Archive for » April, 2013 «

Quote to help…

“Learning to look beyond yourself, seeing the signs and hearing the words of the cry for help could very well be what saves them. Look, hear, listen, and do something.”

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Do you ever run out real quick without wearing shoes? …

Do you ever run out real quick without wearing shoes?

This use to be a bad habit of mine, here in our state you are not required to wear shoes when you drive. And I am one that loves to go barefooted. I could not begin to tell you how many times I have left the house and didn’t wear shoes lol.

But you know what? I learned after many years to keep a pair of shoes in my car because I never know when I might just need them. 😉

You never know when you might have a flat tire… had one of those recently lol, or need to stop for gas or go into a store, you never know when you might get a phone call and need to go somewhere right away, etc. By keeping that extra pair of flip-flops in the car, I am always prepared for whatever might come.

How is PTSD any different?

It’s really not! You have to always be prepared for anything with PTSD. It does not mean become paranoid, it means be prepared, ready. Make sure you have that pair of shoes with you, so to speak.

Things that help:
* Make sure you use your coping skills. Better yet, make sure you learn them and know how to use them and what situations you need them for.

* Make sure you take your medications as directed. And when you leave home, make sure you take them with you! You never know when you might get delayed, anxiety starts, etc. and you may need them. Many times missing one dose can lead to several rough days.

* Carry a medical ID card and/or wear a medical alert bracelet. You can never be over prepared in case something unexpected happens.

* Keep your doctors’ phone numbers/cards with you at all times.

* Have safety protocol in place in your home not only for yourself but others as well.

* Educate children on their age level of learning about PTSD. They can never start learning too early, and no that does not mean tell them the details of what happened, that means educate them on what PTSD is and how to respond to it.

* Find things to do for self-help therapy. Something that makes you feel good or better about yourself.

* Eat well. It’s so easy to skip eating or not eat right, try not to do this, your body and brain needs to be fed properly.

* Exercise. Exercise not only helps your body, it helps you feel good about yourself!

* Talk to those around you. Talking to others close to you can help you greatly. It helps them have a better understanding to you and how you feel, how they can help, as well as them understanding that at times you just need them to listen.

There are many things you can do to prepare yourself for what PTSD brings to your life, as well as to others. Remembering to take a pair of shoes with you could be a life saver in the long run 😉 always have a pair with you. Be prepared for PTSD and it might just make life a whole lot easier.

~ Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Do you know the signs of suicide?

Do you know the signs of suicide?

Suicide and suicidal thoughts are something that are very real to those with PTSD, and many times their loved ones as well. We all know PTSD is a struggle, a huge struggle, but it does not have to be the end of life.

The number of suicides linked to PTSD per day are off the charts. Many do not realize it is a battle that you CAN find help for and through. When you have these thoughts, reach out to someone, and as the other person recognize the signs that someone is reaching for help, the signs are there in majority of cases. I will say though, there have been a few cases I have heard of that did not have any signs, ones that had  future plans, seemed to be doing well considering, and suicide seemed to be linked to night terrors or flashbacks, so please be cautious. Please understand that just because a person would NEVER have thought of suicide before PTSD, does not mean those thoughts won’t or could not possibly be there now.

Suicidal thoughts can bring many warning signs, in a lot of cases many words. They are not something to brush off until later, they are not something to take lightly, and all seriousness is much needed. I can not begin to tell you the grief and guilt one suffers when they “didn’t recognize the signs”. The “If I had…” I have heard from ones who have lost a loved one to suicide. It’s heartbreaking! It’s the “if I had known then what I know now”.

Anyone that lives life with someone who has PTSD, rather the person has experienced suicidal thoughts/actions or not to your knowledge, needs to be aware of the signs. With PTSD, you never know when those thoughts will show up, be prepared for them. I personally do not know of many with PTSD that has not at least had the thought, it’s something that comes with suffering from PTSD.

Warning signs:

* Talking about death a lot or outright stating they want to die.

* Mentioning they have thought about dieing or would rather be dead.

* Stating they feel unwanted or asking why they are even here.

* Feeling unworthy.

* Stating there is nothing left worth living for.

* Attempting suicide in the past brings greater risk to those thoughts or actions happening again.

* Telling everyone close to them “good-bye”

* Alcohol or drug abuse can be a sign, it shows there is a struggle that they are having to rely on something else and having a difficult time being able to cope.

* Discarding their favorite possessions.

* Leaving notes for loved ones “in case I’m not around…”

* Tempting fate with high risk actions that could lead to death. Things out of their norm they are now doing, presenting lack of cautious to serious situations.

* Stating “I can’t do this anymore”.

* Putting financials, wills, etc in order more then normal.

* Extreme voicing or acting of hating themselves.

* Depression signs worse then normal.

* Constant weighing on guilt they feel to the point it’s hard for them to function.

* Caring for one who is suicidal can also cause the carer to feel hopeless and sometimes suicidal.

There are many signs of suicidal thoughts/actions. These are just a few of the many. Many people who suffer from different forms of mental disorders/injuries as well as overwhelming stress (caregivers or spouses) will in most cases show some type of signs when suicide starts haunting them. Recognize the signs and reach out for help, and be there to help them. PTSD and other illnesses can make you feel very alone. Make sure others know you are there for them, there are so many things that can help them through these times an thoughts, use them.

If you are one who has suicidal thoughts, I know this battle within you is hard, the most difficult thing you have ever experienced, I know you feel alone, feel that no one cares, and/or feel that you would be better off not here on this earth. But I’m here to tell you, you are wrong! Even through the most loneliest hours, there is someone who cares, there is someone that you mean the world to, and there is a reason to live! Don’t give up on yourself. You are worth way more then that! Even if right now you don’t see it, there is life still and there is life with PTSD. Don’t stop fighting, never stop fighting!

Know there are people who do care, this is not something you have to go through alone. Talk to someone, reach your hand out for help, and know YOU are worth fighting this and life IS worth living!

My ♥ goes out to all of you! YOU ARE WORTH THE FIGHT! Don’t forget that!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Nightmares/Terrors… What comes with them/ How to respond…

Nightmares/Terrors

Okay, we all know what they are, we know that they come greatly with PTSD, the demons of the night as they are referred to as, but what else?

It is important to know what can come with nightmares/terrors and how to respond when those things do.

Spouses and loved ones, you really need to tune in to this! Many loved ones fear nightmares. Fear comes from the unknown and not understanding things that could help, so let’s go over a few things that I personally have found that help.

* Loss of sleep.
This one is one we all know well. Nightmares/terrors leave you with restless nights filled with anxiety no matter which side of the fence you are on with PTSD. You HAVE to get sleep, a walking zombie is not good to or for anyone! When you have a sleepless night, or one that was not true sleep and restless, make time to take a nap during the day, get rest when you can even if it’s a power nap of 10 minutes. Every little bit can help. If you have young children, put your mop and bucket down and nap when they do!

Before going to bed, the hardest part for one with PTSD is getting into bed knowing what most likely will come, relax, watch what you eat or drink, listen to soothing music, don’t watch tv/movies or news that could effect your anxiety, use coping skills and/or meditation. And try to think positively that tonight is going to be a good night, I am going to get some sleep and be rested. It’s almost like tricking your brain into finding peace before bed, I know it’s not easy, but with practice it could help.

* Movement while sleeping.
Loved ones, pay attention! Nightmares/terrors can get rough during the night. Don’t freak out over this, it is normal in many cases of PTSD! This is where you have to use safety protocol.

If your spouse moves around in their sleep, swings/punches and the fight is on, don’t stay in the bed waiting for it to end! What works for me, get out of the bed calmly without a lot of movement, slide out of bed as I say it. Go to the other side of the room out of arm reach. If your spouse is one that comes up out of the bed, a good position is out of reach and at an angle that would not be a normal response movement for them to get to quickly.

Many doctors state that a certain level of nightmares is useful, it helps the brain process the episode which happened to the person. Others believe differently. So do what you feel is best for you as far as handling nightmares/terrors.

Some have found themselves in a situation where they “need” to sleep in a different bedroom or separate bed. If this is your case, make sure you take the steps to keep intimacy in your relationship. Having to sleep in different locations can make a relationship very difficult. Take time before bed to sit with each other, talk, have personal time, etc. before moving to where you now have to sleep. This helps keep the relationship bond between the two of you.

I myself was faced with being told we needed to separate sleeping arrangements a few years ago, however I needed to be in the room to ground him when he wakes…this did not settle well with me at all! Alex, my dog, was specifically trained to handle getting myself out of bed when nightmares start and then return to Craig, so this has been our solution to the issue even though many do not have this option. Point is, yes, we found a way to still be able to sleep together at this point and my safety comes first.

* Having to wake someone.
DO NOT touch a person who is having a nightmare/terror!!!
Doing so could place you in the middle of their trauma! And that’s not a very good place to be. Remove yourself like I mentioned above then if they need to be wakened, simply talk to them calmly from out of arm reach. Tell them who you are, where you are, and that they are dreaming. This helps to ground them back to the current time, place, and who is actually there.

* Once awake.
Once one is awake after a nightmare/terror, make sure they are grounded. It’s okay to ask them what they were dreaming, but never demand it! By asking, it gives them an open door to talk IF they want to. If not then let it go with an “okay, are you okay now?” It shows the concern is there and leaves the door open for conversation if they choose.

Many do not remember what they dreamed. This is normal! It’s a way the brain protects itself, by locking it away. When the brain is ready for one to remember, don’t worry, it will. Many times with traumatic events portions of what happened will not be recalled, over time it might come back to you, other times it never will.

* Talking during nightmares/terrors.
This leads on from the last section. I have found that I know more of what happened then my husband remembers due to him talking in his sleep. If your loved one talks in their sleep, you do NOT need to tell them everything they said when they come to. Leave that door for them to decide if they want to know or not.

Again, the brain protects itself and in some cases if the loved one says “you said this and this and this” you have a very good chance of triggering something or an argument starting… fight or flight, come on now, they just had a nightmare and don’t know what it was then you start in on them? DON’T! Don’t overwhelm them with what came out while having nightmares/terrors. This is something to be cautious with. Sometimes it might be best to discuss what came out, with a doctor present just in case the one with PTSD does not know how to handle what they are hearing. Do what’s in the best interest of them! A doctor may want to speak with you alone first then address or decide if it needs to be addressed yet to the one with PTSD. So loved ones, don’t be a motor mouth on this one.

You as the loved one my also find times where the one with PTSD believes you are someone else while they are dreaming, they may talk directly to you and respond to you as if you were the person at the traumatic event which happened. This is when I personally go back to the step of talking him back to time and place and who I am to ground him. Think about it, you don’t know what is going on in that nightmare and you might not want to play the role of who they think you are… so don’t put yourself in a role play position!

To sat the least there are many things to consider and keep in mind on how to handle nightmares/terrors. These are just a few from my opinion and what works for us personally. Nightmares/terrors are no joke, so never just brush them off as they are. They are the brain’s way of processing what happened to them when their defenses are down while sleeping.

Have a plan in place to handle what comes with nightmares/terrors and never over react to them. No one with PTSD purposely harms their loved one that gets caught in the middle of their nightmares/terrors, and they sure feel the guilt when something does happen. So to avoid this, do what you can to take precautions and use safety protocol. Nightmares are not their fault, it’s what happened to them, remember that!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Getting past the grieving of PTSD…

I’m seeing a huge problem that needs to be addressed and quickly.

This is something very urgent to talk about, and something that goes much deeper then the “why me” or “this isn’t fair” that PTSD causes a loved one and/or family say or think.

Just to note up front, this is directed mostly to the loved ones of PTSD, even though ones with PTSD need to know it too. I am saying this from the heart and with full heart and hope each of you will take the time to read this, listen to what I have to say and really hear what I am saying. This is in no way meant to be negative, not directed at any one person, and only meant to help. But you need to hear this. To also say this up front, you may “share” this to any and all pages you feel it could be helpful on.

Oh boy lol… you know it’s serious with all of that at the beginning!

I am being serious! Families and relationships are falling apart. I am watching it happen. Why? I can talk until I am literally blue in the face, but nothing I, or anyone else says is going to help until YOU make the decision to do something.

Everyone deserves to cry, everyone deserves to say “why me” or “this isn’t fair”, everyone deserves to vent and express how they are feeling. It’s all a step in processing that you now live life, that somewhere, has PTSD in it. It’s a form of grieving, it’s part of the process, and it’s healthy.

However, the unhealthy part comes in when you stop there. I am seeing so many get stuck in the grieving, also known as the spouse/family member’s “poor me PTSD pity party”, and not move forward.

I know first hand what PTSD does. I know what crying is. I know what stress and anxiety are. I know what losing everything you spent your life working for is like. I know what issues PTSD can and does bring to a relationship are like. I know what juggling priorities are like. I know what being a caregiver and mom at the same time are like. I know what trauma is like. And I sure know what stepping up to the plate when need be is like. I doubt you can bring anything to me that I have not already heard about or experienced myself when it comes to PTSD.

I could tell you stories that are true life that would cause serious chills down your spine and then some.

But, I also made a choice. I chose to stop dwelling in the grief of what we went through, and the parts we continue to go through, and I do something about it. I vent when I need to then I move forward to find a solution to whatever is needed. I listen to others and learn from them. You have to put a plan into action, a physical plan of what you need to do or what needs to be done in general. You are never going to move forward or things get better when you get stuck in the “PTSD pity party”… it will drag you down and damage you as well as those around you and sure cause your PTSD loved one damage too!

I am seeing and hearing many say “but I called so and so and no one will help”. Yes, absolutely reaching out for help by making phone calls is needed. There are many doctors and organizations out there that are a huge help and much needed by many. However, many are thinking that is all they can do. This is by no means true!

The huge issue I am seeing is loved ones of one with PTSD stopping at phone calls, or somewhere in that general area of help.

I ask you, “But what are YOU doing?”
There is more to help then only calling people and wanting someone else to “fix” everything. This is where it goes much deeper then what many see at the surface of trying to find help.

Making phone calls to everyone and searching for what I call “quick fixes” do not get to the root of things in many cases. You by all means need to make those calls, so this is by no means setting that to the side, but let’s go deeper.

What things are YOU doing inside your own home, with or for your PTSD loved one, with your spouse, with your family, and with yourself? When Craig’s symptoms started, I didn’t have access to or know about all of the numbers to call, I didn’t have help from the many organizations or caseworkers there are now. I literally was doing it ALL on my own.

I had to vent, cry, scream. I too said why me and this isn’t fair. I asked who this person was I was married to. Then I pulled myself together and had to make a plan to get myself and my family through what now had “happened” to us. I was bound to finding my husband I know so well. I was bound to make things the best I could. You HAVE to, or it’s going to be very difficult to survive what PTSD can bring.

Things YOU can do to help:

* Accept PTSD.
This is the first and hardest step for anyone! You have to honestly accept the fact that PTSD is now involved. You have to accept that life has changed, roles may change, and the way you do things and/or ways you act will or have changed. Truly accepting that PTSD is now a part of your life will be the largest step in life you will ever make from here forward.

* Contact a therapist for yourself and children.
Having proper help from a doctor can be extremely important! They know how to get to the root of problems and give advice on things you can do and ways to cope. And DO what they suggest! Don’t just brush it off as “that won’t work”.

* Make family time.
Take one on one time with each child even if it’s just to talk. Children will open up in a huge way if they have the chance to, make time for them! Each child may feel differently, so one on one time is important so you as the parent can know how each child is feeling or viewing things and you can talk about their feelings and educate them on their age level of learning. There is no such thing as starting too young on learning.

*Make “me” time.
You have to! You do not have a choice in this or your world will become overwhelming to the point you can’t handle it and your relationship and/or family will start falling apart. Even if it is just a few minutes by yourself away from everyone, every minute counts. Do something you enjoy, walk outside, go to a store by yourself, whatever it takes to get a break in there for “me” time.

* Money/Finances.
This is a huge one and brings a lot of conflict with PTSD. If you are in a situation where money is being spent and the bills are being affected by it or food put on the table, it’s time to step up to that hard plate! Many with PTSD do have issues with now handling money. If this is the case with you or your PTSD loved one, be responsible! Allow the one who is capable of handling the finances do them, or do them together. Make a budget or form a spending plan and follow it. There is nothing worse then facing no roof over your head or no food to feed your children because no one stepped up to the plate to handle things when needed. I know this brings conflict, but it’s better then the guilt one or both will face if something isn’t done and now!

* Listen, hear, and DO.
When someone opens up and tells you what they have been through and what helped them in their same or similar situation, at least make an effort to try it! Don’t use excuses! “But this and but that” can not exist when life includes PTSD. You have to DO!

* Swallow your pride.
Oh it does not matter which side of the fence you are standing on with PTSD, pride has to be swallowed at times. Hard fact to PTSD and life. You will have to reach a hand out to someone, you will have to ask for help and support, you will have to listen to others, and you will have to do things yourself to help you and your family.

* Safety Protocol.
Rather your home includes physical abuse or not, safety protocol is urgent in every home! It can also help prevent emotional abuse from happening, especially for children. It’s a simple thing of making and following guidelines, rules to things which do or can come with PTSD… and making sure they are followed! This is a whole topic of discussion within itself and you can refer to my journal page of my website for need to know now ideas concerning this.

For example:
-A PTSD spouse is yelling. Calmly say I understand you are frustrated and angry right now, but I need to step to the other room while you get a grip on your feelings. I am right in the other room if you need me. By doing this you are removing yourself from emotional abuse, you are allowing them to realize it is a time to control anger but at the same time letting them know you are not disowning them and are there for them.

– Children. Teach rules just as you would anything else you teach them. Such as don’t run up behind mom/dad and jump on their back. “You wouldn’t want them to do this to you, it might upset you, so let’s not do it to him/her.

-If dad/mom is yelling. Go to your room or to another room away from them. “Everyone gets upset or mad at times and dad/mom’s PTSD can cause this to happen more often. When this happens it’s okay to go to another room away from it until they get calmed down.” This takes the child away from the verbal situation, allows the PTSD parent a signal that it’s more then the child can handle, gives the parent time to use coping skills to control their actions/words. Once calmed down, it is always good to talk to the child and let them know the anger is not because of them or their fault. This helps keep children for feeling that they are to blame. And if you are the one yelling, take it away from the children. Retreat yourself, go to your room, use your coping skills, this is something that can help your children and/or spouse/family member.

*Comfort Zone.
This does not exist now, not until you do something to make changes! So you are a stay-at-home mom/dad, you work a full time job, you have other medical issues, you have others you care for, you’re so stressed, your husband/wife is cheating on you, you have no money, etc etc etc. Okay, so what!!! I know those things are very real but I won’t except that excuse, any of them! Does that upset you? Make you mad? Do you think you are going through something someone else isn’t or hasn’t? Do you want to say “what about me”? GOOD! Now what are YOU going to do about it? You need to be mad at the situation right now, and use that anger and frustration to DO something! Put it to work for you and your family and get out of the “PTSD pitty party”. Accept when people push you to get out of the grieving stage and into the mad stage, that’s the stage that will push you forward to proving you can do something and change your situation for yourself and your family! And DON’T take your anger out on the one with PTSD!

Your comfort zone changed the moment PTSD stepped into it, adapt! Make changes to get a comfort zone back that helps all of you! To make your life better. To survive as a family! You are being given all of the tools to help, now use them and make a difference!

The list of things that YOU can do yourself to help you, your loved one, and your family is huge. There is no excuse large enough to set what you can do in your own home aside. But you have to DO it! Yes, it’s now on your shoulders, it will take a lot to get through the changes and out of your comfort zone of the way things were or have always been, but you CAN do it! Get off your but (incorrectly spelled on purpose) and start doing. Make a plan and follow through on it. You can reach for the much needed outside help by all means, and highly recommended, but what you do inside your own home will be one of the greatest things to help you move forward and to a better place for all of you.

And smile 🙂 it can get better then what you are going through right now! Craig, myself, and our family are living proof of that! 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Tadpoles and Fish… What does that have to do with it?

 

Tadpoles and Fish? Some of you might be scratching your heads saying “What is this lady talking about?”

It’s a simple answer but with a whole lot of meaning behind it. 😉 It’s about life.

When you live life everyday with or beside PTSD, it can weigh you down. The sleepless nights, the anxiety, not feeling safe to leave the house, and everything that comes with PTSD. You have to focus so much on what you are going through and trying to be the best you can be through all of this, as well as making sure you make it to the next day, that sometimes you forget the simple things in life that are much needed. “Actually living life itself.”

As always 😉 when I post something you can bet that there is some type of meaning behind it rather you think it’s PTSD related, on topic, or not. 😉

I like to remind you that there IS still life with PTSD. And at times that means taking the focus, what seems to be off of PTSD, and placing it on life itself. It’s all actually still connected, just may not seem that way at the moment.

With PTSD you “make” ways to still live life. You find things, or sometimes they find you lol, that you can still enjoy. Things that bring a sense of peace to you. Things that even if it’s just for a moment, your focus slips from what happened to you and finds something that is you.

Just because life and the way you now live it, or survive, has changed, does not mean to give up on life. It means change and adapt with life. There are still many things that are good, even with PTSD, find them or let them find you. It will make this roller coaster ride we all know so well so much easier.

Today, take the time to find life. Even if it is something like stepping outside, giving someone a hug, or focusing on something you enjoy or use to enjoy. I can almost bet it will be worth it!

Don’t forget about life through all of this. You are worth more then that! “Live life.” Strong words when it comes to PTSD. Don’t forget to experience them. 😉

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

Secondary PTSD explained…

Secondary PTSD

Just to note upfront, secondary PTSD is very controversial. There are many doctors who have different opinions on this topic and many people view “what” secondary PTSD is differently. I’m not a doctor or in the medical field and the following comes from my research on the subject.

Many have asked about this, many believe they suffer from this, but… many are misdiagnosed.

Secondary PTSD has a specific set of symptoms, that many times become confused with other things which leads to a misdiagnoses. There are also things such as caregiver stress and stress related to the person’s own traumatic events which may play a huge role in this, causing one to believe or think they are experiencing secondary PTSD.

Secondary PTSD contains many of the same symptoms as PTSD does, however, a person with secondary PTSD has not experienced a/the trauma. Here’s where the difference comes with secondary PTSD.

One with secondary PTSD will experience:

* Avoidance of things, people, and places that are related to the one with PTSD’s trauma to the extent it is their own trauma.

* Have nightmares/terrors related to the one with PTSD’s trauma, but the nightmares/terrors are not from a trauma of their own.

* Anxiety, panic, uneasiness, much the same as one with PTSD but are based around issues related to the one with PTSD’s trauma and triggers, not their own.

* Irritability and mood changes and/or attention.

* Change, increase or decrease, in sleep and/or appetite.

All of these are based off of the one with PTSD’s trauma and not one you personally experienced. Ones who are caregivers or living in a home with one that suffers from PTSD can develop secondary PTSD, however ones outside the home are less likely if any to develop it.

Secondary PTSD comes from mirroring the one with PTSD. Kind of like re-experiencing their trauma as your own. You have listened to the one with PTSD, what happened to them, details of the trauma, know their triggers, and in trying to help them avoid things which can trigger their PTSD you in a way start living their trauma as if it were your own. You start experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, etc when, say for example you hear a helicopter. The sound and vibration sets you, yourself off instead of you just being cautious of it possibly setting the one with PTSD off. Same with nightmares, this is a huge sign in my opinion of secondary PTSD, you start dreaming their trauma, you place yourself in that experience as if it were your own. Basically your brain has altered their experience(s) from what you have heard or know about the trauma, and now relates to them as if you were the one who went through the trauma.

See the difference between secondary PTSD and caregiver stress now? As a caregiver you can still experience the symptoms of PTSD, however you don’t “own” them, you are more cautious of/to them rather then them becoming your own.

I know someone is going to ask 😉 so I will go ahead and say it. What about me? Yes, I have personally had the words “secondary PTSD” said to me, however I do not believe I have secondary PTSD. I am cautious to his triggers and everything else that comes with his PTSD, however his PTSD has not become my own based off of his trauma. I do not experience nightmares of his trauma or get triggered myself by his triggers.

However, I do believe I most likely fall into the category (due to the additional stress that his PTSD brought before we understood what it was), of my own PTSD surfacing from my own past traumas (re-activated PTSD). BUT, knowing what I have learned about PTSD since that time, I am fully functioning and can maintain my own symptoms as well as know what I need to do if symptoms start. Some of the events which have happened since his PTSD has added to my own, not his fault by any means, but something that has happened, but are managed.

Being knowledgeable about PTSD myself has given me the skills I need to maintain my own traumas I experienced. So, when I say it’s good to hear and know both sides of the fence of PTSD, it’s pretty literally spoken. 😉

No matter where you sit on the PTSD scale or as a caregiver or loved one to PTSD, make sure you educate yourself, work together, and communicate. I know for a fact that having knowledge can help both of you in the future and very much help you if or when your own symptoms develop… and when/if they do your ability to manage them.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

DSM-5 to be released in May 2013

So May 2013 the DSM-5 will be released. For those that do not know what this is, it’s the fifth version of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual. It will be interesting to see what symptoms are being added in that ones with PTSD experience but haven’t been listed yet. I know we have discovered a lot of things just by talking on here that many seem to experience but are not listed in the manual.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

(Quoted exactly from wikipedia.org)
“DSM-5 proposed diagnostic criteria changes
In preparation for the May 2013[95] release of the DSM-5,[96] the fifth version of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, draft diagnostic criteria were released for public comment, followed by a two-year period of field testing.[97] Proposed changes to the criteria (subject to ongoing review[98] and research[99]) include the following:[100]
Criterion A (prior exposure to traumatic events) is more specifically stated, and evaluation of an individual’s emotional response at the time (current criterion A2) is dropped.
Several items in Criterion B (intrusion symptoms) are rewritten to add or augment certain distinctions now considered important.
Special consideration is given to developmentally appropriate criteria for use with children and adolescents. This is especially evident in the restated Criterion B—intrusion symptoms. Development of age-specific criteria for diagnosis of PTSD is ongoing at this time.
Criterion C (avoidance and numbing) has been split into “C” and “D”:
Criterion C (new version) now focuses solely on avoidance of behaviors or physical or temporal reminders of the traumatic experience(s). What were formerly two symptoms are now three, due to slight changes in descriptions.
New Criterion D focuses on negative alterations in cognition and mood associated with the traumatic event(s) and contains two new symptoms, one expanded symptom, and four largely unchanged symptoms specified in the previous criteria.
Criterion E (formerly “D”), which focuses on increased arousal and reactivity, contains one modestly revised, one entirely new, and four unchanged symptoms.
Criterion F (formerly “E”) still requires duration of symptoms to have been at least one month.
Criterion G (formerly “F”) stipulates symptom impact (“disturbance”) in the same way as before.
The “acute” vs “delayed” distinction is dropped; the “delayed” specifier is considered appropriate if clinical symptom onset is no sooner than 6 months after the traumatic event(s).
“Developmental trauma disorder”, a proposed new diagnosis, was still under discussion at the time of the draft publication.[101]
The name of the disorder is being reviewed for a possible change, to posttraumatic stress injury, ostensibly to help reduce stigma towards those afflicted.[102]”

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“How do you find Happiness?”…

Happiness.

I was asked “how do you find happiness?”
I had to think about that one, see to me, It’s something I do, so to speak. I was told I am happy over my fish (pond), that I get excited about them and smile… and talk a lot to tell about them. I’m happy when I see that something I have said helps someone else and, at times, my words helped save someone’s life. I am happy when my children enjoy life, smile and laugh. I’m happy when Alex does well with something I’ve taught him. I’m happy when I hear from an old friend that I have missed hearing from. Wow, I think I even become happy when I manage to get the yard mowed lol. And one of the largest things, I’m happy when I see Craig have a good day and/or see him smile.

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t answer this question when it was directly asked. Sitting and thinking about what makes me happy just isn’t something I sit and think about, happiness is something that I “do”… to survive.

So, I guess when sitting and thinking about the answer, I find happiness in accomplishing something. I set out to do something, even something simple or meaningless to others in many cases, and when I succeed the least little bit it makes me happy. It shows me I can still move forward, make progress, change something, make something better then it was, experience life.

PTSD changes your feelings and emotions. You battle to feel anything other then the feeling of being numb to everything. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t find your happiness, it just means you have to work harder for it, and the accomplishments you make no matter how tiny or huge, mean something great. You have to re-learn, so to speak, to accept your accomplishments. PTSD in many cases needs you to take small steps, but each step is actually huge and you need to view your accomplishment of that step instead of what you haven’t done or can no longer seem to do.

Don’t allow the negative things in life weigh you down. “Look to the good”, one of my favorite sayings. There is a lot of weight and negative things that comes with PTSD, they can get you in a “bad place” or frame of mind very easily, actually becoming “stuck” in them. But one little thing of positive can outweigh it, you just have to recognize and remember that the good things are there too and use them to find happiness.

It might be something as simple as telling a loved one “I love you”, and seeing them smile. It might be starting a hobby or project and seeing you got part of it done today. It might be something like coming out of your “safe” area a little more then normal. It might be taking a short walk around the yard. Talking to your children. Helping someone out with something, even within your own home. And at times happiness will find you, recognize and accept it when it comes, you deserve it! The list is endless to what can bring or help you find happiness. Use those things as building blocks to a larger place, a happier place. 😉

Sending you a huge smile 🙂 to start your day. DO something, even if it is a simple giving a smile to someone… you might just see a smile back, an accomplishment to finding happiness. 😉

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

What to do when on a Service Dog waiting list…

The wait for a Service Dog.

I know I talk from time to time about the importance of finding the right place to obtain a service dog, what to look for, things to keep in mind, etc.

But what about once you are on a wait list?

This can actually be the most stressful time for one with PTSD. You have accepted the fact you need a service dog, you know where your dog will be coming from, but now there is the wait. In many cases the wait times can average between 2-4 years once you are on a wait list and going through which dog is compatible to/with you… a correct match.

During this time you have to find ways to stay positive! Here are some things that I have found will greatly help with the wait:

* Buy things your service dog will need gradually, over the time of the wait. Don’t go out and purchase everything at once.

* Find a special leash and collar and put up a hook that it will hang on, and hang it there. This will help remind you on those tough waiting days that it is still reality and the dog will be coming to you.

* Find a special bed for the service dog. Go ahead and figure out where you want the dog to sleep and place the bed there. Not only does this help with the wait time, but it also gives you time before the dog gets there to decide if that’s where you really want to it be as well as gives you time to move it around to find where it best suits you.

* Same thing with food/water bowels. The wait time allows you to shop and find a set that is special to you. I recommend raised bowels and not ones that sit on the floor for proper eating levels. Majority of service dogs are medium to larger dogs, so buying a raised bowel is a pretty safe guess.

* Toys. With toys I recommend waiting until a dog is matched to you just to add this in here. Many service dogs are trained with certain toys they are use to and sometimes will not accept other toys.

* Another good things to do is educated the places you like to go on service dogs. There are still many public places that do not understand what a service dog is and educating them ahead of time before you get your service dog, even if it’s just a simple printout explaining what a service dog is and ADA guidelines can be a huge help for once you get yours. I like saying “There are service dogs working in your area and I just wanted to help out by letting you know a little more about them”, managers and store owners normally welcome this information.

* Volunteer. Many organization that train service dogs will accept volunteers. This gives you time to learn the ins and outs of an organization, learn how service dogs work, and can make it easier to be matched because those within the organization have a chance to get to know you better therefore can make for an easier time when it comes to matching the correct dog to you and your needs… and in some cases the dog might find you. 😉 Just be careful not to over do it! Do not volunteer or feel you “have to” outside what you are comfortable with! Now, I do want to state with caution, if you find that an organization is not what you thought it would be or you don’t like what you are seeing, simply find another one and don’t get discouraged! This does or can happen in reality. But don’t give up on finding the right place for you.

These are a few examples of things that can be done while you are waiting for your service dog. The important time is to focus on the joy and life changes that will be coming and not so much on the time you will have to wait. Stay positive and don’t allow wait times to play a negative toll on you! That dog is for the service dog’s lifetime, it makes the wait well worth it! 😉

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”