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PTSD (and immediate family members) vs Family Members

PTSD (and immediate family) vs Family members

The bottom line is that “vs” should NOT even exist!

To say this up front, every family structure may be different, and this is in no way meant to be negative towards family members, it is simply to help those families that are having struggles right now have a little better understanding.

This is so hard when it comes to PTSD. There is no other way to say it! You are going to have some people who accept PTSD whether they understand it or not and are positive in your life. You are going to have ones who will fight with you forever that PTSD is not real or there’s nothing wrong with you or your loved one. You are going to have those that try to rip families apart or feel your relationship is not fair to one or the other of you. Then there are going to be ones that over time do learn that PTSD is a real disorder/injury and eventually take the time to try to understand. There are many different shoes being worn when it comes to a family as a whole.

This will be one of the toughest outside influences that comes with PTSD. Family is suppose to be there for each other, be there for support, and be there just to simply have someone to talk to. And some ARE, but that is not always going to happen in life, and especially not when any type of mental illness/disorder comes into your lives. There is too much stigma still and the fact that many family members do not want to accept that it happened to their family or feel that one should still be living a “normal” life.

We personally have a mixed combination in our family. We have some that get it… the best they can without living with it, we have ones that really don’t understand but are still supportive, and we have those that just think it’s not real and treat us like we should be living what they view as “normal” lives. So I personally know all sides to this family struggle.

Even with all that I share with the world, the personal stories I tell to help others, and the changes in our lives that are first hand seen by others, there are still those that are refusing to accept it happened to us. It’s just a part of life.

Over the years it’s come down to I will teach what I can to those who want to learn or want to know about PTSD. The ones that truly care about being a part of our lives still. I don’t push it on anyone, it’s their choice to ask questions or bring up conversation, and once that door is open you can bet I’m going to talk about it. If something comes up in conversation then I will speak in total honesty. I will debate if need be with the facts, sometimes it takes that to get one to understand the best possible without being in our shoes or at least to help them accept PTSD, but I will not stress myself or my husband out over it, that’s a battle that’s just not needed for anyone.

The ones that cause more grief than happiness, who would rather battle about it or how our lives are now than appreciate the fact that we are in their lives, well, we keep them at arms length. Outside influences can be a huge struggle and cause a ton of conflict, and that is not something a PTSD family needs. Your battle with PTSD is hard enough without adding someone’s negative beliefs or behaviors to it. I by no means want to throw any family structure away, why would I? I love ALL of my family, but when it causes more conflict than good, sometimes that arms length and not having them so close is the only way to survive how they are responding to the fact that PTSD has become a part of your life or that our life is now different.

At times you may have to put a small distance in between you and someone else. It can save everyone from it ending up in no contact at all. It can save families from falling apart and support of some sort from being lost. When you place that small distance, if they care, they are going to ask you what is wrong or why haven’t they heard from you. And if they do, that’s when facts are laid on the table and you tell them the simple “It’s difficult when you can’t accept us/me for what has happened to us/me and the fact that our lives have changed”. No arguing, no frustration, just a simple statement from the heart. One of two things are going to happen… The distance will come back into play or they will stop and think about what is laid before them.

Family IS really needed, especially when it comes to PTSD being a part of life. But you have to find ways of understanding and working through or around the conflict that can come as well, whether it’s due to PTSD or just simply the conflicts that can come with a family. When PTSD is a part of everyday life, there’s just no energy or room for drama, gossip, family feuds, the you need to do this or that, and the he said she said mentality. Families with PTSD need some sort of peace in their lives. The battle needs to be together against PTSD, not with each other or one being thrown into other family conflicts that in reality has nothing to do with them or should not be there to begin with.

I can honestly say to those who do not suffer from PTSD, if you do not find some type of understanding on neutral grounds with the one who has PTSD and those living with that person, you stand a huge chance of that person/those people walking completely away from you and out of your life. It’s just a fact that comes with all of it.

PTSD is a huge battle that takes a lot of energy to make it from one day to the next. It takes a lot of energy to work through it and learn to live life with it in a relationship as well as the immediate family unit. Outside negativity is not something that is needed. Each situation is going to be handled on a case by case basis, and to what that person can or can not handle depending on where they stand at the moment with their PTSD or as the one standing beside them.

If you are a family member that does not live with or understand what your loved one with PTSD and/or their immediate family members experience, please take caution with your words, your battles, and your actions. We don’t need anyone living with PTSD losing their family support.

One with PTSD and their immediate family members are going to do what is best for themselves in order to cope with PTSD and to keep stress levels down, THEY HAVE TO. It’s a part of how one with PTSD and their immediate family members survive and find ways to live with PTSD being a part of life. Please do not bring extra stress to them, if you do it might just be you that loses something important in your life… THEM! That is NOT what ANYONE needs or wants!

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Category: Family (not living together), Uncategorized  Tags: ,  Comments off

Right and Wrong forms of Support

Right and Wrong forms of Support

I mentioned this the other day in one of my postings, and last night it really hit home and weighed on me. So I wanted to go ahead and talk about this.

People who do not live with someone who has PTSD or Depressive disorder (or other unseen disabilities), in many cases… seem to really not understand what “correct” support is! This can be so frustrating, can anger you, can send you in a deeper depression, can cause the greatest guilt you have ever witnessed.

Ones that don’t take the time to “get it”… understand the disorder/illness at hand, offer support in a way they would offer to anyone else. So I’m not dismissing that they might have good intentions, many times they won’t see that what they are doing is actually causing more damage. I’m saying there is a right and wrong way when it comes to an unseen disability.

So let me give you an example and maybe this will help…

A person calls and says they need your help with something, let’s say yard work just for the sake of an example. It goes something like this…

Person calling:
“Oh there is just so much we have to do and the yard really needs to be mowed and trimmed up. Oh and those hedges, they have gotten so tall and we just can’t get everything done by our self. I have this, this, and this I need to be doing instead. Well, you have time on your hands, I need you to come over and do this for me.”

Okay, no big deal right? The one with PTSD loves helping other people out! Especially if it’s family or friends. But let’s take a deeper look into what was said from the view of the one with PTSD or their spouse.

Person with PTSD:
“Hey they want me to do this, this and this. I have to do it. I will have to watch what time of day because of my medications and the heat. I am so tired because I didn’t get any sleep or little sleep over the past, well forever. After a rough night I fell back asleep, I missed getting up to do that before the heat, now it’s too late. I can’t manage to get this done around my own house but I have to put that to the side and go do this for them because they expect me to. I have no energy. They keep bugging me so I need to get this done. I have no energy. I can’t let them down. I have to do this. I rarely leave the house but I have to do this. Oh look at my own yard, I can’t even manage to get it done myself. But I have to do this for them…….” Then lays down a sleeps the rest of the day.

I know in that last part I said the same things more then once, I did that on purpose because that is exactly what happens.

What just happened? By all means the one with PTSD WANTS to do this for someone else. But at the same time the anxiety built up. The expectations grew and were out of control, the thought of not being able to accomplish things of your own but yet being told to help someone else made them feel bad. Guilt set in on it’s highest level. In this example medications and heat were an issue which narrow the time frame of expectations, causing even more anxiety and guilt. The fact that there is lack of sleep involved therefore lack of energy, which means after this thing asked is done, this person will probably crash and not be able to do much if anything for a few days. The repeat of being told what needs to be done is a huge guilt trip.

I’m sure the person asking for this favor has every good intention. So I will give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are trying to push the person to get out of the house, maybe they are trying to get them to be active, maybe they think this will be “good” for them to be included in helping out… or maybe they just don’t get it and are treating this person like there is nothing wrong with them?

Things like this can be handled in a much better way. I just showed you what approaching a situation as in this example can do to someone with an unseen disability. Now let me show you a very simple, easier way to approach the same example…

Proper support:
“Hey we are going to be working on the yard today which has become overwhelming to us, if you are up for helping you are more then welcome to come over. If not that’s okay too, we understand.” And don’t say it again!

Do you see the huge difference? Wording things to where what you want to say is said, but also in a way that does not place expectations, guilt, or even harassing manner, I can almost promise you will work much better… and for both people!

Work, another example…

Wrong support:
“You are the best at the job you were doing. Don’t give up, go get another job doing that. There’s nothing wrong with you and you can still do the same thing. Why are you just letting your career go? You are letting yourself and us down, go get another job. We know you can still do this, you were so good at it.”

Person with PTSD:
“I let them down. I’m not good at anything anymore. I was the best and everyone knows that, now I’m nothing! I failed. That was my life dreams and now I’m nothing. I’m worthless. I can’t do what I did before. I’m damaged goods. I should be doing my dream job right now and living life to it’s fullest as I expected to, but I can’t. Look at all of my education wasted! All those awards mean nothing, I failed my family and myself!….”

OUCH! The person that was trying to be supportive, or just not accepting the unseen disability, could have just honestly pushed the one with PTSD into ending their life! You think that is a strong statement? Well let me tell you, it’s a pretty honest and serious one! To the one without PTSD, they view it as pushing the person in a positive way that they can indeed still do what they are good at, that they should not give up. However, look what their view of positive turned into. Not so good when an unseen disability is involved.

Correct support:
“I know you have to figure out what you can or can not do with your disabilities, but I just want you to notice and remember how many accomplishments you have made in your life. Just because you may not do what you expected you would be doing, does not mean you won’t find something else you are wonderful at also. Life comes with changes, and this is just one of them. And look, you get to find something new you will enjoy just as much.”

See the difference? Wrong support and/or wording can throw someone with PTSD into a huge downward spiral. To the point that they honestly want to end their life. It does not mean you have to pamper them or treat them differently, it means you choose your words wisely and remember that a disability is indeed there. There are many ways to word things to keep things positive, and to avoid making them feel guilty or unworthy… or even make them feel as if they are a burden and everyone would be better off without them. Think about what you say before speaking!

These are only two examples of many, but I hope you care enough to get my point. Your words can honestly be the difference between someone wanting to live and move forward, or sadly… want to end their life.

PTSD and other disabilities are very real. Rather you are one that believes they are or not, you really need to take a good look at what the facts are. And right now the fact is 22 veterans and 1 active duty member are taking their own lives each day, that’s higher then war itself… and that’s only reported cases in the United States and not including civilian or world wide. If those numbers don’t scream PTSD is real, then I honestly don’t know what does!

It only takes a minute to think about “how” what you do or say to someone will effect them. It only takes a little bit of time for you learn the difference between correct and wrong support. Things have changed when PTSD becomes a part of your life or your family’s life. And with that change everyone needs to learn how to be supportive in a way that will actually help not hinder your loved one.

PLEASE take the time! Take the time to CARE!

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Everyone needs to read and share this…

PLEASE read and “share” this…

I’m on my soapbox this morning. So pardon me while I’m there but this needs to be said. The worst thing to me is knowing that so many people wear blinders when it comes to hearing the term “PTSD”.

Yes, by all means doctor, medications, and therapy can be of great help to ones who suffer from PTSD… BUT, yep I put a but in there… but the real help is going to come from the public and people learning about PTSD! That is YOU!

We have proof right here in front of us that educating yourself about PTSD can save lives! In numbers we can and do make a difference.

It does not matter if you know someone who has PTSD or not! And I can almost bet you DO know someone rather you realize it or not, many suffer in silence due to the stigma and what others will say or think. People, that’s sad!!! Each day there are ones with PTSD taking their own lives, the numbers are extremely high. Why? Because the battle became too strong for them to handle alone! PTSD takes support, it takes learning, it takes educating others, it takes this WORLD laying it’s differences to the side to save mankind!

When you turn your back on a person that is suffering, you are turning your back on a human being, and many times that person is a mother, a father, someone’s brother or sister, your friend, your neighbor, that nice person you met at the grocery store that offered to help you load your car, that person who went out of their way to hold a door open for you, that person who you made eye contact with that politely nodded and kept on walking. PTSD wears many faces, a person with PTSD is no different then you or I, they have just experienced something traumatic when maybe you haven’t.

Taking the time to learn about PTSD rather you think you know someone with it or not can honestly save a another person’s life! It is never too late or early to learn. PTSD can affect anyone, and I dearly hope you never have to experience it, but in all honesty look at the numbers of how many people do. Look at how many take their own lives each day… ONLY the reported numbers in the United States, now that’s reported numbers, that does not include civilians, unreported cases, or world wide… 22/23 per day! That’s a lot of people and YOU can help prevent this!

It only takes a few seconds to hit a “share” button from any PTSD page or share a link to a website… I mean seriously, you do it for everything else in the social media, it only takes a few minutes to read an article on how YOU can help or learn the basics about PTSD, and it only takes one second to save another person’s life! That person you passed in the store or made eye contact with, they may be the one on that last breathe that sees no hope left, did you know that YOU may be the person that creates a setting for them to keep fighting? I’m very serious, I pull no punches and I play no games, you never know when it may be you to save that person, and many times you may not even know you did.

If you were or are the one who suffers from this unseen disability, wouldn’t you want someone to care enough about other human beings to help YOU? ABSOLUTELY!!! Take the blinders off!

Ones with PTSD have feelings, emotions, and can throw a good cook out just as the next person, they can be great fathers and mothers and friends. DO NOT let the fear of the unknown blind you to what is all around you, stigma is a horrible thing and comes from the fear of the unknown. It only takes a few minutes of your time to educate yourself and share that education with others. And again, if PTSD happens to you or a loved one, wouldn’t you want someone to do the same? YES!

A person suffering from PTSD is not a bad person, they are only a person who has to fight harder to have as normal of a life as possible. They are not weak minded, if fact they are what I call “the best of the best”. Why? Because they have made it through something that completely changed their life, they have witnessed things that you can not even imagine the horror, and they fight everyday of their life to make it to the next! That takes a strong person in my book! Much stronger then many.

The only things you hear in the media are the bad things. It’s extremely misleading. And those bad things that are being reported most likely are cases where that person did not receive or was not able to reach for proper help. If you want those bad stories and cases to go away, you want the fear of the unknown to vanish, then do something!

Many of these people are heroes and many wear different “uniforms”. They are military, civilian, doctors, nurses, police officers, paramedics, firefighters, teachers, fathers, mothers, K9 trainers/handlers, etc. and they may just be your neighbor.

It is not a battle anyone deserves to fight alone. With support, education, and just taking a few minutes of your time, YOU can make a huge difference in this world… you can save a life! Why are you delaying? Rather you know someone with PTSD or not, I ask you to please… and I will swallow my pride and beg you, please hit the “share” button on this. You might just save a life today!

Let’s make this go viral! Someone out there and someone you may know, deserves it!

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Parents/Family members of one with PTSD

Parents/Family Members and PTSD

If YOU are a parent or family member of one that has been diagnosed with PTSD or has told you they believe they have it, I really hope you take the time to read this. This is urgent. I know you love your “child” or family member, but there are some things you really need to know!

One of the largest “outside” battles the one with PTSD may experience is family members. I know there are some family members that are understanding and supportive, even if they don’t understand PTSD and what it brings.

But then there are the other ones, and I dearly hope that you do not fall into this category and if you do I hope this will help you understand. There are the ones that don’t get it, the ones that don’t believe PTSD is real, the ones that don’t accept it happened to “their” child (family member). It’s that “it can’t happen to me/my child” syndrome.

If you want to throw someone who is suffering from PTSD into a tailspin with a crash landing (which very well could be fatal in many cases), being one that does not accept another person’s PTSD, especially your “child” or family member, will do just that!

I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus here, so to speak, but I do hope if you are one of those family members YOU will take the time to read this and really listen to what I have to say.

(Anyplace I say “parent” in here can also mean “family member”)

PTSD is VERY real! I will be honest, when my husband started acting in different ways then his normal, every red flag that could go up did! We did not know it was PTSD at the time, we didn’t even know what PTSD was. And let me tell you, it almost destroyed both of us! I watched the strongest, most head strong, level headed, leader quality man I knew, fall to his knees. PTSD affects what I call “the best of the best”, the strongest ones who have taken everything thrown their way and keep on going… then their mind says enough is enough. They are not weak even with PTSD, it takes an extremely strong person to battle what PTSD brings.

When the term PTSD was put to it, and I knew the man I knew was not acting like he normally would in huge noticeable ways, I researched, I studied, I talked to other people, and I looked for answers!

Now, I was living with him, so I knew the ins and outs of what every day was like, I saw his struggles up close and personal. I had an advantage that parents and family members many times don’t have. If you do not live with the person that has been diagnosed with PTSD, chances are you will not see or hear from them unless it’s one of their good days.

Parents, my heart truly goes out to you! You raised your child to be strong, educated, independent, you put your all into making sure they had the best life imaginable. Now you are being told your “child” has a mental disorder, a mental illness, and that they are no longer the child you knew and raised, something happened to them that has changed everything. Many parents just can not accept that!

Then there are the parents that know in their hearts and minds that they were so busy trying to provide for their child so that child had everything they needed, that they just couldn’t be there physically as needed. You might have some guilt weighing on you and blame yourself for a child now experiencing this. In these cases, many times a parent will not accept PTSD because if they don’t accept it, then it’s not possibly their fault for a child suffering.

The “there’s nothing wrong with you” comes out of your mouth, because in your heart you can not accept that a mental illness has affected YOUR child. Or you just don’t believe mental illnesses exist or are carrying the stigma that comes with them. Those things are hard to swallow. It’s your child.

Now to the sad facts about PTSD. If PTSD were not real, then why, in the United States alone, and only military/veteran related “reported” cases… that does not include civilians, are 22 (and I saw a new number this week of 23, not sure if that is correct) people taking their own lives with their own hands EACH day? These people committing suicide are the strong ones, the ones who have been through every unthinkable thing one could imagine or experience, the ones who fight for our freedom and serve our country. Doesn’t that seem odd to you if PTSD does not exist? And many of these cases are due to the lack of support and/or understanding from others.

The numbers are very real. And I don’t know a parent out there that would gamble their own child’s life on the chance. Would you? If you have been told your loved one has PTSD, you really need to think about what I just said. Are you willing to gamble your child’s life on the fact you don’t believe in mental illness, or because you don’t want to believe it has happened to your child, or because you fear the stigma mental illness does bring? I doubt it!

PTSD requires support, positive support! When one battles what PTSD causes, it’s not something to be taken lightly, it’s a huge battle and your child is going to need you! Even if you do not understand PTSD, you can learn. You can learn what they go through, which again you might not always see, and you can learn how to be of help to them. You can learn how to be properly supportive, and trust me, there is a wrong way of support also, so take the time to learn the difference. PTSD changes things, but it does not change the fact they are your child and they do still need you… and to be honest, they need you now more then ever.

If your child is married or has someone special in their life, listen to that person. They are NOT the one doing this to your child. PTSD and “what happened” to your child is. There are too many battles going on between family members, too many spouses having to waste their time trying to convince family members the truth of PTSD, and I say waste because in honesty it is just that. They need that time to take care of YOUR child, to help them be the best they can be, to help them make it from one day to the next, and that spouse needs you too!

When you battle between family members all you are doing is causing more stress and conflict within your family, and a lot of additional stress on the one with PTSD. You have to set that to the side so you can be there for your loved one. If you don’t, that stress being caused can do great damage to the one with PTSD and to your family structure. One with PTSD has a large enough battle as it is, and if you are adding to that battle there are a couple of things that realistically can/will happen… your child is either going to walk away from you or that child might become one in those numbers above I already mentioned.

YOU are their parent. Everything you say, do, or act like they take into account. They look up to you. They value your opinion. They trust you. PTSD is very real, please for the sake of your child and your family, don’t dismiss it! Stop the battling between you over if something is real or not and look at the numbers. It’s very real and you need to be battling PTSD together, not battling each other.

If someone comes to you and says the term “PTSD”, you really need to listen with an open mind. It takes a lot for one who suffers from PTSD to take that step. Listen when they do, if they came to you, they need you.

A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Category: Family (not living together), Uncategorized  Comments off

“Laugh or you will cry”… PTSD

“Laugh or you will cry”… PTSD

Many of you have heard that saying. It’s been around much longer then I have lol. Nope, I couldn’t let my other posting this morning be so short lol, you know me… I had to write more.

Anyway, this saying is very true a lot of the time when it comes to PTSD. Sometimes you have to force a smile or laugh at something, why? Because it hides the tears, the pain, and gives you the strength to fight the battle… PTSD.

PTSD brings a lot of very serious things and situations, and it does not matter if you are the one who suffers from it or the one standing beside someone who does. And let me tell you, PTSD will bring you to rock bottom really fast, the lowest, worst feeling point in life you can imagine… if you let it. I know you are going to experience rock bottom sooner or later, and maybe many times, but picking yourself back up has to be done to survive what PTSD does or will bring.

I learned a long time ago that if I focused only on the bad things that we go through, the rough times, and the “oh what am I going to do?” with continuous tears rolling down my face… PTSD was going to win! Well, I’m a little hard headed and that thought did not settle too well with me!

I will be the first to tell you, PTSD is going to TRY to break you, wear you down, disrupt your life, tear your relationships apart, and cause many to welcome the thought of death just to be relieved from it. YOU are the only one that can change that! You have to FIGHT! YOU ARE WORTH THE FIGHT!!!

I stick by my saying “PTSD effects the Best of the Best”. It does! It takes a strong person to get to the point of PTSD developing, and it takes a strong person to battle it when it does. If that does not equal “the best of the best”, then I honestly don’t know what does!

It’s okay to be down for a little while, that is a normal human reaction to what has happened. But then you have to find a way to pull yourself back up and don’t let PTSD win! YOU are better then PTSD!!! And I will say that a thousand times over if I have to for you to believe me.

It’s okay to cry, again we are all human. Crying releases some of the hurt and pain of what you are going through. And guys, it does NOT mean you are weak if you shed a tear! It makes you stronger! Then you wipe those tears away and remind yourself that PTSD is not as strong as you are and it won’t win!

I have found that when there is a battle before us or myself, if I silently laugh at PTSD (not at my husband of course!) and say “okay, you gave me another challenge to face” or I smile and think of something positive… what does that do? It gives me strength to challenge PTSD back!

It’s like a child saying “nanny nanny boo boo” and they stick their tongue out lol, from a child that’s a way of taking on a challenge. Now please lol, as an adult you might not want to say or do that in that manner… unless it really makes you feel better!  😉 But you can laugh or smile and give the same challenge.

It’s a way of surviving. It’s a way of finding the good things even when the worst is upon you. It’s a way of fighting what PTSD can, will, or did bring. And in that laugh or with that smile, you might just stumble across life in there too. 😉

So, when I make “lite” of things, use a lot of smiley faces, or “lol”, or tell about things that seem so far off of the topic… it’s not that I am dismissing PTSD, what it brings, or what we all experience. We ALL know what PTSD does to ALL of us. It’s my way of showing you how to survive. How to take a step forward. Or my way of offering you a hand to help you out of a hole PTSD has stuck you in.

Battling PTSD does take a support system. It takes someone who knows how to listen, ones that understand what you are talking about, ones who have been there themselves, and by all means those willing to learn. But it also takes someone reminding you this battle is worth the fight, worth the reminder to smile, and worth the chance to laugh again. Life does not have to stop with PTSD, sometimes it just takes someone to care enough to remind you with a gentle push. And if that push is a smiley face or talking about something else for a little while, you can bet I’m going to be the one to do it! 🙂

Laugh or you will cry… it can work many times for this battle of PTSD. 😉

A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

How do you have fun?

How do you have fun?

I’ll be honest, that is a very tough one with PTSD! You have the weight of the world, the weight of the past, and everything in between on your shoulders. “Fun” is something that can easy drift away and almost like it has been forgotten.

You may find yourself stuck in the ruts of what everyday life brings then one day you realize you never have fun anymore. You know you use to laugh a lot, you use to go places, you use to do things that now you find impossible to do. You may be working so much you are exhausted by the time you get a break or day off. You may be taking care of someone else, you may be so focused on getting better… and the reality of it all just doesn’t find the meaning of fun very much if any at all.

I think no matter what your situation is, sometimes you have to force fun to happen. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s really true. Having fun doesn’t always come easy and many times if you don’t do something to make it happen, it won’t.

When our friends came to visit a few weeks ago, we actually made an agreement. We “scheduled” fun lol! I’m serious! We said that the weight of the world was not going to interfere with that time and everyone could use a break to just have fun. We talked and laughed about the good ol’ days, we went someplace we use to go as teens, we told old stories and listened to our kids laugh at us, we had fun with and watching the kids have fun, we cracked stupid or silly jokes, and I’m sure looked like fools at one point or another, but you know what??? Who cares! We DID have fun… we found fun! And it was simple things that still left PTSD in a comfort zone.

Craig’s anxiety was way up before our friends got here, but you know what… I saw him truly smile and laugh that weekend too! 

I think it really boils down to realizing that even with everything you may be going through, or have to do, you have to take a break from life to make time to enjoy life also. 

A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

What is PTSD?

What is PTSD?

Sometimes we need to get back to the basics of what PTSD is, especially for those of you that are just starting to learn or have not heard of PTSD before.

PTSD is the abbreviation for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Majority of the time you will not see it spelled out and “PTSD” or “PTS” are commonly used.

PTSD is a psychological reaction to a highly stressful event(s)/trauma(s) which is/was outside of normal human range of experience. It is caused by experiencing or witnessing life threatening harm to oneself or that of another person. PTSD can effect anyone who has experienced a severe trauma where the symptoms last more then a month. Many believe it is only military related, which is untrue. Civilians can develop PTSD the same as one who had a military experience. The trauma experienced may be different, but the symptoms from “what happened” are much the same no matter what the trauma was that one experienced.

Some examples which could lead to PTSD developing:

* Military, Law Enforcement, Emergency personnel, Prison Guards, Doctors, Nurses, etc. related event(s).
* Car accident.
* Personal physical attack.
* Rape/Sexual Assault.
* Home invasion.
* Child abuse.
* Natural disaster.
* Witnessing a death of one close to you.
* Abuse (adult)
* Major surgery (such as breast cancer and stroke patients)
* Kidnapping or Torture.
* Mugging or Robbery.

Virtually any trauma that is life-threatening and damages the physical and/or emotional state or well being of an individual or causes intense fear.

Symptoms of PTSD:

  •  Reoccurring thoughts/re-experience of what happened.

Nightmares of the event.  Flashbacks.

  •  Dissociative symptoms.

Can include memory issues. If you have not heard of this one, please research it! This can in many cases explain things that do not seem to be PTSD related symptoms.

  •  Avoidance of people, places, or things that remind one of their trauma they experienced.
  •  Increased Arousal. Feeling keyed up.
  •  Sleep problems.
  •  Anger, Frustration, Irritability.
  •  Negative changes in beliefs and feelings.

May include guilt, fear, shame, lack of self-worth.

  •  Self destructive behavior. Such as alcohol or drug abuse.
  •  Suicidal thoughts or attempts.
  •  Physical symptoms can co-occur with PTSD.

Such as heart disease, digestive issues, upset stomach, high blood pressure, diabetes, and others.

  •  Other mental illnesses can co-occur with PTSD.

Such as depression, survivor’s guilt, dissociation, and others.

These are a few of the most commonly seem symptoms of PTSD.

Developing PTSD does not mean a person is weak, which is a huge misunderstanding by many. It means the person has experienced something beyond what is normal. Many people who develop PTSD may have experienced more then one trauma, compiling the traumas. Again, anyone could develop PTSD after a life threatening trauma, it is not based on being weak or weak minded.

There are many different treatments and therapies to help manage PTSD. It is highly recommended to seek help as soon as possible! The sooner you seek professional help, the sooner you can learn to develop ways of coping and managing the symptoms, as well as being able to maintain a more normal lifestyle.

Having a support system of some form, rather it is family, friends, support groups, online support, etc is urgent. These things are needed not only for the one who suffers from PTSD, but for family members as well. It is in your and your loved one’s best interest to take time to learn as much as you can about PTSD, the better educated you and your loved ones are, the stronger you will be to “battle” and cope with PTSD symptoms, as well as what can come with living life with or beside PTSD.

PTSD is not new. PTSD has been around for many, many years… just known as other names such as shell shock, battle fatigue, and soldier’s heart. With the technology in today’s society, PTSD has become a more known name due to the many forms of awareness and ones speaking out to the public in hopes of helping others and reducing stigma. Past generations suffered alone in many cases due to the stigma which does come with PTSD and the lack of information provided. Thus in the past, majority of known cases were related to military and other cases were unreported.

These are some of the basics of PTSD. There is a lot that can be learned as well as taught regarding PTSD. Rather you believe you know someone who suffers or not, the hard fact is, you probably already do or sooner or later you most likely will know or meet someone who does suffer from PTSD. Learning about PTSD could very well help save lives. PTSD is a very real disorder and has touched many, many, people’s lives. It is not something that one can just snap out of, get over, or forget about. When PTSD affects one’s life, they relive the trauma they experienced each and every day, it is not just going away. Ones with PTSD are very strong individuals who fight every day to make it to the next the best they possible can and to be there for their family/loved ones, have a heart, please take the time to educate yourself.

One who suffers from PTSD is no different then you or I, they have just experienced something we may have not.

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Anger or Outbursts

Anger or Outbursts

Let’s be real! We ALL know these two things can come with PTSD. We also know that the person they come from does NOT mean to take them out on others! So let’s go over some things that can help when or if these times do come. Knowing things that can help ahead of time can change how things are handled during these times.

I have to add this in  I’m not a doctor of any sort, just a spouse who has experienced what comes with PTSD, so I can not give medical advice and if you have or are in an emergency situation please contact a professional NOW. The following are my opinions, what has worked for us or others.

Things to try:

* Retreat.

There is nothing wrong with going to a room away from everyone when you are angry or could be verbally or physically harmful to others. By retreating away from everyone, to a safe place for you… mind you, it helps keep conflict down, allows you time to cope and regroup your emotions without others “chattering” in the background. Once you calm down and are able to cope with the feelings you are experiencing, then you can return to being around your family/friends.

Now, partners/family/friends. If you see someone retreating DON’T follow them! Let them have their space to cope and calm down. If they are retreating from a situation they are doing what is in the best interest of everyone! Give them their space! The ONLY time you would have to intervene is if you know they are intending or showing signs of harm to themselves.

* Make some signs.

You might think this is silly, but it works! Make them ahead of time so you have them exactly when you need them! It could be for your personal space, for your front door when you don’t want visitors, anything! When you are angry, words are only going to sound hurtful and that silly little sign could mean a lot more.

Some examples:

“PLEASE give me my space right now. I love you and will be out once I am coping better”

“I just need my dog right now but I do love you and will be out shortly”

“I don’t want to take this out on you, please give me some space to cope for a little while”

“No visitors today, sorry. I/We will catch ya later. Thank you!”

“No visitors today, ONLY deliveries may knock/ring. I will see all others later. Thank you!”

Signs are wonderful to use! They allow you to voice yourself in times when you may not be able to nicely. And by following up your message with the positive note of you will see them later or come out once coping also gives others the piece of mind that you just need your coping time and it’s not personal against them. 

* Punching bag.

You think I’m kidding lol, I’m serious! If you know you have anger that gets out of control, especially on things or people, get a punching bag to hit away at instead of venting it on your loved ones or things you have worked so hard for. This allows you to vent but at the same time saves the heartache of what comes later if you vented anger on a loved one or things. Direct your anger to the bag and not other things or people. This can help you as you learn other coping skills that can help and you might just find out that one day that punching bag isn’t needed anymore. And if you don’t have one or are unable to get one, a pillow can work just as well.

* Stress Ball.

Those hand size therapy balls that are squeezable. When you feel anger escalating start using one. It may seem simple or as if something so small could not help, but you might be shocked at what it can do. And if you are one that throws things, until you learn to cope and not throw things, these little balls could save a lot of damage from being done. Throwing things at times is a form of venting anger so until you learn to control that anger, if you are going to throw something due to the anger reflex, throw something that won’t do any damage. BUT work on those coping skills so the throwing things can go away. 

* A pet.

Okay I’m going to be pretty serious on this one, you HAVE to have enough coping skills on this one so your beloved pet is not in danger of you harming it!!!

Pets are miracle workers! They love you unconditionally, they don’t talk back… well lol, not in human voice, and they would do anything for you. Pets also have proven to reduce blood pressure and are a help to many different responses of the human body.

You don’t have to have a well trained or specialized animal to use an animal for coping purposes.

BUT, you do have to be able to understand NOT to take your anger out on that animal. If you know you could be a harm to your pet do NOT take it in the room with you, wait until you calm some to bring it in. Here’s what you can do… once you stop pacing, which when angry most people do, sit down or lay down and wait for your pet to come to you. That animal will know when it’s safe to approach you, so don’t force it to come to you.

It’s body language gives you a neon sign to what you are feeling rather you can see it in yourself or not. If your anger level is still too high you can tell by the way that animal responds or does not respond to you. Focus on that animal and nothing else! Watch it, look at how it is acting. Really study it’s body language and think about it or even talk out loud about how it is acting or ask yourself why does it tuck it’s tail or why is it wagging it’s tail. Animals can tell you a lot if you focus on them, and they don’t have to say a word. You don’t want your pet to be scared of you, it loves you and you love it. Put all of your focus on it. Before you know it your focus on that pet will help reduce your anger and your pet will come closer and eventually to you where you can pet it. And you have done nothing but focus on that pet.

Then there are those animals that nudge or follow you when they sense you are upset. Again, DON’T take anger out on them!!! However, yet again, focus only on that animal, they are trying to tell you something! Let them calm you, focus on them but do not lay a hand on them or yell at them. Focus on how and why they are acting the way they are.

Once your pet comes to you, pet it. And keep petting it. Petting an animal will reduce stress and anger and again, reduce blood pressure. Animals can give a great form of teaching you to cope better with what you are feeling. And they don’t mind if you cry on them either.  After anger, many times the tears will come and I promise you a pet will not tell anyone if that happens. 

* Writing.

Okay, I’ll be honest, as good as it is to write and vent in that way, if you are extremely angry writing may not be where your focus is going to be and throwing that pen and paper might be a more factual response. With some, writing when angry helps, with others not. So that one is up to the individual. I can help to write your feelings and emotions down even after the fact though, or when you feel it building.

* Take a walk or do something.

Ladies are known for cleaning house in full gear when they are angry. Any type of physical movement that is not a harm to others can help release anger. Do something that is not destructive.

* Sleep.

This one is doctor approved by the way. If you are having a hard time coping with anger, go lay down away from everyone. You might be shocked at how you can actually fall asleep when angry. It’s the body’s way of saying “okay enough, time to rest”. This is one of the easiest ways to put anger at bay. And when you wake up, one you will be more rested, and two you can in a way start the day over. If sleeping is what it takes to cope, there is nothing wrong with doing it, and at any time of the day. Your anger might have actually stemmed from lack of sleep in the first place. 

* Listen.

If someone tells you you are acting “off” or off balance, listen to them! They are not being mean or attacking you, they are pointing something out before it escalates. They are giving you a warning so to speak that it’s time to use coping skills. Take note of what others say. And to others, SAY IT NICELY! Don’t say things rudely to where you are going to set their anger off!

* Professional help.

This one is a given.  Many times it takes an “outsider” to help you though things and how to better understand yourself and what you are going through. Don’t toss that to the side when it can help you learn how to manage symptoms.

* Coping skills.

Oh learn them and use them! They can help! Rather it’s music, a hobby, breathing exercises, exercise, meditation (which has MANY different forms you can use anywhere), anything that can help you keep balance in the way you feel or how you handle those feelings when they come. And this does not only go for the one with PTSD, spouses/partners YOU need to learn them too!!! When everyone in the family learns to cope and learns how to keep a balance it makes things A LOT easier!!

To say the least, as always, these are only a few things that can help. No matter what you do, learn what works for you and keep trying new things until you do find something that helps.


A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Doctor Appointments

Doctor Appointments

Do you attend doctor appointments with your PTSD (or any other mental disorder/illness for that matter) partner?

This is something a lot of people do not really think about to be honest. I mean, it’s not an appointment for you, so why should you go? Why should you take off work for it, if you work? Isn’t it the other person’s “problem”? Many people who are not a caregiver to the person where they know they really need to do these things, may just not think about them.

OH, let me let you in on a few things you might not have thought about. When a mental condition is at hand, no matter what it may be, or another health issue which may be severe or even stressful for the one with it, YOU might want to at least ask the person if they would like you to go with them. And don’t forget, at times they may say no because they already feel as if they are a burden, point out and talk to them about why it would be good for you to go.

I have heard several people say “It’s his/her problem, so I don’t go to his/her appointments.”

Well, I have news for you, if that person is someone you love, help care for, or is your partner in life, you might want to really look at what you are saying.

Here’s a few reasons why:

* First off, it’s a form of support. 

Even if you do not do anything but sit in the waiting room, that person knows you are there if they need you. Sometimes doctor appointments can also be emotional and you being there can help them and also help them when they are leaving the appointment if they are too emotional to drive or having to cope with what was discussed in the appointment.

* Information.

There is no better way to know the information that could in many cases be important to both of you then to be there. At times a person may have memory issues or not remember details for a longer length of time. This is common with not only PTSD, but other conditions as well. In these cases, between that appointment and them getting back home some of the important information needed may not be recalled. By being there, you are more apt to get the information that could help them, especially right after an appointment if you do not sit in on it. It also keeps you informed of things they may have been advised to do or try. By knowing it gives you the advantage to help them stay on track with their treatment and progress.

* Being included in appointments.

If the one who has the appointment tells the doctor they want you included in the appointment, many doctors are more then welcome to include you. There may have to be a paper signed by the patient stating the doctor can include you, for privacy purposes, but that’s okay. The only time I have ever found that you really would not want to sit in on an appointment is if it is a one on one therapy session, but even with those, sitting in the waiting room can be a huge help. Especially if the doctor has questions for you about something that has come up in the session. When two people are trying to work through life with a mental illness, it’s good for both of you to be on the same page and being on the same page in many cases means being there at those appointments.

This also gives you the opportunity to ask questions to the doctor of what you can do or how you can handle certain things. It helps you help your PTSD loved one.  It also gives you the chance to work together which is urgent.

* Medications.

It is always a good idea to know the medications your partner is taking! Even if the one with PTSD is fully capable of handling their medications on their own, there are still very good reasons for you to know this information also. If there is ever a medical emergency, you have the information to give professionals which may not know your loved one’s medical history. Also by you knowing their medications it gives you a better idea of what the doctors are treating them for and why, how to help, and just simply help them keep up with the medications they should be taking.

And again, if memory is an issue, knowing medications and dosages can be urgent to make sure they take the correct amounts when they need to, also to make sure they do not accidentally overdose! You can also double check to make sure refills are done when they need to be so they always have the medications they need and there is not a lapse of time between refills. Many of the medications for PTSD can not be or are not recommended to be stopped cold turkey, so those delays if not refilled on time can become urgent.

* Memory issues.

I know I’ve already mentioned this several times but I want to add to it. If you know or suspect your PTSD loved one has memory issues at any level, you can be a huge help not only to them but to their doctor as well. MANY with PTSD or even other mental conditions do suffer from some level of memory difficulties.

Many times when memory is a symptom of an illness, doctor appointments can end up seeming like a repeat of the last one. Same things discussed all over again, which leads to no or very little moving forward with treatment. Going to appointments can help keep sessions moving forward! You can give the doctor an update, even if you just sit in on an appointment for 5-10 minutes, and let them know about progress, any difficulties, things you have noticed, how the person has been since their last appointment, and areas you see they could use some extra help in. They need to know about the good days too!

When memory is a part of this, the person may not recall how they were last week or even yesterday. Many times they will say “oh I’m doing okay” or “not good”, when in fact they may have hit rock bottom 3 days ago or maybe they actually had an awesome day/week. Many do answer the question with the here and now of how they are feeling right then which can be misleading to what they have been like or going through. You giving their doctor an update, even if brief, can help the doctor know exactly what has been going on so they can help the one with PTSD in the areas needed at that time.

* Making notes.

This can be a life saver! Make notes of things you have noticed between appointments. If you are sitting in on an appointment it is important that YOU do not “take over” THEIR appointment! However a good way to experience a better appointment is to take notes ahead of time and nothing lengthy but specific points of concern and also the good days. If you notice something is being left out during a session that needs to be addressed it’s good to add in “I noticed…” Could you help him/her/us with this.

If you can not attend an appointment, ask the doctor if you can email them notes before a visit or drop them off if it’s not out of the way. They most likely will not respond to you unless proper paperwork is in order for them to do so, but just making sure they get the information can help out a lot! And it only takes a few minutes to call the office and say “Could you please give Dr. [name] a message for me. Please let him/her know that [name]’s spouse sent him/her an email to help out with the appointment later today/tomorrow.” Any good doctor will take the time to review what you have sent to them!

You are the one living with the person, therefore you have a lot of information the doctors could use in making sure your loved one gets the best time of every visit they have. Notes can be extremely important, just make sure they are helpful and not an attack… or that doctor may wonder if you are actually trying to help the one with PTSD… or not.

These are just a few examples of how being involved in your loved one’s care can be beneficial to them… and you/your family. And if you are one with PTSD (or other medical condition), think about including your partner in your treatment! They could really be a huge help to you. Working together, even when it comes to doctor appointments, can be a huge help to everyone and help you move forward! 

A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

When you first start learning about PTSD OR a Reminder…

When you first start learning about PTSD OR a Reminder

There is A LOT to learn about PTSD, I will not lie to you and I will not tell you it’s going to be easy. It’s not going to be! But just because it’s not easy does not mean it’s not possible to make it through it or make things better. The more you learn, the more effort you put into trying and understanding, the better things can become.

PTSD is not going to just go away. It’s not something that you can just say “this can not be happening” and ignore it hoping things will be better tomorrow, and it’s sure not something to battle alone! When you do not face the truth of PTSD, do not accept it, and do not try to learn… you can almost guarantee life is going to get harder then what you are already experiencing.

There are a few terms/phrases you are going to hear very often related to PTSD (other then what’s in text book definitions)…

* Roller coaster ride

PTSD has that nick name for a very good reason, because that is exactly what you are going to feel like you are on! Every day can be different, especially before one learns to cope with PTSD (no matter which side of the fence you are on with PTSD). And even then, there will be days that a quick turn could be hit, then back again.

One of the golden rules of PTSD is to take one day at a time. Don’t have overwhelming expectations and learn the “tricks” to get through what does come. It’s not going to happen overnight, there’s going to be a lot of trial and error, and again a lot of effort, but things can get better then they are right now!

You are going to feel like your world and life have been turned upside down then back again, but with learning and putting good effort into it, things can get better and symptoms can be managed. PTSD is not going away, but there are ways of coping and managing it that can reduce the symptoms and put some symptoms at bay, so to speak. But it will not be handed to you on a silver platter and you are not going to just wake up one day and PTSD be gone. You have to work at it to make things the best they can possibly be! But things CAN be better then what they may be right now, but you have to actually DO something!

* Walking on eggshells

This is a phrase you will learn very fast, especially if you are a loved one of one with PTSD. You are going to find things “appear” as if you never say anything right, you can’t do anything right, you may “think” you can’t express your own feelings or emotions, you may even feel fear of PTSD, and you are going to experience the feeling of being alone, even though that person may be physically right beside you. And when a good day is experienced you might even feel like you are waiting for the other shoe to drop and wonder when everything is going to turn around again. Over time these things can change! Again, the more you learn, and understand, the better things can become. You will never understand exactly what the one with PTSD went through, you are not them and most likely you were not there when what happened to them happened, however you can learn to understand what they experience now as a result of what happened to them in the past.

Always remember, the nasty things that may come with PTSD are not the person you love, it’s PTSD. The person you love has not left, they are still there and you just have to find ways that work for you and them to help some of their old self shine through. I learned a saying a long time ago, “I know this is not you talking/acting this way because you would never do that, I know this is PTSD”… that one phrase may be the understanding I found that saved us.

When you find yourself walking on eggshells, make sure you are taking care of yourself! Take time to do something for yourself, even if it’s just getting outside, away from everyone for a few minutes. Self-help will help things become a lot better then they may be right now. And my goodness, learn the same coping skills one with PTSD learns!!! I can not say that one enough, you would be shocked at how much they can help you through the rough times. If you don’t take care of yourself physically and mentally, how are you going to be able to help or take care of someone else? You won’t be able to, and you may very well find yourself standing in the same shoes as the one with PTSD.

PTSD can have many different levels to it. Some can still function and maintain a somewhat normal life, others can be more severe to the point they have to rely on someone else to help them make it through each day, and everything in between. No matter what level of severity you or your loved one may experience, educate yourself on everything you possibly can about PTSD and the real life things that come with it, not just textbook symptoms! Doing so can give you the knowledge to battle PTSD on just about anything that PTSD can bring.

My husband and I do share our story, our experiences, and things we have found that do or can help. If my writings about our life can help just one person make it through living with or beside PTSD, then everything I do is worth it! I did not have help when things were at there worst, I battled what my husband was going through totally alone, and I do not wish that upon anyone! My words come from the heart and our experiences. I can place it all in writing but what you do with it from there is up to you. Whatever you choose to do or not do is up to you, but whatever it is, DO something to make things better for yourself and/or your loved ones.

I’m not a doctor or in any medical field. But I am a spouse that has been there and continue the battle PTSD each and every day of our lives, and I share our story with you!

Work together! Battling PTSD together instead of battling each other will help you accomplish much more in life. The battle is not between you and your loved ones… the battle is PTSD.

“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”