Archive for » November, 2012 «

Let Me Tell You A Story…”The Fence”

And a morning photo of our backyard. Yep, there’s a reason behind this 😉 you know me! 🙂 I have had people tell me how they love my photos, and others around here how they love our property… except one thing. The fence!

When Craig and I moved in here we loved the openness, all of our dogs are trained to say the least so we didn’t have any worries about them getting out on the road or anything. We had always had a fence and thought we would try something new so delayed the fence thing. It was just open lake front and we loved it.

Then we started seeing why the fence was so important. There were many reasons. No lol, the fence will not keep the gators out, or the coyotes, snakes, hawks, raccoon family, the crane family, the deer, we have been lucky and the neighborhood bear has not come here lol! A fence won’t keep wildlife out even though they do walk around it most of the time and very rarely come inside it. Now I will say, it has kept the neighbor’s dogs out for the most part, which is a plus.So if none of those things really make a huge difference, then why a fence?PTSD!

See, once Craig and I started cleaning up the place, it’s a true fixer-upper, yard included. There came a day we had a problem. My son and Craig were outside, and they had a fire going in the fire pit which had been approved to code by the fire department and we had conformation in writing they could burn a fire that day. We were going to let the kids cook hotdogs lol.

Well, one of the neighbors came through the yard without anyone knowing, and yep you guessed it, came up behind Craig! Actually yelled at him to his back about the fire. Now this neighbor knew he had PTSD also, so this should never have happened! So now, triggers were set off, startled response set off, defense set off, etc. And the neighbor got in Craig’s face, now personal space compromised. Thank the lord my son was there!

Next thing I knew my son was yelling as he ran into the house “Mom! Dad needs meds NOW!” followed by “anxiety meds”. He ran back to Craig and I grabbed meds and ran out the door following him. I got Craig grounded and to say the least into the house and did everything I needed to in order to get him settled down.

Once Craig was taken care of, then I talked to my son about what happened. He filled me in. Seems the neighbor was upset that Craig was polluting his air by burning oak wood, now this came from a man that smoked for 30 something years. So once I knew what happened I went outside and waited. The man’s wife a I go way back and with me knowing that her husband had a temper I waited to talk to her. She came home and it was the usual “Good afternoon Becky, how are you?” I replied we need to talk, as tears by this point were rolling down my face. The after shock of what had taken place had hit me by this point. I filled her in, she was very upset and said she would take care of it and this would never happen to Craig again.

It took a long time, but everyone is on speaking terms again, and no, there have not been any more issues.

I knew that day, after that happening, a fence was a must! We moved into this house so Craig could have peace and a place he could relax and be able to let his guard down as much as possible. He finds comfort nowhere and this house on the lake was my only way of trying to find a comfort zone for him away from everything he has to face when he walks out the front door. A fence was the only way of keeping that in place.

So, when people see my photos or I hear comments about how the fence ruins things or the view, I just grin and say, “No, it doesn’t ruin anything, it allows everything to be perfect in this little piece of our world.” 😉

“PTSD vs Nightmares”

“PTSD vs Nightmares”

Oh the one we all know so well! One of the true signs of PTSD. Even though it’s the one symptom that we all are use to being there, they are also something that are just chalked up to PTSD and accept are there without really talking in depth about them, and what comes with them.

Craig can have anywhere from 2-12 nightmares in one night. Something we have adapted to over the years. He can come “to” and fall back asleep and 10 minutes later here comes another one. To be honest, I have learned a lot about what caused his PTSD because of these nightmares, even before he could tell me everything that he experienced, and some he still has locked away…but I hear them in his sleep. Those I refer to as the missing puzzle pieces for him.

Many doctors do give medications to “help” with these, which Craig is on. Do they stop them, no, not really. But they do help to the point that he’s not always up pacing the floor all night anymore, and he can fall back to sleep after having one.So, we all know nightmares exist with this. But what do you do? How do you cope? What all comes from this happening? There is a lot more to it then someone just having a nightmare.Nightmares are associated directly with the event(s) which caused PTSD in the first place. Reliving it over and over in your sleep. We personally have had doctors tell us different things on how to handle these. What’s the right way? Got me! LOL! We’ve tried it all!One doctor said to wake him up when they start. Well, now that can be a tricky one for many. It sounds like something easy to do, but it’s really not that easy. Not a doctor here, as I always remind you, so can’t and am not giving medical advise. Just telling what we have gone through. You have to always keep in mind that the person with PTSD is having a nightmare, that means they are not coherent to the present time, when they are waken they are not grounded to real time or place. You can’t just grab their should and say hey wake up. That in some cases, and many military related cases, end up with someone getting hurt unknowingly to the one with PTSD so not on purpose. When the doctors told me to wake him during these, I looked at them like they were crazy! I think originally my words were something along the lines of “why don’t you come wake him up.” LOL! So, me knowing that touching him to wake him was completely out of the question, I tried different things. I found that sitting across the room, at an angle, which means out of reach or possible quick reach, was the easiest way. And just talking to him and calling his name along with telling him he is at home with me and everything is okay, was the easiest way to bring him out of them. That left safety at hand for myself.

Another doctor recently told me to let him dream through them. Oh that’s a fun one. I was told that the nightmares are the brains way of processing what he experienced, it’s when all of the brain’s defenses are down. We’ve tried this and I don’t see it helping at all in his case. It seems to lead to rough days even when this has been tried over a long period of time. This also leaves it to where he is extremely worn out and tired the next day…and so am I. But we’ve tried what we were told to do.

The other thing, and one that everyone does not have the opportunity for and some do not need, and I have my reasons for wording it that way so bare with this. I have trained Alex, my dog, to tend to Craig through the nightmares. It goes back to that animal human relationship. Alex can pull Craig through the nightmares and ground him when he does wake up, which in many cases is easier and the response from a human is different to an animal then if a human woke them or touched them. (Just to note, this posting is not about service dog conversation, that will be for another time because it is quite lengthy and I want to focus on nightmares here. 😉 ) Alex has seemed to be the best source for getting through the nightmares as of this time.

So, that is a simple covering of that part. But there is so much more to it. What about the spouse if there is one? I remembered as a child never understanding why there were two beds in older people’s bedroom. Or why you would find an elderly couple’s house set up with him in one room and her in another. That was a huge puzzle to me lol! No one ever explained why. Well, live with PTSD and you can kind of figure it out now. 😉 My first guess would be nightmares.

Craig and I were told by a doctor once that I needed to sleep in a separate bedroom. I looked at the doctor and asked what the other choices were? They didn’t know how to answer me. Then I explained that I personally have an issue with that arrangement. For several reasons. One, I have to be and was told by the doctor that I need to be there for Craig when he wakes to ground him back to the time and place we really are in. Two, I’m not elderly and like sleeping with my husband, I don’t think fondly of a room mate living arrangement, which in some cases is needed, but I’m not ready to do that. Of course the doctor was thinking of my safety, and that has to be addressed up front in all cases and never taken lightly. So I addressed it. I made ways that Craig and I could remain in the same room. Alex has been taught to wake me, if I don’t wake myself, at the first sign of any movement of Craig waking or a nightmare starting. I did not train him to go to Craig first, but to me, so I can get out of the bed safely and out of possible reach. There are many nights I have spent in my chair, across the room and at an angle, so I am there but out of reach. Then at times I make a thick pillow pallet on the floor so I can get some extra sleep…until I get that bay window bed built. 😉 I always go to bed with Craig and if it comes time for me to leave the bed, then I do. But I stay in the room for when he needs me.

Now what able when you are sleeping together? First and foremost, I will tell you that it weighs heavily on the person that has PTSD to know that because of “them” the spouse is losing sleep at night. It makes them feel guilty and like they are a burden. And nothing you say will change that feeling. However, I view it differently, if they can not control, which they can’t, their nightmares, then how is it their fault? They are not purposely keeping you from sleeping. It’s PTSD, and a part of what comes with it. They are NOT to blame! I’ll admit, sleep positions do change when PTSD is there. Craig and I use to always sleep with one of us wrapped around the other. That is not something that can be done anymore. It took time for me to adjust to that, but when you keep in mind it’s not their fault, you can adjust. The easiest, and safest sleep position? With our backs to each other. Out of Craig’s guilt he was feeling of actions coming from nightmares and such, he started sleeping with his back to me. I still believe in the kiss goodnight and I love you, sometimes he will put an arm around me but when he starts to fall asleep he rolls over. This is something that you can’t take personal! It’s not a lack of love, it’s a sign of caring about you and your safety. Once you can grasp that concept, it makes things a lot easier on your relationship. Be grateful that you still get at least some night time in the same bed, many don’t.

So, you had a rough night and there wasn’t much sleep. Everyone needs sleep. In our case, even though the doctors don’t like the idea but we found that it works for us, we take a nap while the kids are at school. There is something about napping during the day that is different in our case. Very rarely does Craig have nightmares during that time. I believe it’s linked to the actual clock time being different then when the original episodes causing PTSD occurred. During the day we can actually spoon on the couch, sometimes on the bed, without nightmares coming. I thought it was linked to napping on the couch, a different area, but that’s not it. (Just to note on that, doctors sometimes will say to avoid naps because they can interfere with night time sleep, but in our case they have allowed sleep and not made a difference.) You can so to speak, set your clock to his nightmares. Same time every night they start. Doesn’t matter what time we go to bed. Anyway, naps are of great help to us. They don’t change the time we go to bed, he’s still exhausted by that time, but allows us to get needed sleep.

Talking about your nightmares. This is something that is rarely done. But at times in our case, Craig will open up right after a nightmare and tell me some of it. Talking does help, that’s proven by doctors or there wouldn’t be talk therapy. 😉 I don’t know if helping right after they happen helps any or not at this point, but it’s something that we are trying. Craig does talk in his sleep, so I already know much of what he experienced. And i have been told that talking or screaming during nightmares is normal. I think it gives the spouse an insight that can actually help you understand as well as find ways or things that can help them.

*Also, if you have children in the home. Safety protocol should be in place. Children have to be taught not to wake a parent with PTSD, even taught that if the parent nods off or falls asleep to go to another room until they wake. A rule of no children in the master bedroom unless invited is a good one to have in place as well. If they need a parent, a knock on the door without opening it is a good rule. It gives the PTSD parent time to wake and ground themselves before going to the child.Always keep in mind that these are not just “bad dreams”, they are actually reliving a traumatic event over and over. Work on finding ways to adjust and cope as well as being supportive, it will pay off.
~Bec

Cheesecake Cookie Cup… by ‘Nestle Toll House’

 

 

A must do for the holidays! This is what I made today! These are easy, quick to make, and you can alter the recipe for whichever cookie dough you like and toppings! I am going to freeze some so I can pull them out when needed for the holiday season! I used chocolate chip cookie dough, strawberry topping, and drizzled it with chocolate syrup. Also made another batch with dark chocolate cookie dough!

The recipe can be found at: Very Best Baking

 

 

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Let me tell you a story… A challenge.

Do you remember that story as a child or reading it to your children “The little train that could”? No matter his size or ability he always kept the positive thoughts of  “I can do it”. And he did!

I think that is something that is real in everyday life. Even life with PTSD. It does not matter if you are the one with PTSD or the one living beside it, if you focus on the good, somehow someday it’s going to happen.

Let me tell you a story… When I was in high school I had a special job of tutoring a Freshman (9th grader) that came as a new student into our school. Over the years the teachers had just passed him through the grade levels, but in reality he was only on a 2nd grade level. Yes, he was an emotionally handicapped (as they worded it back then) student. I remember sitting there trying to teach him, and one day he looked at me and said “Ms Becky, why are you even trying? I can’t do this. I can’t learn. I’m stupid!” I can hear those words like it was yesterday. I was in shock! You are not stupid! Why would you say that? Because that is exactly what he had been told.Seeing the battle I had before me, and about 2 weeks of not getting him any further along then when he first came, I went and got the copy of that childhood book I still had at home. I took it to school the next day. When he and I sat down for class I could already see that look on his face of I can’t do this. I pulled the book out and said I want you to read me this story. But I can’t he said with anger. I looked at him and said “But I think you can.” It took him a few minutes to process what I said to him. Then he looked at the book and opened it. We took the whole class time time to read the book, with me helping him with some of the words. At the end of the class I looked at him and simply said “You can.”.The next day came, again I say the discouragement on his face. I again pulled out the book and we read it. This time not having to help him with as many words. At the end of the class I looked at him again and said “You can.”The third day came. This time he asked me with excitement if we were going to read the book. I looked at him and smiled, “Do you want to read the book?” He said “Yes!” This time he made it through the whole book without much help at all. Again, at the end of the class I smiled and said “You can do it.”Fourth day came and he asked me again, “Are we going to read the book today?” I looked at him with a smile and said “You did.” He smiled at me, but still wanted to read it again. Sure why not. He finished reading with class time left. He looked at me and said “What now?” And I handed him his English book. “If you can read that book, then you can read this one.” He looked at me puzzled, he didn’t like school work because he had been told so many times how stupid he was and was afraid of failing. I simple looked at him and said “try.”

We read through a few pages and I said “look you can do it.” He smiled and kept reading.

This 16 year old 9th grader, by the end of the school year was almost back to his correct grade level. His custodial parents came to the school and I was called to the office. They thanked me for what I had done to help him, said there was a huge difference in him and how he now tries to do things for himself and really has turned from a sad problem child to one who cares and smiles all of the time.

He graduated high school. Was never held back another year. He did do it! It just took someone who was willing to take the time to prove to him he could.

PTSD is no different then that 16 year old. You have someone that has been broke down to their lowest point, lost faith in themselves, feels like a burden to society and family, been told what a horrible person they are, verbally remind of their faults in life, all on top of the illness they fight every day.

My point is, if you truly want to help someone get better, to the best they can be, you have to find the good, it is there. The accusing etc. has to stop and the helping and learning begin. No person deserves the negative to be reminded to them every day, there is no way to get to the best place they possibly can as long as the negative is there. I know firsthand it’s hard, I know what being to hell is like, but it’s still different then reliving the hell every day like PTSD brings to the one who suffers from it. Why add to that? Work to make a change, one smile, one compliment can change life…and maybe even save one.

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

“PTSD vs Avoidance”

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

“PTSD vs Avoidance”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

“PTSD vs Memory”

PTSD vs Memory

What? Memory? No, it can’t be!

Well guess what? It is so! Again, I’m not a doctor of any sort and can not give medical advice, my postings are that of personal experiences, what I have been told, or info from others.

Memory is one of the largest problems Craig suffers from. The main reason he was discharged from the military and before we knew it was PTSD he was fighting.

This is where a lot of your problems can stem from. The “why did you hide or take my stuff?”, “I didn’t do that!”, “I never said that”, “You are crazy! That never happened!”, “You never told me about that!”, “Why would you accuse me of that? I didn’t do or say that!” How about trouble at work, at home, with friends, with family or the community?

Oh boy! You get my point. Fact is, memory is a huge part of PTSD! It can also be linked to dissociative symptoms which can come with PTSD.

How do you battle something that someone doesn’t remember or does not think exists?

This is a very tricky one indeed! Back when Craig’s medical issues started he thought I was crazy. He started arguments with me…something that we never did. This was my first sign that something deeper and darker was going on with him. One day when he came home from the ship we had a conversation, a pretty important one. I could tell he was a little frustrated, I went inside to check on dinner then came back out. Thinking that gave him a chance to cool off for a minute. When I went back out to him I said, “So, what do you think?” He looked at me like I was crazy! “Bec, what are you talking about?” I remember that day like it was yesterday, the day that it all started clicking to me. I relied back to him, “The conversation we just had.” Know what his response was? “What conversation?”.

About 10 minutes I had been away from him, in that 10 minutes he had forgotten we had even talked. I stood there speechless. A simple “never mind”, and I went back inside. I watched Craig from the window as I thought about all of this. It made sense! It made sense to why he was arguing, why he wasn’t doing things he said he would do, why I was having to find things for him, why he kept me on the phone while he drove to work…asking me to look up traffic for him and tell him the best way to work, all of it now made sense! He even started getting in trouble at work, something that was by no means him! One time he was given a direct order, he to this day never remembered it being given. He left work without following it. Wrote up for not following an order and fought that he had never been given it.

Truth is, to him he never was given it, he didn’t remember it! Over time one thing lead to another. I went to his command and told them there was something wrong with him. Their reply to me? You want him out of the military. Actually not at all! I wanted help for him! It took a mess up at a team training ( a team training that he himself use to teach and he was an expert at!), something that could have cost lives if it had been real life, for his command to get in my face and yell at me “What’s wrong with your husband?” Well, exactly what we had been trying to tell them. I went to the Chaplin for help. We all sat in a room together and they had to hear me out. That’s when the military started looking for answers to what was wrong with him. We were first told it was West Nile, which was in his bloodstream. Then we were told it lasted too long to be from the West Nile, it was Conversion Disorder (which he was discharged with). Then the VA finally said oh no it’s PTSD and Depressive Disorder. Then everything started making sense!

I told that part of our story to show you the seriousness of all of this. Memory issues ARE real with PTSD, and the person may not even know they have this issue.

It’s what I call “hit or miss”. You might remember one thing then not remember another, or maybe only part of something. I was told that Craig’s short term memory was not converting to long term memory. Only about 40% of it was being converted. Later I was told by a doctor that the brain is locking up parts of his memory and not letting them out, but the memories “might” still be there, just hidden away. Like electrical cables that are not connected so you don’t get the electrical current unless the wires touch. As time has gone by it has been noticed that his long term memory has been effected also. Things that there are no way he would forget, he does not remember.

The docs have told us all sorts of things to try. From making notes, setting alarms, sending yourself emails, doing puzzles to exercise the brain, games, etc. We have tried it all! Everything his doctors have told us to do. So far nothing has worked long term, not that it might not work for someone else, but Craig’s is so far advanced that I was told this is a life long problem. The important thing is to keep working or challenging the brain, giving it exercise so to speak, so the brain will continue to try to function. I do believe that if someone had helped him sooner it may have never gotten to this point. But we still do not give up!

So, now that you know this part of our story, and no matter which side of this you are on, I have something very important to say. This is when you HAVE to relearn to trust those close to you, you have to have communication, and there has to be a lot of understanding and balance.

I was at my wits end. I was told I was crazy, that I was lying even about the stupidest things that were simple. Well, you know me lol, I’m not one to quit. One day I placed a piece of paper and a pen in front of Craig. Again he looked at me like I was crazy. I said to him, “Do you trust me? 100% do you trust me?. He said, ” Of course I do. You are the one person in this world I know for a fact I can trust”. Guess what I said next? “Then if you do, and you know in your heart without a doubt you do, then write it down”. He thought I was crazy, but he wrote it. Then I said now sign it. Man I should have taken a picture of his face lol! But he signed it. And I said thank you and walked away.

I took that note he wrote and I locked it away. Did not mention it again. The next time something happened, and I could tell it was going to lead to an argument, I did not say a word. I walked to where I had the note locked up, pulled it out, and walked over to him. That PTSD rage was all I could see in his eyes. I knew where this was heading. He tried to pick up the argument with me where it had left off when I walked away. I looked at him and said, “Do you trust me?” Of course the angry PTSD said a bunch of nasty things in return. I calmly asked him again, “Do you trust me?” I got this time “you are lying! How could you say these things to me! I never did that!…” I calmly told him I love you…and I need you to read this. And I handed him the note.

He paused as he read it. Then he looked at me and asked me how I got that, who wrote it, this is a trick. I just looked at him. Is that your handwriting? He said yes. Is that your signature? He again said yes. It’s not a trick or a lie at all, you wrote that to yourself for times just like we are having right now. I would not lie to you, I need you to listen to me and understand that you are not remembering things right now. He stood there, looking at that note for a few silent minutes. Then started crying.

I told him there is no need to cry, you just did not know.

When you are dealing with the memory, or lack of, it’s tricky. I had set out to find a way around it, to where Craig and I could avoid what PTSD throws at us. Now don’t get me wrong lol, no one is perfect and you can’t just use this idea I came up with for every outbreak. If you as the one without PTSD is actually wrong, you have to fess up to it! None of us are perfect and at times we are going to be wrong. It can ONLY be used when the memory is truly the issue…if you misuse it you will lose that trust then you will end up in a worse place then you already are!

I’ll be honest, Craig and I now can joke when I put paper and pen in front of him now. He laughs at me and says you are really going to make me do that aren’t ya? Nope, you have to choose to. I have a whole note pad of notes now lol!

Then you have memory with objects or things. One with PTSD may swear you hid it, put it someplace where they didn’t know about, etc. For this, I put up special hooks just for Craig’s use, next to his desk. This is where hats, keys, sunglasses, and such go. If I see him laying stuff down somewhere else I just simply ask him if he could put them on his hooks to help me keep the house picked up. And if he forgets that’s where he’s heading then I simply repeat myself until they get there. Sometimes he will say, “You already told me that.” And a simple reply of ”I’m sorry, I didn’t know if you remembered or not.” seems to work at keeping the frustration down.

I also have a place for his wallet and things that he can’t hang up. His desk is for his stuff only. Whatever it takes for him to have his space and help through the frustration the memory issues bring.

Then there are the times that something is misplaced. When you can’t find something, it gets frustrating in the first place. Then try being the one with PTSD trying to find it! Not a good thing. I always challenge Craig’s brain, try to let him do as much for himself as he can. But when the frustration really starts and I see there is no way he is going to remember, I simply say, “Let me help you look for that”. Or if I know where it is I’ll say something like, “I think I saw it in such and such room.” Of course if all of that fails then we send a dog to find it for both of us.  But not everyone has that option. Also, take a break from looking. Sit, breathe, relax, and sometimes you might think of where it is, sometimes you won’t. But that break gives you the break from the frustration.

Memory and safety is a huge deal. Something many don’t think about. This is where you as the spouse/partner does have to pay attention. Did they leave the gas grill on? Was the stove turned off? Was the refrigerator left open? How long can one be left watching young children? If they take a walk are they able to find their way back home? Things that the person without PTSD may not think about. But are and can be very real. And you don’t have to point out what you have had to do behind them…my goodness they battle self esteem enough without adding that to it! We actually found the fridge being left open was a biggie. So when we had to get a new one, we got one that has an alarm on it to let us know it was left open. Think outside the box, there are many things available that can help battle memory problems.

I will say on the safety things, BEFORE we knew Craig was having the memory issue, I had the scare of my life! I will say first, PTSD does not always make a person dangerous to a child. They can be as good of a parent or even better then one without PTSD. But, if you have young children and you know there is a memory issue involved, take caution! BEFORE we knew the severity of Craig’s memory issues, I had left to run to the store. I left a 3 year old in Craig’s care. I was only gone about 15 minutes. When I got back, Craig was sitting inside. I asked him where the 3 year old was. He looked at me with huge eyes, “with you!” Craig, no! I ran outside calling her name in a frantic. The office manager called to me and said Becky come here. Come to find out, my 3 year old had wandered up to the swimming pool trying to get into the gated pool area. Luckily the manager had seen her and took her inside until I returned. She was safe! Craig still to this day blames himself that a child that he dearly loves could have had something bad happen to her because of him. He had no clue he was watching her, he had not remembered. Rules changed that day for us to say the least. It wasn’t in reality his fault, his medical was the cause. But we as a family started making new rules.

As much as we all hate having to have safety protocol in place, it is a must. It’s not to be degrading in any way to anyone, it’s just the facts of living with PTSD and what it’s symptoms are. Memory is one of them.

Memory can play a huge part on your life. Adjustments have to be made, but that’s with anything in life. Facing memory issues is tough, especially if you don’t realize you have them, but we have proven it can be done. Don’t give up! Communicate, find ways that help you in your situation, work together, this is one time that trust plays a huge part with PTSD. It will pay off!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

“PTSD vs Intimacy”

Do I dare, do I dare? Yep, I do!

“PTSD vs Intimacy”

Come on! All joking aside now. If you have PTSD in your life you know what I am talking about! It’s that subject that no one likes to talk about, but reality is it’s real! I could not begin to tell you how many emails I receive from the spouse OR the one who has PTSD on this subject, asking me “is it a part of PTSD or is there something wrong with me?” (Please remember I’m not a doctor my posting are my personal opinions or experiences.)

Here are some of the common questions/statements:
Does he/she not love me any more?
Am I no longer an attractive person to him/her?
What have I done wrong?
Why does he/she cheat but then say they love me?
Am I not good enough?
Why does he/she push me away?
We use to have an active sex life, now we have nothing. Why?
I’m not good enough for her/him.Okay, the list does go on, but you get the point.Let’s see, we are dealing with PTSD. A person who is learning how to relearn who they are, most likely on medications, has had their personal self esteem damaged by a disability, lost their career, not seeing themselves as the person they “use to be”, a person who is afraid of letting you down, many with PTSD also suffer from depression, yes you are getting my point here too.

The hardest part in a relationship goes back to communication. Intimate matters are hard to talk about in the first place, then you add PTSD to it and wow! Knocks you right off your feet!

Medications. There’s a really good start. Most with PTSD are on medications. If you research the medications, most of the time you will find at least if not more that effects the “sex drive”. A lot of the time once the medications are in your system and your body is adjusted, some of that drive can come back. However, at this point in your mind you’ve already “failed” and that’s embarrassing and you are not going to put yourself through that again! Fact is, you haven’t failed at all! You are on a medication that prevented it from happening. This is where that talk needs to come in 😉 tell your partner what the medications have done to you and how it has mentally affected you. Now, as a partner, don’t push for the intimate time. I know you want to, you are only human, but you have to be understanding at this point. Helping build that self esteem back up without pushing for the “outcome” is very important.

What did I do wrong? Am I not attractive? Why does he/she push me away? All of these boil back to a lot of what I have already said. Self esteem, medications, etc. This is where you as the partner has to pay close attention to not let it get to your own self esteem…and it will if you let it! When you are pushed away from intimacy, and over and over again you start looking at yourself and what is wrong with you. It’s not you, and in reality it’s not them! It’s PTSD!

Then we bounce back to what just one time can cause for the rest to come. You or both of you already have it in your mind “what if I can’t do it”. “what will he/she think”. Oh no, the problem just became larger. What about this? I can do this and I am going to enjoy this. Oh I know, that’s much harder then it sounds. It will take time to build yourself back up…then you still have those medications there. It’s about being intimate with the person you trust, not judging each other no matter what the outcome is, enjoy whatever you get from it, which may be no more then a simple kiss…that’s a good step. 😉

Then there’s the devil to face, so to speak. The PTSD partner might not think you are forward enough “wanting to” at times, might think because of your patience you yourself have lost that attraction to them, that you don’t get “turned on” like you use to…when fact is you don’t know where or if this is going anywhere and have your own defenses up, now you both are feeling rejected.

Communication. I don’t know any other way to say it. That line of communication has to be open and honest on both of your parts. When you are on the same page of how you are feeling it is going to make it easier, not perfect, but easier when it comes to being intimate together. Remember that intimacy is something to enjoy together, not something that is pressured. If you have the pressure you are not going to get very far, and no one wants that in this situation.

I know you aren’t going to let me get away with the one I have not mentioned yet. Cheating. Oh boy, the marriage breaker! This normally happens when PTSD is out of control. The person no longer feels like they know themselves and looks for that no ties outside source to fill that void they now have. This is something that has to find control or you will lose the one you do love. Man or woman, you can only be pushed so far with this one before you lose what really is important to you, both of you. In the cases I know about, this happens when PTSD is not getting any sort of treatment. Advise here, get that treatment rather it is medication, therapy, counselling, just get to your doctor and get the help to get PTSD back under control! I know of people who would never step out on their marriage/relationship, but once having PTSD, they did. It was not that they didn’t love their partner, it was they were trying to find themselves. Again, find it by getting help for yourself, the rest will fall into place…the right place. 😉

So…I’m sure I could write a lot more on this, but to sum this up, don’t stop trying! 😉 And don’t focus on experiences that didn’t turn out the way you wanted them to. Don’t let PTSD take away a part of you that is important or that you would like to have back. Remember, a simple kiss or hug does say many unspoken words. And who knows what may happen from there. 😉

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook page

 

 

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Recipe: Sausage Balls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Sausage Balls”

These are great with breakfast or as an Appetizer!

1 pound ‘Jimmy Dean’ Sausage
8 ounces grated mild cheddar cheese
2 cups ‘Bisquick’Mix all ingredients together (will form a dough ball). Pinch off and roll into bite size balls. Place on un-greased baking sheet.
Bake 350 degrees Fahrenheit 15-20 minutes.
*You may also form the balls and freeze to bake another day!
~Bec
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PTSD vs. Love

“PTSD” vs “Love”…nope, you can’t compare the two or even put them in the same category! See, PTSD sometimes, okay, many times “tests” the boundaries of “love”. It is going to test your love, your relationship, your marriage. Just because PTSD acts up, so to speak, does not mean your partner does not love you! Actually, it is my belief that PTSD shows itself to the ones the person loves the most!

 The one they are comfortable with. The one they TRUST!

This is where it gets difficult for the spouse/SO, we have a tendency to throw the two things into the same pot. You can’t do that! The “but if you loved me you wouldn’t treat me this way”. Well, you are only giving PTSD a fight with that one. 😉 DON’T! Well, when PTSD is involved, this statement of “but if…” is far from the truth. This is when you as the spouse has to focus. You have to keep in mind that it’s PTSD talking, NOT the one who loves you. You have to remember that PTSD can build up and then it vents it’s ugly head. Or it can come out of nowhere! Focus, use those coping skills that have been taught, breathe, take an extra deep breath, focus on the person you know he or she is. Remember it’s not that they don’t love you, it’s that they DO love you.

I know it’s hard as a spouse to separate the two, it took me a long time to learn it myself. And sometimes you are still going to be pushed to that edge in your thinking, your feelings of rejection, the aching sadness and pain in the heart that comes with it, the loneliness…focus and over come it at that moment. Your hero needs you to be the strong one at this point to help them through this spell. Even in those times that they seem to just want to bring you down. Be patient, let them vent and speak their mind…then remind them that YOU love them. 😉

I could write a book on this one, we’ve been through it a million times and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of it. But I know how to handle PTSD now when this happens…it’s made a huge difference in the outcome for us many of the times. Hang in there and use those coping skills and in this case, when you get that slight break in PTSD, throw that word love in there with a full open heart, you might just be surprised at what it can do. 😉

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Tips for saying “Thank You” to a Veteran…

TIPS for Saying Thank You:

When wanting to tell a Veteran “Thank You”, there are things to always keep in mind. They ARE a Veteran, that means you do NOT know what they have been through or seen.

1. Always approach a Veteran where you are in their sight, never from behind.
2. Offer a handshake, NOT a pat on the back or shoulder.
3. Have respect for their personal space. You can always say, “Excuse me” to get their attention. Then “Thank You for your service.” Without ever touching them.

4. NEVER ask the personal question, “Have you killed people?”! That can trigger old memories and ruin their day…and yours.

5. NEVER ask for details of their service time. If they choose to have a conversation with you, let them tell the stories they choose to. Don’t ask for details of war!
6. NEVER say, “You don’t look disabled”! There are many unseen disabilities that you might not realize are there, but these disabilities are real! Be thankful these Veterans are able to enjoy the day out in public. That is NOT an easy task for many!Remember RESPECT on this Veterans Day, and simple “Thank You” is much appreciated.