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Rosemary

Rosemary! Nope, not talking about cooking now πŸ˜‰

Let me tell you a little story…

A few years back Craig and I dropped in to visit what we call our “other parents”. Nope, neither of us come from divorced parents, I am talking about the people that were always in our lives as we were growing up, and now as adults with children of our own. This couple are Craig’s parents best friends. See, Craig and I both came from church backgrounds and close knit neighborhoods where everyone knew everyone and neighbors were like family. πŸ˜‰ I bet you have heard that somewhere before, now haven’t you πŸ˜‰

Well, while visiting that day they were telling us of the new doctors they have been seeing, different things they have been taught, and that they try now for their own health. As we talked, we walked through their backyard full of gardens and just so much color to look at. As I passed one bush I stopped. “I have one of these at the house, what is it?” To my shock…A rosemary bush!

I was intrigued. First thought, oh you use it for cooking. “Actually yes…but no also.” Okay, now I was confused. What did they mean?

So they continued with a chuckle. They had started seeing an herbalist. They use all sorts of interesting things for things you would never think of lol!

So, what does this story have to do with PTSD? Ahhh, now we are getting somewhere. See, this family also tutors children and young adults of all ages, so they have people in and out of their home all of the time. The kids rush in from school to do their studies, or from sports practice, etc. Well, you have to unwind a little to be able to really study. If you are always in a rush it’s hard to “take in” new things as quickly. Or what if you are having a rough or emotional day?

They looked at me as I ran my fingers gently across the rosemary bush, smelling the scent in the air that it produced. I was then told that what they do when they are expecting “their kids” is either have a small bowl of picked rosemary for them to rub in their hands or sometimes the kids will have the fun and game of picking their own piece. It’s a breathe in, hold, and breathe out…You all know that one πŸ˜‰

So this got my brain working. If this plant can calm a child down in order for them to study correctly, what would it do for Craig’s PTSD and Depression?

I took home cuttings that day and started my own plants. The big rosemary bush in the yard, not suitable really for cooking, was wonderful for just smelling.

It became a ritual in our home that day. When the kids got home from school I told them about what I wanted to “try”. My daughter loved the idea! So, it became her little thing for “dad”. Every day before she would go to school she would pick a small white bowl of rosemary, destem it, and leave it in a bowl on the counter for dad, for when he woke up. Sure enough each morning as he made his way through the house he would stop at that little bowl, rub his fingers through it, then pick up a small handful and rub it in his hands then place it back into the bowl.

Here at the “new” house I have started a new rosemary bush. It’s growing good so far. We found that you don’t even have to pick it very often, just run your hands across it and take a deep breath, or water it which releases the same fragrance. Does it work on PTSD? Got me lol…I’m not a doctor. πŸ˜‰ I can say that it always smells good, Craig always stops at it and takes that deep breathe and it seems to slow his racing brain down some, my daughter still does her little white bowl of rosemary for dad ritual, and if you can stop and smell the roses then why not the rosemary? πŸ™‚ I think it works for all kinds of things now…even down to a small white bowl of love shown by a child to a PTSD Parent. πŸ˜‰ Yes, it’s worth getting one! πŸ™‚

Just to note here, I have had it brought to my attention that some Vietnam Veterans are triggered by rosemary, so if that is the case, lavender seems to work well too. And also check with your doctor before trying things such as this if you are taking medications, to make sure it does not interfere with what you are taking.

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

I Have to Tell A Story…A Teen’s Point of View.

I have to tell a story…

I found myself in somewhat of odd shoes to stand in this past week. See, my son was having a little bit of a struggle with some news he received from his other side of the family. Let me clarify some wording before I start this so I don’t confuse anyone πŸ˜‰ My kids call BOTH dad and step-dad “dad” so we reference them as “Craig” or “dad” for step-dad and “real dad” for their father. (When the 2 are in the same area at the same time it’s Dad and Craig out of respect for their real dad.) Anyway, Craig has been in my son’s life since he was 8 years old, now he’s almost 17…to give you an idea. My son loves and respects his step-dad, Craig. So…on to the story…

My son received a phone call from his real dad last week. You could tell that he was, well, confused I think would be one of the best words for it. He came to me to talk. (By the way, bare with the story because as I think of info that might help others with children I will throw it in. πŸ˜‰ I have taught the kids that they CAN come to me to talk anytime about anything…be careful on that “anything” word, because that can be a true anything! πŸ˜‰ …and they do! See, when Craig came into my son’s life they formed a bond. Craig really taught my “little gentleman” how to be a kid! πŸ™‚ My son respects him to the fullest possible. Not long into our new life of all of us together Craig went back to a ship. This was something that the kids had to adjust to, and really did. We would visit the ship on duty section days and the kids became comfortable with where Craig worked and the crew. When the ship was under way we would say our good-byes to Craig then drive over to Coronado to watch the ship sail out and take photos. They could email Craig whenever they wanted to while he was gone, and I took that time to do things with them that we normally wouldn’t do but still keep life normal. I started with my son due to his age. Every morning before school we would sit while I had my morning coffee and just talk. It didn’t have to be anything urgent, just talking. This became a known thing to everyone that I did with the kids…and still do it. (This little ritual we started has lead to great communication and now with my son being almost 17, I can look at him and say, “let’s talk” and he knows he can openly talk to me) Kids feel just like adults do, but they can’t always say or explain what they are feeling. I did the best thing ever by starting this “different” way of communicating with them. At the last home we had, we actually set up the formal dining area as “the library” and when they needed or just wanted to talk it was a simple “mom can you meet me in the library”. I’m working on doing that with a room in our home now also πŸ˜‰

Anyway, back to the story. πŸ˜‰ After this phone call my son received I could tell he was unsettled. This was a touchy one because I knew the call was from his dad and I’m not one to step on dad’s toes, but something was very unsettling. So, it was a simple across the room, “need to talk?”Β  YES!

Well, my kiddos have a half brother (dad’s side) that they just found out about a few years back, older then my son. So there has been a new family bond in their life they have been making. My son found out through that phone call that his older brother is joining the military. Now you see where this is going πŸ˜‰

I gave my son time to absorb this news. I could tell he was still unsettled. Then I read a posting from him. It was indirectly worded, “It is very difficult to bite my tongue sometimes. Maybe people need a link to my Mom’s PTSD page.” Well, to say the least I realized right away what he was feeling and we needed to talk. In those words I read he was upset, but most of all being protective and concerned for his brother! See, my son saw what war did to his step-dad. He has seen what it has done to others. He sees another family member that is active duty struggling with the same issues from war….and now his new found brother was taking a path that could very likely lead to the same.

I did talk to my son before posting to his, so he understood where I stood. See, in the face of PTSD and what it brings, it is hard to find the flip side of the coin. My son talked to me while trying to decide his future and told me he will not join our military after seeing the things Craig has been through (and so many others), and how many years it has taken to find help for Craig, how families are left to figure it out by themselves, how the military “ditched” Craig when they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him in complete, and the list did go on. See, from an outside point of view you might not think that statement is very mature in ways…but it is. My son has chose to duel-enroll in college his senior year of high school, yes he’s a bright kid…not patting myself on the back btw πŸ˜‰ There is no disrespect for the military at all by him. His path is leaning toward an education in the medical field to HELP those in uniform when they do come home. πŸ™‚ If you ever want to see a kid who has been raised by someone with PTSD and turned out okay, I have a great one! His mind has gone beyond serving this country in uniform to serving those who have served. How could this momma not be proud? πŸ™‚ This is a teen that has his head glued on straight, still a teen lol, but has direction in his life to where he is needed.

There is a “however” to this πŸ˜‰ Mom over here had to play big time roll of mom on this one. My posting back…

“Okay here it is, “…..” has someone that he did not know for years, now that person (family member) has come into his life. “……” found out that this person has decided to join the military and is concerned about this person. “……” has seen the reality that war can cause and is …in my opinion, being protective. There is another side to it though. If a person chooses to fight for this country that does bring honor, pride, and respect to us all. Then there are others (like “……”) that are wanting to pursue a medical career to help them when they come home. I know “……” supports this person, he’s just concerned as well. That’s fair πŸ˜‰ So there is always 2 sides to a coin and both are right. They BOTH will be fine πŸ˜‰ They have each others support and love. ;)”

See, sometimes even the brightest kids need to be guided if they seem to have on “blinders”. My son has seen the worst things war can cause and his focus was on his brother at this point, not the full picture. It will be interesting to see what his generation holds. My son educates his teen peers on PTSD, he lays the facts on the table and has no problem doing so. That bond that he and Craig formed when my son was 8 years old is helping hold a new understanding and form of awareness/education to the next generations. Maybe one day, people in the world of PTSD and other mental illnesses won’t be so lost. πŸ˜‰

~Rebecca

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Category: Children of PTSD/Depression, Uncategorized  Comments off

A Christmas Dog Story (Don’t cry!)

Β Β Β Β  A Christmas Dog Story (1st version)

Β Β  (DON’T CRY…this shows that life does go on!)

Okay, it’s that time of year again that I start flipping through my photos. We have also been having huge discussions about a service dog for Craig. I do still shed a tear every Christmas when I add Toby’s ornament to our tree, but it wouldn’t be a tree without it. πŸ˜‰

Please don’t cry over this story…or you will make me cry πŸ˜‰ But you all are family and I want to share something with you that is beyond dear to my heart. For those who don’t understand what and how a dog can make a difference to your life, maybe this story will help you with that understanding.

“Toby”, also called “Toby-son” by myself, came into my life just before Christmas, now many years ago. He was a GSD/Husky mix who’s litter was placed in a cardboard box and left next to a dumpster in a nearby town. I had been visiting the shelter every day, 3 times a day, for weeks looking for the right match to ME. Not as a service dog, but as my special pet partner. A shelter worker, actually who I still contact to this day regarding abuse cases talked to me one day and said “I need you here today at such and such time. We have a litter coming out and I think you will find what you are looking for.” Well, that day I was there and Karen helped me through the crowd of people when the pups came out and let me have first pick. OH there was no deciding! I pointed at Toby and said let’s take that one to the play-pen for testing. Sure enough Toby ended up being my match! That day I adopted a 10 week old puppy that changed my life!

Toby was different then other dogs of my past, he was a true handful lol! I decided to socialize him through classes with other dogs…which ended up being our “escape” from reality so to speak. See, I ended up going through a nasty divorce (no worries him and I are on good terms now πŸ˜‰ but Toby was my rock. He was the one that kept me solid on my feet and taught me how to be strong. See, dogs don’t judge, they love! The emotional stress I had gone through was over whelming…but there was always Toby by my side.

Then Craig came back into my life πŸ™‚ Yes, there were strict grounds lol. To accept me, I come with baggage! He thought I was talking about my kiddos hehe. I told him, “No silly, my dog!” I think he was kind of shocked lol! But to say the least we got back together…which meant he accepted Toby. πŸ˜‰

Toby brought a whole new meaning regarding dogs to Craig. Everyone loved Toby…how could they not lol! He was a well rounded all around type of dog from obedience, manners, tasks, tracking, games with the kids, and most of all…watching after me. We NEVER had a problem finding a pet sitter either lol, everyone loved staying with Toby and all of the cool tricks he could do. Favorite party trick was “Toby, get me a beer” lol! Or the “Bang! Dead dog” Toby would drop to the floor but keep his tail wagging. Then I would place my hands on my hips and say, “Dead dogs don’t wag their tails.” His tail would drop to the floor and never even flinch. Then he would wait for the “Good boy” command and jump into my arms lol!

See, Toby was still around when Craig’s medical became REALLY bad. My anxiety at one time was so bad that I had passed out. I didn’t recall it at the time but after the fact I remember when I came to, who do you think was there licking my face? You guessed it, my Toby-Son. Over time as I learned about what was happening with Craig I was able to get a firm grip on myself. My therapy? My dog πŸ˜‰ Again, Toby was not a service dog of any sorts but he was the best therapy a person could have. He and I spent hours every day together working on his training and keeping his skills up, long walks, and you would always find him laying at my feet just waiting or whatever came next. He traveled from one coast to the other, and back again by my side…yes we stopped at every state sign and took pictures too. πŸ˜‰

When Craig became a disabled Veteran we headed back to Florida where we grew up. I started my dog pet training business up again since we were finally able to plant some roots, so we thought (but that’s another story for another day). I became involved with some rescues and local people, so rescues in and out of the home became a new part of life, hard at times to let go, but a part of life.

Anyway, at almost 10 years old my dear Toby fell ill. Testing after testing was done, he was on IV drips at home, and was having seizures extremely bad. He was like a light switch…one second he was on the ground and couldn’t get up, the next he seemed fine and sitting by me waiting for a command, then it would change again. One day he was extreme, I called his vet and she came rushing to our home. Toby passed away that day laying in my lap. (Yup, there’s a tear). My dearest friend was gone. I never had an animal so close to me as he was. My heart and soul shattered. I took a long break from training. My rescues were never the same after that day, they mourned him as much as I did. I still get choked up every year as I place his ornament on the tree…I actually get teased in a loving way now…they say “everyone leave the room, mom has Toby’s ornament in her hand.” Lol. Yes, today I can smile and this year was the first year since his passing that I was able to place his ornament without a tear being shed. Why?…

See, I believe that Toby IS my Angel with four legs and wings that looks after me and this year something did change. Craig and I found this little shelter dog that we adopted to be Craig’s service dog. Well, he developed skin issues (umm…just like Toby had btw). I have been working him for oh what’s it been 6 months now? Craig has taken the road of this pup might not be the one meant for him…but guess what? πŸ™‚ Alex is the spitting image of my Toby…just a different color! Alex somehow has filled a deep gap in my heart and the footsteps Toby once stood in. This Christmas I do not weep as I have in the past, I smile and thank Toby for the path he lead me down, the self-help he taught me, and for bringing Alex into my life! Alex’s path seems to be taking on a new role πŸ˜‰ only the future will tell.

~ Rebecca