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PTSD and Hospital Stays

PTSD and Hospital Stays

After a weekend in the hospital, Craig’s first by the way (severe migraine and chest pains), I wanted to go over a lot that I found VERY helpful to make a stay easier for the one with PTSD, the partner, and the staff. Just to state this upfront, Craig does not mind me sharing this!

The ER was trying, with chest pains that meant a lot of people at one time around Craig in a rushed fashion, which sent his PTSD into overdrive, but the staff did what they had to do in his best interest. This was the first time I was not allowed back, and understandable with the fact they did not know if he was crashing or not, but there was a lot of work with his PTSD once they did take me back to him. One doc was asking questions about his deployments (regions he had been), exposures, and trauma time frame which sent Craig into an uncontrollable body tremor. I told the doc nicely he had to stop with the questions and I would help answer anything he needed away from Craig. Which was agreed to. Then I was able to ground Craig.

Once admitted to the hospital the staff were awesome! Craig told each person up front that he has PTSD and not to touch him without making sure he knew what was coming. This was a huge help to the staff and for him!

The first nurse placed a note on the door for no one to enter the room without checking with the nurse station. This helped with preventing being startled by someone in the room without him knowing. Or being touched while he was sleeping.

The staff would knock on the door before entering, call out to me/us and wait for a “come in”. By this point I could be next to Craig or have him grounded to make sure he understood someone was coming into the room.

Craig was pretty much sedated for a long time period to allow his anxiety to lessen and give his heart a break, so during this time there was a lot of grounding so the staff could work on him, take blood, give medications, etc. He was out of it, so PTSD defenses pretty much ran the show. The staff worked great with me during this and I would tell them what needed to be done to prevent a PTSD lash out, safety at hand, and get him awake enough and grounded so they could touch him safely and do their jobs.

The staff followed my lead to how to handle his PTSD and approach him. Everyone stayed safe and no restraints were ever needed! 

If in the hospital and someone needs to enter without extra help or another person being there, have the staff talk from the doorway until the one with PTSD understands they are there and entering. Also ask them to state their name, what they are (a nurse, doctor, picking up the trash, etc) and where you are (in the hospital). This helps with grounding when unknown if the one with PTSD is grounded or not. Once closer, have them state “I’m going to touch your arm (or whichever body part) and this is what I will be doing…” This helps keep PTSD calmer, no surprises, and allows the staff to do their job to help you.

If someone enters to remove or bring something to the room, same as above goes, but let them know to put a little distance, personal space, between them and the patient unless the patient is awake fully and talking to them. This helps prevent/with unexpected triggers as well as helps maintain safety.

If you are the partner, know upfront that the staff is not there for you or your needs, however if you are being of assistance they at times will go above and beyond their duties. (Hope I’m not telling on anyone here lol). If you need to leave the room, let them know you will be leaving, they should already have a phone number to reach you, but make sure they do, let them know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Doing this helps in case your PTSD partner does not recall where you went or was sleeping when you left, and the staff can inform them. It helps keep them from thinking you are not there for them. With as much as Craig needed me, the staff (cough, cough… loved them!) did go above and beyond and made sure I had everything I needed so I could remain in the room and help keep him grounded.

Partners! You HAVE to make sure you are taking care of yourself through their hospital stay!!! Make sure you eat, drink plenty, sleep, and take breaks from the room when needed! Do not allow yourself to become run down during this time or you will have a hard time being able to or having the energy to care for them once they come home.

Also, most hospitals do have a Chaplain there or within reach 24/7 for you! We had one stop by the room to check on us and to see if I needed anything with me staying to help with Craig’s PTSD. Okay, I bragged about you all! My extended “family”. 😉 I was asked if I had my own support and I had to say absolutely, thousands! We had a long talk about my page and support group, how life is with PTSD, the book I am writing in hopes to help others, Craig and my story and life, and that our families are just a phone call away and will be there if we need them (Craig didn’t want them up there, so they stayed on the phone with me throughout the weekend). Craig was sleeping while he was there, so he and I sat and talked for quite some time. (And he wants me to stop by and see him with a copy of my book when it is published which I will defiantly do!) So just know up front, Chaplains are not just there to preach to you, they are there to help you anyway possible and you can go to them or ask if they can come to your room at any time. The Chaplain is your go to person there for you!

To go bag. Okay I had an epic fail on this one lol. I always have one ready and in the car, but had cleaned out the car this past week and forgot to put it back in! I grabbed Craig’s meds bag and forgot the to go bag was not in the car! Make sure you keep a bag IN your car just in case you are rushing out the door and have to stay at the hospital. Add a change of clothes for both of you, personal items needed, an extra phone charger!, something for you to do or a book to read while there, and just in case you have to go to a hospital closer or one that does not know your medical history, I have found it’s good to keep a copy of all medical records on a flashdrive to help new doctors out, etc. This will make the stay a little more comfortable and information needed at hand. 😉

So these are just a few of the many things that can help everyone when it comes to those emergency ER trips and/or hospital stays.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Face to Face vs Social Media “Friends”

How many people find themselves having more “friends” on social media then in face to face real life?

I find this one rather interesting myself. I will raise my hand lol. I think that the hardest question to explain or answer is “How many friends do you have“. That would be easy, right? 😉 MANY!

However then you find yourself thinking about the question and ask a question back, “Do you mean friends I actually see or do you mean friends in general?” Now that throws a monkey wrench into the original question! But many times that question does not get asked and the buck stops at the response of “many“.

Never fails, if you did ask a “do you mean…” question back, there is a long pause for thinking time of how to respond to that. Normally the response back goes something along the lines of, “Um, well friends that you actually do things with. Spend time with.

Oh wait then, that answer of many just drastically changed!

I have noticed that when your life includes PTSD, the “how many friends do you have” question becomes a difficult twist of how to answer. “Well I have many people I communicate with through social media, but I don’t see ‘friends’ very often, I really don’t have any friends anymore since my PTSD. People just don’t come around anymore really.

What if it were a medical professional asking this question, then left it with your original answer of “many friends”? Their first reaction, rather they say it or not, will probably be “oh that is great you are doing really good then.” It becomes kind of twisted thing again, doesn’t it?

I am actually bringing this up because I have had many come to me and complain on how their doctor put it in a medical report that they have many friends and good social standing when actually they rarely see anyone. If that fits your situation, the example above is probably why. 😉

Social media becomes your outlet for friends over the physical outings or get togethers. Your mind starts recognizing those you communicate with as your friends, even people you have never met face to face. And trust me, social media does build some strong friendships rather you have met the person or not.

Craig and I are great examples of that! I mean look at how many of YOU I (or he) private message with, some on a regular basis. Look at mine and Craig’s “friendship” with Jeff and Shannon of PTSD And Me… that’s a great example!! We have all 4 become “friends” through social media, we have talked on the phone, video chatted, we message each other… but as of today… the 4 of us have never met face to face. But we feel like we have known each other forever and value our “friendship”! It IS a real friendship, but as of right now it’s not a physically social one, we have never met, we don’t get together, we don’t even live near each other.

Kind of puts a huge “why” to why many professionals get the wrong appearance of what your social circle really is.

It’s happened to us! We have seen reports and wondered why a doctor could write that, and it caused an upset feeling because they are not in our shoes, they are not here to see everyday life and what it is like. But in reality, many times it goes back to mixing up the view of how the word friends is defined or what another person considers as friends.

People who live life with PTSD don’t have as many “face to face” friends in most cases. It’s not your fault, it’s not other people’s faults, it’s just what happens when PTSD is a part of life. You don’t go out as much, to area social gatherings, many times having people over is not easy, or others understanding your situation is not easy and it just simply gets to the point where your life doesn’t fit well with theirs. Many times people might want to drop by for a visit, but it may be a time when PTSD can just simply not handle it. There’s really no one to blame for it, it’s just what can or does come with PTSD.

I thought about it, if there were a report written today, just for example purposes, and it stated Craig has good social skills (and I’m not throwing Craig under the bus here), I would be highly upset. I had to really think to use this as an example lol.  We did have a neighbor stop this past week to talk to Craig for just a few minutes when he saw Craig out at the mailbox, besides that, the last time we had face to face friends get together with us was JULY! When my old high school buddy came to visit us. This is November! It’s not that a few have not offered to come by, it was just the timing with PTSD was not good for it.

Timing with PTSD was not good for it“, that says a lot doesn’t it? So many get so upset at lost friendships, people not understanding, friends walking away, etc. I learned a long time ago to stop being mad at people for their reactions. Yes, it’s upsetting at times, that’s only human! But in reality it’s just NO ONE’s fault. It’s what happens when PTSD is a part of real life (for many people).

So, back to the professional questions… Many will also be asked questions such as “How many people could you confide in before PTSD?” Then “How many now?” Those questions right there come with huge reasons and insight. Yet again, doesn’t “friends” and social media come into play? Sure does! Many with PTSD or those who live beside PTSD find themselves being able to “talk”, actually chat, with others that have the same things in common. People on pages, in groups or support groups, etc. Again, there comes a twist… real face to face vs social media.

It’s very difficult to face reality of what PTSD causes, especially when it comes to friendships. Social media makes it easier to cope with! There is no other way to say it! You do form friendships and bonds with other people through social media, why wouldn’t you? You have things in common therefore understand each other!

I find even myself mentioning things at times referring to something so and so said/posted or we “talked” about, at times it brings additional conversation between Craig and I, and the realization that others go through the same things we do, it brings a sense of normal.

One day my daughter said to me, “Mom, I have never seen [name] who is she? How do you know her?” Boy lol, that made me stop and think. It made me realize that I view this person as a very close friend actually, someone I can honestly confide in with my deepest thoughts and conversation, but you know what? She doesn’t even live in this same country! I have never met her face to face! It shows how social media does become a very real part of our lives. I had to think on how to answer my daughter. I told her that this lady’s husband and dad both have PTSD, so it’s easy for her and I to talk to each other and I do consider her my friend even though I have never met her. Of course I had to back that with keeping my daughter’s age in mind with “But you do not need to be talking to strangers on the inter net at your age…” Well, luckily she took that well lol. Her response, “Mom I’m glad you have so many people you can talk to… will we ever meet her?” Darling I sure hope so!!  My daughter’s thing now when she hears a name of someone she has never seen is, “Mom, is that one of your Angels?” Yes darling, it sure is! A friend that is a friend but I have not met. 

But when it comes to facing the reality questions of how many friends you have, you have to stop and think. Who is asking the question and the reason the question is being asked. Be honest with a full answer… “This is how many face to face friends I have and this is how many social media friends I have that I have not physically met.” 

Wording your answers fully and separating “types” of friends can help the professionals get a better understanding of your everyday true life without confusion or misunderstandings. It also helps show that it’s not that you don’t want friends, or that you don’t try to make new friends, but the situation may be where social media is your way of communicating with others when PTSD at times can’t manage the face to face interaction and socializing.

Just something to think about. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

What about Neighbors? PTSD and Neighbors

What about neighbors?

I have had the question come to me, what do you do or how do you handle when you move to a new area and your neighbor’s first response is, “Is he/she dangerous?

Obviously the first thing at hand is educating them to what PTSD is, and getting them to understand that just because a person has PTSD does NOT mean they are going to harm other people.

Another thing is just simply letting them have the chance to get to know you. Many with PTSD rarely go outside of the house, others just not as often as a person who doesn’t have PTSD would. So it can really be a mute point in some cases, but still, you don’t want your neighbors to fear something they don’t understand.

In our personal case, I got to know the neighbors. Of course with that you can imagine they have learned a lot about PTSD. I never overwhelmed them with it, but it never failed, every time I would be talking to one they would ask about Craig and how he is doing, so the door opened for more educating. People by nature are curious, use that curiosity to educate them on the facts.

We also have kids. Kids play with kids! Children are what I believe, the cure for stigma. Children don’t judge people and normally give everyone a chance… and that gets taken back to the parents. When Craig has a better day and can get outside some, he throws the ball with the kids in the street or stands out there with them. The neighborhood kids and our children’s friends have gotten to know him. They all know he has PTSD and they also know he has never been mean to them or harmed them. Kids make their own decisions about people. And I will tell you, there is one little boy in our neighborhood that just keeps an eye out for Craig, that child looks up to him like nothing I have ever seen before and looks forward to Craig’s good days when he goes outside! And you know what developed from that? The dad of that child started talking football with Craig.  See what I mean?

People fear the unknown, stigma. You just have to find ways to take that stigma away. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Walking Fine Lines and PTSD

Fine Lines and PTSD

With PTSD there are fine lines to everything. Of course they or you do not mean or want it to be that way, but it is what it is. And it is going to take time, patience, and a lot of learning not only about PTSD, but also about the individual that suffers from it. So I want to go over a few things and examples of things that everyone really needs to be aware of, in my personal opinion… I’m not a doctor by any means… So steps forward can be made to make things better then they may be right now.

* Space

And I’m not talking about sending someone to the moon. 😉 I’m talking about personal space you take or you allow someone else to take. It does not mean you have to leave where you are or leave for days, it means you sometimes might need to walk to a different room or allow another person to. This allows everyone in a situation to be able to calm, think, and use coping skills to get a grip on whatever situation or feelings that are being experienced. That few minutes or even a few hours of a break can at times be what is needed to start moving forward again in a positive direction, no matter which pair of shoes you are wearing. Communicate, I can not say that enough. If you need space let others know. This keeps a lot of issues down that could come up when there is no communication. Accept when they need that space and do not take it personally, it’s not necessarily you, it’s their battle that is the issue. Allow the space to focus.

Now, I do have to add the seriousness in here because reality is we are living with PTSD being a part of this. If anyone in a situation is experiencing suicidal thoughts or you see the signs of them, GET HELP! Do not just walk away and do not delay! Life is extremely valuable and there are so many things that can help you manage through things. NEVER give up on life! You are worth way more then you could begin to imagine.

* Over Caring

Never thought you would here me say that one, did you? It’s true though, there is a very real thing as over caring. It’s when others are constantly saying “Are you okay?“, “What can I do?”, “What do you need?“, and the list goes on.

Sometimes over caring about a person can be walking that fine line. You by all means need to care, they need to know you are there for them, but at the same time you can not smother them. Sometimes a person with PTSD just needs quietness, no questions, no sounds, no movement, they just need to be there in that moment to focus on what they are feeling and finding ways to cope and manage with those feelings. It’s hard to focus when they are having to process too much at times.

* Allow normal

Also, you have to remember that through learning to cope with PTSD and re-learning how to live life, they just want to feel normal. The hard fact is PTSD takes away from them the feeling of normal, and anything they can have or get of a normal feeling, they need to be able to. If you are constantly asking too many questions or constantly “bothering” them, or treating them differently, then they are getting no peace to be able to try to feel and experience normal, act normal, and try things for themselves… because they are constantly being reminded something is wrong.

– Example: There are many people who rely on a wheelchair. For whatever the reason may be. How often do you see ones in wheelchairs saying “push me around”, “go get that for me”, or anything else you can think of? Fact is, rarely unless it’s an absolute, no getting around it situation. You see ones in wheelchairs playing sports, in marathons, driving cars, smiling and pushing forward in life even though they are confined to that wheelchair.

Being in a wheelchair is a disability that is seen. PTSD is no different, it’s just not seen. The person with PTSD wants to be normal and carry on in life just as the one in the wheelchair. Now, you see what one in a wheelchair can do, they speak up for themselves, they don’t want your pity, and they will prove to anyone that they are still normal even though they rely on that chair. They don’t want you viewing them any differently then you did before. Ones with PTSD are no different. The challenges are a little different at hand, but they need the right to battle them and excel in life and within themselves. Don’t take that away from them. It’s good to be cautious, make sure safety is in place, but don’t over care. Allow them the right to find their new normal.

* Doing Nothing

The other end of the spectrum. Please do not think you can not do anything to help one with PTSD! There are so many that quickly say “it’s not my problem“, “it’s their problem not mine“, “there is nothing I can do to help/save them“.

I will put my southern foot down to these things. If you are viewing PTSD or the one that suffers from it this way, you still have a lot to learn. Sorry, I say it like it is and with facts on the table.

Yes, PTSD is their’s, they are the one that went through a trauma that changed their life. However, with PTSD there needs to be positive support, caring, learning, patience, understanding, and most of all… working together.

If you instantly say “it’s not my problem”, well in all reality you just became the one with a problem. You just turned your back to someone that you might in all reality love dearly. PTSD needs positive support, it’s a hard struggle and battle to make it through what comes with it and that support can honestly be a lifesaver! No, you can not make PTSD go away, you can’t take what they feel away, or the trauma they experienced. BUT you can be there for them and become a positive support system.

Educate yourself! Learn as much as you can. The more you learn, the more you can understand the what and why’s that come with PTSD. No, you are not going to “save” them from PTSD, but what you can do gives you the ability to help them, and most importantly, help them make it to tomorrow and know life is worth fighting for. Your words can mean everything, use them wisely. LEARN! Life with PTSD is different, it’s not handed to you on a silver platter with roses, but it does not mean life is bad or that person is bad. Life may have changed, but bad is not a word it has to be.

Change your mind set from what you believe life is suppose to be like and face the fact that life is not perfect, no one’s life is disability or not. Be a supportive person to what life can be like and helping them accomplish it.

There are SO many things that can be done so those fine lines of life with PTSD are not such fine lines. Learn what they are and learn about the individual person. The more you learn and pay attention to things the better life can become for everyone involved. TRY!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Everyone needs to read and share this…

PLEASE read and “share” this…

I’m on my soapbox this morning. So pardon me while I’m there but this needs to be said. The worst thing to me is knowing that so many people wear blinders when it comes to hearing the term “PTSD”.

Yes, by all means doctor, medications, and therapy can be of great help to ones who suffer from PTSD… BUT, yep I put a but in there… but the real help is going to come from the public and people learning about PTSD! That is YOU!

We have proof right here in front of us that educating yourself about PTSD can save lives! In numbers we can and do make a difference.

It does not matter if you know someone who has PTSD or not! And I can almost bet you DO know someone rather you realize it or not, many suffer in silence due to the stigma and what others will say or think. People, that’s sad!!! Each day there are ones with PTSD taking their own lives, the numbers are extremely high. Why? Because the battle became too strong for them to handle alone! PTSD takes support, it takes learning, it takes educating others, it takes this WORLD laying it’s differences to the side to save mankind!

When you turn your back on a person that is suffering, you are turning your back on a human being, and many times that person is a mother, a father, someone’s brother or sister, your friend, your neighbor, that nice person you met at the grocery store that offered to help you load your car, that person who went out of their way to hold a door open for you, that person who you made eye contact with that politely nodded and kept on walking. PTSD wears many faces, a person with PTSD is no different then you or I, they have just experienced something traumatic when maybe you haven’t.

Taking the time to learn about PTSD rather you think you know someone with it or not can honestly save a another person’s life! It is never too late or early to learn. PTSD can affect anyone, and I dearly hope you never have to experience it, but in all honesty look at the numbers of how many people do. Look at how many take their own lives each day… ONLY the reported numbers in the United States, now that’s reported numbers, that does not include civilians, unreported cases, or world wide… 22/23 per day! That’s a lot of people and YOU can help prevent this!

It only takes a few seconds to hit a “share” button from any PTSD page or share a link to a website… I mean seriously, you do it for everything else in the social media, it only takes a few minutes to read an article on how YOU can help or learn the basics about PTSD, and it only takes one second to save another person’s life! That person you passed in the store or made eye contact with, they may be the one on that last breathe that sees no hope left, did you know that YOU may be the person that creates a setting for them to keep fighting? I’m very serious, I pull no punches and I play no games, you never know when it may be you to save that person, and many times you may not even know you did.

If you were or are the one who suffers from this unseen disability, wouldn’t you want someone to care enough about other human beings to help YOU? ABSOLUTELY!!! Take the blinders off!

Ones with PTSD have feelings, emotions, and can throw a good cook out just as the next person, they can be great fathers and mothers and friends. DO NOT let the fear of the unknown blind you to what is all around you, stigma is a horrible thing and comes from the fear of the unknown. It only takes a few minutes of your time to educate yourself and share that education with others. And again, if PTSD happens to you or a loved one, wouldn’t you want someone to do the same? YES!

A person suffering from PTSD is not a bad person, they are only a person who has to fight harder to have as normal of a life as possible. They are not weak minded, if fact they are what I call “the best of the best”. Why? Because they have made it through something that completely changed their life, they have witnessed things that you can not even imagine the horror, and they fight everyday of their life to make it to the next! That takes a strong person in my book! Much stronger then many.

The only things you hear in the media are the bad things. It’s extremely misleading. And those bad things that are being reported most likely are cases where that person did not receive or was not able to reach for proper help. If you want those bad stories and cases to go away, you want the fear of the unknown to vanish, then do something!

Many of these people are heroes and many wear different “uniforms”. They are military, civilian, doctors, nurses, police officers, paramedics, firefighters, teachers, fathers, mothers, K9 trainers/handlers, etc. and they may just be your neighbor.

It is not a battle anyone deserves to fight alone. With support, education, and just taking a few minutes of your time, YOU can make a huge difference in this world… you can save a life! Why are you delaying? Rather you know someone with PTSD or not, I ask you to please… and I will swallow my pride and beg you, please hit the “share” button on this. You might just save a life today!

Let’s make this go viral! Someone out there and someone you may know, deserves it!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Speaking out about PTSD.

Speaking out about PTSD.

There have been many people ask me how I found a voice to talk about PTSD, how do I do it, aren’t I afraid of what others might think, etc. There have been many questions that come with what I do, as well as the fact that Craig is by all means on board with it, or I wouldn’t be doing it.

The answers are pretty simple. We got tired! And when we got tired we threw our hands in the air and decided to make a change.
We have never been ones to just sit by and watch things happen, if there is something that can be done about a situation you can bet we jumped in with both feet first.

Well, PTSD has been no different. Craig’s more quiet then he use to be, but he’s always here reading everything, and we talk about things other people post or before I post them majority of the time… which he said he does not have to “approve” before I post, because he trusts I will say it like it is and trusts who I am as a person as well as the respect I have for others.

We were tired of the hiding in the shadows and hiding his PTSD, making up excuses to why we couldn’t be certain places or at events, why we couldn’t leave the house certain days, having to cancel or change plans that were made, and why we were living differently then we had before. We got tired of finding ways to explain why he would repeat himself or not remember things. To be honest, people were really starting to view us in an odd way, and that did not settle well with either of us. They were use to the couple that was outgoing, full of life, and at every event we were invited to attend… and better yet, they knew us as the ones holding those events!

How many excuses can you really come up with to explain how all of that changed? I will tell you lol, there’s not enough no matter how many you think up!

Enough was enough for us. I’ve always believed honesty is the best thing and honesty is what they got. We had enough to battle already without having to add the additional stress to it. So the hands went in the air and the real life term we battle “PTSD” came from our mouths.

Craig and I have always lived by one huge standard since PTSD came into our lives… “You either take us for who we are, or you leave”. It’s pretty simple even though at times it can be tough, at times people do choose to leave, but you know what? You really find out fast who the real people in your lives are.

As much as PTSD can haunt a person, it also really makes you appreciate life. Life is very different now, but the life we experience is by all means priceless.

Neither of us hold any regrets for speaking up and speaking out to others. Why would we??? Look at how many people have learned and found ways to improve their own lives because of our voices. I am by no means one to pat myself on the back or want acknowledgement for what I do! That is NOT how I am and I never expect that! However, I see it, I see how what I do helps others… and as long as it’s helping others take a step forward, find a new meaning in life, and realize that life is still worth living, even with PTSD, you will hear our voices!

Everyone deserves to have the tools for this battle, I wish someone had shared things with us back at the start of what we now know is PTSD lol. Yep, I can laugh about it now, but it sure wasn’t laughter back then! It was pain, and heartache, and many tears! I truly believe it would have made the road a lot less bumpy for us if there had been someone, anyone, to light the path for us. So, if we can be even just a flicker of light for someone else’s path, then it’s worth every breathe we take!

There IS still life with PTSD, it’s going to be a lot different, but it’s still life… and others need to know that! I’m only one person, and we are only one couple, but our voices will be heard for the sake of others battling PTSD also.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Why not to say “You’re fine”…

I had a very good question come to me after my “one phrase” posting  and would like to talk about it more in depth on here.

The question asked:

“I just read your status about PTSD. I have not heard of this before. I would just like to ask a question. You say not to say to a person ‘you’re fine, there’s nothing wrong’ but what would you say to someone if they opened up to you about it? And what is it about saying ‘your fine’ that upsets them. I thought that telling someone they’re ok and there’s nothing wrong with them would be a form of support and endearment?”

One of the hardest things a person with PTSD faces, as well as anyone else that has an unseen disability, is people understanding that their illness/disability is real. Many people have trouble understanding something when it can not be seen.

When you say to a person with an unseen disability “You’re fine” or “There’s nothing wrong with you” those comments are like telling them they are making it up, it’s not real, and you don’t believe them. When this happens, and enough times whatever that amount may be for that person, it can easily lead them to suicidal thoughts, or actions I hate to say. It makes it appear that there is no hope, no one takes what they are going through seriously, and no one is there to help them.

Even in cases where you know they have this disability and believe it, to the one that has it these phrases appear as a disbelief you have towards them or as you are telling them they are not being truthful. In many cases you can damage the trust they have in you and they will stop coming to you for support.

Even if your intentions are to let them know they are going to be okay, the words “you’re fine” carry a different meaning and are not going to be taken the way you intended. If you are stating them in such a way as “you’re fine, there’s nothing wrong with you” you are not facing what they are truly going through. This can lead to them not opening up to you, avoiding you, and not using you as a form of support system which is greatly needed. In fact they are not okay, they have a illness/disability that is very real.

Words and the way you use them can mean everything to a person with PTSD or other unseen disability.

Here are some simple ways to help:

* “I know you have PTSD and I’m here for you, even if I don’t completely understand what you are going through.”

By wording it this way, you are letting them know they have your support, they can count on you, but at the same time you are letting them know up front you may not fully know about or understand PTSD.

* “I want to be able to help you and I will learn more about PTSD so I can be of more help and support.”

Those are huge words to someone with PTSD. You are showing support and you are showing the willingness to learn about what they are experiencing.

* “I might not understand exactly what you are going through or went through, but I’m here to listen and help however I can.”

Face it, you are NOT going to understand exactly what someone went through, don’t say you do understand… another phrase that won’t be viewed nicely. You may understand the symptoms they have now, what you see, the changes in them, but when it comes down to understanding what happened to them, you can’t understand it because most likely you were not there and/or you are not the one that developed PTSD. Many times just lending an ear is a huge help and is all that is needed. Listen, and don’t give advice if you don’t know/understand the experience.

* “Can you help me understand what you go through now, how you see/view things and what I can do to help?”

Fact is what happened happened. They may or may not want to talk about what happened to them. Either way, take it at their pace of what they want or don’t want to share. The only thing you can do is learn about what they experience now. One with PTSD many times can tell you their symptoms, how they feel, what emotions they experience or don’t experience. All of those things can help you understand the now.

Many times, and I will say this up front, the how can I help question will be answered with “I don’t know” or “I don’t know how to help myself so I can’t answer that.” If this happens, listen and let them speak openly without any judgement, they are being honest with you. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on PTSD. Even if they can’t answer how you can help them, you are still telling them you are there for them by asking, that’s important.

These are just a few examples. The important thing is not to word things as if their illness/disability is not real. If you are one that does not believe it is real, take time to truly educate yourself.

I believe the high rate of suicide numbers, just the ones based around PTSD, are high enough to prove there is a serious issue at hand and it’s a very real one. We are losing ones to PTSD every single day, the numbers are not going down. The stigma around PTSD and the way many are reacting to it or not doing anything to change this is literally costing people their lives. These people deserve a fair hand to the rest of their lives just like everyone else does. Your words can make a huge difference, please be careful with them. Showing there is hope and support is extremely important. PTSD does not just go away, but there is hope one’s symptoms and situation can be better then it may be right now.

~Bec

“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

Giving and Taking Advice…

Giving and Taking Advice

Ever have those days where people just end up irritating you, When they try to help by giving you advice but in reality it’s just not good information for your situation or it is coming from someone that really shouldn’t be giving input or doesn’t truly understand where you are coming from?

This is something very common when it comes to PTSD or living life beside PTSD. You get advice from family, friends, co-workers, etc.

There is one rule I have always believed in and followed. It’s great to have tons of different input but in the end you have decide which input is best for you and your situation. Not everyone is going to always be right, not everyone is always going to be wrong, and not everyone is going to know what they are talking about, then there are those that have been there and can offer what works for themselves. But in the end of all the talk, it’s you that makes the final decision on what’s best for you!

Taking advice tips:

* The most reliable advice normally comes from those that have “been there” and have experienced similar things you have and/or one that lives with them that has found solutions that work.

* Accept all advice, but take it as you must with a grain of salt. Again, not everything will work for everyone. It’s good to have lots of options to choose from that you might not have thought about. Figure out what you want to try and what you don’t, if something doesn’t work, you still have all of that input to work from to find something that does.

* Watch who you talk to or be prepared for what you might hear.

-If you know you are talking to someone that hasn’t been able to get through or learn to cope with their own situation, what are the chances their input will work in your’s, unless they are giving you info that someone else used and it worked for that person.

-If the person you are talking to has no understanding of the situation, be prepared for them to tell you what to do or how to do it even though they don’t get it.

Giving advice:

* If you are a person that does not understand or been in a certain situation, sometimes, many times, it’s best to be there to listen and not give input. Support is many times greater then telling one what to do or how to do it.

* If you want to be able to help someone out by giving input, educate yourself on the subject before doing so.

* If you hear a situation and you want to say something, but you know you really don’t know what to say or aren’t sure of what will help on that subject, do not put yourself into the middle of it. “Just know I’m here for you” normally can help the most.

* If you give input, make sure it’s the truth. Don’t over tell things.

* Sometimes it’s real easy to throw advice at someone, but sometimes it is better to ask if they want it. “Do you mind if I tell you what I think” or “Can I give you a few of my opinions?” This opens the door to if they want talk or want someone to have an ear.

* Make sure you give the person in the situations a chance to vent or rant! Many times this in itself can help them focus on what they know they need to do or what would help themselves.

* Don’t be judgmental! The person does not need to hear you say “Why didn’t you do this…” or “How could you have done that…”. This person is already in a rough spot, don’t add extra guilt or negativity to it.

* Admit when you don’t have the answers. You can easily say “I don’t know, but let me help you figure something out…”

* The one I personally live by… Whatever you say, say it with heart! When you say it with heart it usually carries much more meaning with it.

* Find something they can read. Sometimes the best advice comes from someone else, especially if you haven’t been there yourself. A simple “Let me think about this and get back to you in a few minutes” then let your fingers do the work and find good resources they can turn to which may help.

As always, the list is long, but this gives you a good idea for a start. Always be careful with your wording as well. Things said can easily be taken in the wrong way and that is something no one intends or means to happen.

Advice comes in many forms from many people, again, in the end absorb it all and figure out what is best for you and your’s! If one thing doesn’t work, there are sure many other things you can try. Just never give up! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

” The simple things in life mean the most”…

” The simple things in life mean the most”

This is something that I was taught at a very young age and raised with knowing.

People seem to get so fixated on the materialistic things in life that they forget the important things. They focus on the fancy cars, huge house, dinner parties, expensive dining out, the “big boy” toys, the thrills and frills of high society lol. Oh don’t get me wrong, they can be fun and nice to have or experience. Sure, we have been there before lol, the fancy dress code for the high class parties, the fancy cars, the airplane, the 40 foot rv, traveling all over the country, the boats and other outdoor toys… we were there.But when it comes down to it, are they really that important?

Nope, not really.

See all of those glamorous things can disappear in a heartbeat. Then what are you left with? People who “were” around you for what you had… not for who you are, a society that you will no longer fit in with because your status has changed or you now have a disability or live with one who does, there are lots of things that come with it.

Do we miss it? Sure we do… at times lol! It was fun and exciting. We weren’t rich by any means, but we were able to budget “the finer things in life” into our life. But when it comes down to it, it only takes one thing happening for all of that “stuff” to go away.

I know you are wondering where I am coming from with this, as always there is a reason behind it. 😉 Yesterday I received a phone call telling me Happy Birthday, then the next thing said to me was “What did you get for your Birthday?” I proudly answered, “Oh Craig and the kiddos ordered me one of those large cookie cakes and they are grilling up a steak dinner for us to have together.”

Can you guess what was said next? Absolutely nothing. A long pause, then I was asked “What did Craig get you though.” I kind of chuckled it off and said “What do you mean lol I just told you.” Dead silence again. I realized right then, this was a person who didn’t get it.

This happening reminded me of how “things” run people’s lives these days. It’s a trap in society people fall into. I was perfectly happy with having a nice dinner with my family, I didn’t need anything bought for me, I didn’t expect anything as a gift. I had my gift right in front of me… my family enjoying time together.

PTSD brings many changes in life. But I can tell you one thing, if you are wise you won’t let the materialistic things take over what is important. That person who struggles through everyday just to be here with you, be thankful that they are! There are many that now struggle on there own because that loved one lost their battle with PTSD. Makes you stop and think now, and if doesn’t it should.

When something drastic happens in your life such as PTSD, there’s a good chance those “things” you have are going to disappear, people who you thought were your friends can walk away, and life is really going to change. No getting around that one.

“The simple things in life mean the most”… It’s a really good definition of how it is. Learn to appreciate what and/or who you do have in your life, treat them with respect, ones who have disabilities or illnesses… handle their disabilities they may have with respect, ones with medical conditions… have respect for your loved one(s). Don’t battle between yourselves, there’s a larger battle at hand, and it’s called PTSD. Fight it together! No one has to be there, on either side of the fence in this, the ones there made a choice to be there. Is there really anything else more important? I don’t think so.

There is not a car, a house, a big boy toy, high society, or any other materialistic thing on this earth that is more important then one’s life. I know this first hand, I let everything we worked so hard for in life go, in order to be able to be there to save my husband. And I wouldn’t trade that choice for anything!

Let your loved ones know you care today, even if it’s a rough day for both of you, take time to appreciate each other. Hug your children. Make a phone call to a friend. Reach out to someone who needs help. It’s the simple things in life that are priceless!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

PTSD vs The ones that don’t accept it…

PTSD vs The ones that don’t accept it…

Oh boy! Here’s a tough one. With PTSD it is urgent for you to have support, especially from family members!

This is the toughest thing in the world, war would be easier then trying to get a family member to accept that you have a mental illness that is very real. I already see heads nodding yes don’t I!

Parents especially have a hard time accepting PTSD. They remember working so hard to raise you, made sure you had everything you needed growing up, see you as that perfect person with so many possibilities in life, have in their minds expectations of you, etc. They remember all of the good times and how you were as a child. How motivated you were as a young adult heading into an adult world with so much potential ahead of you.

Then something happened and the world crashed! A mental illness? No, not my child! There must be another reason. Oh you don’t have that, you just need a different job with less stress or that you like more, oh it’s your spouse she/he is not good for you, oh you are on all of those meds that make you this way, your doctor is wrong, and the ultimate… there’s nothing wrong with you maybe you need to be closer to home and I can get you back into the right self-esteem frame of mind, someone is the cause of making you feel this way.

These are all things that parents/family members might say when they can’t accept what has “happened” to you! OUCH! That hurts deep!

There are many things you can try in these cases. Some will listen and hear you, others will stay closed minded or take time to open up. It’s difficult for a parent to comprehend when they don’t live with you, don’t see the rough times, then turn the blame else where when they do see a change in you or you become distant from the family because it brings on more stress.

Many times in these cases it’s the spouse that goes to bat for you. A spouse will get overwhelmed with lack of support or a family member saying the things they have said. The one with PTSD will not always speak up because it’s hard to know how your family is viewing, not accepting, or acting towards what you are going through. And that guilt of letting a parent down! That’s the worst ever and the more they talk and don’t accept it as being real, the heavier that guilt becomes. That’s tough! And adds to what you are already struggling with every day. Many of you start putting distance between you and these family members. Some times you have to, but the reality is you could use their support!

So what can you do? First, accept that some will never accept it, they will never understand because they don’t see what PTSD does. But that doesn’t mean not to try! Over time many others will get curious and start to learn. No parent wants their child to stop talking to them or become distant.

* Have a family sit down. Explain this is real, this is not something that some doctor just made up and it is real life to what you go through and battle every day. Tell them what PTSD is, what you go through that it causes. That PTSD is not a light switch that you can turn off and on, it is not controlled by you and sure not something you can snap out of. Let them know you care what they think and how they feel, and you need them as support, not someone that is against them. So for them to be able to understand and be supportive they have to want to learn.

* Show them medical documentation. Sometimes it helps when a person can see it in writing. It helps make it real.

* Let them know that this is not something your spouse has caused. Your spouse supports you and helps you make it to the next day. Well, unless your spouse is the one you are having to have the sit down with. Parents need to know that they can’t play the blame game. A trauma caused PTSD not your spouse or children. When parents have a hard time accepting something, it’s very easy for them to blame who you are closest to. Don’t let this happen! It causes more hardship, conflict, and even family feuds! No one with PTSD needs any of this!

* Medications. You have to explain that medications are in many cases needed. They are NOT to dope you up or make you feel like a zombie, they are as I say “band aides” that help you control the symptoms so you can learn to cope with what PTSD causes. Over time the medications can be adjusted and many can be reduced or you can come off of them… but only by what the doctor says, cold turkey off of meds can send you into a very dark place! Many parents/family members will say “You are fine get off of those meds” Well, the fact is you “seem” fine to them 1. Because they probably won’t see you on a bad day. 2. Because OF the medications. Trust me, no one wants to see what one is like when they do not have medications and/or professional help. PTSD can cause a person to act in ways or say things that is just not the true them. The medications can help with sleep, nightmares/terrors, anxiety, and a lot of other symptoms PTSD brings. No one likes having to take medications, but in many cases they are needed. During your sit down the fact is, if you didn’t have this outside help you would most likely get angry, throw something, punch a chair, etc. But the fact you can and are sitting there is due to the fact you got help for yourself. A parent might say “you’re not violent”, well PTSD brings a lot of anger and frustration, the fact is anyone can be violent, it’s all in what you do to help yourself control it. So, yes, medications are many times needed. They are not a cure all, but sure can help with the symptoms.

* If you have a supportive spouse, it is urgent that your family understands that your spouse can be a lifeline for communication between you and your family members. Your spouse needs the family as much as you do and a family that turns everything against a spouse is going to have serious problems. When you are having a down day or a day that you don’t want to talk or see people, the family can still stay in touch with the spouse. It’s not that the spouse calls all of the shots or controls you, it’s that your spouse supports you and wants you to be the best you can be with PTSD. A family being supportive of your spouse will be very important for everyone in the family.

* Have the family research PTSD. The internet is a wonderful tool to use and there are so many resources about PTSD out there. Use this page and the website. Eventually parents will become curious rather you know about it or not. Give them the tools they need to learn. A family can still function with PTSD, it’s just different as with any other illness or disability. You have to learn!

* Have family members read other people’s stories! When a person sees it’s not just you or your situation, it helps it become real life to them. These people who do tell their stories, me included, don’t do it for attention or fame, actually they are putting themselves out there to the world of stigma, they do it because they know what rock bottom is and want to help prevent others from going through the same things if they can be avoided. Knowing information before something major happens or having someplace to turn to when something happens gives a new support system… that is urgent and can very well be the difference between life or death.

* The fact is suicide numbers are through the roof with PTSD! There are reported 22 veterans/military per day in the United States alone that take their own lives. And those numbers only incorporate the states that participate in reporting the numbers, which is in the low 20s right now. That does not include civilians or unreported cases or PTSD cases hidden due to stigma. It CAN happen to anyone, family support is urgent in order for those numbers to not continue increasing! Anyone that says “Well that won’t happen to my child or my family” is being blind! PTSD is VERY real and I don’t know a parent or family member out there that would bet a person’s life on if they are right or wrong about it existing.

Parents and family members, open your eyes! If your family member comes to you and says they have been diagnosed with PTSD, take it seriously! That’s an extremely hard step for someone to take coming to you with something like this. Don’t brush them off until tomorrow… if you do, you might just be the one that doesn’t get another tomorrow with them. I say that with every seriousness of my heart. Your family member needs you. I know you might not understand PTSD, but you can learn, you can be supportive in a positive way, you can be that mom or dad or family member you were when they were younger. Don’t shut them out and don’t turn your back to them or take it as a joke. It’s truly nothing to joke about! Your child/family member’s life might just depend on you and how you respond to them.

As always, feel free to “share” this if you feel it could be helpful to you, your family, or someone you care about.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”