about how they will feed their family/themselves, sleep… oh how PTSD effects ones sleep. Sex, yes I’m listing that one too, you probably are grabbing onto it with a vengeance or you don’t want any part of it at this point! And the list goes on. (And just to add it in here, this does NOT make you a failure! Even though I know that is a true feeling. To me, a failure to anything in life only comes when you never try.)

Stop and think about it. Where do you or your partner/family member/friend sit right now? What level of basic life needs are you or they at? Have you ever thought about that before? The answer is probably no! And if you have, I bet there’s a good chance you are sitting right there dwelling on it, stuck. There can be just too many thoughts jumbled up together and trying to survive through them. Your thought might be the here and now actions of what you are experiencing with no understanding of why you are experiencing them, the psychological root to the why, besides the obvious… PTSD. Whichever level it might be, I am sure PTSD has a hand in where you are sitting, as well as being able to make it to the next step… which you can do  it is just going to take a little more then you were use to.

Spouses/partners, have YOU yourself taken a step back, looked, and thought about any of this? It’s easy to lash out or back and say this isn’t fair or stop treating me this way. If you are lacking intimacy in your relationship, instead of dwelling or complaining about it, find it in life’s steps and then find what is missing, find what’s preventing your partner from reaching that step, and be supportive to help them reach it. If social interactions are missing, again find that step and look to see what’s missing to make it to that step. No matter which level a person is on, you really need to be considering the “why” to it so things can get better, for you or both of you! And make sure you yourself are finding those steps as well.

PTSD can and does knock a person down, it’s just a fact. But that NEVER means you can’t bring yourself back up! I could sit here and go through every single step above, but they are pretty clear, and pretty clear to what is needed to reach to ultimate goal in life even with PTSD… One step at a time.  But in order to do that you have to understand the basics of order when it comes to needs. Work towards building yourself back up. So you got knocked down, so what, just because you got knocked down does not make you less human, PTSD does not decrease your intelligence level, and PTSD sure does not mean life has to end. We all know that PTSD has it’s ups and downs, the PTSD dance as many of us call it… one step forward two steps back. But you don’t stop taking those steps.

The suicide rate for PTSD is way too high, and to be honest, even one suicide is way too high of a number for me to accept. Each of you and your loved ones are equally important in life. Each of you deserve a chance, understanding, and to make this new life with PTSD the best it can be. I stand strong behind my saying, PTSD affects “the best of the best”, the ones that are strong, taken everything thrown at them, and continue to survive each day that comes even though PTSD developed. If you can do that, then you can accomplish many of life’s basic needs. It’s just going to take that extra strength, time, patience, and understanding to do so. Don’t ever give up on yourself or your loved one. You are worth more than that!

I know many of life’s basic needs are being trampled on right now. I know many are suffering more then normal, and a lot of worry and stress have been added to what you already go through. And the difficult times are far from over. But don’t give up. Life has changed, and starting over is never fun, that step back and have to step forward again can weigh on you, but it doesn’t make you or your loved one a failure, it doesn’t mean that step forward won’t come, it just means life has changed and focus needs to be placed on building it back in a different way.

Please take the time to understand that life has a balance, and it takes work, communication, coping, and working together to make that balance happen. Take the time to care, take the time to view what others or even yourself may be struggling with, and work towards that next step to things getting better. PTSD is not just going away, but your life can improve from where it may be right now. And be one that offers positive support in the process, it can change a life, and even save one!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD