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PTSD vs The Good Days…

I want to talk about something that I have found effects many PTSD families, and yes that includes our’s at times.

The “Up” side of PTSD.

There’s an up side? LOL… yes there actually is. But there is also a lot that comes with that up side, also known as the better days of PTSD. Something that is hard for everyone involved to grasp, and something that can also lead to “problems” for either party involved. This is a very real issue. But it’s the good days, how can that bring issues you ask? Well, I always say enjoy the good days when you get them, we all know that sooner or later, hard fact, there are going to be the rough days as well.

So, what comes with that? How do you handle them? What do you do when you know after good days come the “others”? What or how do I handle the fact that I see what follows but my PTSD spouse doesn’t? Oh wow… a lot to think about isn’t it? A lot laid on the shoulders of a spouse that already knows how the one with PTSD will respond when things take a quick turn out of nowhere. How does the one with PTSD know what to do? I mean, seriously, they are having a good day, where they feel like they are “well”. You sure don’t want to burst that good bubble!

But I hate to say it goes even deeper then just these things! We all want to and try to be supportive by all means. But in all of this, as a spouse or loved one, you don’t want to see your PTSD loved one fall on their face either! This is probably one of the toughest love times you can face with PTSD. There’s that fine line of what is considered right or wrong, and also how each will view what is right or wrong in each situation.

It could be something minor of wanting to purchase something to something major as bills or OH MY a job!

Now that I said that I bet there are a lot of alarms going off in your head… and the spouse panics! Your head is nodding yes right now, isn’t it. Hard facts of PTSD. I bet each of you, no matter which side of the fence you stand on can say “I’ve been there.”

So what do you do??? The ultimate question to all of us!

This is the time when heads are going to butt. So you have to find a way around that TOGETHER, and before it happens! Okay, so it’s already happened, maybe many times, that’s when I say it’s never too late to try something new.

I won’t deny it, Craig and I have been there. I love when he has a PTSD “up” and I want him to fully have that time to the best he possibly can! But… oh great, there’s a but in there… I also know and can sense when that good up is heading down… or worse, a trigger happens out of nowhere. That’s when you as the spouse feel yourself on eggshells, that uneasy feeling of what comes next. You find yourself “protecting” them at all costs. They may not realize what comes next, how could they? They are on a higher then life stage. They feel great. They want to do all of those things that they normally can’t bring themselves to do. AND you WANT them to be able to, you really do!

Then that “but” steps back in. YOU know the consequences.

This is when the hard job of facing the facts of life come into play, this is when you are supportive of them but also want to remind them of the facts. This is the hardest thing you will ever do! And it has to be in a way that is you are concerned but not controlling. Just reminding of the facts but yet supportive. Hard combination, isn’t it? As heads nod yes.

Job. The one thing that I can honestly say that everyone I have ever talked to about PTSD has told me that when they are on that up, it’s the first thing they want to get back to! I mean come on, it’s what they were use to doing, made them feel good about accomplishing something, helping out or completely supporting their family. Something that has meaning behind it. And there are many with PTSD still capable of working, so don’t get me wrong here. But, then there are the ones that can’t, no matter how hard they try or how many times, it falls back to PTSD being a huge disability. This is hard on them… and it’s also hard from a different point of view on the spouse.

This is when that head butting difficult truth comes into play. Again, as I have stated before, I’m not a doctor of any sorts and my postings come from personal experiences or what I have learned being around ones with PTSD. So, not every situation might be the same.

We had a very difficult time with this one. Craig was an air traffic controller. Every up he had, he wanted to get back to what he loved doing. He knows the job, he taught the position, but the fact is his medical, including severe memory is the reason the military said he could no longer do it. Ah, see the battle before us? It took some serious hard facts and love for us to get through this one, many times over. (Just to be clear here, Craig gave me permission to share this.) He felt I was not supporting him, felt that I didn’t believe in him, felt I viewed him as a failure. Fact is, through my eyes, none of that was true. I never viewed him in any of those ways. But I one day had to step up and explain my reasoning for him not controlling any more besides the obvious the military let him go for.

That was one of the hardest days of my life! To have to stand up to him in a way that would not lead to an argument, him feeling that I didn’t support him, etc etc. I had to tell him kindly my personal views of the facts. And I did. It made me sad and upset, but I had to be honest with him. Calmly I had to say, I support you and love you 110%, however you are asking me to support you in doing something to where not you, but your medical issues, would be putting other people’s lives in possible great danger. You are asking me to knowingly back the fact that you have been unable to keep any sort of schedule, but yet right now at this moment feel you can take on a full time job. That you have factually had to rely on me for help with everyday life. But you are asking me to support you on something because you have not yet accepted your disabilities.

Hardest words I have ever said! And let me tell you, my heart broke having to say them.

It’s hard when PTSD already makes you feel like a failure. It’s even harder when you have to face facts like Craig had to do. He/we tried other work. The hardest thing for a spouse to witness is when they face that the one with PTSD “failed” (in PTSD words not mine) at something else. Job, school, money, or something as simple as making it out the front door… nothing is simple with PTSD. But learning to face the facts of what you can and can not do now with PTSD does save some heartaches.

My advise… I’m not sure I really have much to be honest. The best I can come up with is be honest with yourself and your loved one, take little steps even on the best of days, stay within your limits, have no expectations, always have good communication even when it’s tough to, and remember that the spouse or loved one is there to help you, not hurt you… and vise versa.

~Bec

 It's strange looking out my window, to see
flowers starting to bloom in my pond. The
weather here has been warm, then turning
cold, back and forth again for some time
now. Today, overcast, cold, and windy here
on the lake front. But yet as I step
outside I see these flowers blooming to my
great surprise. Some of their leaves are
damaged, brown and curling from the freeze.
Some are covered with sand from the wind
and dew that has ruffled them in the strong winds. Other leaves are
starting to grow, bright colored, healthy, and full of life. But through
it all they are still blooming vibrant flowers no matter what the
weather conditions have been.

It makes you stop and think, now doesn't it?
Doesn't it kind of resemble life with PTSD? If you really think about it.
One minute you are drowned by the weather, the heavy winds, the freezing
of the cold. Blasted by the sand of things life can bring to you. But out
of nowhere a bloom forms. Bright and beautiful, so full of life. The
brown weathered leaves of the rough days wither away as the new leaves of
life grow back. Then before you know it the cycle of life of PTSD starts
all over again. Good days then bad ones, then it starts all over again.

My friends, I know there are rough days... many of them. But always keep
in mind that after the bad days come those beautiful days full of foliage
and blooms in life. Keep you chin up, find that smile, look for the
good... it will come, and will come no matter how many times
the cycle of PTSD brings to you!

It’s OKAY to ask for help…

Anyone that did not see my posting last night PLEASE take a look. I know first hand what happens when PTSD goes too long without being treated professionally, I feel it is of great importance for those who are suffering in silence to understand that seeking help CAN change their future. There are so many different coping skills, forms of therapy, support systems, etc. that are now available. If there is one thing that I will beg of those suffering in silence, it is to seek help! Do it for you and your future, do it for those that love you, do it for those that were once in your shoes and didn’t have the choice of help that is offered today. There is no excuse big enough for delaying… not embarrassment, not what will my command think, not I have to work, not I don’t want people knowing, not I don’t want people think I’m crazy, nothing is greater then getting help for yourself! You are not only saving yourself, you are saving those who love you… your family!

And to add to that, the suicide rate for PTSD is extremely high. If you suffer from PTSD and you are saying “oh that won’t happen to me” I’m here to tell you, you are wrong! When PTSD gets to a certain point of not being treated, those numbers go up. And PTSD can put you in a mind set of not being able to control those feelings of wanting to end it. Don’t let it get to that point. PTSD affects “the best of the best”. I stand strong on that phrase of mine, I’ve seen it first hand! It is by no means a sign of weakness. A sign of weakness would be continuing to suffer when you know there is help for you. PTSD can only get worst when untreated. Be strong, get that help, and I know and believe in my heart you can… because you ARE the best of the best! This is no joking matter, it’s not something to delay. There are so many ways of treatment, no not “cure”, but treatment that you can still have a future, a relationship, but the odds are against you without help. No matter what you feel the cost is up front to seeking help, it does not weigh anything compared to the rest of your life!

I could not begin to count the number of Vietnam Veterans that I have personally spoken to that tell me “I wish I had help available to me back then.” My friends, that speaks volumes! No longer does anyone have to suffer with PTSD alone or to the extent our elders had to! In this time we live in today, there is no reason for it. Make a huge step in life today, do it for yourself, your spouse, your family, your children, do it for your parents! What ever or who ever, do it for life itself. Don’t choose to live in the shadows, those shadows become a very, very dark place… YOU are better then that! It takes only one phone call, one visit to a doctor, and you can be on your way to a much better place.

If I sound like I’m preaching to the choir, I am! And I will do it again! Because YOU matter! Reaching for help may seem like the hardest thing you could ever do, it’s not, you and your family living with untreated PTSD will be!

~Bec

PTSD and PTSD Anniversaries (also Holidays and Special Occasions)

From time to time I try to get back to the basics of PTSD, keeping in mind that there are always new people just starting to learn about it. So today I want to touch on something.

PTSD and PTSD Anniversaries
(also Holidays and Special Occasions)

When you hear the word anniversary, you automatically think of someone’s wedding anniversary. Well, to one with PTSD it has a whole different meaning. When speaking about PTSD, and unless otherwise specified on here, we are referring to the date the “episode” or “event” happened which caused PTSD. Sometimes we will say “anniversary month”, the reason for this is because PTSD does not only flair up on the exact day, but can get worse anywhere around that time. Sometimes it can be for days, other times it can be for a month or so before or after that date.

Knowing this helps others! If PTSD “acts up” at a certain time of year and normally every year, you can almost make a bet that it’s that anniversary time. This is a time frame that I am always ready to cope with whatever might come. The person with PTSD on the norm has many more issues with PTSD during this time… nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, etc. Being aware of when the PTSD anniversary is allows the family members a reason which comes understanding of why a certain time of the year might be worse then others.

This past year, without anyone knowing what I was up to, I attempted something different. It was all in the attempt to help Craig through his anniversary day and that time frame. I actually got off the subject of PTSD itself, even though everything I was trying was still based off of his PTSD. πŸ˜‰ I posted positive things, off the wall photos, cute stories that had heart to them, and even went as far as on the anniversary date itself asking everyone to post something that was meaningful, positive, and dear to their hearts… actually on his anniversary day. IT WORKED! Craig reading everything posted on here, and by me asking everyone to post things like I mentioned, he spent the whole day scrolling through all of the good things in people’s lives… your lives, the ones just like him that suffer from PTSD or live beside it! WOW! The next morning I explained what I was up to the day before. It worked! Craig made it through his anniversary day without huge issues. All of the positive feedback kept his mind occupied with positive thoughts and his anniversary day went pretty smoothly.

Me doing this little “experiment” proved if you can bring to light all of the positive things in life, the reasons to live, the reasons to keep making those steps forward, keep a smile on your face, it does bring about a different way of coping through the really roughest times PTSD brings to one. It helps to keep the brain and memory from being able to dwell on what happened. Now, this isn’t something that is going to happen everyday of your life by any means, we are still dealing with PTSD, but it can sure help when something is desperately needed. πŸ˜‰

As John said in response to yesterdays posting, holidays and special occasions are some of the other toughest times for PTSD. This is a very good point, because it is! The survivors guilt which we talked about yesterday comes into effect, which is very similar to how PTSD reacts to anniversaries, again they go hand in hand. So i want to add that in here too. Holidays and special events bring on expectations, and we all know that expectations are one of the first things that can really stir PTSD up. Also it brings about remembering those that were lost or not here anymore to celebrate them and the survivors guilt really sets in. It’s not that your spouse/ loved one with PTSD doesn’t want to share in the joy of this time, this seems to be especially hard for birthdays and wedding anniversaries, it’s that they feel guilty as the one who survived to do so. When you can have an understanding of how they feel and keep it in mind, it can make these things a little easier. And you might want to throw in like I did, some of those positive things to make those days go a little easier as well.

I know as a spouse, for years I have dreaded my birthday coming around. In all honesty I do. I know what will come and it’s usually “just another day”. That’s hard, in a way I want to be selfish and say “it’s my day”. I am one that loves surprises, I don’t like planning my own birthday, and to be honest would rather not do anything for it then to have to plan it myself. Then it makes me feel unimportant. Which I know for a fact is far from the truth, but that’s what comes with feelings. It’s all normal, and I know not to expect things. And I’m mentioning this for a reason, I couldn’t tell you how many spouses have come to me and asked me how to handle their own birthdays. They all go through the same feelings and a sense of feeling rejected. But, the fact is, it’s PTSD causing this, not the person themselves. Over time I’ve adjusted and learned to not expect things, that feeling doesn’t just go away, but whatever happens, happens, life is still there and I have a wonderful man each day of my life no matter what one specific day brings. That’s when the spouse/loved one has to focus on the positive. πŸ˜‰

PTSD Anniversaries, holidays, and special occasions all will bring out the worse side of PTSD, and the guilt side that comes with it. It’s something to be aware of, don’t judge too harshly during these times, focus on the good, and make the best of them as you can.

~Bec

PTSD vs Survivors Guilt

I want to touch on something today that many forget about or don’t even consider when it comes to one with PTSD.

PTSD vs Survivors Guilt

This is a topic that I have found effects many with PTSD. It is very apparent in the many Veterans I have spoken to or been in contact with, but does not effect only them, it stretches to anyone that has survived an episode where someone else didn’t.

The questions and statements brought up range widely…
-Why am I alive?
-What could I have done differently that could have saved them?
-Why am I the one that came back and they didn’t?
-I should have saved them.

The list is endless. The fact is, if you are hearing any of these things from a PTSD loved one, most likely you are not only dealing with PTSD but there may very well be survivors guilt there as well.

This is probably one of the most difficult things to cope with. Many Veterans ( I speak from the Veterans side since that is what Craig is, but it does go for anyone.) I know have found that helping others or helping other Veterans is a good way to cope with this. To feel useful, to unwrap some of the burden they feel to at least speak of it, they might do it because their doctor wants them to, and the most sincere… they know it might just save the next life. It’s in reality a form of survival. There are many that do not yet understand what PTSD brings and I know first hand that these very Veterans who shared their stories with me, as well as their guilt of the losses they saw or in some cases caused in the line of duty, brought a new understanding to me that I am very grateful for. Without them opening up the way they have done, it would have been a very difficult road to me understanding my own husband.

It goes back to a story I shared a little while back. Every one of the Veterans thanked me for listening, told me how much it helps them to be able to talk, but in reality they all helped me too! They are the ones I am thankful for. See, if they indeed weren’t the ones to survive, where would the next generations learn from? I believe that there is a reason for everything, I don’t know all of the answers to why lol because we sure don’t wish anything bad on anyone, but there’s a reason.

The ones who suffer from survivors guilt I have found are very hard on themselves. Almost like they are punishing themselves for surviving. And I can’t see through the computer but I bet there are a lot of heads shaking yes right now. My friends, don’t punish yourself, there’s no reason to. Without you and what you can bring to the rest of us, this world would be very incomplete! I know things happened that haunt you and your dreams, but you have a life to live that will change those of the future. I also know that there is nothing I can say that will change the way you feel, but I can say I am still proud of you and proud you are here today. You bring the rest of us wisdom, understanding, compassion, and hope.

To those of you who have a loved one which show the signs of survivors guilt, it’s not something to turn your back on or brush off. It’s real, it comes from real events, real feelings, and you have to make sure you make an extra effort to try to understand the best you can with not experiencing what they have and be there for them with extra love and understanding when these feelings surface. This is the time they will need you the most and also the time they might somewhat pull away. Be cautious of this. They need their space but they also need you! Especially during these times!

~Bec

Comments from those who wrote in on this subject: (with permission given to share)

” Yes, I have not been able to enjoy a holiday or any special occasion without the guilt, thinking of those who never got the chance. I often think why did I make it!”

~John, PTSD Veteran

“Could not have said it better,Bec–you do have a way with words. I was one of three who survived an ambush, out of fourteen, and the only way I found to get over the guilt feelings was to go and contact the families of the fallen, and share what I could with them–the good times, character quirks, stories shared, etc. You know, just about every one of them invited me in, had me stay for dinner, or lunch, and seemed glad to hear about the final hours of their loved ones—it helped me—thanks for your understanding, and your sharing.”

~Larry, PTSD Veteran

Anxiety, Fear, and the Unknown…

I think one of the toughest things in life, especially for PTSD, is the unknown. Those things that come that aren’t on the calendar as scheduled events to happen. I already know some of those might happen this year, kind of have an idea what they are going to be already to be honest, besides the regular unknown that PTSD itself can bring. I think I’m ready for them lol. You know how it is, life can throw you a curve ball, keep your eye on the ball and make sure you swing the bat hard when they come… type of things. πŸ˜‰ I was always good at baseball and could pitch a pretty good curve ball myself when needed lol. πŸ˜‰ Just take it and apply it to life when needed and it can put things into a different perspective. πŸ˜‰

Always focus on your anxiety, fear, and how you cope in situations of the unknown. It can take over if you don’t. Use your coping skills, teach yourself to focus on the event and see it in real facts and not always the what if. You can prepare for the what ifs but keep in mind that at the moment it’s only a what if and might not actually happen. Don’t let it consume you. And that comment is to the spouses and loved ones. PTSD won’t always allow the one with PTSD to do this, but it can’t hurt to try, you might find at times it can make a huge difference for you too.

A doctor once had Craig do a worksheet exercise. I found that it is really helpful to anyone, I’ve actually used this myself lol. You write down your fear, especially if it’s something that has happened and you fear it will happen again. Then after it you chart the real life possibilities of it actually happening or not happening, the statistics of it. Doing that can take the real life fears away or at least put them into perspective and not just what your mind has you thinking or believing, so it’s easier for you to face them, refocus, and cope. It doesn’t change the past or what you have experienced already, but it can sure change how you view or learn to handle that fear in the future.

Just a little something to think about. πŸ˜‰

Happy New Year 2013!

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year! May the new year bring you understanding, coping, education, and a new found peace in your life.

Life with PTSD and/or Depression, rather you suffer from it or are the one living beside it can be tough, always remember to pick your chin up, but a smile on your face, and take things one day at a time. πŸ˜‰ Count your “spoons” and use them wisely. Don’t over do it. When you can learn where your limits are, it can make each day a little better.

As I do hate seeing the large numbers that come here, it shows just how many people are really being effected by PTSD, I love the fact that we have formed a “family” to help each other through. Life IS still worth living! It’s just finding the new ways of doing it that best suits you. They are there, look for them! And live life to the fullest possible. When you get down, always remember that there is a way to pick yourself back up. Communication is a huge part of all of this, just like with everyday life, but with PTSD it becomes something that is a huge key to a real situation.

I wish each and every one of you the best possible 2013 you can have! If you haven’t joined us on Face Book, we keep things going daily on there and there are many caring, loving, and understanding people there that have formed a true family and really do help each other out and lean on each other. It’s open to the public for those that want to learn and anyone that PTSD has touched their lives in one way or another. It’s not only spouses, it’s for everyone. So if you haven’t joined me on there, please feel free to check it out, the link is on my homepage.

This year my goal is to get this website completed… now just to have the extra spoons to do it lol! πŸ˜‰ My little hole on the internet has turned into something I never imagined! A Family!

Love and huge hugs to all of you. Happy New Year my friends!

~Bec

Category: Life with PTSD: Symptoms, Uncategorized  Comments off