Archive for » February, 2013 «

“How do you know if he/she might have PTSD?”

I have had many people ask “How do you know if he/she has PTSD?”

Let me share something with you. This photo is of Craig. It was taken while he was still active duty, and it was also one of my first signs that something was not right!

The kids were outside laughing and playing, I was taking photos of them having their fun that day and my eye caught this.

It looked like my husband standing there, but something was not right at all! Craig was never one you would find like this, so deep in thought, the look of worry on his face, not joining in to all of the fun going on… but distant, he was just distant like he wasn’t even there.

As time went by it became worse, the nightmares became worse, the anxiety, snappy tone, anger, acting out in ways that were not like him at all, memory… it plays a huge toll on the memory, migraines which kept becoming worse.

I was watching the man I knew so well disappear right before my eyes… and nothing seemed to change the outcome. We talked, there was something wrong, but him explaining it was not something words could be placed to.

It wasn’t until several years later the doctors said “PTSD”. It all started to make sense!

If you have a loved one that is not acting like themselves, something just seems to be weighing on them, talk to them, listen to your gut feelings. If they have seen combat or experienced a serious trauma in their lives, PTSD might be just the battle they are fighting. It’s not you! It’s what happened to them.

Help them reach out, and get the help they need! If it’s you, take that step to seek help. The longer PTSD goes without some type of treatment, the worse it is going to get. It will get to a point where you can’t cope anymore, and many times just can’t function. It will roll over from a mental state to affecting you physically, depression might set in which becomes another huge battle within itself. This is not something to put off until tomorrow! It’s not just going to go away over time if you ignore it. It is very real and there are so many things that can help. The reported suicide rate is up to 22 people per day related to military PTSD. Can you even imagine what that number actually is if you add all of the other cases into it? The civilian related, the ones not reported, world wide. Unbearable numbers, I am sure.

A reach for help is not something that should shame you, it doesn’t make you weak by any means… As I say, PTSD affects “The best of the best”, the ones that have bared so much trauma and kept it within themselves and continued standing tall. My friends, every person out there is human, you can only take so much, and if you are suffering from this unseen demon, it will sooner or later bring you to your knees. It’s not something to battle alone! Help yourself and your family by reaching out for help.

Loved ones, PTSD is going to want a battle. It’s going to try you and push you, your loved one might even try to push you away to protect you from this. If your loved one is not acting like themselves, don’t fight and argue, ask the question “Why?”. Why are they acting this way? What caused this? And What can I do to help? If you are feeling that the person standing before you is not the person you knew… Why? Communicate! They need your love, they need your understanding, your trust, and they are going to need your help and most of all your support!

Life with PTSD is different. It’s not the fairy tale stories and white picket fences as I say it. But there is still life there in the reality. It’s just going to be a lot different. Work together to find that life, to continue living, and making the best of life you can. No expectations… a huge saying of mine. Don’t expect too much. Everyone has a limit, and that limit will depend on that day, what has happened, how they are feeling or even viewing themselves. Take all of that into consideration.

Most of all, if you think or know your loved one, family member, or friend does or may suffer from PTSD… Educate yourself! Having the knowledge about PTSD and how to manage it will help them, as well as help yourself and your family. Don’t put it off! Don’t be blind to it… it is very real! Reach for help!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

One Phrase…

One phrase. There is one phrase that could very well send someone who suffers from an unseen disability such as PTSD over the edge, and I don’t mean just upset, or angry, I mean to the point of wanting to end their life. Yes, I’m being pretty blunt and straight to the point of the urgency on this one. So to all of you that don’t have PTSD or don’t understand it, even to those that say you do understand it but really don’t… Let’s have a little talk!

“There’s nothing wrong with you… see you are fine.”

This is a comment that is well known by those that suffer from PTSD, it’s also the one that cuts the deepest of many… especially if it came from a loved one, or family member, or close friend.

“Unseen disability”. That’s a disability that does not have a physical characteristic that is seen such as a missing leg or limp or scars that show. It’s something that is on the inside that can be more damaging to one then a physical impairment.

Just because you can’t see the disability does not mean it’s not real, does not mean it does not exist, it means you yourself do not understand what it is or what one who suffers from this goes through. And I have thousands of doctors of many different backgrounds that will back me on this one, along with thousands upon millions of people military or civilian!

People who suffer from PTSD have their good days and they have many bad days, and I can almost guarantee you, that you won’t see them on their bad days unless you live with them. Because people with PTSD want you to view them as you always have, they don’t want you judging them, they don’t want you to think they are crazy… and they are not crazy, ask any doctor that specializes in this! They suffer from something that is very real that causes them much pain that they work hard to live through every day of their lives.

The hardest, most belittling thing to a person with PTSD is taking that reach for help. PTSD hits what I call “the best of the best”, the ones that have stood tall and taken in everything life’s traumas has dished out to the point where they can’t take anymore. Their brain starts locking the traumas away, pieces of what has happened to them or what they have experienced. Reaching for help and accepting something is wrong is the hardest thing to do for this type of person who is known for their strength. I think the fact of the military related… now to be honest the numbers are not even close to correct if you add in civilian and unreported case… a suicide rate that is now up to 22 veterans and 1 military person per DAY! PER DAY! I was personally told of 3 cases this past week of suicides among our heroes. Three, that’s a large number to come to me, I’m only one little hole on the internet. Do you know how many that is, do you realize how many people are taking their own lives, and you wonder why?

Well let me tell you why. Because in their battle people have turned their backs to them, these people are trying to get the help they truly need and backs are being turned. And it’s not doctors that are turning their backs… it’s family members, friends, co-workers, and the general public.

Unless you suffer from PTSD, live with it, or are one that treats it, you probably are not going to truly understand it unless you take the time to educate yourself on it. Even then, true understanding is going to be difficult, but education will help.

When a person who suffers from PTSD does actually have a day they can make it out of their home, I can almost guarantee you it’s a good day. A day where they will mask PTSD with a smile, a day where they are not worn down from it and can physically function, a day where they just want to blend in and feel normal. People with PTSD do not like letting their PTSD show… it still comes with a stigma that haunts this world, a stigma because people have not taken the time to understand what it is… therefore are scared of it or refuse to believe it is real. “Stigma”, a fear of the unknown.

People are taking their own lives by their own hand because the battle became too much to handle. And I bet if I contacted the families of these very people and their friends, I bet a large percentage of them, not all of them, but a large percentage of them would say something like that phrase, “There was nothing wrong with him/her, I don’t know why they did this”. Well for that large percentage, right there is your answer.

My friends and family, PTSD is not going away. It is real. It’s a battle within. And if you were in their very shoes I guarantee you would want someone to understand or to help you! Anyone that says that can’t happen to me, let me tell you something, you are WRONG! PTSD can happen to anyone who has experienced a trauma that affected their life or even one that they love or are close to. It is not only military related! It can happen from a car accident, a natural disaster, a personal attack, rape, sexual trauma, a child or parent losing their life, someone’s death that was out of your control. It happens to doctors, nurses, police, paramedics, firefighters, and many more… it can form from any severe trauma that you encounter.

And your words could very well be the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. If you do not know or understand what someone is going through, especially if one has trusted in you that they have been diagnosed with PTSD, don’t ever say “There’s nothing wrong with you” to them! One, the damage you are doing to them by saying that is very seldom repairable. Two, you most likely just lost the trust that person had for you, when all they were doing is reaching out to you, and by saying those words you just turned your back on them! Three, this can also lead them to another battle which many times come with PTSD… Depression. Which leads their road to a much darker place.

A person with PTSD does still have a life. They can throw a great cook-out, they can laugh, they make great parents, they can be a great spouse, and to set the record straight… not everyone with PTSD is violent to others! I can’t emphasize that enough! They are not monsters and to be honest, many of them are the most caring and understanding people you will ever meet! They just have a harder time doing things then one who does not suffer from PTSD. They have to fight to survive, to battle PTSD to have the normal that comes so easy to one that does not have it, and they do it every day of their life.

PTSD is not something that is made up, my friends, it’s extremely real. Many of you, if not every single person that this might reach, probably knows someone who suffers, many times in silence, and you might not even know it. You might have that buddy or son or daughter that keeps cancelling things on you, have you ever stopped and asked why? Probably not, you probably just thought they were unreliable, blew you off, or made up an accuse not to go. You probably got frustrated with them or even angry, but did you ask the true reason why? I doubt it. And until you show that they can trust you, I mean show it, they most likely won’t share their deepest pains with you. Have respect for human beings, something that seems to be lost in this day and age. A simple “Hey, I’ve noticed you haven’t been getting out much, do you want to talk? This is not like you.” Show the concern and compassion, someone’s life might just count on it some day.

Reaching to get help for themselves is urgent with PTSD. There are many ways of learning to cope with it, medications that can help, and forms of therapy. Many times if it is treated early enough, the person can have a much more normal life then those that go untreated for years. When someone does make this step to saving themselves, don’t be the one to turn your back on them! Be there to support them, to help them move forward, but don’t EVER say “There’s nothing wrong with you”, you might find yourself as it being the last thing you were ever able to say to them.

Learn, educate others, there are many books out there worth reading so you can get the insight you need to what PTSD is and how it effects people, the internet is packed with information… it’s only a click away, and it might very well save a life of someone you love. Don’t blow it off until tomorrow, tomorrow might be too late. Learn now! And I’m not saying this because I am a spouse of someone who suffers from PTSD, I’m saying it because I see the truth of what is happening to people or by people every day.

If you choose to do nothing else, which I hope is not the case, please at least “share” this. The public needs to know the urgency of unseen disabilities and what they themselves can do to help someone else! Any human being can save a life, it’s only a click away.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Spouses-Story-PTSD/195448267154305

PTSD vs Taking things Personally…

One of largest battles for a loved one of PTSD is to NOT take things personally! I hear this a lot, used to battle it a lot myself, and it’s become a #1 rule.

PTSD brings out some nasty comments. It’s always good to keep in mind when this happens that it’s the PTSD talking, not your partner!

One with PTSD seems to take things out on the one they love the most, are the closest to, most comfortable with, and most of all the one they trust. You learn over time what is PTSD by how they respond to things, how they are acting, etc. By learning the signs, it helps you know the difference between what is PTSD talking and what is the true them.

When PTSD gets to a point of being harsh, listen. Just listen. And sometimes it helps if you remind them that you know this is PTSD speaking to you this way because you know they would not do this, it’s not the true them. I know it does not excuse what is being said or how it is being said, but you always have to keep in mind that PTSD is there and sometimes the venting is needed. For BOTH of you, find a way to communicate so you can keep the harshness at bay. No one intends to hurt each other, so find a way to avoid it.

To the ones with PTSD, be honest when you are feeling the anger coming. Tell your partner you are feeling angry, frustrated, or that you really need to vent. This keeps the arguments down and allows the door to open to helping each other through the rough times. Communication is a huge key in battling PTSD, use it! Work together! It takes time for both of you to learn this and how to approach a subject, but you can do it.

Things like this can be of help:

“I notice your PTSD has a grip on you today, is there anything I can do to help?”

By saying this, you are accepting that you see PTSD is causing the issue. You are pointing it out in a nice way when maybe your partner is unaware of how they are acting. And it opens the door for communication which can avoid an outbreak later. The one with PTSD can do the same thing in reverse, accept and tell when you know you are having a PTSD battle that day. A heads up to a partner on this can help things go more smoothly. Sometimes it’s the partner that might be acting off key, accept that you are not perfect and built up frustration, anger, feeling alone, etc can cause you to act in a negative manner as well… it does happen!

“You seem to be having a rough day, why don’t you just take it easy today.”

Wow! Huge statement there isn’t it? PTSD wears you out! Accept that some days your partner needs to just rest. Never expect too much. Anything that needs to be put off today can always be rescheduled for another day. It is important to give that down time when it is needed. No expectations. The doctors have actually told my husband that if taking a nap or going back to bed is the best way for him to cope, then do it. Start the day over when you get up. You just have to always keep in mind not to let depression keep you down too much of the time though, but breaks in the day are okay. Even take this time to watch a movie, or just talk if you are okay with doing this at this time. 😉 If not, take that nap and start over. Even take a nap with your partner… sometimes we all could use the extra sleep. 😉 It’s better then taking anger and frustration out on the one you love.

Keeping in mind that a lot of anger and frustration comes from PTSD and knowing not to take these things personal is urgent. They are going through a great amount of battle within themselves, and taking everything personally… even when and especially when it is directed at you, can make matters so much worse. Focus, use the coping skills, and make sure you take care of yourself during these times. PTSD can bring you down, but you can find ways to pick yourself up and continue being there for your partner, especially through the rough times when they need you most.

Communicate with each other! Don’t take things personal… remember PTSD is there! I can’t state that enough!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

PTSD vs Triggers…

PTSD vs Triggers

Staci posted a great link that I will share again regarding triggers.

Triggers can be almost anything that remind you of an event that caused PTSD or is related to it. Triggers are a huge part of PTSD and learning about yourself and what triggers you is extremely important.

Like with Craig, I know many of his triggers. With knowing what they are I can majority of the time help ground him to what I see coming… or hear. Examples of his are helicopters… not the sight of them, but the sound, the vibrations that come from them. Another we have found, even though we haven’t pin-pointed it, is the fluids in a car… changing the fluids, something with one of them sets of his sense of smell, a smell related to a ship/carrier.

As much as we say triggers come out of nowhere, which it seems and not literally speaking they do because you never know when they will happen… the fact is triggers can be known. If you pay attention to the here and now when triggered by something you can figure out what your triggers are. What is happening when your heart starts racing? What smell was there? What were you looking at or watching? What sound did you hear? Think about it, focus on is happening and you can link your reactions to something.

By doing this and recognizing your triggers, you can get a better grip on coping with them when they happen. Like with Craig, once he hears or feels a helicopter coming he will say out loud “I know you are there” or “I hear you coming”. Over time it’s become a normal saying around here “Eye in the sky”, that’s our cue to him that we hear or feel a helicopter. With knowing, he can start right then on coping with the fact it’s coming and work towards keeping himself grounded. Now I will say he normally knows it before the rest of us, he has extremely sensitive hearing and can feel the vibrations, but it allows him the coping time to handle it passing.

Learn your triggers, learn your partner’s triggers. This knowledge is of great help to trying to stay grounded from full flashbacks or the anxiety that comes.

Each person has triggers and they are not always the same as another person’s. It all depends on you and your trauma to what triggers have developed. I can’t say it enough, learn what yours are. Then learn what techniques help you through them.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

Here is a link that gives more in depth information regarding triggers and coping with them:

http://ptsd.about.com/od/selfhelp/a/CopingTriggers.htm

Children and PTSD…

In my research this morning I came across a great article on “PsychCentral” regarding children with PTSD. A study has been done on the benefits of therapy helping children at a younger age and medications not being needed.

This bring up a whole new subject, and that I would love to see a study done on and the results. What about children with PTSD parents? Ones who may have developed or might develop secondary PTSD?

If therapy for children has indeed been beneficial for those who have PTSD, I would have to guess that the children in homes with PTSD might benefit from therapy just as much, which would reduce the effects of PTSD later in life, help them adjust to situations better, and live a happy and productive life.

There are however many children that do adjust well in a home with a PTSD parent. I’m happy and thankful to say our home is one of those. I believe educating children on their age level about PTSD has been of great help. It helps a child understand why a parent might act the way they do, why they are emotionally distant at times or even need to be in a different room, and helps a child not take things personally as if they themselves have done something to cause a parent to be these ways.

Children learn very quickly. I would believe therapy and education about PTSD at a young age would be very beneficial to them as well as therapy if it is needed or the parent feels it could be of help.

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

 

The Basics of PTSD…

I think it’s always important to come back to the basics of PTSD and what is is from time to time. Many people are just starting to learn and this info is extremely helpful to know.

Yesterday, Staci shared this with us and I wanted to make sure everyone saw it…

So with that said, What is PTSD and how does it effect a person?

From Staci:

” How many people are afflicted with PTSD?

Approximately 8 million Americans will have PTSD symptoms at some time in their lives, and women are twice as likely to be afflicted with the disorder as men. It is estimated that 30 percent of men and women who serve in wars and have been subjected to activity in war zones will have some form of PTSD.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

A person who is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may exhibit a variety of symptoms, and they fall into three distinct categories:

Reliving the event (“Re-experiencing”)
• Flashbacks will occur, where the person will relive certain parts of the event over and over again.
• Anything that reminds the person of the stressful event will elicit a very strong reaction.
• Nightmares may be a part of PTSD, with difficulties in falling asleep and staying asleep.

Avoidance
• There will be avoidance of anything that reminds the person of the stressful event, including people, places, objects, and situations.
• The PTSD sufferer may show a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable.
• The individual may report a numb, detached feeling, as though nothing matters or is worth caring about. He or she may also feel cut off from others on an emotional level, which creates feelings of isolation.
• Certain aspects of the traumatic event may be blocked from the memory.
• Moods may be muted or blunted to the point where the individual will not have the same emotions as were experienced before the traumatic event took place.
• The person may feel that there is no future for him or her.

Arousal
• A person suffering with PTSD will have a hard time concentrating and keeping his or her mind on one thing.
• PTSD sufferers may also experience hypervigilance, where they are much more aware of what is happening in their environment.
• The person will startle very easily and have a strong response to anything that does startle him or her.
• Irritability will occur in this category, and the individual will be prone to bursts of anger.
• There might be feelings of guilt concerning the event. One form of guilt, known as survivor guilt, occurs when someone has come through an incident where other lives were lost.
• The individual may have a hard time getting along with family members, friends and coworkers.
• There may be an anxious fear that something bad is going to happen or that danger is always around the corner.
• Symptoms of anxiety may also occur, such as an awareness of a heartbeat, dizziness, agitation, fainting and headaches. There may be bouts of nausea and diarrhea, and the person may also experience higher blood pressure. Breathing can become rapid and muscles can tense.

When symptoms are experienced, they may occur on a sporadic basis, or they may become persistent and enduring. Each individual who is afflicted with PTSD is unique and is going to have different symptoms and a different capacity for healing. With proper treatment, the quality of life can be greatly improved, in many cases to the point where a normal lifestyle can be resumed.”

PTSD vs Medications…

PTSD vs Medications

I know, I know… you hate them! No one wants to be on a bunch of pills! But there is a good side to them too.

What could that be I’m sure you are asking! Well, again not a doctor here but this is our experience.

As much as no one enjoys taking medications, sometimes they are needed. The band aids of PTSD I call them. No, they are not a cure all by any means, but can help.

Craig was spiraling out of control before they started his treatment for PTSD. A lose cannon so to speak, not like him at all. It took time, and many different combinations to find the right one for him… and at times that still changes depending on him and how his body responds to them or if it adjusts too much to where they are not helping any longer. All a part of medications in the first place.

Medications are something that has still been of great benefit to him, as they are to many others as well. Without medications, he couldn’t cope. He couldn’t even begin to find a place where he could start learning to cope. No matter what he tried, the brain just would not let him.

Once on medications, and the correct combo, he has been able to focus. Sure he still has nightmares, anxiety, times of depression, but he can focus now which is something he couldn’t do before.

Over time the number of medications has reduced. See, just because you are on maybe many, does not mean you will have to stay on that many for life! As you adjust and learn coping skills sometimes the amount can be reduced. I’ve seen him on as many as 12 at one time… reduced to 5 over time! That’s a huge change! Some he will most likely be on for life, but others not necessarily. Only time will tell on that one.

Every night I hear him say, “I hate taking medications.” But it’s also followed by, “…but I know what I was like off of them and that’s not a place I want to revisit.”

When your doctor advises you to take them, take them! If one isn’t working for you, be honest about it and talk with your doctor. But don’t give up and say none of them will work. It’s all about finding the right ones for YOU! And who knows, maybe one day you won’t have to be on any, each person is different. It’s all about the meds being that band aide to get you to that place of coping.

But just dropping your meds cold turkey can be dangerous. Many of the meds used for PTSD symptoms you have to be weaned off of.I know in the past, even missing one dose effected Craig… and we would notice it for up to 3 days after a dose was missed. I could not begin to imagine what dropping one all of a sudden would do to him. It’s important to keep up with them and take them as directed. Missing a dose can happen with everyday life, but find ways to make sure you don’t forget to take them. Set alarms, calendars, have someone remind you, use pill boxes so you can keep track of what you have taken and what you haven’t… there are endless ways of staying on track.

I know what my husband was like before medications… and to be honest that’s a dark place neither of us ever want to see again. It took time for him to realize that working with his doctor helps him. There was one time that he couldn’t stand the weight gain of a medication. He told his doctor how it was making him feel and view himself and the doctor worked with him and changed the med to one that wouldn’t cause as much weight gain. Another one made him feel like a zombie, that one was changed too. You should not feel like a zombie on medications, if you do something needs to be changed somewhere so talk to your doctor about it!

Always keep in mind that each person will react differently, there’s no set formula for PTSD and how everyone will respond to the same medication the same way. That’s one reason I don’t like posting what works for Craig, it might not be the right medication for the next person. It’s something you have to work with your doctor on!

We have found that viewing medications from the point of view that they are just band aids helps, it takes away from the thoughts of “all these meds” and helps put the focus on coping and what can you possibly be taken off of over time.

Again, as much as we don’t like them, sometimes medications are needed. And we all want whatever will get us in a better place of coping. One day at a time, one step at a time… you will get there! 😉 And talk to your doctor!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

PTSD and Sexual Trauma…

From my mailbox:

“I need advice. i am having issues with my own ptsd that is undiagnosed as a child i was molested by an ex-stepfather i have a huge piece of life gone from memory 6yrs i want to remember so i can get past it this has been put in my face from my work and i am remembering only pieces. can anyone tell me how to remember without spending money i don’t have on finding it out. it is affecting me being able to deal with hubby’s ptsd.”

 

I know the posting “from my mailbox” this morning is catching a lot of attention… my mailbox is seeing it. So I want to go a little more in depth on this. Many may not realize that “sexual trauma” is a huge topic, as well as reason PTSD develops. It’s a topic that many do not come right out and talk about, many find it embarrassing, many have not come to even accept it has happened.

We don’t have this subject come up on this page very often, but it’s very real, and is PTSD connected… and always welcomed in conversation on here.

Sexual trauma is not only happening among women as many might think. It also affects men just as much. It might come from childhood, as an adult, military related, or civilian related… which civilian are the cases many know of or hear about most often.

These are also the PTSD cases that seem to be hidden the most, which is not good when PTSD is there now. In the last posting or referring to it, many have said they don’t recall the details, they can’t remember. This is normal. Just as with many traumatic episodes the brain blocks out the bad or worst things. It’s the brains way of protecting. However it’s not always a good thing with PTSD. It leaves one with no answers to the “why”, the confusion to why you feel the way you do, act or respond the way you do, and even how to cope with it if you can’t remember. The mind seems to unlock itself when it’s ready to, sometimes that never happens.

Again just to note, I’m not a doctor of any sort, just a PTSD spouse who has learned a lot over the years. So can not give medical advice only my personal opinions.

No matter what your trauma is that has lead you to PTSD, it’s not a battle to fight alone! Reach out to someone, rather it is a doctor, therapist, a best friend, family member, or support group. Don’t fight the battle alone. Learn the coping skills for what is before you right now, if the rest is meant to come, it will. It’s a hard battle and it will get worse before it gets before, but there is always hope and things can become better for you. Don’t ever give up!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

Self-help and Secondary PTSD…

There are so many new faces on here that I want to jump back to something I try to touch on quite often.

“Self-Help”

Self-help is something that is urgent for those living with someone who suffers from PTSD! PTSD can be very damaging to a person and/or family, so there are things you can do to keep yourself as well as your family balanced. Especially if you are one just starting to learn about it.

In the beginning I’m sure you are saying “I have no clue who I’m living with! This isn’t my spouse.” Well in a way you are right, but in a way you are wrong. Your spouse is still there, it’s just learning to cope and find the true them that is under the mask of PTSD.

PTSD can bring horrible things about. Verbal abuse… which is very common, sometimes physical abuse (which in this case you always have to make sure you are safe and seek professional help quickly!), they might throw things, anger can come out of nowhere, triggers which can be caused by a sight, a smell, something as simple to us as rain or wind, flashbacks… where to them they are actually reliving the event that took place, the nightmares… these can also cause them to be physically active in their sleep or talking/screaming out loud, anxiety, not wanting to be in crowds, some have difficulty with driving and staying focused, memory issues… and much more. Then as PTSD changes it’s what I call stage, they might cry a lot, feel depressed, and the worst complaint from spouses I hear is the lack of emotion, the numbness PTSD brings.

PTSD can be caused by many things trauma related… military, even multiple deployments, a car accident, a natural disaster, a rape or attack, a surgery or hospital stay, many things can be the cause all based around a trauma that was life threatening to yourself or even a loved or close one. Some people will develop it, some people won’t.

Secondary PTSD is very real, PTSD can effect others…

With all of this I’m sure you have said some time or another “I feel like I’m going crazy! How do I deal with this? I just want to run away! I’m so overwhelmed! I just want my husband/wife back!”

Guess what! There are ways of coping with all of this! I won’t lie, PTSD is not easy, life and fairy tale stories are not handed to you on a silver platter by any means, and you can’t just wave a magic wand and PTSD is gone… it’s not that easy and PTSD seems to be for life. BUT there is still life, there can still be family, there can still be a marriage in many cases. You have to find the coping skills, make sure treatment for the one suffering with PTSD is found, and work together instead of fighting with PTSD!

So, self-help…

1. BREATHE! Actually I’m being serious 😉 Breathing is a great way of coping. There are breathing skills you can learn which help when you feel your own anxiety starting or it’s one of those rough days. Learn and practice the same coping skills your loved one has been taught… and if they haven’t been taught, teach them! They help!

2. Take time for yourself. You don’t have time? You take care of your spouse and chase little ones around all day oh and to add in there work? Humm… let’s see, if you have time for all of that then you have 5, 10, or 15 minutes to break from that to take those few minutes for yourself. Taking just a few minutes out of the day to just focus on nothing, to just get outside by yourself, or do something you enjoy… will help! And if you don’t then I have a serious question for you…

If you don’t take time to take care of yourself, then how are you going to continue to function to take care of everything and everyone else?

I already know the answer, you won’t be able to! The weight of everything will be on your shoulders, you will find yourself becoming frustrated, short tempered, and sometimes even angry. You will start viewing life as it is not fair. And eventually secondary PTSD will grab a hold of you.

Take that time, it really is needed!

3. Start a hobby.

4. Exercise and make sure you eat right! Even if it is something as simple as walking around the yard. Anything will help. And there are going to be days where you don’t want to cook, that’s okay! When you do cook, make extra to freeze for another day. Do simple dinners such as salads where each person can add their own toppings and such. But make sure you eat! If you don’t, you won’t have the energy to make it through the day and stay strong.

5. Find a support group, talk to friends (if you have any left at this point… hard fact of PTSD is people seem to walk away when they don’t understand), go see a therapist yourself, anything that will help you to have someone to talk to. It’s not healthy keeping things bottled up inside, and when you do, that bottle is going to flow over sooner or later. (I do also have a closed support group on fb for loved ones of PTSD)

6. Take time to talk with your partner. Not argue, just talk. Communication is a huge key to maintaining balance in a relationship when PTSD is involved. When you know how each other is feeling or viewing things you can have a better understanding which leads to working on things and having a better relationship.

7. Do something that makes YOU feel better! Anything! I buy myself flowers once a month lol. I love the smell of them in the house, I smile when I walk through the room and see them, and I got them for myself… for me! You don’t have to wait to be given flowers, you also don’t have to dwell on it if someone else doesn’t get them for you, get them for yourself! I also have a goldfish pond, it gets me outside, it’s relaxing, and it’s a me thing. I am also a retired dog trainer, so I take time to work Alex, my dog, which I have also trained to work PTSD symptoms. Pets are know for reducing stress… let them!

8. Keep a schedule for yourself. Schedules are extremely hard with PTSD, but something simple like I will take a shower in the morning or before bed. When you have a full plate it’s easy to forget to do the simple things for yourself. Make sure you maintain those.

9. Take time with your children if you have them! PTSD will take up a lot of your time. You still have to maintain the balance of family. Even if it’s taking time to watch a tv show with them or do a craft, bake something. On bad days, just walking in the room with them every now and then to say hey I love you and just wanted to check in on you (if they are old enough that they don’t need supervision of course). Take time to talk with them. And educate them on their age level about PTSD… it’s helps them understand better what the parent with PTSD is going through and helps you maintain the parent child balance.

10. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!! Whatever or however is comfortable for you, but just make sure you do it!

To say the least this is a short list of the many things you can come up with to do for yourself. But do something! You have to take care of yourself, finding ways to cope is a huge part of that. Many spouses of PTSD do have secondary PTSD and in many cases it’s because they became overwhelmed before they even knew what was happening. Learn as much as you can as soon as you can, and know that each day is going to be different, each day is also a new day. Remember to smile! I know that’s a very hard thing to do, but you will be shocked how someone with PTSD will pick up on it and it might just make both of your day better. 😉 Hang in there and always know you are NEVER alone!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Things YOU can do…

So you know someone with PTSD, or maybe you don’t and you are just curious about learning.

What can I do? How do I act around them? What do I talk about or don’t talk about?

There are many questions that come up, especially if you are not familiar with PTSD. Many people who suffer from PTSD lose their friends, many times family, all because a person does not understand these very things.

A person with PTSD is no different then you or I, they have just been through something traumatic which caused them to develop PTSD. They are still human, they still have feelings, and they still put clothes on just like the next person.

So here are some of many tips that are good to know:

1. Treat them just like you would anyone else! One of the worst things you could do to a person who suffers from PTSD is to treat them like they have a plague!

2. Don’t ask insensitive questions! Like “did you kill someone”. One, who really wants to talk about that in the first place, would you? No! If they want to share their story with you, they will. Leave that up to them. Majority of the time they would rather talk about the same everyday things that the next person would.

3. Repeating themselves. Many with PTSD and/or TBI have some type of memory issues. If they do repeat something just go with it. No need to state “you’ve already told me that.” When you say things like that it makes them feel belittled and they are going to get really quiet on you.

4. Give them space. They my not always be able to keep a schedule, on rough days they will want to stay home. Ones with PTSD do not like others seeing the rough side that comes with it. Be respectful of that and something that might not happen today can always be rescheduled for another day.

5. Don’t make “fun” of anyone with a disability. 1. It’s not nice or respectful in the first place. 2. You never know who it could effect or even someone else they might know.

6. Never judge them. You don’t know or understand what they have been through that lead them to PTSD so don’t judge them on something you don’t understand.

7. Have respect for personal space. PTSD can be caused for many reasons. Many times a person needs their personal physical space from others. Avoid approaching them from behind without them knowing. Even touching them in a friendly manner sometimes can lead to a trigger. Read their body language, if they are joking with you and tapping your shoulder then it’s probably okay to do it back. Use your brain. 😉

8. Don’t put them down! One with PTSD has a hard enough time maintaining their self-esteem and sure does not need outside influence which could cause it to become worse! You wouldn’t want someone putting you down or talking bad about you, so don’t do it to them. Point out the good things don’t focus on the negative.

9. Learn about PTSD! Even if you don’t think you know someone that has it, odds are you actually do! PTSD can affect anyone, it’s not only military related. It can be caused by a car accident, a rape or attack, a natural disaster, even from being in a hospital! It can be from anything that caused a trauma in a person’s life. And many times you are not going to know about a sensitive matter.

10. Use your brain before your mouth. If it is something that you wouldn’t want said to you, then why say it to someone else. Every person can think before they speak 😉

A person with PTSD is still a person, a human being. They can throw a great cook-out, they can be a great friend, a great father or mother, a wonderful part of a family. They just have an unseen disability that causes them to react and/or view things differently but makes them no less of a person. Some of the most kindest, caring, and sensible people you will ever meet have PTSD… it makes them appreciate life more then the average person that takes life for granted. 😉

Take time to educate yourself, and sad to say, you never know when it might be you in their very shoes. What PTSD causes hurts, but you can make a change! LEARN now and you could change the life of someone else… or maybe even yourself! 😉

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story PTSD”