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Divorced/Separated Parents

Divorced/Separated Parents

You know me  I have a way of touching on topics no one wants to talk about… but NEED to be!

This is a hard enough topic as it is! Then you have PTSD added to it. I know not every situation is going to be the same, I know there will be some to not agree with me… and that’s okay, however I want you to really, truly, and from the heart think about what I have to say here.

I am seeing some of the most awful things you could imagine happen, and children are being placed in the middle of it! No parent out there, that is a GOOD parent, wants their children to suffer. But there are many suffering and it’s not because of PTSD, it’s because of how parents are responding to each other.

The old saying is “Parenting doesn’t come with a manual”, well it’s true… to some point. However, there are proven guidelines that parents can follow that leads to separations still functioning FOR THE CHILD! And I hate to say, I am seeing many forget or just not know these things.

These things I have to say can go for any separated parents, however when you have a PTSD parent… or even both parents with PTSD, you have to both do a little bit more. My views on this are not only spoken from psychologists, psychiatrists, or others from medical fields, but also from what Craig and I have personally seen or experienced.

Don’t put children in the middle!

If you are separated, obviously there was/is some sort of relationship issue. But that issue is between the adults and NOT the children! The “Your father/mother did this or did that” HAS to STOP!

See, it is a proven fact that a child at some point in their life will make their own decisions and choices about each parent. No matter how much a parent bad mouths another parent, sooner or later every child will see through it. When that child does, the parent talking bad about the other parent will be the one the child starts questioning about what type of parent they really are.

The child will start asking questions, looking for facts, or even looking for a parent they have been taken away from… and those things are not going to come to the parent doing the bad talking, they are going to be asked or spoken to others. And when that child finds out that what a parent said was not the truth or altered in some way, you have a great chance of that child walking away from you. Children will make their own decisions in life, there is absolutely nothing a parent can do to prevent that from happening. And what you do and how you act towards the other parent will make all of the difference in the world, as well as what type of relationship your child has with you now or in the future.

I know in some cases the facts of a fallen relationship between parents could have been for very legit or safety precaution reasons, such as physical abuse. That is understandable and before anyone starts in on that part, let me say this part up front. When or if that parent who was abusive gets help and does become better then they were at the time, it has to be taken into consideration. Some with PTSD do go through physically violent times, however it does not mean they are going to be that way for life. If they have received help and have the outbursts under control to where they are deemed to be safe around their child, then as the other parent you have to allow them to be a parent. If you don’t, your child could very well hold it against you later when they do find out, and trust me they will, that you prevented them from having a relationship with their parent. I am seeing so many children reconnect with their PTSD parent as they become adults, and now have incredible relationships with the parent they were sheltered from. And those same children in many cases have walked away from or hold it against the non PTSD parent for interfering in their relationship with the other parent. So if you are one doing this, you might want to take a really good look at the facts of what can happen.

I’m seeing children state “But you are nothing like mom/dad said you were like”. A child will confront the parents… and that’s not only one parent. Children are curious by nature, it’s the way they learn. And sooner or later they are going to start asking questions, they are going to want to see proof, and they are going to believe what they see with their own eyes! Some children no matter what you say negative about another parent are going to see right through it, to the truth. Too many parents are trying to control their children’s thoughts and feelings regarding the other parent, I’m telling you, it’s going to backfire if you are doing this!

Anyone who has attended a parenting class, which I think is good for all separated parents, knows that one of the first things they teach you is do not interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child. There is a very good reason they teach that!

So you and the other parent could not work things out to stay together as a family, so what! It does not mean either of you can’t be a good parent. It means your relationship did not work. That relationship again, is between the adults!

I see fingers pointed at the PTSD parent all of the time. And there’s an old saying to that, “When you point your finger at someone else, there’s always 4 fingers pointing back at you”… and they are your own! Think before you speak and choose your words and actions wisely.

No matter what happened between you and the other parent, don’t let your hate for someone else roll over to the children/child you have TOGETHER. Hate is a very strong word, and it is a true feeling, but let me tell you something… I was once told by an awesome psychologist, “In order to hate someone, you must have loved them first.” Those are very real words that carry a lot of meaning. Do yourself and your child a favor, remember those words and don’t let hate destroy you child or yourself. You all deserve better then that.

Things that can help:

* Visitation Time.

You know what can come with PTSD, it’s no secret and it’s very real. BOTH parents need to be honest with each other. If a parent is having a rough day and it would not be best for a child to be with them, allow that parent to have time with the child another time. Holding visitation time against a parent can be devastating to the child as well as their relationship with the other parent. And as the non PTSD parent, don’t be afraid to call the other parent if you have a day you need to do something else or having a rough day yourself and see if they would like time with the child that day. Parenting is give and take, even though you two are not physically together does not mean you can’t work together for the best interest of everyone.

* Communication.

If a parent makes the effort to contact a child, let them. So it may take a few minutes away from you and your day, so what, you chose to have a child with that person, allow them to build a relationship with that child. And your child will thank you for it later as they grow and develop being able to get to know both parents.

* Educate.

Children need to be educated on their age appropriate level. Even if you are a parent that is no longer with the one that suffers from PTSD, you at one time were and chose to have a child with that person. Do what’s best for the child and educate the child correctly. That PTSD parent is not going away, they are still a parent and the more you do the better things will or can be all around for everyone.

* DO NOT cause a child to be scared!

This is one of the largest mistakes I hear about! No one, especially a child, deserves to be raised fearing PTSD or any disability! Again, parents who let their own fear roll over to their child is doing nothing but damaging the child mentally and emotionally which can lead to that child having issues or relationship issues of their own later in life. If you yourself are scared of “PTSD”, then educate yourself so you have the correct tools to help raise your child.

* Your adult relationship.

That’s right, it’s YOURS! It’s not the child’s! Even if you have an issue with the other parent, and obviously there is/was something or you would still be together, don’t let your personal feelings or emotions roll over to the child regarding your relationship with the other parent. Even if things do not work out between two people, it does not mean you can’t get along or be civil towards each other. And for the sake of the child I hope you do! Even parents who are not together can still raise a healthy well balanced child “together” even though physically apart.

* Include the other parent.

Even if someone suffers from PTSD, or any type of disability, they can still be a good parent. A child is a child of two people, not only one. Even if a parent with PTSD can not always attend or be a part of something in a child’s life, still give them the opportunity to be included. With children, it’s not the amount of time a parent gives that is important to them, it’s the quality of the time. PTSD parents might not always be able to be as much of the child’s life as they want to be, however it does not make them a bad parent, it does not make them selfish, and they need to be able to do as much as possible in that child’s life. However, if the other parent does not give information to the other parent, or makes decisions regarding a child without including the other parent, how can they truly be a part of that child’s life? They can’t, because they have not been given the information they need to participate. I will tell you again, sooner or later that child will find out the parent was never told, and that child will not hold it against the parent who wasn’t given the information, they may very well hold it against the parent that left the other parent out of their life.

There is something I was raised knowing, and I guess it stuck with me. If there comes a day in the relationship where it is not working no matter how hard BOTH try, then you have to be honest about it. And if that day ever comes then you walk away knowing you both tried, and knowing that whatever happened is between the two of you but you don’t put the children in the middle of it. Each parent, no matter what disability is or is not there, has the right to be a parent. No one has the right to stop that. (Of course as long as the parent is not a harm to the child) At sometimes, as much as I hate saying this because I believe every relationship deserves a seriously fighting chance, a child is better off with two parents that are separated then two parents that can never get along or work things out together.

There is no reason to fight, there is no reason to hold a child against the other parent, and children sure are not pawns to use against another parent. If a relationship between two people does not work out, simply agree that it did not work but neither of you will cause it to damage the relationship a child deserves with both parents. If you are no longer living under the same roof, then there is no reason you can’t remain civil towards each other when you do have to see each other. When there is a child involved, that other parent is not just going away, you chose to have a child with that person so have respect for yourself and that person when it comes to the decision you made to have that child. And you will have to learn to agree to disagree at times, it’s going to happen. Don’t forget what is in the best interest of your child/children.

Because of PTSD, I have seen many relationships fall apart, but then many be pieced back together as well. You don’t know what the future holds. Sometimes a relationship may be truly over and other times it may not be. You are learning to cope through life with PTSD, the symptoms can get better and you might realize you made a mistake, it’s life, it happens at times. Have respect for each other no matter what! And have respect and consideration for your child!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Speaking out about PTSD.

Speaking out about PTSD.

There have been many people ask me how I found a voice to talk about PTSD, how do I do it, aren’t I afraid of what others might think, etc. There have been many questions that come with what I do, as well as the fact that Craig is by all means on board with it, or I wouldn’t be doing it.

The answers are pretty simple. We got tired! And when we got tired we threw our hands in the air and decided to make a change.
We have never been ones to just sit by and watch things happen, if there is something that can be done about a situation you can bet we jumped in with both feet first.

Well, PTSD has been no different. Craig’s more quiet then he use to be, but he’s always here reading everything, and we talk about things other people post or before I post them majority of the time… which he said he does not have to “approve” before I post, because he trusts I will say it like it is and trusts who I am as a person as well as the respect I have for others.

We were tired of the hiding in the shadows and hiding his PTSD, making up excuses to why we couldn’t be certain places or at events, why we couldn’t leave the house certain days, having to cancel or change plans that were made, and why we were living differently then we had before. We got tired of finding ways to explain why he would repeat himself or not remember things. To be honest, people were really starting to view us in an odd way, and that did not settle well with either of us. They were use to the couple that was outgoing, full of life, and at every event we were invited to attend… and better yet, they knew us as the ones holding those events!

How many excuses can you really come up with to explain how all of that changed? I will tell you lol, there’s not enough no matter how many you think up!

Enough was enough for us. I’ve always believed honesty is the best thing and honesty is what they got. We had enough to battle already without having to add the additional stress to it. So the hands went in the air and the real life term we battle “PTSD” came from our mouths.

Craig and I have always lived by one huge standard since PTSD came into our lives… “You either take us for who we are, or you leave”. It’s pretty simple even though at times it can be tough, at times people do choose to leave, but you know what? You really find out fast who the real people in your lives are.

As much as PTSD can haunt a person, it also really makes you appreciate life. Life is very different now, but the life we experience is by all means priceless.

Neither of us hold any regrets for speaking up and speaking out to others. Why would we??? Look at how many people have learned and found ways to improve their own lives because of our voices. I am by no means one to pat myself on the back or want acknowledgement for what I do! That is NOT how I am and I never expect that! However, I see it, I see how what I do helps others… and as long as it’s helping others take a step forward, find a new meaning in life, and realize that life is still worth living, even with PTSD, you will hear our voices!

Everyone deserves to have the tools for this battle, I wish someone had shared things with us back at the start of what we now know is PTSD lol. Yep, I can laugh about it now, but it sure wasn’t laughter back then! It was pain, and heartache, and many tears! I truly believe it would have made the road a lot less bumpy for us if there had been someone, anyone, to light the path for us. So, if we can be even just a flicker of light for someone else’s path, then it’s worth every breathe we take!

There IS still life with PTSD, it’s going to be a lot different, but it’s still life… and others need to know that! I’m only one person, and we are only one couple, but our voices will be heard for the sake of others battling PTSD also.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

June 27th… National PTSD Awareness Day

June 27th (that would be TODAY) Is PTSD Awareness Day

Rather you know someone who suffers from PTSD or not…

This is the day to rock the world with awareness, share your favorite postings, websites, blogs, etc regarding PTSD with others, teach someone a little more about PTSD or introduce it to someone who is not aware of it.

By educating others it can and will help decrease the stigma which I hate to say does come with PTSD. It is human instinct to fear the unknown. As people learn more about PTSD that fear will fade. Educate others!

Please help today by spreading awareness of PTSD. Every single person who takes the time to learn, care, educate someone else, or just being curious to what PTSD is, is doing something simple… which in return could save another person’s life! Just one click, one share, could very well make a huge difference in another person’s life, it could very well save it! It can also lead others to the support they need if they are silently battling PTSD or in need of a support system of others who understand.

NO ONE is alone in this battle! There are many who suffer, there are many that know someone with PTSD, but may not be aware of it. Ones with PTSD are no different then the next person, they have just experienced a life changing trauma which caused them to develop this illness/disability which is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD can be caused by any trauma… military (not only combat related) or civilian, child abuse, abuse, assault, home invasion, sexual assault, car accident/other accident, house fire, natural disaster, terrorist attack, working in a first responder field, doctors and nurses can develop it, surgery patients… many of breast cancer/cancer or stroke, loss of a loved one, etc.

PTSD does not effect only one nation or one skin color, it does not matter if you are male or female, elderly or young, wealthy or not, it does not matter if you are military or civilian, or father, mother, brother, sister, or friend. It is not based on who is weak or who is strong… and in reality effects what I refer to as “The Best of the Best”! PTSD can effect anyone he has experienced a severe trauma which threatened their life or that of someone they witnessed or even that of a loved one. And as a result the symptoms of that trauma did not fade away. It could happen to anyone… it could happen to YOU!

Have a heart, pay it forward, it’s just one click of a “share” button which just takes a second… it could save a life, it could change the world! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Learning about Triggers…

Learning about Triggers.

Many when they hear the word “trigger” automatically think of sights and sounds to which one with PTSD responds to.

Fact is, triggers don’t stop there! Triggers can be set off by any of the body’s sensory system. Sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. Anything that is from the physical world transferred to the mind.

So when you are focusing on what triggers someone, never stop with sight and sounds. Triggers can come from anything which was experienced at the time of “what happened” that caused PTSD.

Examples:

* Weather conditions.

This could be storms, heat, cold, humidity…

* The taste of a food. 

This is something I have found common with the Vietnam era. Certain taste of foods can be linked to triggers.

* Vibrations.

These can be related to accidents… cars, trains, planes, military such as helicopters and flight decks of ships and ships themselves, storms…

* Smell.

The smell of fuels, fireworks can be linked to combat smells, smell of certain foods or places that were present at the time of the trauma…

*Sound.

Sounds can have an endless list also… clicking, radio noises such as from headsets, car backfire, crackling from a fireplace…

* Touch.

The feel of a fabric, or certain fluids, a physical touch from another person, a breeze on your face or sun…

So when trying to pin down what triggers a person in order for them to learn techniques to cope the best they can with their triggers, you have to think about all of the senses involved with the mind. You might just notice things you never realized before. A trigger is caused by “something”, they don’t just come out of the blue with no meaning behind them. When you find the meanings or what triggers are, you can find ways of getting through them better then before. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

I Can vs Stuck… PTSD

I Can vs Stuck… PTSD

Stuck is a huge word used with PTSD. It is also something that can easily happen. You get to a point where you don’t know what else to do, you don’t know what to say, you don’t know how to improve, your energy is drained, depression might be playing a toll on you… you seemed trapped!

These are all VERY real feelings that come with PTSD. This is the point when many want to just give up. They get tired of the fight and battle that comes with each day. But I will tell you right now that being stuck and in that mind set is by no means where you need to stay. You are worth more then that!

It’s okay to experience the stuck feeling for a little while. It does give your mind and body time to rest. And rest is dearly needed when you fight such a battle each day. But then you have to focus again on the fight!

That fight includes things that many take for granted each day of their lives. Things one with PTSD has to pay extra attention to because they no longer seem to come naturally. The words “I can…”

I can fight this. I can win this. I can make it to tomorrow. I can be here for my family and loved ones. I can take a step forward and still be the best I can be.

“I can” will be easier said then done. It will take repeating it over and over until you find the strength to believe in yourself. Then it will take standing up from your chair and stepping forward. Those can be extremely difficult things to do when PTSD has a firm grip on you. BUT you CAN do it.

Don’t let the what you could do in the past weigh you down to sitting in that chair. Focus on the “I can” of what you can still do and what you will do in the future. And I’m not talking about being able to walk on the moon lol. I’m talking about being the best you can be.

You will stumble… everyone does, you will experience trials and errors along the way… they are what build this thing called life. But you CAN take that step forward and find new things, experience new things, and build a new life from here.

The past is not going to just go away. But a page in this book called life can turn to a new chapter. And you have the ability to turn that page and start that new chapter, rather you can see that right now or not.

Leaving a stuck position is not going to happen over night, it’s going to take work, but the outcome is so great beyond words. Pace yourself, small steps at a time… they are still steps forward no matter what the size of the step is. And acknowledge your accomplishments rather they are great or small. Keep in mind that every step forward might have two steps back, but that’s okay because after those backwards steps come another step forward. Focus on those forward steps and the positive things that come with them. A step in any direction is much better then being stuck! 

The words “I can” are extremely strong words in fighting PTSD. They come with strength, they come with will power, and they come with hope. All things that can help battle the feeling of being stuck… and battling this thing called PTSD! Use them!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD vs Money/Finances

money and PTSD

PTSD vs Money/Finances

Oh boy! This one can be a tough one for everyone involved!

This one has to be handled with the utmost grace, understanding, kindness, and in a way that toes are not stepped on or self-esteem.
It will be one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have, and needs to be the calmest one. BOTH people need to really pay attention to the other’s feeling also.

Now I will say right up front, not everyone what suffers from PTSD has difficulties when it comes to money. So if one is doing okay with handling money then let them! Do not try to interfere with something they are able to do just because you fear it may become an issue.

However, there can be a flip side. Some with PTSD may have started having issues, others may have already been through it. This could be due to memory issues, dissociative symptoms, it could be used as a wrong form of coping, etc. This is something that I have also heard of as being one of the symptoms causing one to be misdiagnosed at times with bipolar disorder, when it’s actually PTSD at hand. There could be many different reasons why one that use to be awesome with money, now has difficulties with it.

This is an extremely sensitive subject especially for those that are normally the ones that take care of the bills, is the one who is working and providing that money for the family, or have never had someone involved with their spending before. If spending/money problems are or become the case, you both have to face the facts of it being real before you end up in a financial hardship… and trust me, it can happen!

When handling money does become an issue, no matter who you are, the facts must be placed on the table… as I say it. Misuse of money can effect you and your family greatly. There are bills to pay, making sure the roof stays over your head, food on the table, priorities to be taken care of. Etc.

So what do you do?

You know a conflict may come with talking about this, you know PTSD may very well be set off, oh boy is an understatement!

Face the facts. That is a huge start. Rather you are the one having the issue or the one seeing it happen, the facts have to be faced. AND you can NOT treat the one with PTSD like a child in the process! They are not a child, they are an adult that may be having difficulty with what their disability is causing. But there has to be a solution and the one with PTSD has to trust their loved one if confronted with this issue. Here comes that “balance” word again I say so often. You have to find a balance that everyone can accept. I won’t say it’s going to be easy to except by any means, but a balance that is reasonable can be found.

Going off on a rage because someone spent the grocery money or bought something that should not have been purchased is NOT going to help and won’t help you find a solution! So keep your anger and frustration in check. And spouses/partners, don’t point fingers too fast here, you might notice you have done the same thing! Many spouses start having spending problems too, again that quick make me feel good way of trying to cope, I’ve even heard some say they have purposely spent money or made a large purchase as a way of getting back at their PTSD partner “Well he/she did it, so why can’t I?” This is not going to get you very far and it’s sure going to cause your finances to be in a worse place then they were or could end up.

It does not matter which side of the fence you are on with PTSD, money requires discipline. Ask anyone who is considered rich, I bet they will tell you they are wealthy because being or becoming wealthy comes with discipline.

So what can you do?

* Talk for starters. 

Communicate with each other about the finances.

* Make a budget. TOGETHER if there are two of you!

And I mean actually on paper where you or both of you can see it. Many already know what their “income” is for the month.

Take that income and start with the bills and groceries, both are important and you have to find a balanced budget for both, and bills include medications.

Now at times, bills and groceries are going to be a hard balance to find. So just to add a note in here, if you do not have income enough to cover both there are things you can look into. The bill collectors are not just going to stop so those are extremely important to handle, but at the same time you have to eat!

The groceries, everyone has to have food and must eat healthy in order to have the correct energy to function, especially with battling PTSD in your life. You don’t have to have the most expensive foods or tons of junk food that will eat up your budget. When you shop, shop wisely! Make a list of things you NEED then always add in a couple of things you want so you don’t feel like you are depriving yourself of wants. Plan meals ahead of time. Use coupons and take advantage of sale items. But don’t buy things just because they are on sale! Only buy them if you NEED them and know you will use them. Many fall into the sale trap of marketing, and many times that food is never used… don’t be a victim of marketing when that money, no matter what amount it is, could be budgeted for something else. If you like to eat out, or pick up takeout on days you are too tired to cook, then that money comes from grocery money… it’s still food, but understand at times takeout might be more then actually cooking but at times is needed.

If you are having the problem of budgeting bills and groceries, there just is not enough funds for both, look into local food banks/pantries for some temporary help. See what programs are offered in your area. I know this is a hard one to swallow and tampers greatly with pride, however it is better then not eating. You can also speak to your bill companies and see if they have a payment plan that they could work with you on. Just keep in mind these are temporary solutions only until you can get back on track. Bills are still owed and each month you delay them puts you that much further behind. But the temporary relief while you get back on track can be of huge help.

Then move on to expected gas/transportation for work, doctor appointments, those MUST do travels. This makes sure you can continue to make it to where you need to be so your income can continue and also make sure you are doing what you need to to keep the best health you can. I can’t begin to say how many times I have heard of appointments being cancelled because someone can’t afford to get there. You have to make sure you budget in so you can make your doctor appointments!

Once the priorities are taken care of then you budget what is left for extra things and savings.

Some of you may be in a position to where there is nothing left over, or already in a spot where bills take everything you have. This is a very real situation I hate to say. This is when you have to look over everything! What do you have that you really don’t need, where can you cut corners, what extra can you cut out or back off so you can get your budget back on track. Many times this happens when a disability comes into play which is by all means unexpected. It’s time to start working on a new budget, and face the fact it’s not going to happen over night, but you can still work on it.

Now that I got those two things out of the way let’s move on.

I can already hear some of you saying it, “But he/she won’t stop spending and spends it before I can pay bills!” I do hear this a lot.

I will say it up front, you have to find what works best for you. And I’m saying that before I tic some of you off with what I’m going to say next. So know this is coming from personal experience and with heart.

When “uncontrollable spending” comes into play, and no matter what you do it’s not stopping, a serious conversation really needs to take place. And I will tell you right now, someone is not going to be happy about it. But facts on the table must be done nicely so you and/or your family can survive financially!

Here’s some things you can try:

* The hardest one is going to be allowing someone else to take care of the priorities… the bills. 

Many times with PTSD roles do change. This is something that you may like like, but sometimes are a must. It doesn’t make you any less of a person when this happens, it makes you a responsible person. Let someone help! And the one taking over this role of the priorities, it by no means puts you in charge! So you have to be careful that you are not belittling the one with PTSD!!! They are not a child, they are just having issues with money which needs a little help to get back on track.

* Start doing the bills together!

Rather you handle the money/finances anymore or not, you can still sit there and help when bills are being done and keep up with what the budget is and what is going on each month with the finances. This keeps you included, keeps your input valuable, helps keep stress down of not knowing or feeling left out or from feeling like you are a failure. You still have a brain and intelligence! There are still things that you can suggest that could be of great help, as well as it could help take stress off of your partner by them not having to be the one to make all of the decisions alone.

Some people with PTSD find it is actually a stress reliever for someone else to handle the finances. It can be one less thing you have to worry about and the focus can go towards getting yourself the best you can be. So you have to figure out which way works best for you and your stress level. And if you choose this way, the one that is handling bills ALWAYS must leave the door open for the one that is not handling the finances to sit in when they feel like helping. Never shut a door to someone trying when they feel up to it.

* Calendar.

My handy dandy calendar. Write the bills and priorities on a calendar. This helps provide a visual of things that must be taken care of and make a small box you can mark off next to it when it is paid. This is the easiest way to keep track of things and both of you can see it. It can sure help keep stress down.

* Credit Cards, Bank Cards, and Checkbooks.

Facts on the table and you have to face them and be reasonable when it comes to these things. If you know you are spending money that already has a priority to it and you can not control it, you might want to consider locking those things away or handing them over. Again, this is not to put you down as an adult human being, it’s to ensure the responsible things are being done. NOW, when this is a must to do, no one wants to take away a person’s self-esteem which can easily happen in this case. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that person has some cash on them. Again, and I know this is a very sensitive one, it’s not treating one like a child, it’s just making sure that responsibilities are being taken care of before extra spending.

* You want to make sure the person without the credit card/bank items has a way to pay if you stop for a burger, pay for gas, etc. You don’t want to control them, that is NOT what this is about and sure don’t want to make them feel like a child.

* Some people set up a bank account solely for the person who is spending, then once that amount is gone that’s it for the month. And I will be honest, I have not heard good results with this one. The money seems to be spent then they are asking for more to be put into the account which leads to conflicts when a budget is in place and there’s just not any more to give.

* Gas. This can be an easy one Make a trip out together. The one handling the finances can easily hand a card to the other person and let them pump the gas and pay at the pump. One it gets you out of the house together, two it gives them the ability to do something. So what if you get handed a card in the car and hand it back after paying, you still did it. You can do this with other things as well. It allows the person to still handle something but at the same time allows the budget to stay in place. This is one Craig and I actually do ourselves, it was hard for both of us at first but over time has helped and neither of us take it personally.

Again, you have to find what works best for you, and also what will keep conflict down. There are too many things that already come with PTSD you all must handle and adding financial conflict and arguing needs to be controlled… don’t let money rule over the more important things!

Whatever you come up with, and no matter which side of the fence you are standing on, work together and do what’s best for you and your family. It might take swallowing a little pride, it might take switching rolls for finances, but if it will help you, your family, and keeping everything financially on track, isn’t it worth it? Money can be the root of all evil, don’t let it be. Don’t argue over money, work together and find the most reasonable solutions that have the least conflict possible. You have a larger battle to fight, and it’s sure not about money, it’s PTSD.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Getting out of the House…

 

Getting out of the House
This is a part of life that has drastically changed for Craig and I. We were ones that you rarely caught indoors, before PTSD that is.

We were known for traveling, and had no issue with out of the blue saying “hey let’s go somewhere”. It was a part of who we were before PTSD stepped into our lives.

I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times we would be sitting on the couch after work and we would look at each other and there were those grins, “where are we heading” lol. We would go to the airport, jump in the plane, and figure it out once in the air. It was always someplace new, and sometimes we would travel for an hour or so just to land and people watch with a cup of coffee in hand. Other times we would make a weekend trip out of it or over night stay. All depended on our at home schedule and when we had the kiddos or didn’t.

Then there was the RV, a whole world of it’s own. You could bet that if we were not working we were off somewhere. Summers were our long vacation times, we would travel a month at a time and all over the country. Always a new destination lol.

Since Craig was discharged in 2005, we have not traveled except for visitation time with his kiddos. PTSD put up one serious roadblocks in our lives. Many of the things we were use to or actually took for granted each day became very obvious that PTSD had affected them.

To say the least the plane is gone, and the RV too. So those are no longer options for us to use to just go.

But at Craig’s therapy appointment something was said to him. “Pack a bag and keep it ready for any days you feel like going out the front door.” WOW! That hit home base with me and hard. That’s what we use to do. We always had a bag ready to go.

We were also told we needed to get another boat, but lol, that one is not happening anytime soon! Spending days on the lake were something else we use to do a lot of.

On Craig’s good days we are suppose to grab that bag and go, anywhere, just go. Now I will say, that’s a little easier said then done lol. But the bag is packed so if that day does come we can grab a part of our old life back, we can.  It might take days, weeks, or years… but whatever it may be, that bag is packed so if that time comes we are ready. 

The whole point of the packed bag is to not give yourself a chance to back out of doing something if you get the urge to do it. You don’t take time to pack to go somewhere and give the expectations, anxiety, stress, what if’s etc time to build and prevent yourself from going or doing something. Makes sense!

So, tip of the day for you… Pack a bag! It could very well give you even just one day or a few hours of your life you feel you have lost BACK! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Category: Life with PTSD: Symptoms, Uncategorized  Tags: ,  Comments off

PTSD does not always come with choices…

I had the following comment/question posted to my posting on Saturday “Living with a person who has a Mental Illness/Disorder” and I felt that it was something that needed to be addressed separately since it is a view that more then one person does have.

From the poster-
“I’m sorry but, I just don’t understand. We teach Autistic/ mentally impaired children what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior and everything is all about choices. With that being said, in my case, things that have happened in our marriage were choices he made. If somebody is capable of, say…. Not putting their fist through a wall out of anger in the workplace or outside the home but unable to control their anger around the ones they love, how is being supportive and understanding not enabling such behavior? A choice is made not to do it at work. The same choice should be made at home. In my opinion, this is completely unacceptable.”

Now to say the least you know upfront my answer is not going to be short to this one. But this is something where education is needed, so bare with me here. The poster of the above comment was very honest when saying “I just don’t understand.” And I am by no means disrespecting this, and will give the benefit of the doubt is probably new to PTSD. But I do say it like it is. Also, again, I am not a doctor of any sort and my opinions and postings are based around our personal experiences, self education, and what I have learned from thousands of others… doctors, individuals who suffer from PTSD, and ones who live beside PTSD.

To start with, PTSD is NOT all about choices. And viewing it from that point of view will set one with PTSD off in a heartbeat. If you tell one with PTSD it is about choices, that may be one of your first issues at hand.

PTSD is a totally different ballgame from other mental illnesses. I myself have personally worked with children and young adults who suffer from autism, adhd, ocd, bipolar disorder, down syndrome, and other metal impairments as well as ones with physical disabilities. So I can and do see the difference between PTSD and other disabilities. No matter what the illness or disability is, a solid support system is still urgent.

PTSD comes with nightmares/terrors, flashbacks, dissociation, and many things that are medically proven are not a choice. However those things are very real and do exist. Those things do not in any way, shape, or form leave a person with PTSD a choice.

The first step to understanding comes with education. You have to learn about what PTSD is, what comes with it, and why one may react to things the way they do. Until you have an understanding of the illness itself, it is going to be difficult to be a solid support system for that person or even grasp and accept PTSD is at hand. For those of you that do not know already, I do have a blog aka “My Journal” page on my website with many postings which are in categories you can use as a resource for when issues arise.

When something does happen with one with PTSD, have you asked yourself “why”? It is VERY rare that something comes “out of the blue” with PTSD. Of the 10 years Craig and I have been together, I can not think of even one time something happened that did not have a reason to it, with that said, I do not believe things just come out of the blue without a reason attached rather I noticed it at that time or not. There is normally a reason rather it is a trigger they encountered, anxiety from a rough day, flashbacks, etc etc etc. Whatever it is, there is a reason to it. You have to take the time and patience to find the reasons so you can work on correcting the issues that stem from them. In many cases, the one with PTSD might not see or know the reasons, they at times may not even realize how the are coming across to another person… this goes back to one part of why a solid support system is urgent. When you find what causes things then you can work TOGETHER to coping with those things.

With the example at hand of making it through a work day without punching a wall or getting angry, but then at home does act out in that way…

This is what Craig and I refer to as “putting on a smiley face”. When one with PTSD has to work or be out in public in general, they want others to view them as normal. At work, they probably are in a position where they NEED that job to support their family or themselves. They have no choice in order to keep that job but to put on that smiley face and HIDE their PTSD. This in return leaves PTSD and all of it’s symptoms bottled up for that amount of time to the point sooner or later they could or will explode if they do not know how to cope with the symptoms. They are being forced through an environment which in reality they may not be able to actually handle.

Then they come home. Home is their safety zone, where they are comfortable around people they trust and trust won’t judge them because of what they suffer from, it’s where they can let down, vent, talk, show emotions, express what they are struggling through, etc. Now is hitting a wall necessary or acceptable? No, absolutely not. However if one is hitting a wall… why? Normally it’s because they are not or do not know how to cope with their symptoms. Maybe their medications are off balance or they are not on any and trying to learn how to cope without the use of them.

It can also be because they become frustrated/angry because the one person they have to count on and lean on is not “getting it” or taking time to understand it. In many of these cases, the one that is seeing this is probably telling them what to do, such as the example of “make choices” or it’s your choice or constantly complaining about what they say or how they act instead of actually helping them through it to cope. It goes back to not understanding PTSD or/and what they are experiencing with it. I told you, I only lay facts on the table. Now that part goes back to my posting “Living with a person who has a Mental Illness/Disorder”. The bottom line is, you are going to stay on the route and cycle you are on or you are going to make the choice to step up to the plate and do something to help make a change and help them cope through what PTSD does bring.

Being supportive and understanding is not enabling the action, whatever it might be. It’s providing a support system to say “Hey let’s find a way to cope with this so you don’t feel that way or the feeling is manageable.” You as the one without PTSD have to view things from a different perspective. You can’t beat them up for what they might do because of PTSD, you have to find ways to help them cope so next time it can be prevented, as well as yourself cope. When coping is used, the outburst of symptoms and actions can reduce. But know upfront, PTSD is PTSD and it’s not just going away. You HAVE to accept your life now has PTSD in it. However, it CAN be managed!

PTSD brings something referred to as “fight or flight”, and it’s VERY real. Now, as the spouse, those two things can be very damaging to your relationship, your family, and the one who suffers. When there is not a support system in place or understanding, you can almost bet you will be facing the “fight or flight” of PTSD. And it is exactly the way it sounds. They are either going to fight or they are going to leave, and I hate to say the truth is, the leave part might not be walking out the front door, it may very well be leaving by taking their own life. Suicide is a high cause of death among those with PTSD, it’s very real and signs of it are not to be taken lightly or brushed off.

There has to be a support system, balance, and there has to be ways to cope used. You have to educate yourself and not expect someone else to give a quick fix to PTSD, there’s not one. That is pretty much the bottom line to making sure things at home go as smoothly as possible, as well as away from home. Without coping and correct treatment, you can pretty much guarantee sooner or later the symptoms will show up away from home as well. Take time to understand the best to your ability… and that does not mean you will understand what happened to them, there is no way for you to know true understanding of that part, it means you learn to understand what they experience now from what happened. And learn as well as help with coping.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

How do we maintain a good relationship through PTSD…

Recently, and actually many times to be honest, I have been asked how Craig and I maintain a good relationship through PTSD.

I can quickly answer all of the things we have done or tried through the years, but I really thought about it and thought “what was the true turning point for us?”

Of course learning about PTSD etc. by all means plays a huge part in it, but where was that turning point?

Let me tell you a story…

When they were switching Craig from doctor to doctor and there was no stability coming from so much bouncing around, having to tell everything all over again from square one with each doctor that saw him, trying to get his medications figured out (which is always an ongoing process), and it seemed like there was no moving forward because we were always back to square one every time a new doctor would see him. Then the continuing delays between appointments because of the large amount of patients being seen or new doctors coming on board… getting everyone’s schedules in the system booked correctly. You know how that goes lol. It’s no joking matter!

We had a doctor say, “Well why don’t you try going to [I will kindly leave the name out here]”. So we said sure, we can do that so there are not gaps in his treatment. Well, the counselor started seeing him and made it a point of seeing us together as well…

An appointment day came, and I will be honest, things had been VERY rough between us for a little while before this appointment. The counselor took Craig back. The counselor came out and called me back to the office towards the end of his session. I could tell by the look on Craig’s face when I entered the room that he was greatly upset. I sat down beside him and placed my hand on his leg to help try to calm him.

The counselor told me to tell her what had been going on with us. And I told her. She then looked at Craig and Craig told her what I said was completely true. By this point emotions were so high that Craig and I both were crying and at a very high emotional state.

The next thing we knew, she looked at her watch and said “Well, time is up I have to get to my next patient.” About 10 minutes, that’s about all I was in there. Just enough time to be questioned, emotions to get high, then told it was time for us to leave.

Craig and I BOTH walked out of that office in tears. We sat in the parking lot in the car for a little while. By this time his sadness had turned to anger. We sat there and talked for a few minutes. How could a counselor call a spouse back and knowingly get into that type of in depth conversation to then just look at her watch and say your time is up? We were appalled.

Of all of the counselors that are awesome out there, we got that one. Well, that experience did do something for us. Besides reporting what happened back to Craig’s doctor and telling him we would NEVER step foot in that “place” again.

We realized that if our relationship was going to survive, we had to do it ourselves. Delays in appointments, counselor that would do that to a couple… survival was now in our hands. I pushed for my husband to get back in to his regular doctors. Treatment is still needed even though we had that bad experience. But as for us and our relationship, we worked on that part ourselves.

And I won’t by any means say every situation does not need a therapist/counselor for marriage, so don’t put it off if you do! At times a third party is going to be what helps you move forward and get past a lot of what does go on. So if you need one, go see one!!

That third party was needed by us, but the outcome was not what we expected. We expected many visits and a third party helping us work through things and helping each of us see exactly what we ourselves were doing or not doing, what could make things better, how to understand each other, etc.

That’s not what happened though. The third party made us realize we could communicate and work through our marriage ourselves. One bad experience with one not so good counselor. It made us so angry with what happened that we buckled down and said we will not be treated that way again. It pushed us past the poor us and into a state of doing something for ourselves. Was that this counselor’s attempt? Absolutely not! She couldn’t understand why neither of us wanted to go back. Well lol, I let Craig explain that one to her when we cancelled the next appointment. 😉

Even though that appointment weighed on us greatly, and there is no way we would ever step foot back into “that place”, and Craig went backwards in a very serious way that day, something good did come from that day. Even though we had been having the problems we were having, that day made us realize that our relationship and strength together is stronger then our problems and forced us to face them and work through them together.

Communication, understanding, facing when you are the one that may be wrong, listening to each other, patience, and working through things as a team and not two people fighting against each other. There’s a larger battle at hand to fight, it’s called PTSD. And we are in this one together!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

A PTSD Dad…

A PTSD Dad

Being a dad may be a lot different now then it use to be. But this thing called PTSD that haunts your nights and disrupts your days, never takes away from a child that speaks the words “my Dad”.

Dad is a strong word with a strong meaning behind it. Some children may say the word pops, and some still say daddy or papa. It doesn’t matter which is used, when it comes from the mouth of a child, with love, meaning, and pride, it still boils down to “my Dad”.

Any man can be a father, but a special man to a child’s heart and through their eyes know him as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad may feel guilty, because they can’t spend as much time with a child or go places another father might be able to or as often. But a child sees through eyes of innocence, they do not judge you on the amount of time PTSD may take away from them, they do not count the minutes on a clock, they know the quality of the time you give, and they speak those words “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad may have different schedules or act in different ways then other fathers, but a child still recognizes love through the illness that haunts you, and they still view you as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad teaches something special, and he needs not say a word to teach it. He teaches a child not to judge others, he teaches a child to see through a person’s disabilities or illnesses, and teaches a child that no disability can prevent a man from being a man known as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad shows a child that life is special and the value in every day that comes. He shows a child that you don’t take life for granted, that you cherish it and you do your best through it. That child in turn knows him as “my Dad”.

A child does not know the word stigma. That is something that is taught or not taught to a child. A PTSD dad shows a child that stigma is just a word and he shows them life past a simple word when others may not see it. He teaches them the truth. That child, that child is a child that can change the world. That child will say the world will change because of “my Dad”.

To the Dads out there that battle PTSD each day of your life. You have a special gift, rather you see it or not. Many of you may view yourself as letting your children down, many may view that your life is not worth what you put others through because of your disability, many may view that you are not worthy at all. If you view yourself that way, before you judge yourself so harshly, you might want to really listen to your child. PTSD may seem to take a lot away from you, but don’t allow it to take away those words “my Dad”. Your child or children love you, honor you, and they by all means look up to you. Why? Because you ARE their DAD! That is something special. 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all of the PTSD Dads! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD