Archive for » August, 2013 «

Let me tell you a story: More on when to teach children

Let me tell you a story…

You know how I always say teach children? It does not matter what age they are, they can learn on their age level. I have a golden rule, children are curious by nature and majority of the time when they are ready to learn more they ask questions.

I am proud to say that both of my kids (18 and 13 years old now) are really good about teaching others about PTSD. They have grown up in a home with PTSD and really do understand it, they have done REALLY well.

Well, yesterday was one of those days for me. My son, my oldest, and I were having a heart to heart talk and he brought up some really good things. He’s older now, works, will be starting college in a few months, and just loves Craig tremendously! (Craig is step-dad, since my son was 8 years old) Even though Craig has severe PTSD and other medical issues, it has never stood in the way of the kids looking up to him.

Well, my son was telling me about the things/symptoms he sees in Craig. And to speak honestly here, he also sees what PTSD and it’s symptoms have done to Craig over time. I found myself explaining memory issues, something that’s been a symptom for many years. But my 18 year old was worried. He’s noticed that Craig’s memory is getting worse over time, that Craig can not do a lot of the things he use to be able to. I heard “Mom, some of these things Craig is the only one who knows how to do them. He’s forgetting things that were so second nature to him. How can I help?” 

I chuckled, shook my head a little, I mean this has been everyday life for Craig and I for years, we are use to it. But my son has really picked up on it the past few months. I then replied “Son, it’s just all a part of it and what Craig is going through, just because he doesn’t remember things does not change who he is.” I got a “But what can I do?” I smiled and said, “All of those things that Craig still knows, take extra time and learn from him. It’s no different than a parent without PTSD teaching their children what they know, to pass it on to the next generation. Take the time to learn the things you want to while we know Craig still holds those memories.”

See, Craig and my son spend a good deal of time together on Craig’s good or better days. Now that my son is the age he is, he has a greater interest in cars, stereos, computers and what makes them tic, “manly” chores around the house, etc. All the things Craig is extremely knowledgeable with. Some of those things have already started to or have faded from his memory, and it’s been noticed by my son. It really showed how much he looks up to Craig. He was fearing that he wouldn’t be able to learn what Craig could teach him.

Then the conversation went on to “But I don’t want to bother him if he’s in the bedroom. So how do I know when or if he can help me with things.” Well that was a simple reminder, because the kids do already know this. He’s just at an age where he wants to make sure he’s doing things right and paying closer attention to things as well as other people’s feelings or what they need. “I always mention if the door is closed if a movie is being watched, if a nap is happening, if it’s a rough day, etc. Those are ques for you. Even though the door is closed a lot, it does not mean you can’t knock on it. It can never hurt to ask, the worst scenario is you get told maybe later or not today.”

Seeing where this was going and the conversation already at hand, I then went on to explain that ones with PTSD many times feel like they are a burden to others, or their PTSD will effect others, so at times they try to keep a distance. Along with the fact that one’s with PTSD are effected by crowds, expectations, etc. (something he also knew so another reminder at a different level of learning or noticing things) It also comes with “feeling” that you are not as worthy as you use to be to many. Which can cause one with PTSD to second guess themselves and not just jump into doing something or helping out with something.

Then I went on to explain that if he wants to spend time with Craig or wants him to teach him something, just ask. It’s something that helps BOTH of you! You learn from him but at the same time it helps him know he’s needed and wanted, and the reality that he is not a burden at all.

I explained how battling PTSD wears one down. It’s hard to have energy when you don’t sleep well, always battling to keep the symptoms in check and coping with them, etc. How the medications can cause side effects, with Craig’s one is heat sensitive, so that plays a huge role on when he can or can’t be outside.

Yep, a huge light bulb went off lol. “Cool, got it mom. Thank you!”

It was another turning point to educating. The kids know the do’s and don’ts, how to respond to things, rules in our house, understand what PTSD is (not details of what happened) and the basic symptoms that come with it, they know and understand they are loved even if Craig is not with them ALL of the time, etc. But this time the step was learning the why to how one with PTSD feels, thinks, and views things. And let me tell you, it was an amazing step to see! That young man has a heart of gold!

Before he left yesterday he knocked on the bedroom door, Craig responded, and my son said, “Hey dad, is there anything I need to help you or mom with around here before me and [girlfriend] take off?” 

The kiddo got it! 🙂

Now, there’s a flip side to this also though. What about the PTSD parent?

It’s hard knowing your kids are taught things differently, have to learn different rules then other kids, life is different. That can weigh on one with PTSD and cause a lot of guilt.

Well, let me tell all of you something.  This is the hand we were all dealt, facts on the table, and those kids are not going to love you any less! It is just a fact of being a child of a PTSD parent to learn things differently, it does not mean you are a burden on a child because of that. The quality of time you spend with them is much greater than the amount of time. Proven fact!

You have to keep in mind that even though a child is being raised in a home with PTSD, that child learning the things that need to be learned in a PTSD home will carry with them through life. It will help them become well rounded, non-judgmental adults, they won’t have the stigma that many children are raised with, and they will be a great addition to society itself! Look at my kids for example. I have a 13 year old that will tell anyone that her dad (step-dad) is an awesome man and a great dad and she loves him dearly… and he has PTSD. She doesn’t judge others, she doesn’t fear PTSD, she uses what she’s been taught to educate others, and loves her dad greatly. That speaks volumes!!!

Learning is a part of life. Just because a child has to learn something or a way of life differently than someone else, does not mean it’s bad for them. It’s not something you, as a PTSD parent, should view as you have caused something negative or that child should not have to deal with this. YOU can teach them a way of life that can be so valuable not only to that child but to others as well, through that child. No, the hand dealt is not a fair one, but it does teach so much more about life then a lot of kids get. So don’t let it weigh you down, use it to teach and learn. Don’t be too judgmental on yourself! 😉

Just something to think about. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Getting offended and PTSD

This was something that came up on here, so I wanted to talk about this a little more…

“One thing I would like to mention, however, is that just like women get so offended when they are angry or having a bad day and their spouse or kids ask “Is it your time of the month?” (In other words discounting the validity of their anger or problem) so too does [name] (and I imagine other PTSD victims) when I suggest that his anger or mean words are due to his PTSD. What do you think?”

This can be a tough one! In different situations, different things could be going on. Maybe they are honestly mad and it’s not because of PTSD, maybe PTSD has a great hold on them to where they are not realizing how they sound or are acting, maybe it’s embarrassing to hear someone tell them that… to them it might not seem real that they were acting in that way, maybe even the fact they were confronted on it caught them off guard… thus the response. And sometimes being angry allows them to get to another stage of coping.  Just like mentioned, kind of the same response when a woman is confronted with PMS  It gets taken personally!

Normally, one who lives with the one who has PTSD pretty much knows and can tell the difference between what is PTSD outbursts/bad days and what are normal responses. No matter what the reason behind the anger, one has to “own it”, as we say it around here. In order to get past something, to a better place, you must first “own it”. You have to realize that your partner is trying to help you by pointing out to you what they are seeing. The fact is, PTSD does not always allow you to see it, and by someone helping out with a simple “I think this is your PTSD saying this or acting this way” is a form of helping one realize and notice their words/actions so you can work on controlling or managing it.

And there might just be a little of PTSD “wanting” that fight there too. I’ve seen this many times and sometimes it’s hard to get through to one when the fight is there. If you know that this person does not/did not speak with anger or harsh words before, then it’s a pretty good bet it’s PTSD causing it. When PTSD gets a hold on one, it can very realistically be a fight or flight.

Bad days. Most likely the one with PTSD already realizes it’s a bad day, and they are probably fighting it, trying to get past it, trying to cope with it, and yes… it being pointed out could offend them. And it’s common for the one pointing it out to hear somethings along the lines of “REALLY?” or “No Sh**!” back. This is when wording is going to mean everything. I’ve gotten to the point of saying “I notice you’re kind of off balance today, is there anything I can do?” That one seems to help the most. I’m pointing out what I’m seeing but at the same time I’m asking how to help. Normally the response is “It’s just one of those days.” Which is fine, but at the same time I was able to point out what I am seeing without it being taken as an offense.

Communication. There is no reason to take offence to someone pointing things out that could be causing issues that could effect the other person (as long as it’s not in a nasty way or fighting back). I know it’s not what one with PTSD wants to hear, but it can help so much. It helps keep communication good between people, it helps for one to notice when extra coping may be needed, it helps one with PTSD recognize what is happening so it’s not taken out on someone else, and just as I tell spouses… one of the rules to PTSD is to not take things personally, well this one goes to those with PTSD… when anger or words get pointed out to you, it’s in your best interest not to take them personally either.  Your loved one is simply trying to help you.

If you are getting offended by your loved one pointing out when PTSD is “acting up”, talk about it. Don’t lash back or take offense, talk and let them know what the best way for them to say things to you would be, find the right wording to use for your situation, make up code words (these are awesome) to use. That little extra communication can save a lot of hurt or unsettling feelings for both of you.

Here are some phrases Craig and I use:

* “It’s an off day.” Which simple means PTSD has a grip, and we are letting each other know about it!

* “It’s a down day.” Which means a day where extra coping needs to be used, no expectations, and just focusing on getting through the day the best possible together.

* “I feel [angry, frustrated, depressed, not my self].” Straight up telling how or what you are feeling so both of you are on the same page and nothing gets taken the wrong way! This one will save both of you so much hurt, misunderstandings, etc etc. This is VERY important. BOTH of you need to make sure you know how each other feels, and do not dismiss what either person says.

* “PTSD has a grip on you.” This is now used only at times when it’s getting the best of him and a blunt point needs to be made quickly.

Once you both get to a point of knowing PTSD is in fact there, and you’ve come to terms with that, you can replace the actual word “PTSD” with a phrase or code word when you can or it is appropriate. Sometimes the offense can be there just the simple fact that the word “PTSD” was used. Ones newer to PTSD will use the word often because it’s still that new phase of adjusting to PTSD is in deed the cause, but once you are use to it being a part of both of your lives, sometimes it’s okay to phrase things differently so it’s not mistaken as “PTSD” being thrown in their face, so to speak.

Bottom line is, communicate and find what wording or phrases are comfortable to use in your situation so it can reduce the offense being taken. And remember, these things are not meant to be offensive, they are meant with love and in order to help! Keep that in mind. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Real Life Facts: PTSD Statistics

Real Life Facts

Now that I have everyone curious about what I was up to with my question I asked regarding “what caused your PTSD?”, here it is. 

What are the statistics on PTSD? I have to be completely honest, what I started off doing turned into something MUCH greater! And I want to Thank everyone who participated in my question, I know that it takes a lot to share that, and I want you to know how much I appreciate you helping me out with this.

I did a lot of research on the statistics of PTSD, and to be honest it is hard to get correct information. Numbers can only be used from reported cases or those receiving treatment, and are not reported world wide. So, I did my own little numbers, from real people, right here among us.

Just to add some numbers and extra information to this before I get to my part of this…

“About 3.6 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 to 54 (5.2 million people) have PTSD during the course of a given year.” Using these numbers, that is 18 people developing PTSD every minute! -Source: excerpt from Facts about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: NIMH

It is estimated that 3.5% of the US population suffers from PTSD. And 36.6% of those cases are severe. –NIMH

Only 54.7% of PTSD cases are receiving treatment for PTSD. –NIMH

A study done in 2009 by “Picking Up The Peaces” organization Australia, revealed that 40% of children that had experienced one traumatic event developed PTSD. Also, their study revealed that PTSD diagnoses ranged from immediate to 36 years after the trauma. –Picking Up The Peaces organization

“The medical profession works on a figure of about 25% of people developing PTSD after exposure to traumas such as a serious accident, physical or sexual assault, war or torture, or a natural disaster such as a bushfire or a flood.” – Source: excerpt from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Statistics: Picking Up The Peaces (Australia)

So, those are approximate numbers from reported cases of PTSD within the US and Australia ONLY. WOW!

So seeing these numbers, I wanted to take this a little further with people who are right here within our “family”. And I also wanted to show some of the causes of PTSD. There are many people, due to what the public eye sees, that believe PTSD is only a military issue. It is NOT! PTSD can effect ANYONE who has experienced a severe trauma.

I will note here, since mine and Craig’s story is based around him being a PTSD Veteran and our life, in hopes to educate others, we do have a larger scale of military related people here, but my page is for everyone.

I had 172 people report their cause of PTSD developing. Many of these are from multiple traumas compiled, so the following numbers are based off of the experiences of the 172 people (so numbers will not add up to 172).

Of only 172 people and only traumas reported: (<3 stands for a heart symbol)

Military Sexual Trauma (MST)…03
Military Combat …………………..79 <3 <3  
Military (non-combat)……………05  <3
Childhood Abuse………………….24
Childhood Sexual Abuse…………22
Rape……………………..………….12
Assault…………………..………….09
Adult Abuse…………………….….16
Loss of life of someone close…..17
Medical Procedure/illness/
Injury (non-military)……………...14
Witnessed a death or
Experienced Attempted
Murder (non-military)…………….09
Effected by one with PTSD………..10
Religious trauma…………………..02
Police, Emergency, Contractor,
Prison Guard line of work………..14 <3
Genetic…………………..………….01
Accident………………….………….12
Shooting………………….…………02
Home Invasion………………….…03
Kidnapping/Hostage
(non-military)…………….………..03
Natural Disaster…………………...02
Terrorism (non-military)…………02
Non-detailed cause………………. <3

Those are staggering numbers for the reason why one suffers from PTSD, they are very real, they are not made up, and they show the seriousness of what people experience which leads to PTSD.

But, I took this a little further. Do you notice the hearts next to some of the categories? Have any clue what those are for? Each heart represents a person who took their life by their own hand because of PTSD. Those numbers are looking very real to you now, aren’t they. And I do want to thank the family members for sharing those who committed suicide with me for this. That took strength to come forward and I am glad you are here with us continuing to learn about PTSD after the loss of a loved one. <3

Of 172 people, 5 people took their own lives. And again, that’s only reported numbers directly to me. Folks, that is 5 too many!

PTSD is caused by MANY different traumas, all of them come with extreme seriousness and need to be addressed so that person can get the help and treatment they need. Even though one may experience a different type of trauma than another person, does not make PTSD any less severe. When you place “what happened” to the side, the result of what happened comes with many of the same symptoms. PTSD being the result.

If you have a loved one that suffers from PTSD or you suffer from PTSD yourself, please do not dismiss the facts of PTSD. There are many different things that can help! Please take the time to learn and educate yourself, take the time to care. And get help if you are one that has PTSD, life is precious and each of you are equally important!

Another thing came from this, there are a lot of people that now realize they honestly are not alone! That is huge for one with PTSD! You are not alone, even though at times that feeling will be very real. Just know that there are others here for you!

Thank you again to those who helped me make these numbers so real! I appreciate each and every one of you! <3

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Some basics to living with one who has PTSD

Some basics to living with one who has PTSD

I’ve had a lot of questions come to me the past few days, so I want to touch on some things that for many are “need to knows” quickly. My journal page of my website does contain many of my writings in greater detail, so always feel welcome to use it as a resource when need be.

As I always remind you, I am not a doctor or in any medical field. I am a spouse who lives life beside one who suffers from PTSD and other disabilities, and bring our story and experiences to you as a form of support and personal knowledge of real life with PTSD. If you have an emergency, please contact your local emergency helpline or professionals.

* Acceptance.

PTSD is not just going to go away. You can’t change what a person with PTSD experiences. They are not going to just snap out of it. And many times, if you try to argue or convince them they can “get over it”, especially while they are triggered, you can make the situation even worse. You are not going to be able to “get it out of their head”. That is not facing reality of what PTSD is or what comes with it.

Accepting PTSD and the fact the person does have it will be one of the greatest things you can do to help them. PTSD can be manageable. But it’s not just going away.

* Learn.

The more you learn about PTSD AND the whys to what comes with it, the better things can get and the easier it will be for you to help someone manage and cope with PTSD symptoms.

* Details.

Details of what happened to a person needs to be up to them if they want to share that with you or not. Do NOT push them to tell you! When or if they are ready to, they will. PTSD can come with huge trust issues, you have to give a person time to truly trust you in order for them to share their deepest pains with you, and even then, they might not want to. You have to accept that. Focus on the now and helps them move forward to learn to cope with the symptoms. The past is the past even though it is or can be a very real “now” to one with PTSD. Focus on helping them instead of details of their past.

If you push someone to share what happened, make sure you are prepared for whatever triggers or aftermath comes with that. Sharing details when one is not ready to can stir up PTSD symptoms very quickly!

To those with PTSD, details, or details to a certain point, can help one better understand you, and the “why” to it all. But it is up to you when or if you are ready to share those things that happened.

* Coping skills.

I am a true believer that coping skills help greatly. I have seen them help. They are not going to make PTSD go away, however they help to manage it. They are also highly recommended for those who live with a person who suffers from PTSD, they help keep a balance not only in your home but also within yourself.

* Professional Help.

Always a good idea! Even if PTSD symptoms do not seem severe, it’s always good to have professional help ready or there if needed. Many times just regular visits or therapy appointments can help keep one with PTSD on track and moving forward.

Family members, this goes for you too! PTSD comes with a lot of different ways of life and at times it can become overwhelming. If you are in that position, make sure you reach for professional help yourself. There is nothing wrong with doing that! It does not mean you can’t handle things, it means you are being wise enough to make sure you are taking care of yourself so you can help others.

* Support System.

Everyone needs some type of support system! Even this page is a form of support. Support comes in many forms. Family members, friends, others in the same position, online support, local support groups… there is actually a lot of support available, find what is best for you! Anyone that thinks they can manage this alone really needs to rethink that.

* Benefits.

This is something many come to me about. I know a lot, but this is not my area of expertise lol. If you are having benefit issues, please contact a professional or someone who knows the system well.

For Veteran benefits there is a great organization that can be found at Veterans benefits support. They are awesome and have answered many questions of my own.

* Time.

You are not going to learn everything you need to know about PTSD over night! It takes time, patience, acceptance, and a lot of learning. There is not a quick fix to PTSD, but time and taking steps to DO, will be in your favor to things getting better than they may be right now. Allow yourself and/or the one with PTSD time to learn to manage life with PTSD. Giving up before you take time to learn and understand could be detrimental to you, others, and life itself.

* Words and actions.

Life changes when PTSD becomes a part of it. That’s just a hard, truthful, fact to it all. Words and your actions are very real with PTSD and need a great deal of consideration before being used or done. Be careful with your wording! Some things can in reality set a person with PTSD over the edge, to a place where they feel this battle is not worth fighting. Suicide and PTSD are extremely real! It is nothing to brush off or ignore. The “that won’t happen to me/him/her” does not exist when PTSD enters your life.

* Suicide or Suicidal Thoughts/Tendencies.

Continuing what I was saying…
These are extremely real even to a person who would have never had thought these things before. PTSD and the symptoms cause a lot of changes to ones life, this goes for family members also! Make sure you educate yourself on signs of suicide as well as ways to prevent or manage the feelings when they come. Having the knowledge ahead of time can be extremely important. And could never well save a life!

* Emergency Numbers.

ALWAYS have emergency numbers, addresses, etc on hand! When or if an emergency arises, you do not need to be trying to locate these. Have a list made ahead of time!

* Communication.

I preach this one!!! Until you start communicating with each other, it is going to be a hard struggle with making it through what PTSD brings to your life. The battle before you is PTSD, NOT each other. Work together so you can find ways to improve your life with PTSD being a part of it.

* Trial and Error.

This is a part of life. But when you add PTSD to it, that part becomes even larger. Don’t give up on trying to find things that work for you. And understand that what may have worked for you at one point might also change as your symptoms change. There is no one set guideline to follow, each person is their own individual and what works for one person may not work for another. But you don’t know until you honestly try! When something doesn’t work or help to the point you want it to, don’t give up! Try something else!

These are just a few of the many things that come with managing life with PTSD. Life can be manageable, it’s not going to be the same as it was before, but there IS still life! Take the time to learn and what can help you or your loved one.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

New PTSD Awareness cards are here!!

 

PTSD Awareness Cards are here!

My PTSD Awareness cards are something I do at my own expense within the United States (only) at this time. Due to the printing cost and shipping I can not mail them or have them printed outside the USA. I do NOT collect or ask for any donations or money for these!!! Thank you to those who have offered, but funding for these can not and will not be accepted. I offer these as I can and within my own personal budget.

The ONLY thing I ask, is for your help to get these cards out there so more people can learn about PTSD and know that there are people here for the ones who live life with PTSD.

United States:

If you are interested in having some of my PTSD awareness cards mailed to you, please send me a private message with your name and mailing address, and I will mail them to you.

Other Countries:

I have had some people request to be able to have these cards printed themselves (at their own expense) to use in their area/country. So, I am using a printing company that is world wide and have a document you can use that is formatted for that company to have these cards printed, if you would like to do so. However, if you have my awareness cards printed, it would be at your own expense. I will not be responsible for the cost of anything you choose to have printed. Please send me a private message if you would like more information on this.
Thank you everyone for helping spread awareness about PTSD!!!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Understanding “Me Time” and what comes with it.

I want to touch on something that is very important, and I hate to say extremely common when you have PTSD in your life.

The following comment was made by a “family” member here on the page, and it is being spoken with every ounce of truth to what can happen to the one who does not have PTSD. I want to talk about it a little more in depth. This is for both the one with PTSD and those without it.

“Sometimes doing something for yourself is hard, due to the one with the ptsd accusing you of not wanting to be around them or makes you feel guilty somehow for doing something for you or spending money that “we don’t have” just for them to go spend it and is all good.” – From a “family” member

Understanding “Me Time” and what comes with it.

This is one of the hardest things for a spouse/caregiver of one with PTSD to find in the first place, but also something that is extremely important for their own well being, which does indeed roll over to the whole family. It goes back to, “In order to take care of someone else, you must first make sure you are taking care of yourself.”

When you do not take care of yourself, you will get overwhelmed, there is no getting around that. But with taking that “me time”, there is a lot that does or can come with it. This is when communication HAS to be in place… and the one with PTSD has to understand and accept that this time is very needed. It’s also the time when the spouse/partner needs to understand what and why PTSD responds the way it does.

It by no means is meant that your spouse/partner does not want to be around you! It means that they are doing something to take care of themselves, giving themselves a break so to speak, “In order to be able to better help YOU”.

If a spouse/partner does not take this time, there is a good chance they will start becoming stressed, not able to think straight in order to get things done, not be able to focus on the one with PTSD’s needs, communication can break down, arguments can start… and oh boy that includes them being snappy! It is also a horrible fact that they could start suffering from depression, as well as physical medical issues could start.

Life not only changes for the one with PTSD, it changes for the whole family. When a spouse/partner needs or tries to take some time to/for themselves, it is in everyone’s best interest to let them, without getting upset. (I will go over some things that can help later in this.)

It is very common for the one with PTSD to feel they are not wanted, that someone does not want to be around them, easy to accuse a spouse/partner of things that are not factual, and trust IS a huge issue that many with PTSD have issues with which just adds to it, etc etc etc. There are a lot of things that already come with suffering from PTSD, and then seeing someone want alone time is extremely difficult at times because all of those things, and reactions, and thoughts that PTSD places there, all come to the surface. A huge part is also the guilt you feel, that you are the reason for your partner needing this time, it tampers with self-esteem and self worth. And you know I don’t play sides here, it’s also a serious fact that the roles of these feelings can also reverse and the spouse feel the same things towards the one with PTSD.

This is one of those serious struggles for balance, you are trying to manage PTSD together but at the same time trying to find that place for yourself in order to do so. This takes lots and lots of communication!

Then there is money, as I always say it, “the root of all evil”. And oh is that so very true when you add PTSD to it. Many with PTSD have lost so much that when it comes to money they “seem” to want to hold onto it for themselves and for dear life! Money brings a “sense” of power or control, even though I know it’s not intended that way. It’s just a fact about it and human nature. I am not being harsh towards anyone here! Spouses/partners can be the same way. When you have suffered a great loss in life, and PTSD itself can make you feel that way, you start holding onto or grabbing anything you can and/or using it yourself. Again, this is where you have to find balance.

Then we have to include in here the guilt that comes with taking “me time”. That is a huge one! You finally made the step to do something for yourself, but OH NO, you feel guilty about it! That feeling is very real. I felt that way to start with. When you are taking care of someone, maybe have children also, have the house to clean, yard work to do, managing finances, maybe working… there’s just so much you feel you should be doing instead of thinking about yourself!

But here is the thing, if you do not take that time, where are you going to be come tomorrow, next week, or next month? Worn out and not functioning the way you need to, that’s exactly where you will end up. Over time, and learning to adjust to taking care of yourself, that guilt will fade. You just have to always keep in mind that your time for taking care of yourself is going to lead you to being able to handle and take care of everything and one that you need to. You have to learn to view it by the reason you are doing it, and not by what you are not doing. 

So, now that we have a better understanding of what both sides of the fence experience, what do we do about it? 

* TALK!

Communication is extremely important. And if you don’t have good communication skills in place already, here’s a good place to start.

A simple:

“I’m feeling not like myself today, so I’m going to take a walk. It’s nothing against you, I just need to clear my head.”

“I’m going to go outside for a little while, if you need me I’m just outside.”

By saying things such as these, you are doing several things. You are letting the other person know you are acknowledging they are there, that you are not leaving them you are just doing something by yourself, and if they need you, you are still within range.

I actually do this every single day! I take my me time working on my pond or just sitting by it watching the fish. Or lake down to the lake and do the mindfulness that I posted about earlier today, the here and now and letting everything else just go for a little while. I take Alex, my dog out. But when I do these things, I always let Craig know what I’m doing without directly saying I’m taking me time. If I want him to join me, then I ask him to. Communication, a huge key to all of this!

* Amount of time.

It does not take hours on end of being gone to take me time! You can take just 10 minutes at a time. Taking short more frequent breaks to yourself can help greatly. It keeps you on track but yet does not take so much time away that you start feeling guilty about what you could be doing during that time. It makes it to where you can still run the household but gives you your self balance also. It also gives each of you smaller breaks from each other, which is especially good if you are together all of the time.

If you are taking a longer amount of time away, see if there is a friend or someone your spouse would like to spend time with during that away time. Or something they would like to do. This keeps one from feeling the other is “off having fun” and you have nothing but time to dwell on the “what could be happening”, no place anyone wants to be in. Alternating me time with the other person spending time with someone can also help keep the guilt feelings down and easing the mind to if the other person is okay. It’s really important to make sure you socialize with others from time to time, it’s healthy for both of you… even though it is something that can be difficult.

* Do things together.

When you take the time to do things together, quality time, it makes it easier on both of you to take me time. Together, quality time, helps build trust and provide balance for the times that personal space is needed.

* Avoid guilt trips.

This is actually a really hard one. By doing some of the things I have already mentioned can help keep a balance so one does not feel left out or not thought of and helps avoid anyone feeling guilt or placing guilt onto another. Making someone feel guilty about taking time to take care of themselves can be extremely damaging, to both people as well as your relationship.

* Money.

Many times money is tight in the first place. If this is the case you have to find a balance and agree upon it! Another time when you just have to buckle down and communicate. Money can bring guilt, hurt feelings, and all sorts of things that can be mentally damaging as well as financially damaging. Make a budget. After everything is taken care of, if you have something left over then divide it or make a plan together for what that extra amount will go towards. Spending money is a a way of coping which can be very damaging. Buying things is a short term fix to a bad feeling, that “look what I bought” is going to wear off and then you will be right back where you were. Then, there is a good chance you will feel guilty later about what you spent.

When finances are tight, it can also bring guilt on yourself when you do buy something or spend money on yourself, even if it is something that is NEEDED. You have to be very careful with this and again, find a balance! Money can and does very easily cause relationship problems, and some very serious ones. Don’t allow money to be the cause of these things, find a balance, make a plan, and learn to stick to it. And just a word of advice, always have a plan in place for emergencies! Even if you just set a few dollars a month to the side for it. You never know when an emergency situations will arise, have a plan in place for it.

There are so many things you can do that do not take any money or very little, in order to have me time. Taking time to yourself does not mean you have to use money that may not be there, me time can be anything. And if you are one that changes what you like to do, or get bored easily and like moving on to something different, find things that do not include hefty budgets and expensive gadgets. There are many hobbies that can become extremely expensive, but there are also many that come with very little cost. Think wisely when it comes to these.

* Children.

Oh moms I am aiming this one mainly at you!  I am hearing so many moms say they can’t even use the bathroom without someone interrupting. Um, you have a serious problem going on there! Start setting rules! It is so easy to set a simple rule “If mom is in the bathroom you leave her alone unless it’s an emergency” and enforce it! YOU need your me time too! There ARE ways of having that even if you have small children.

Every parent out there, mom or dad, needs a break at times, even if it’s just a few minutes at a time. And if you don’t make time, you are going to find yourself so overwhelmed it is not funny! There are so many simple things you can put into place inside your home that can give you your time also… even with having small children. Do yourself and your children a favor and set rules or guidelines so you get your time too. And I will tell you right now, I know for a fact that if you teach children now, just simple things, it is going to make the years ahead of you SO much easier!

The bottom line…

The bottom line is, everyone needs me time every now and then. You have to learn to communicate, work together, do not take it personal, and find that important balance. It’s important for everyone, your family, and yourself. Find what works best for you and your situation.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story PTSD”

Something to help with coping with PTSD

I want to introduce something to you, that many may not know about. Craig and I do use this ourselves after it was brought to our attention about a year ago I guess. Wow, did my life change and I found myself being able to manage things better! Including what PTSD can bring. This can be used by anyone! It’s easy, once you learn how to do it 😉 It might take you a little time to learn it because living life with PTSD or caring for one with PTSD does or can keep your brain in high gear much if not all of the time. So this is something that can slow that down.

It not only has been proven to help psychologically, but also can help with the physical body. I have mentioned this before on here, but this time I am sharing an article on it that is very good at describing how it can be beneficial to you. And what am I talking about? Mindfulness. This is not something to overlook, scroll past, or say “that won’t work for me”. If you really try this it can help!

“The Many Benefits of Mindfulness”

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Military who suffer from PTSD

Military who suffer from PTSD

I know my last posting is going to pull on our active duty family, so I wanted to write something directly for you.

I know first hand that to one who serves their country, their job serving their country is worth more to them then their own life. You proved that the day you signed on that dotted line. And I have total respect for that. BUT… I have something I want you to think about.

I know that your greatest concern about reaching for help with PTSD is the fact you think you will be letting your country down by doing so. Come on  I’m a Veteran’s spouse, I know first hand and we have by all means been there.

However, I also know first hand that many with PTSD that reach for help soon enough, do continue their career with the military. I know that does not include everyone, but many still can.

I personally have a friend that retired this year. This friend reached for help and was able to make it to full retirement, and in fact, the military wanted this friend to stay enlisted and not retire! I also know a few others that are here that will be retiring soon. They are living proof that PTSD does not always have to be the end to serving.

Just because you have PTSD does not mean everyone is just going to be kicked out or let go. If you get help and you learn to manage PTSD, you have a good chance of remaining in the military if you choose to. You might not be doing the same exact job you were before, depending on what you do, but you could still be serving your country. And who knows, that new job might be something that helps you get an awesome job once you do retire!

It use to be, if you had PTSD, you were out of there. But times are changing. I am personally seeing more and more active duty that do reach for help, before PTSD gets severe, manage to be able to stay active duty and make it to full retirement.

And I also know for a fact what happens when you cover up your PTSD for too long, you can pretty much kiss your job good-bye, to put it bluntly.

Get help while you are still new to PTSD being a part of your life! There are so many things you will be able to continue to accomplish when you address the battle soon enough. If you think it’s going to be tough to face the stigma and everything that comes with PTSD early on, I can promise you it’s nothing compared to facing it once PTSD is severe and out of control, and what comes with that.

If you have a command that isn’t bending for you to get help, big deal! YOU are a fighter and proven hero, you can handle that. I know you can! You fight for your right to get help so you can continue to do what you want to for your country. Stigma is just words and the fear that comes from people who don’t get it. Don’t let that stop you from helping yourself in order to continue helping your country.

I know each and every one of you will gladly give your life for your country, but giving your life to PTSD without a battle is not going to help you to continue serving. PTSD is manageable, it’s not going away, but it can be managed so you can hold on to what you believe in!

You are military, you were trained to fight all sorts of battles, how is PTSD any different? It’s not! It’s just a different type of battle then you are use to. Don’t brush PTSD symptoms under a rug, fight it and learn to manage it so you have a better chance at that long term career.

I believe in you! I know you are the strong one who can make it through this. But you have to have help to do it. PTSD is not a sign of weakness, it’s actually a sign of great strength of making it beyond what a human being should have to experience. “The best of the best”, there are no other words for it! That is YOU! PTSD is not something to battle alone in silence, I know that for a fact! It will eat at your life on so many levels if you don’t do something. Get help.

Ever single active duty member that steps forward to get help is doing something amazing! You are not only helping yourself, you are helping your other brothers and sisters standing beside you. And that means more than any words can speak.

Just something to think about.

I thank you with every ounce of appreciation for the job you do for all of us. You are a strong hero, PTSD or not, and no one can ever make me feel anything less.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

How to get someone with PTSD to reach for help.

How to get someone with PTSD to reach for help.

I have had many come to me and ask how I managed to get Craig to reach for help. It was NOT easy!!! From day one I heard “But they will think I am crazy and I will lose my career.” And trust me, he LOVED his job and those were fighting words.

The arguments got worse, and we NEVER fought before, fighting was not us or normal! His memory was getting worse, and it was like his whole life was crumbling right before my eyes and there was nothing I could do about it.

I tried everything. Talking to him just lead to fights or hurt feelings. To him, it was a minor problem and not one that he was going to let interfere with everything he worked so hard for.

Going to his command was useless. They just thought I was a wife that wanted him out of the military, which was so far from the truth it was sickening.

Talking to his parents didn’t do any good, I really think they thought I was over reacting.

Craig knew something was happening to him, but he did like many and sucked it up so he could continue to do the job he loved and serve this country.

And I will be honest, the more he held it in and sucked it up, the worse he became.

I was one that did say “I have no clue who I’m married to”, “I have no clue what I have gotten myself into”, and my own emotional battle within myself, roller coaster, began. I was the one being viewed as crazy and “you don’t know what you are talking about”, when in reality I could see very clearly the changes in him. But no one would hear me.

I will be honest, I no longer knew up from down. Every day brought more arguing, less and less communication, a husband acting like a stranger, and he did many things that were totally out of his nature or character. I was literally watching him slip away and there was absolutely nothing I could do to bring him back.

All I knew to do, was to hold on to him for dear life and however I could. And with the things going on back then, and trust me they were the worst things you could imagine, I wasn’t even sure my trying to hold on was helping. There were times it did cross my mind to just let go and let him have his life without me being a part of it. But, I just couldn’t find a place inside of me to do that. After 10 years of us being apart, and then back together, there was no way I was going to let whatever was happening to him take us away from each other. I fought, I fought to hold onto Craig. I knew somewhere in this out of control person, Craig had to be in there fighting to find his way back to the surface. He was a fighter, a leader, and this person standing before me was not the Craig I knew.

Then the day came, and when he hit rock bottom, he hit it hard! We didn’t know it was PTSD back then, we didn’t know what we were fighting. And without knowing, it made the battle that much harder.

When he hit rock bottom, I was then faced with this person that wasn’t only out of control of themselves, but now this A personality person was relying on every word I said, turning to me to guide him through life because he could no longer guide himself, but fighting me at the same time. Craig was lost, lost within himself. There were many very uncomfortable situations that came with it, I had no clue how our relationship was going to survive, let alone he survive himself.

When he hit rock bottom, there was no choice left. It was getting help or it was losing his life. And I was not going to let his life vanish! I screamed from the highest mountain until someone heard my cries. And that person to my shock, was a Chaplain. He forced command to hear me out, and you know what? They started the path to finding out what was wrong with Craig.

I watched a man who was always a social butterfly and center of attention, so full of life, and love, and laughter, fall into this dark place where nothing and no one mattered anymore. I watched him go through just wanting life to end because the pain of whatever this was inside of him, was just too much to battle. I watched his entire world turn upside down to the point it did not seem worth living. That was not my Craig!

Through everything, there was just something there that told me and kept telling me “do not give up on him”. I was faced with not only fighting for myself, but fighting for him, and our family. Because whatever this was, was not allowing him to fight for himself any longer.

It was about 3 years later when we were finally told all of this was PTSD, and now chronic. It wasn’t from all of the things we were told, it was PTSD, and now it was severe because it had gone so long untreated.

To this very day Craig wishes he had looked for help sooner, he honestly feels that if he had, he would be better then he is. And I will be honest, with everything I have seen and heard since then, I also believe the same thing.

I do not know an answer to how to make someone reach for help, the only thing I know to do is share what we have been through and hopefully the ones with PTSD will read this and realize that they do NOT have to be on the same destructive path we were, they just have to reach for help. That reach, and doing it as soon as possible, NOW, may turn your world upside down for a little while, but you know what? It will give you what you need to continue to live, it will give you the coping skills and help you need to not hit that rock bottom place as hard as we did. And it will give you some sense of your life back, even if it is now different. There is nothing out there that is worth more then your own life! The sooner you get help, the better chances you have of continuing what you love to do, saving your family, saving your relationship, and most of all… saving YOURSELF!

PTSD is not just going away. Don’t be hard headed and try to battle it on your own, you won’t like the outcome if you do, and I can guarantee those words… we’ve been there already and we live with the results of waiting every single day of our lives.

There are so many different things now that are known, and can help manage PTSD. But you have to start by listening to your loved ones (and know that that are caring about you when they say something) and facing the fact that something is not right, then reach for help. There is no need for a battle between people, when in fact the battle is actually with PTSD.

Rock bottom is not when you want to start fighting PTSD, do something right now! YOU are worth it! Reach for help so you can live your life better then where PTSD is going to put you if you choose to do nothing. There is no joking bone in my body on that one.

It’s been a long hard path for Craig and I, and we still battle it every day, but reaching for help was the best thing we ever did for him, us, and our family. Don’t wait, do something now.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

September brings an increase in PTSD symptoms for many…

I hate to bring this up, but I know there are A LOT of people having serious PTSD symptoms right now. And it’s not just military, but civilians, first responders, medical staff, etc. etc.

Folks, we are within PTSD’s time range of a serious anniversary in this country. So if you are seeing increased symptoms in PTSD… nightmares, flashbacks, triggers, anxiety… keep in mind one of the most serious anniversaries of this country is within range.

September 11th is an anniversary date none of us will ever forget.

So please have extra patience, use more coping skills, see your doctor/therapist more if need be, and just all be here for each other through this time. Remember to lean on each other and don’t allow PTSD to come between couples or families.

PTSD anniversary dates can cause increased symptoms up to (more or less) a month prior to a month after an anniversary date of a trauma.

Then we have the holidays right behind this. September through New Years can be rough for many. This is the time we must really buckle down and use everything we have learned, so we ALL can make it through.

Many were lost, many suffer, but no one will EVER be forgotten. Please remember you are NOT alone!

<3
Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD