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PTSD: The Emotional Roller Coaster of Relationships

PTSD: The Emotional Roller Coaster of Relationships

In this life we live with or beside PTSD‬, many times things get misunderstood, not spoken, lashed out, dismissed, etc. It can bring conflict of a different level, misunderstanding of the true feelings of a person, and it can be for the one with PTSD or their spouse/partner.

There is a difference between anger and emotionally hurting. One can actually stem from the other in many cases. This is something that often times becomes viewed incorrectly. When one is angry themselves, it can become an instant response when there is a conflict, disagreement, or even different views on something to where a person who carries anger thinks the other person is angry. When reality is they are emotionally hurting, not angry.

It is often a fact that what one views in themselves is also how they may view others, what one feels may be what they think others feel as well. In many cases views and feelings become a self reflection. When this becomes so, it can be dangerous to a relationship, especially when life contains PTSD as well. PTSD does bring those negative changes in thoughts, moods, feelings, and how one views themselves and/or others.

One may start feeling and thinking things about another person that in reality are not so. One may feel or think another views them in harsh or negative ways, when in truth that other person cares deeply about them. One may lash out with words towards another, when in reality the views are skewed from what is actually before them. The responses or reactions are stemming from their own internal pain. That can be for either person.

It is so important in this life to form open and honest communication, even if you do not hear what you want to all of the time. Which you won’t. Honest, true communication will at times contain things that you do not want to face or believe even exists. It’s simply the hard facts of life.

When you listen to the thoughts and feelings of another, take your partner’s feelings and thoughts into consideration, it gives you something to work on, to build from, and work towards forming a stronger relationship. Allowing PTSD, depression, or even self doubt or disbelief those feeling are real, to turn how a person really feels around, to use their words and true feelings against them, can end a relationship that otherwise would or could be a very strong and secure one. A person can only take so much for so long when rejection or disbelief of their true feelings continues to be at hand, listen to them PLEASE before it gets to that point! We know that not all relationships will survive this type of life, the divorce and separation rates have already proven that. But what you choose to do, not do, and how you choose or do not choose to recognize what your partner feels or thinks can make a huge difference to the outcome.

Each person owns their own feelings and thoughts. They are real, no one is going to make up something to voice just to cause a conflict. When one opens up to you and tries to talk to you about these things, I guarantee you there is a great concern and true feelings involved, never dismiss them. When one opens up and tries to communicate that is a huge step. It’s not always easy to talk about things, to bring up things that one knows could start a conflict, but things surface because they need to be addressed. It’s not about putting another person down, it’s not about pointing out problems or issues that may be at hand, it’s about communicating so you can work through these things together. It’s about building your relationship, not about tearing it or another person down.

This life with or beside PTSD and/or depression is not an easy life. But when you are in a relationship it’s not only about one person, a relationship consists of two people. Those two people have to work together. There will be changes, there will be those give or take situations, there will be things that are accepted and things that just can’t be, and you will have to work hard to find a balance and then maintain it.

There has to be effort. Both people have a role and responsibility in a relationship. One person cannot form a healthy relationship or carry the relationship alone. Even with the disabilities this life brings and consists of, even with the changes in life from your normal, relationships can survive and prosper, but it takes both of you.

There are many simple things in life, that in reality do not carry high expectations or unrealistic goals, that can help strengthen a relationship. You just have to recognize them and use them.

* Communicate honestly.

Being open with each other and talking about how each of you feel can help strengthen your relationship. It is a must do, especially with what PTSD brings with it. If there is something that is honestly causing hurt and emotional pain in your relationship, and it’s causing damage to the relationship, you need to talk about it so you can work through those thoughts and feelings TOGETHER!

* Listen to what your partner tells you and really hear what they are saying.

When you stop listening, choose to be on defense instead of facing issues that may come up, arguments are going to start, feelings are going to be hurt, things are going to be said out of context, and guilt will set in. These can be prevented majority of the time if two people will simply listen to each other, then talk.

* Ask questions if you are unsure about something or about why one is feeling or thinking what they are.

Sometimes questions do need to be asked, and further explanations given. You are not in each other’s heads, you don’t have the same thoughts or feelings. You cannot just assume what another person is thinking or feeling.

* Acceptance.

Do not dismiss the thoughts and feelings of another, each person has a right to and owns their own feelings. When you accept these at face value truth, you can learn more about each other and learn how to work together to form a better relationship.

* Both people have to provide effort.

A relationship is not about only one person, it consists of two people and both people have to count and put effort into the relationship. You are going to get out of your relationship what you put into it, and that means either and both of you. It cannot be a one way street of only one person trying. Period!

* Balance.

A very serious and important part of and to any relationship. There is not a relationship on this earth that will survive in a healthy way without some form of balance to it. It will not always be easy to find, it will take a lot of work and effort, as well as trial and error. It will mean that at times not every person will get everything exactly the way/what they want, the key is to always remember to take your partner’s thoughts and feelings into consideration and come to a reasonable agreement or compromise that works for BOTH of you. If you don’t, you stand a good chance of more issues rising or continuing, and a chance that your relationship will not only struggle but may take a serious fall, and fall apart.

Bottom line:

Just because PTSD and/or any other disability is a part of life, whether you are the one with it or the one standing beside them, you CAN have a good relationship. Do not doubt yourself or allow PTSD to take over on that one! It may not be what others view as normal, it’s up to you what normal is and what you form together. But you have to put into a relationship, you have to take your partner’s feelings and thoughts into consideration, you have to work together to find a healthy balance so your relationship strengthens. When you don’t there is a high possibility that your relationship will not survive this type of life… and no one wants to see that happen or experience it. When two people work together and put in the effort, you CAN succeed in anything you set your mind to… and your hearts.

Each person that lives this life with or beside PTSD needs positive support from their partner, consideration, recognition, acknowledgement, and a lot of love and caring. You can carry each other through and find that good balanced relationship together, you just have to work at it. <3

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

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When it’s the Spouse/Partner lashing out.

When it’s the Spouse/Partner lashing out. 
Why does this happen? They are not the one with PTSD.

Let’s take a look at reality here, “we are all human”, and it’s going to happen. Everyone does have a breaking point, and the key is not to reach it. It is not always the one with PTSD that does the lashing out, harsh words, picking fights/arguments, holding resentment or even grudges… or finger pointing. These things can be dished as well as they can be served.

The first thing to keep in mind is PTSD is not a one person condition or issue, for lack of better words. It can effect others, even if they do not have PTSD. But the finger pointing, blame game has to stop! It will only hurt both of you and your family. No one asked for PTSD, no it’s not fair, it’s not fair how life has changed, but it’s now a part of life and you have to learn how to manage it as well as your personal self (each of you), and learn to work through things together. You MUST communicate! There is no choice, in my personal opinion, when PTSD is a part of life… or you are going to have deeper problems arise.

I have had several people come to me recently and ask me how to help their spouse/partner, and why do spouse/partners lash out with harsh words or actions the way they do or if this is even normal?

(Just to note this up front: This is in NO way meant to make anyone with PTSD feel like they are a burden, guilty, or any other negative feeling. It’s simply to get to the root of the why so steps forward can be started. NO finger pointing here!)

So let’s talk about this more to bring a better understanding.

What are some of the many reasons a spouse/partner of one with PTSD may act or say things differently? 

1. They are overwhelmed.

This is probably the most common. Just like one with PTSD goes through changes once PTSD is a part of their life, a spouse/partner does too. A spouse may feel or think they have to do everything and take care of everyone, while also trying to manage the changes in life, but at the same time set themselves to the side. It is extremely important for a spouse to make and take time to take care of themselves, too.

2. Roles change or additional roles added to their normal.

Many times a spouse/partner may take on more or different roles in the home and/or relationship, or even work related than they use to, roles at times may even be switched. Spouses are known for carrying the weight of others and in many cases won’t ask for help. They will do things to just get them done, which can and will become overwhelming. Which in reality can be damaging to both people. You have to keep in mind self-esteem and self-worth of both people involved or as a family. There has to be a balance found.

3. Holding things in and not communicating.

This is very common with knowing the partner is going through life with PTSD and/or any other medical conditions. A spouse does not want to talk about their problems or issues or make others think they are only thinking about themselves. Many take on the mind set of “my issues are not as bad as what he/she is going through.”

The problem with this is sooner or later it will be seen or come out that something is wrong or the spouse is keeping things to themselves. It may come out no different than some of the symptoms of PTSD, the anger, arguing, frustration, snappy tone, or even blaming others for things, etc. It can be very damaging to one’s self to hold all of your feelings or emotions inside. Everyone needs to and deserves to be able to talk… and before it turns into lashing out at those you truly care about.

Everyone needs someone to talk to. Reality, your PTSD partner may be the one that truly understands, remember… you are BOTH going through this life just simply from different sides of the fence… you just have to give them a chance to. Conversations are not always easy, communication, good communication skills take practice, patience, learning how to accept what others feel or think and that they own those thoughts/feelings, and having an open mind so you can work through things or simply just talk and listen to each other.

Communication takes honesty, and knowing that you may not solve the world’s problems right then, it may take time and working together to make or figure out how to make changes. “We/I will work on that” is an awesome phrase when there is not going to be a problem or issue solved right then. You both simply agree that what needed to be said was said, and you BOTH will work on whatever is your part individually or together that needs to be worked on.

If you keep everything bottled up inside, there’s no chance of stepping forward, because your partner is in the dark to how you are feeling, and that goes for both of you. They are not mind readers, but they do notice when something is wrong. Communicate. And if you need a third party involved, seek professional help, there’s nothing wrong with doing that!

4. Secondary Stress or other Medical Conditions.

Folks, it’s a part of life and no one’s fault! It happens. It is very common for a spouse to develop secondary stress, caregiver stress, or even PTSD of their own in some cases. It is very common for trauma survivors to partner with other trauma survivors, whether both have PTSD or not.

A spouse may develop many of the same symptoms that come with PTSD, anxiety, anger, frustration, hyper-arousal, lack of sleep (could be for many different reasons), depression, etc. I will beg the spouses/partners on this one, PLEASE learn, practice, and use on a regular basis coping skills and techniques! And take care of yourself! These things can and will help!

Other medical conditions. None of us are getting any younger, medical conditions are going to come sooner or later of our own. When they do they add additional things to the spouse’s plate that have to be managed. Spouse’s again, are known to not share what they themselves are going through when they know someone else is going through their own battle. Help each other and talk to each other, and listen! Please do not put down or belittle what another person is going through, neither of you. Not everyone experiences the same things, but each are equally important.

Every single person is capable of doing something, even if it’s just simply listening or helping out in some small way when the other person is having a rough day.

5. A diagnosis is NOT a weapon!

It’s not a secret that at times things in life can get heated at times. Feelings get hurt, emotions overflow, things get taken personally, or not correctly the way they were meant, or things said that come from hurt or anger. These are all things that could be related to one using a diagnosis against another person. Please don’t do this! It’s a really quick way to lose someone you in reality care about. No one asked for PTSD, or any other medical condition for that matter, using a medical condition or “throwing it in their face” is not going to solve anything, it’s only going to cause more pain… and most likely for both of you.

6. Lack of acceptance and/or understanding.

PTSD and the life changes that come with it, are not things that are learned overnight. I can almost guarantee you there is going to be a rocky path until you learn more, and figure out what works best for you and your partner. This again brings lashing out, arguments, frustration, etc. Majority of the time from both people.

It takes time to learn, to accept, and work on things so there is a new normal and balance found. There is no quick fix, no pill, no cure, no one coping skill, no read this one article or answer this one question and you will know everything there is to know. PTSD and life with it takes a combination of everything you can fill your “tool box” with, both of you!

Every single case of PTSD is going to be different in some way, there may be many similarities, symptoms, and things that help, but each person is their own individual. Traumas are different, even two people that experienced the same type of trauma or even at the same time, may respond differently to the way that trauma effected them.

But anyone, if they try, put in the effort, and take the time, can learn to understand the now. No, you will not and cannot understand what one went through, you were not in their shoes when their trauma happened. Just as one with PTSD is not in their partner’s shoes. But, you can learn and understand what they experience now… the symptoms, the triggers, and what helps them the best and both of you. PTSD is an everyday learning experience and part of life, for both of you… it can change, symptoms can have ways to be managed, it will have it’s ups and its downs, it will come with good days and really bad days. Accepting that PTSD is in reality at hand, and learning to understand the now, can greatly help both of you. Things can get better than they may be right now.

These are just a few things of many that may help with the “why’s” when it comes to spouses/partners and their reactions or actions/words. As well as information about both sides of this life and things that may help.

No one wants to lash out or be lashed out at. Work together, communicate, have patience with each other, help each other, make sure you are taking care of yourself, and never stop trying, learning, and finding that works best for both of you. This life with PTSD does not have to be filled with arguments, harsh words, etc. PTSD comes with enough as it is without taking things out on each other. Learn to work together, and PLEASE talk. It’s a simple “I really need you to listen” and take turns talking and listening, really hearing each other out so you can work through things together and know how each other feels. It can work, and make life with PTSD a whole lot easier… Craig and I do it, and it’s proven to help. You can do it too! 

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

“I miss the man/woman I use to know.” : PTSD

“I miss the man/woman I use to know.” : PTSD

That is one of the things I hear, a lot. It’s also a reality that I know very well. It is one simple, short, sentence or comment and feeling that carries meaning deeper than many people understand. Unless you live with or beside PTSD, it will be a difficult one to understand.

I personally have heard, “But you two are together ALL of the time, you are so lucky.” What is not understood by those speaking things such as this, is just because we are physically together does not mean my husband is not thousands of miles away… where PTSD takes him.

I had my wording from my recent interview brought to me, and questions asked. So I want to use that as an example.

“How has Craig’s diagnosis affected your relationship? 

A: The million-dollar question. I will not say our relationship is bad, because it’s not. It just changed when PTSD became a part of our lives. The close emotional and physical relationship we used to have did change. In ways it faded, even though we love each other dearly. 

I think the hardest part of PTSD that changed our relationship is the view of what a relationship itself is. PTSD makes it very hard for someone to have a connection with or feel close to another person. That can cause both people in a marriage to feel lonely sometimes. For somebody with PTSD, emotions and feelings become something that requires effort and not something that just happens. You really have to make one-on-one time for each other, even if the feelings may not be there at the moment. As a doctor once told us, and we found it to be true, “Motions lead to emotions.” Motions mean not only in a physical sense, but any type of emotional connection in a relationship.”

PTSD can cause both people in a relationship to feel lonely, it’s actually very common. It takes a lot of effort on both of their parts to battle that part of PTSD. Many times the one with PTSD does have to focus so much on themselves and managing their symptoms, that focusing on a relationship is difficult. It does not mean they can’t, it just means there is a lot more to it than others may realize.

There is also a sense of grieving, it is a part of the process or life with or beside PTSD. It can also come at any time when one starts feeling lonely. It’s not like normal grieving, where you grieve then it’s over. Any time that distance comes between two people that grieving or missing the man/woman they once knew, can happen again.

One can miss the past, how one was before PTSD or when symptoms were not at a high level, and even the things you did together. See, PTSD does not stay at an even level, it can fluctuate at different times of year, due to triggers, how sleep was the night before, etc. So one may see the “person they knew before” at times, then in a way PTSD takes them away again.

I guess a good way to describe it is it’s like having everything in a person that one wants… the spark, the humor, the passion, the romance… “the connection”, the reason the two people are together and attracted to each other, whatever that includes. Then the symptoms step back in and that or parts of that get masked. You don’t get to see the parts of that person that you just love… and you don’t know when those characteristics or things will come back. This is probably one of the hardest things for both people in a relationship when PTSD is also a part of life. It leads to missing the person you know so well, at least for a period of time, even though you are both physically right there.

There’s also another part to the “missing the man/woman you use to know”, the physical side. Physical aspects of the relationship change. It does not mean the relationship is “bad”, but it also does not mean there are not changes. Many times the physical side of the relationship becomes altered from what you knew as normal, other forms of physical relationship may become a part or larger part of the relationship.

For example, take two people who just have that ultimate connection, and physical connection as well. To the point that when they are physically connected it’s ecstasy and passion that many only dream about. Then mix PTSD symptoms to that.

The negative changes in thoughts, feelings, mood that weighs on one’s self-esteem, self-worth, or even how they start viewing others. It can cause one to feel like they are a burden, or even not good enough for their partner, they can feel that they have let themselves or others down because of PTSD or the limitations that may come with it.

Then in some cases, you have to include medications, they can play a role in this as well… weight gain (a common part) and again how they view themselves, lack of interest in being physically involved or not able to, etc. Medications can change the levels in one’s body which leads to no interest or even ability to be physical with their partner. (If this happens, please talk to your doctor. There may be things that can be changed to help.)

These symptoms are like a boulder rolling down a hill and taking out everything in it’s path! They can play ping-pong off of each other, mentally and physically. Which can lead to a feeling of absence in a relationship. There is already the real symptoms of avoidance, numbness, and such at hand, you don’t want to add to those.

But there’s more. It’s not only the one with PTSD in this. Emotionally and physically their partner can experience things too. A partner starts, in a sense, missing the person they knew so well, and the type of relationship they were use to, the things they use to enjoy together, the way they were treated, which in turn leads to themselves pulling away or distancing themselves mentally as well as physically. In a way it’s a form of protecting themselves emotionally from what in real life is happening. Now, you have a vicious circle forming.

The next thing you both know, the roommate syndrome can form. Basically you feel like you are living with a roommate, sharing the same space, because the relationship part has become absent, absent for too long, or masked at times. This is not good for any relationship.

You have to both work at finding a healthy balance, and before it’s too late. It is not a secret that PTSD relationships do have a very high divorce rate, for very real reasons. Not every relationship is going to survive it, but what you do, both of you, can possibly make a difference to if you become a part of those statistics or not.

Is a relationship worth all of this that both people go through? Absolutely! But, you BOTH have to do your part to keep your relationship alive and healthy, or it can fade away. It does take more time, effort, learning different things or ways of doing things, making one-on-one time for each other, and trying… but a relationship CAN survive and prosper, even with PTSD being a part of it and both of your lives.

The definition of a relationship does change when PTSD is a part of life, it’s not what many would consider as “normal”. You will at some point miss the man/woman you knew so well, you will go through spells of grieving, and you will even miss your true self at times… both of you. But all of that does not mean there cannot be a healthy relationship and a balance to it. Relationships just change when PTSD is a part of them, it’s up to each of you and you as a couple, what you do to make changes to find a new normal.

The “absence” in a relationship that includes PTSD is really not about loving or not loving someone, something that many people jump to thinking. It’s about how PTSD changes things, life, or one’s views. Learning to manage PTSD as well as understand it together, communicating, trying, and understanding that at times it’s just PTSD masking what is in reality still there, can help a relationship.

It’s okay to miss the person you care so deeply about, or even miss the person you were, but don’t lose hope, keep taking those steps forward… for yourself as well as your relationship.

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

PTSD and Building a Stronger Relationship: Part 4 PTSD and the “Roommate” feelings.

PTSD and Building a Stronger Relationship: Part 4
PTSD and the “Roommate” feelings.

After receiving so many comments a few days ago regarding people feeling like roommates to their partners, I felt we needed to talk about this. It is a VERY real feeling that can come or exist when PTSD is a part of a relationship.

PTSD and the symptoms that it brings…feeling of distance, the feeling of alone, the avoidance, the numbness, the negative changes in views of one’s self, others, or the world in general… can be really tough at times, and very real. Those things are real even when two people know they love each other, and are sitting in the same room together or together all of the time. These are symptoms that do effect both people in some way.

Sometimes you have to put your foot down and say this isn’t us and take that time to just be with each other to try to find even a small part of what PTSD snatches away from you. Anyone that states love, closeness, feelings and emotions should not be “forced” but should just happen… has never lived with PTSD in their lives. It takes a lot of extra time and effort to hold a relationship together when PTSD is a part of it. And the sooner those who have PTSD in their lives realize that, the better the outcome is going to be.

Relationships are not carried on a silver platter when PTSD is a part of life. It takes patience, communication, understanding, working together, and “going through the motions to find the emotions”. “ A relationship consists of much more than only love. It has to, because you have to learn how to break through what PTSD causes to the ones who have it, as well as what the effects of PTSD causes the partner/spouse.

That said a lot within itself, but let’s dig a little deeper.

Relationships are hard with PTSD being a part of them. It does not mean by any means that there can not be relationships or good ones, it just means you have to work extra hard at them, for them to work. You have to except that PTSD is a part of life now, and with that what use to be viewed as a “normal” relationship has changed.

Craig and I are no different than anyone else going through this. We are very lucky, in my opinion, that we had a strong relationship before PTSD became a huge part of our lives.

And I will get to that in a minute. But, I will be honest… sometimes the fact of knowing the person before PTSD became a part of life can also have it’s down side. I did know Craig before, I know what he was like, the things he loved in life, the funny character he was, how he could so easily make me laugh, how goofy he was, how he loved the spur of the moment let’s do this or let’s go there. I watched him excel through life with his head high, no fear in the world, and a person who would take on the world without thinking twice about doing so. He would go out of his way to help anyone. He loved life and everything he could possible experience in it.

He loved teaching our kids as well as others about airplanes through the EAA Young Eagles program that we were a part of. He loved flying, being outdoors, and he dearly loved his job as an air traffic controller with the military. He/We loved travelling and being able to see the country and meeting new people. He loved teasing me (in a good way) about my love for dogs and animals in general (which at times he still does  ). He loved family gatherings, loved having cookouts with friends, he loved going out and to large events, he just loved life to it’s fullest. All of the things he loved and person he was brought a larger sense to us and who we are as individuals as well as a couple. If you do not believe in the term soul mates, you should, because if there is any belief in that word, Craig and I are living proof of it.

I would be untruthful if I said I did not miss many of those things in him. He is right here but yet it seems like he is so far away much of the time. I do get to see a glimpse of him from time to time, and I hold onto it when it comes, but for the most part PTSD keeps the true him hidden, PTSD changed his life, and our lives. But I would not trade living life with him for the world!

I am very thankful for knowing Craig before PTSD, and being able to have the memories and have enjoyed that part of life with him. I would not change things at all and value every step of life we have experienced together, and will continue to. But at the same time, I see the changes PTSD has caused. I love Craig with every ounce of my being, and I love him as he is now and accept that our path has changed, and I sure don’t hold any of it against him, none of this is his fault, and I do hate seeing the guilt he carries caused by PTSD.

But it doesn’t take away the fact and feelings of missing who he was, the part of him I knew before PTSD. It is only normal to have those feelings from time to time, it’s part of being human and it’s a part of the grieving process that does come when life changes in such drastic ways and with that so does the person you know so well. They are real feelings, not meant to be hurtful in any way, but at times they do exist, for BOTH people.

I also know that that part of him is not gone, it’s still there, it’s who he truly is, it’s just masked by what happened to him and by PTSD. So knowing how he was before PTSD also helps me understand what we have to work towards, who he is, and through PTSD. It gives myself and him hope.

I also face the fact that I have changed. How could I not? It’s just a fact that comes with PTSD being a part of our life. My career changed, my/our dream life changed, my way of handling and viewing things changed, life has changed. I know I don’t laugh as much as I use to, even though I have learned to find humor in much more these days. I know some days it’s hard to find an extra smile. I know I am in a position that I have to handle things more seriously then I use to, there is a lot more to manage. I also know what it takes for me, myself, to maintain my own balance.

PTSD has changed me too. How could it not also change a spouse? I accept that though and still push to move forward each day and put more effort in making sure there is positive in our life. I know I have to find that smile and hold on to myself through this “different than it was” life, and I’m okay with that. I accept it and I never lose hope, I make the best of each day that comes. I would not have it any other way!

But not everyone has been in our exact shoes. Many relationships form after PTSD has become a part of life. You don’t know what they were like or who they really were. You accept them for the now. Which this is still life, and things can still change.

It’s okay to in a way grieve over the feeling of loss of who a person was, it’s okay to miss them or who you were, and it’s okay to wonder who they were or what they were like before you met them or before PTSD became a part of life. You own those feelings and they are very real. But you cannot get stuck in the grieving process, or it will bring BOTH of you down and that distance between you will become greater.

And to the ones who suffer from PTSD, please do not pull away further or leave because your partner may go through this from time to time. I know it can effect you greatly. I know it causes hurt because you do not want them feeling these things. But it’s also a process to move forward and to a better future. When this happens take every strength you have and hold on to them, it’s really what they need so they can move past this.

You as the one feeling the loss or distance, either person, cannot stay stuck dwelling on it. Own it, feel it, go through the emotions that come with it, then use it to move forward and make things better for both of you.

And don’t get me wrong here, it’s not only the ones living beside PTSD that feel this way. These are very real feeling for the one with PTSD as well! They feel the loss, the distance, etc. and it weighs on them greatly. You have to work through these feelings and also guilt they may bring together!

I have had many people ask me which is easier, knowing them before PTSD or not? I can’t answer that. It’s really a catch 22. There are good and bad with both, like with anything else in life. But I do know it’s what you do today that will make a difference. And accepting PTSD is where you start.

PTSD comes with so many things. The flat-line effect or roommate feeling is very real. And it’s not just the one with PTSD that can experience this, the partner can too. It’s where you feel numb, feel disconnected from others, when you know you love but can’t find the feeling to go with it. It’s that feeling of being there but yet it doesn’t seem real, it just seems distant… you are just there. Things get so wrapped up in trying to get better, trying to find and manage a new normal, that the real life right in front of you gets put to the side. Then you add in other PTSD symptoms and effects, avoidance, anxiety, the what if’s, the worry etc. it all just added to it… from both sides.

The closeness becomes distant, the intimacy energy shifts to battling symptoms and life or each other which trust me that part can and needs to change, the negatives from changes form walls between two people, and the next thing you know, the two people who knew each other better than anyone else, start feeling like roommates.

It’s so easy for relationships to get sidetracked when PTSD is a part of the relationship. There is so much involved in helping yourself or the other person, then finances, work, children/grandchildren, then throw life itself into the mix, relationships are where the suffering occurs.

This is when you have to plant your feet in concrete, as Craig and I say it. You have to take a time out to focus on you as a couple. Even with everything in life being thrown at you and all of the symptoms still there with PTSD, you can still maintain a good relationship. It’s not going to be easy, Craig and I both will tell you that. It comes with many feelings, emotions, and also lack of both. It is very easy to end up in that flat-line or roommate feeling of a relationship, where you are just there. You are both right there but the relationship feeling is lacking, and by either or both people, it’s more like a feeling you are roommates sharing a space in this world, than a couple.

So what do you do if you are sitting in that position right now?

“Motions lead to Emotions”

Those are the strongest words there are when it comes to a relationship that has PTSD as a part of it. Emotions are not going to form or come back if you don’t do anything to make them. Even if you are numb and feel nothing at all, don’t lose hope, don’t sit there stagnant and allow it to continue. It will only get worse if you don’t do something.

Follow through on motions, it could be a simple smile, wink, hug, holding pinky fingers, laying on the couch together to watch a movie, gently touching one’s face or kissing them on the forehead. Take a walk, even around the yard, sit and eat a meal together and talk about things you enjoy together or use to enjoy… not about the news or what’s going on with someone else… but about “us”. Leave a nice note or send a text or email, give a compliment, start exercising together, do coping skills together, learn meditation…

And for those that have never heard of tantra (no matter what religion or non-religious beliefs you hold), investigate it, try it, it might help bring a spark back to your relationship!  We thought a doctor was CRAZY when we were told to look into it, we were actually told to attend a class which NOPE we did not do! But being told what we were, we did look into it and let me tell you, just some basics of it brought a whole new and exciting spark to our relationship. (TMI, I know lol but intimacy and/or sex is a part many are missing in a PTSD relationship) And it can help step past, even if for only that moment, many of those things PTSD can cause for either person when it comes to the intimacy and/or sex part in a relationship.

Use your imagination!

There are so many things that can help get a relationship back on the right path or going in a better direction. And acknowledge when one does something for the other, a little acknowledgement can go along way for helping both of you. Use the motions, it sure can’t hurt any worse than doing nothing.

Relationships take a lot for the average couple, and relationships with PTSD take a lot more. They are work, they take a lot of extra effort, understanding, communication, working together to find solutions or what works best for the two of you. They are not just going to happen!

I know all of us go through a lot, but through all of it, don’t forget to add in the motions so you can find or restart the emotions to your relationship. It can make life a little if not a lot better. Don’t forget the “us” in life, make the time for each other. Don’t allow a flat-line or roommate feelings remain in your relationship, you as a couple and as individuals are worth more than that!

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook page

PTSD and Building a Stronger Relationship: Part 3 PTSD and Emotional/Physical Closeness

PTSD and relationships

PTSD and Building a Stronger Relationship: Part 3
PTSD and Emotional/Physical Closeness

Bottom line, this is VERY hard for many that have PTSD! I am getting a lot of questions from partners of one with PTSD that cannot seem to get the emotional or physical closeness from their PTSD loved one that would be “normal” for a relationship.There are many different symptoms as well as situations that could be a part of this.

PTSD comes with negative changes in thoughts, views, and feelings. Which can be about one’s self or others. Those could play a huge role in how one acts or holds back, is guarded. Some may view themselves as they do not deserve a relationship, are not good enough for another person, would be a burden on someone else, or even worry that a relationship may not work, if others have not worked.

Avoidance is a symptom of PTSD, and is not limited to places or things, but can be of people, even people they love. It’s not something that is done on purpose, it’s what PTSD causes. This can take place especially when PTSD symptoms are high, or increased during trauma anniversary times.

There could have been a relation to one’s trauma causing physical or emotional distance. A death of someone close to them which causes them to be guarded towards others or a new relationship. Their could be fear of losing someone else or possibly hurting one emotionally or physically depending on their level of coping or symptoms. One may have experienced an assault or rape. Each person will be different and their trauma may have some sort of connection to them not being able to get physically or emotionally close to another, or not yet.

Some with PTSD have to focus on themselves a lot in order to manage PTSD and help prevent it from effecting others as greatly as it could. It’s not something to take personally, it’s what at times must be done for their personal health as well as in the best interest of others.

So those are just a few of many examples of why PTSD can bring “guard” to a relationship whether emotionally or physically. It does not mean one does not love or care about their partner, it’s that “normal” has changed when it comes to relationships. It also does not mean the one with PTSD will always or all of the time be emotionally or physically distant, it can fluctuate or change as symptoms and coping skills/managing PTSD changes. It can also change as trust builds, self-esteem builds, and time takes place.

Craig tells me everyday that he loves me, and I know he does and that those are not just words to him. But the emotional and physical closeness is not always a part of our relationship anymore. He’s one that does have to focus on himself a lot to manage his symptoms. Negative changes in thoughts of himself is a large part of his battle. We have times that he can be emotionally or physically close to me, then other times he just cannot through what PTSD causes him. Our relationship is not what I view as bad, it’s just different than it use to be or what others would view as normal.

I had to learn to not take things personally when he is distant emotionally or physically, and accept that it’s NOT that he does not love or care about me, or does not want to be with me. It’s simply things that PTSD does cause at times.

I have mentioned many times about “motions lead to emotions”. PTSD brings numbness, another symptom. Going through the motions no matter what steps that may be or related to, can over time help with emotions. Even if it’s only small breaks in the numbness. But it will not happen overnight. It’s just like anything else that comes with PTSD, it takes practice, patience, and a lot of effort to trying.

Another thing that is important, is making sure you do not become co-dependent, which can easily happen. A relationship with another person adds TO who you are as an individual, you have to make sure you are taking care of yourself and are not solely relying on someone else to make you happy. If you have trouble with doing things on your own, enjoying things without your partner being right there all of the time, and finding what makes you happy… those are going to be things to work on, or it’s going to be hard to survive in a PTSD relationship and have a healthy balance.

You have to be able to trust yourself so your relationship adds to who you are, and not be what defines you. By learning to stand on your own two feet, so to speak, it can actually help take the weigh off of the one with PTSD, which in return may allow them to become more close and less guarded. It can take some of the worry away in some cases. I know in our personal lives, Craig does much better, so to speak, when he sees that I am doing okay. It does play a part in a relationship when self balance is there in a partner/spouse.

Some partners who are not married or don’t live together have issues, or worry really, when there is silence or breaks in communication or seeing each other. They are not there, they do not see exactly what is happening and yes, they worry. Make a plan! It’s probably the best thing you can do together. There are going to be those breaks, there are going to be times that physical or emotional distance comes, or lack in communicating. Those of us that are living together experience the same things, we are just able to actually see it when it’s happening.

Make a plan together, print it out if need be. If one feels [this] then [this] is how we will handle it so neither of us worry about the other.

Okay, physical touch. Everything above weighs into this part. But, there is a lot more that may also be a part of it. Medications and/or physical injuries can be a huge part of it for many. Intimacy does not have to be only about sex! Something that really needs to be kept in mind. Talking about or pushing for sex all of the time or often, as well as negative remarks, can push a person right away from you. PTSD weighs into intimacy or sex in many ways. Another time not to take things personally BUT be cautious to how you are speaking or acting.

If it’s a new relationship or PTSD is new to them, there is the chance in some cases that your PTSD partner is not ready to open up and tell if there are medications or other injuries at hand. That is hard for them to handle because it may bring negative thoughts of themselves, and they do not want you viewing them negatively. So they may avoid physical touch all together. Again, there could be many different reasons, these are just a few more.

Some people will need to take physical touch of whatever kind slower, especially if their trauma was connected to physical touch. Some may have those negative thoughts to get through before physical touch happens. There is no time limit and you can’t set one on when one will become comfortable. It may be a part related to their trauma that they have to work at their own pace to get through. Be honest with each other, talk about it so you are both on the same page and no one is taking it personally.

Whatever is causing a guard to be up or PTSD masking emotional or physical closeness, be patient and work through it together. PTSD may mask those things, but it does not mean those things will not ever be there.

I personally have a light hearted rule of sorts I live by, “Take the closeness and enjoy every second of it when it’s given. And hold onto that feeling and thoughts when the rest can’t be there.” One with PTSD does not do these things on purpose, and it takes time to work through whatever is at hand. Do not take it personally, and again, work through it together.

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Facebook page

“How do you handle PTSD symptoms when they increase?

I was asked a question regarding increased PTSD symptoms…

“How do you handle PTSD symptoms when they increase? Do you just ignore them or leave, or what do you do as the spouse?”

To start with, each person with PTSD will not always respond the same way as another person may, and each situation may be managed differently depending on the situation as well as the level of symptoms at hand. As well as depending on what you both have already learned and how you work together.

Over the years of helping manage PTSD, I have learned a lot about PTSD and what comes with it, real life experiences, and do have the ability to “read” Craig very well. He teases me and says I know him better than he knows himself. He does not have to say a word for me to recognize which symptom(s) is/are weighing in at each moment. This is not a superpower of any sorts, it just takes paying attention, listening, and learning what the signs or cues are to PTSD symptoms, then you can learn to recognize them when they start, and learn what helps to manage them.

Time and experience, trial and error, are to a spouse’s advantage. I can tell when he is angry, frustrated, feeling guilty, something is weighing on him, I know the signs of flashbacks starting even nightmares, I can tell when depression is getting it’s grip on him, I can see when he needs space or needs someone close to him, I can tell when he is okay with company coming over or not, I can tell when it’s going to be a good day or a rough one, I know his triggers, I know when those PTSD negative thoughts come, etc. None of these things are learned overnight, it takes time to learn how to recognize them as well as how to manage them when they come.

For us personally, I do not walk away from him when symptoms are increased, and I do not leave. I am with him all of the time (I am his caregiver) and if I am not here my respite care person is here with him. I might step to another room briefly then return, or come in and out of the room he is in. I might sit in the same room quietly and do my own thing… normally writing and leave him alone, that is common if I can tell he just wants to be left alone. I will talk with him, help him with coping skills, or whatever is needed. I’ve learned a balance so I can help him but at the same time not smother him. But walking away, even to another room, I do not do unless I know he is able to manage the symptoms with coping skills on his own.

If symptoms are really high, sorry, no way will I leave him alone, period. Suicidal thoughts/tendencies are a very real part of PTSD and I will not chance them stepping in and him having to manage them on his own because no one is there with him. I take high increases in symptoms very seriously. Even those who would never have thought of harming themselves before, can have those thoughts once PTSD is a part of life.

As far as ignoring symptoms, well I guess my view on that is I don’t really ignore them, I just know when not to take them personally, and know when to respond or not respond to them. Craig and I do have good communication skills and I can address when I see symptoms starting or increasing, which many times he does not recognize on his own or he will try to remain quiet and keep them bottled up inside… which is not good and can lead to an outburst or symptoms increasing more later. So by addressing what I am seeing (in a helpful nice way) it helps him know that coping skills are needed or just opens the door for him to talk about what he is feeling. At times I will do coping skills with him.

I have different little sayings we use as cues…

“I’m seeing PTSD/depression has a grip on you today…”
“You seem angry right now, is there anything you want to talk about?”
“It’s a frustration type of day, let’s just take it easy today.”
“Why don’t you take a nap, it might help you feel better…” (naps are a coping skill he uses for anger or frustration when other methods don’t work, especially after a rough night of little sleep)

Things like that, where it’s not pointing fingers, not accusing, or me getting upset, but pointing out what I am seeing and offering help or to talk if he wants to. It’s like giving a loving nudge without being demanding or controlling. Sometimes I will get that PTSD roll of the eyes and know to back off, other times he opens up. Either way a cue was there, and whether he seems to like it or not, I can tell he takes note of it and it helps. Again, I just do not take PTSD’s roll of the eyes, that look, or even a snappy reply personally. I already know a symptom is at hand, so there’s no reason to take it personally.

Another thing that is important to me in that, is by addressing things, it’s also of sorts, off my chest. I’ve said in a nice way what I have noticed, he knows I’m here and recognize when he’s struggling, and I don’t walk on eggshells around PTSD symptoms anymore. So it really can be beneficial to both people when you get to the point of that type of communication. Again, it takes time!

Building your knowledge of PTSD and it’s symptoms, learning to communicate and work together, knowing when to back up or pull them closer are all a huge help, and a lot of trial and error. Just understand, and I am purposely repeating myself here, it does NOT happen overnight! Life changed when PTSD became a part of it, it takes time to re-learn how to manage things now, so you can find a healthy balance for both of you as well as you as a couple.

And if Craig and I can do it, so can you! 

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Building a Stronger Relationship: Part 2 “PTSD changes in negative thoughts/feelings vs Relationships”

PTSD and Building a Stronger Relationship: Part 2
“PTSD changes in negative thoughts/feelings vs Relationships”

After my posting regarding PTSD and “Negative changes in thoughts and moods or feelings”, I wrote on Oct. 11th (it’s on my page if you missed it), I have had many questions coming to me regarding how this part of PTSD effects relationships and what are things that one can try to help with or do regarding this part of PTSD.

Unfortunately, this is a part of PTSD that not only effects a person as an individual, but can really effect a relationship. The changes in the way one views things, people, and even themselves, well… It can cause changes in a relationship as well. But like with other PTSD symptoms, it is something we can work on!

Spouses/partners, you are going to play a huge role in this! We do not want a spouse/partner walking on eggshells, but at the same time the way you act, respond, or word things will be very important. Life changed when PTSD joined it, and with that we all change in ways. With that, the way we manage things and our own views has to change. But this is by no means a one way street. There are things that BOTH people in a relationship can do or try that may help.

**Just to note: I am not a doctor of any medical field, the information and opinions I share are based on what we have personally experienced, our knowledge, what has helped us or others, and what others have communicated with me regarding. Not every situation with PTSD will be the same or the same things help in every situation. If you have an emergency, crisis situation, or need professional help PLEASE contact a crisis helpline, contact your doctor or call one. This page and it’s contents do not replace professional help.**

You are going to notice I’m dividing the following up into sections, but in reality they all flow together and are important.

* Communication Complications

One of the first things that you want to think about is, “How is our communication?”

When PTSD causes one to experience negative changes in thoughts and feelings (which partners are not exempt from negative thoughts either, it can be one of those vicious cycles), this is going to play into communication complications. You might notice arguing or increased arguing, things may be taken in a different way than they were meant, how a partner is viewed may be totally different than the way they were viewed before, things may be said that never would have been said by that person before, etc. All of these things can be a part of what those PTSD negative changes can cause. In other words, a good possibility (your “why”) to these things happening.

Once there is a break in communication, things seem to just go downhill from there. So what are things we can try?

The number one rule Craig and I use is, do NOT jump to conclusions! That is going to be one of the hardest steps to master, so do not get discouraged if it takes time! It will not happen overnight, but is something you both can work on.

To keep from jumping to conclusions, especially when something sounds “off base” from what would normally take place or be spoken, ask questions! Try to keep the defenses down, take a deep breath, and ask your partner in a calm fashion to please explain why they feel that way, why they did that, or what do they mean? It’s not to make one feel bad or look/sound stupid (oh I hate that word) or uneducated, it’s simply what may help get to the root of the why and/or decrease misunderstanding or mis-communications.

PTSD can cause one or a spouse/partner can be, quick to view themselves in a negative way and/or take things personally. By slowing down and asking questions, it can help with communicating in positive ways. You cannot forget that PTSD likes having it’s hand in things, so to speak, so you want to find ways to work through things and understand each other without PTSD taking control.

Wording is going to play a huge role also. AND accepting when one or the other person needs to change the way something was worded! Again, it’s an easy slip of the tongue for things to be blurted out, and/or things to be taken personally. Allow for corrections to be made without jumping straight to conclusions, or hurt feelings.

Some examples which may help, for either partner:

“I am taking what you said as… Is this how you are meaning it or am I misunderstanding you?”

“I think PTSD is messing with us right now. Can we stop for a moment and collect our thoughts so we do not argue/fight or misunderstand each other?”

“I know that is something you would not normally say to me. Can we slow down for a minute, so we can talk (calmly) so I understand why you are feeling this way?”

You can even agree to step to other rooms apart for a few minutes to calm down if need be, then agree you will start the conversation over.

“I think you may not have understood what I was meaning. Can I explain it in a different way so we understand each other?”

Learning to create a pause as well as how to word things can be huge steps in battling the negative thoughts or feelings when they come.

* Taking things Personally and Self-Esteem

This is a very large part that comes with life, when PTSD is a part of it! For BOTH people! When things are taken personally it weighs on the self-esteem. Oh the self-esteem! How you view yourself AND how you think others view you.

It is hard enough managing how you feel about yourself, but then what others think or you believe they think adds into it. It all plays on one’s self-esteem no matter where it is coming form. It can also effect all areas of self-esteem, which can effect different parts of a relationship other than what we have already talked about.

*Intimacy and Trust

What about intimacy and trust? Yep, I’m going to tip-toe there just a little here! (This will be another complete topic in another posting at a later time.) This is one of the largest subjects that comes to me. Any level of intimacy is how two people show they care about each other, that there is a connection, a bond… and is something that PTSD does step into the middle of at times. PTSD comes with avoidance, numbness, and again all of those changes… negative thoughts/feelings.

Things get taken wrong, people view themselves in negative ways, people start feeling like they are just not good enough for their partner, cannot please their partner, thinks their partner deserves better, or may think incorrectly about how their partner actually views them. OH NO! NOT a good thing or place to be in a relationship at all!

Those negative thoughts and feelings, as well as taking things personally are a real part of life with PTSD. They cannot be avoided in all situations. Why? Because negative thoughts and feelings are a symptom of PTSD. That in many cases can cause a situation with intimacy… of whatever level.

In my opinion, I think this is where trust really has to step in. We know what PTSD causes, we know it can effect both people and their relationship, and the best way to battle this one is with trust. Which is another part of a relationship that PTSD likes to mess with.

PTSD does not allow one to let their guard down very often, the things it brings to a relationship can cause a partner to be the same way. It is easier to build a wall, be on defense, and protect yourself from hurt feeling that hit the heart, than to let that guard down. Craig and I have a saying for this, “You have to take that wall down one brick at a time.” I can pretty much guarantee that every single person that has experienced life with or beside PTSD, has built a wall at some point.

Your partner is the one there (or you may be single right now but have a new relationship in the future), they are the one that chooses to stand beside you, both of you chose to live this life together. You have to re-learn to trust each other. If Craig and I can do it with the things we have been through that effected our relationship, you can too.

Not by any means taking or meaning this lightly when I say this, I’m saying this sincerely… Taking the chance on that person standing beside you, removing those bricks one at a time, and re-learning how to trust each other again… Cannot be as bad as what your trauma and/or PTSD has already caused you, and the two of you as a couple. Give each other a chance, even if it’s one brick at a time.

When your partner, either one of you, gives a compliment or says something with love, start building that trust by accepting it whether PTSD or what you have been through wants to accept it or not. Talk to each other, listen to each other, and learn how to communicate. Do not allow PTSD and life with it, take away from you what you really do have together. There are many ways of turning those negatives to a new normal of positives, don’t let go of each other through those changes.

The battle really is PTSD, not each other.

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Category: Personal: Marriage, Dating, Uncategorized  Comments off

PTSD and Building A Stronger Relationship: Part 1 “Life needs- Understanding the basic steps/levels in life”

PTSD and Building A Stronger Relationship: Part 1
“Life needs- Understanding the basic steps/levels in life” 

In order to work on one’s self and/or building a stronger relationship with others, we need to start with the basics of what is “needed” in life.

What are “Needs”? These are the basics of psychology and life itself. I think it really explains a lot when it comes to PTSD and why so many are, well… lost within themselves, and relationships are taking a hard hit from it. Your balance in life, either of you, and what you have accomplished to this point has been thrown off track, so to speak. 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, to help someone else, or even your relationship 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. Don’t let me lose you here, I’m getting to a very important point with this. 

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 (this is NOT only related to military, just to note that here), 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. Again, don’t let me lose you here, this does relate to what happens when PTSD is a part of your lives.

So keeping that in mind, here are the original 5 stages of “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” from basic needs 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 PTSD in your life now, both of you most likely had accomplished all of the steps above, had reached the fulfillment of self-actualization, the actual 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 had accomplished? I can tell you what happened, you both just got knocked off your feet and right back down to the bottom basic steps. Maybe the effects of PTSD cost one their career, maybe you lost your home, maybe you worry about how you will feed your family, sleep… oh how PTSD effects sleep. Sex, yes I’m listing that one too, some are probably grabbing onto it with a vengeance or don’t want any part of it at this point! Which comes with PTSD and all of the symptoms, and in some cases medications, it can bring. 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 and/or your partner 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… another part of PTSD that can happen. There can be just too many thoughts jumbled up together and trying to survive and sort 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 than you were use to… for BOTH of you!

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. But trust me, that does not solve anything and can make matters worse. What are the triggers? What is causing one to feel the way they do? What is making YOU feel the way you do? Find the why to whatever is happening and you can find what works best to take the next step.

If you are lacking intimacy in your relationship, the big one that comes with PTSD, a large part due to the negative thoughts or feelings that are a real part of PTSD. 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 or even yourself from reaching that step, and be supportive to help each other reach it.

If social interactions are missing, again find that step in life’s needs and look to see what’s missing so you can make it to that step. Life changes when PTSD is a part of it. Your social calendar is not going to look like it did before, but that does not mean you cannot work on things and figure out what works to help with different symptoms and situations, as well as individual needs, so you can get something back the two of you may be missing.

No matter which level a person is on, you really need to be considering the “why” to it so things can get better, for both of you! And make sure you yourself are finding those steps as well.

PTSD can and does knock a person down, even both of you, 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 to life needs, but they are pretty clear, and pretty clear to what is needed to reach to ultimate goal in life, even with PTSD… Take 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 one’s intelligence level, PTSD does not mean a relationship cannot work or improve, 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.

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 both 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, experiencing that step back and having to step forward again can weigh on you, but it does NOT make you or your loved one a failure, it does NOT mean that step forward will not 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 does in reality have and needs a balance. 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 and relationship can improve from where it may be right now. And be one that offers positive support in the process, it can change a life, save a relationship, and even save a life!

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Those with PTSD and A New Relationship.

Those with PTSD and A New Relationship.

I have heard from quite a few people with PTSD recently, that have brought questions about starting or being in a new relationship.

No matter what the reason a new relationship begins, it can bring many questions and concerns when starting something new that will be a huge part of your life. PTSD or not, new relationships can be scary in a sense. Then add PTSD to it and all of those “what if’s” that PTSD loves to run through your mind come to the surface…

“Will this person accept me with PTSD?” 
“Will this new relationship survive PTSD or fail like the last one?” 
“Is a new relationship worth what it might bring?” 
“How do I make this relationship work?” 
“How do I explain to this person about PTSD?”
“How do I get my new partner to understand what my PTSD is like and that I cannot just get over it?”

… Okay, the questions have been endless and with as many as I have been receiving I felt this was very important to talk about.

You know Craig and my story, which I shared a little of yesterday. We were together, then apart, then ended up back together after our marriage to others did not work out, and then Craig and I married. I’m actually Craig’s third wife by the way. Life is not a written book, we do not know what will happen next. Not every marriage or relationship will make it, just a hard fact. But I do believe there is someone out there for everyone, and sooner or later those two people will cross paths.

“Will this person accept me with PTSD?”

Honestly, who knows! But you will not know until you try.  I know it’s difficult wondering if someone will accept you or not, that is something that everyone goes through whether they have PTSD or not, it’s just a part of relationships.

The best thing I can tell you is just be honest, not saying that you would not be by any means. When Craig and I got back together, he was very honest about there were things with him that had changed, due to what he went through. We had no idea it was PTSD at hand, at that time, but there were some changes in him that were noticeable. We talked, he told me right up front about what we now know as symptoms, and I believe that made a huge difference for us.

Everyone has something in their lives that when another person enters a relationship with you, they either have to accept or you both have to move on in separate directions. PTSD is no different than having an ex, or children, or maybe you have animals that are a part of your life, maybe your family has a medical history of cancer etc., maybe you are a mama’s boy or a daddy’s girl… The list is endless of things that are a part of a person. When the right person comes along, they will accept and work through whatever is at hand with you. PTSD is no different, they just have to learn so they have the tools that are needed when it comes to PTSD being a part of life.

“Will this new relationship survive PTSD or fail like the last one?” 

DO NOT cut yourself short in life and what life can hold, just because you had a relationship that did not make it. A “failed” relationship does NOT make you a failure! A relationship contains two people, not only one.

Maybe with the last one the tools of managing life with PTSD were just simply not known or learned yet. Maybe you were with a person that could not accept life with PTSD. Maybe you had not gotten help for yourself yet or enough help to know how to cope and manage PTSD. Maybe you just simply were not with the right person for you! The reasons are endless, but that does not mean every relationship that you enter will not work out. Keep learning, keep working on yourself, and when that right person comes along everything you have been working on with yourself will be seen and help.

“Is a new relationship worth what it might bring?” 

Absolutely! Life is not a cakewalk in the first place, there are going to be trials and errors, there are going to be conflicts, there are going to be steps to learning how to work together, communicate, and also learning how to manage PTSD. But a good relationship is by all means worth it! All of those things make a relationship stronger!

“How do I make this relationship work?” 

Relationships take two. You both have to put effort into it, good relationships are not just handed out. Work together, communicate, learn everything you can so you have a full toolbox to work with, learn coping skills, and never forget one of my favorite sayings that is so true, “Motions lead to emotions” not speaking of only physical aspects of a relationship, and make sure you make and take one on one time together. It does take a lot for a relationship to work, and even more for it to be a good relationship, but it can be done… even with PTSD. 

“How do I explain to this person about PTSD?”

PTSD is not something you can just sit down, explain, and all will be known in one conversation. That’s just not possible. Telling someone you have PTSD is the easy part, which by no means is easy to begin with. But when it comes to explaining about PTSD, they are going to have to take the time to learn on their own also, but they do have to know about PTSD in order to do that.

People who do not already know about PTSD, do have a hard time understanding it, what is involved, and accepting it. You have to give them time to learn. If they make the effort to learn, take it as a good sign. Everyday is a learning experience, even for those of us that have been together for years there are still new things that come with each day. Do not overwhelm yourself with trying to lay it all out at once, step by step, just like with anything else that comes with PTSD. And by all means use this page and other resources to refer to, they help bring different views and perspectives from both sides of the fence which can help.

“How do I get my new partner to understand what my PTSD is like and that I cannot just get over it?”

Talk to them. Sooner or later they are going to see the symptoms, there is no hiding symptoms of PTSD from one you are in a relationship with. Give them the knowledge so they can learn and become better understanding of what you experience each day and you can learn how to work through things together.

I think the toughest part when it comes to explaining the “I cannot get over it” part, is with PTSD there are good days and there are not so good days, which to someone that has not yet learned about PTSD makes it difficult for them to understand it. It takes time and learning to understand and really grasp that a good day does not and will not mean all days will be that way. PTSD does have the nickname “roller coaster” for good reasons, but it does not mean everything is bad! It just means you have to learn the tools to manage the turns when they come.

As I always say, “You take the good days when you can get them, and you use those days to bring strength for the not so good ones.” It boils down to education is needed in order for one to learn that PTSD is not something one can just get over. It’s not just a mood swing, it’s not just a phase one is going through, it’s a very real part of everyday life for one who has it, and it’s not just going away and cannot just be set to the side. PTSD takes a lot of effort and work to manage so those good days do come, and it does need those things from both people not just the one who has it.

Relationships are not handed out from a silver platter. They do take a lot, but what BOTH people put into them is well worth it. Just because you have PTSD does not mean you cannot have a relationship or that all relationships will be bad. Do not give up on yourself and what you can have in life that quickly.  You are worth more than that! Relationships are different with PTSD than what most people view as “normal”, but that does not mean they are not worth it.

I do believe that there is someone out there for everyone. If we were meant to live life alone, then there would only be one person standing on this planet, which is far from what there is.  Do not cut yourself short just because you have a diagnosis, yep I’m going to say it again  “PTSD is a diagnosis, not the definition of who you are”.

If you are one that is in a relationship or new relationship with a person who has PTSD, PLEASE take the time to educate yourself! Self-education is priceless!!! The more you learn about PTSD, and things that help, the stronger your relationship can be. Just because PTSD may not seem “normal” to you right now and a relationship is different, just means you need to take the time to learn and redefine what the word normal means. Do not allow stigma and lack of what your knowledge may be right now, prevent you from a relationship with one with #PTSD which may very well be that person your path was meant to cross with. 

A Spouse’s Story PTSD Facebook page

Life with PTSD and The way you view things.

Life with PTSD and The way you view things.

I discovered a long time ago that the way I/we view things can and does make all of the difference in the world when it comes to battling PTSD, as well as relearning how to live life with #PTSD being a part of it. I thought I would share some things that really has and continues to help in this battle.

* The battle is PTSD, NOT each other.

That is one of the most helpful views we have found! Especially when PTSD symptoms increase, life can easily become a battle between people. The problem is, battling each other does not lead to anywhere good. Majority of the time it will only lead to people pulling away from each other… more than what PTSD MAY already cause, it causes hurt feelings, feeling of loneliness or alone, and the roller coaster ride can become unbearable. Why battle, argue, and fight with someone you love? It’s easier to work together to find what helps so positive changes can come.

* In order to hate a person, you had to love them first.

I know emotions run high when PTSD is a part of life. Your world gets thrown into a tailspin and finding ways to manage it does take time, and a lot of trial and error. Nothing will change overnight, and you have to put a lot of effort into each day as well as relationships. An easy life is not just handed to you when PTSD is a part of it.

A person with PTSD did not ask for it, it is something that happened to them. Would it be fair to say you hate someone because they developed cancer? Nope, I doubt that would ever happen. So why say you hate someone just because they have PTSD? If you want to hate something, hate PTSD and learn to battle it together. But don’t say you hate someone that you actually love just because they have PTSD. There is a difference.

* You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of or help another.

My personal golden rule! Taking care of yourself is not only important for you, and to help maintain your own balance, it helps everyone around you… and you would be shocked at how much it will help a PTSD loved one! You have to take care of yourself physically as well as mentally.

* Things CAN change.

Just because you are going through an extremely difficult time, does not mean it will stay that way. The more you learn, the more you try different things to find what works best for you and your situation, positive things can come. A new normal can come. PTSD symptoms can change and/or the way you learn to manage them can change. PTSD will not go away, but things can get better than what you may be experiencing right now.

* Life has simply changed.

Acceptance is a huge key when PTSD becomes a part of your life. Life changes anyway, there is no stopping that. Life with PTSD is no different, a page in life has simply turned. Just like with anything else, you learn and you make the best of it so you can make those small steps forward.

* That old saying stands true, “Laugh or you will cry”.

Don’t forget to laugh. Laughter is one of the most powerful coping skills there is. Okay, so something happened. Many things, not every situation but many, can be turned around if you learn to laugh it off or even laugh at yourself. Life is not perfect, it never will be. One of mine and Craig’s favorites is, “Oh look there’s PTSD, we see you”. Or “Mr PTSD is visiting today, but you won’t get the best of me.” It’s pointing out that we know whatever it is happening, it’s PTSD behind it, and we find ways to tackle it with a little humor. Just use your brain on this one  don’t laugh at someone unless they are laughing with you, you do not want to trigger PTSD. 

* Tomorrow/Today is a new day.

Face it, there are going to be bad days. When you experience one, try not to dwell on it the next day, start the day new. That is one thing that can be done when PTSD is a part of life.  Each day can be different and how you start your day is important. And if the day has started off on the wrong foot, try taking a nap and starting fresh after it… at times this can actually help. In a way, at times, it can help reset the brain, so to speak.

There are many things in life, and in life with PTSD that if you open your mind and take a step back… try viewing it, things, or situations from a different angle, it might just help turn things around. Everything will not be positive or all smiles all of the time, sometimes things need time to be processed, but don’t get stuck in only the negative. Look for a different view.  It might just help.

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