Archive for » October, 2013 «

PTSD and Halloween…

Witches, Goblins, Ghosts, and Werewolves… OH MY!

Today actually can be a difficult day/evening for many…

It’s Halloween!

It brings more activities to your streets, crowds, children running around going door to door, laughing, making all sorts of noises to match their costumes, etc… oh the strangers at your doorstep YIKES!

Halloween and PTSD, some do okay and others not so much.

So what are some things that can help you through this day?

* If you are the non-PTSD parent and the kids want to go trick or treating, make sure you do not pressure the PTSD parent to go! Let that one be up to them. If they choose to stay home, and need someone with them, ask a friend or family member that they are comfortable with to come over for a little while while you take the kids out.

* Start a new tradition if going out is just not a possibility. This actually can be fun! Maybe an early dinner out or dinner and movie time at home, let the kids pick out their favorite candy at the store or something special, use your imagination to do something fun but within PTSD’s limits.

* If you are one that hands out candy, but the door knocking doorbell ringing is just too much, set up a table outside that blocks the door 😉 even decorate it if you want to and sit outside to be able to pass out candy to the neighborhood kids but still have a comfort zone.

* Not the most favorable to the kids out later, but you can always make up little candy bags and put them in a container outside with a printed sign that asks for each person to take one bag. Using a sign with a hand with pointer finger raised can help the little ones know to just take one.

* Another one that can really help, put a sign on the door with an arrow pointing to a neighbor’s house “Pick up your candy from us next door please” and ask a neighbor to pass it out when they pass out their’s. 😉

* My kiddos favorite was having the outside table and THEM being the ones passing out candy! They got to see more people, more costumes, and even make new friends. Sometimes their friends would be having so much fun they would stick around and pass out candy with them instead of going door to door.

* If the one with PTSD does go out, always remember that if it becomes too much for them it’s OKAY for them to return home, don’t over-do it!

* If you are not interested at all in this evening, make sure you turn off your outside lights and you can place a paper over doorbells so they can’t ring or turn them off. Place a sign on the door to help prevent people from knocking. There are always the ones that are going to try anyway, but this idea can help back down the number of people coming to your door.

One that is good, “Happy Halloween… but please Do Not Disturb/Knock

* And I have to add this one in here 😉 PLEASE do NOT leave pets outside on Halloween! It’s just not safe and not all people think before they act, especially with the excitement of the night. We don’t need animals teased or fed candy/other things!

* Flashlights and/or glow sticks. These are awesome! If your kids are trick or treating make sure people can see them! My kids have always loved glow sticks, we would put them in their bag and also have one on them that could be seen. These things just help provide a little more safety.

* And always use safety! No eating candy until an adult checks it! Many hospitals will actually scan candy bags if you would like to stop by one or are passing one while out.

* Use your coping skills and keep an eye out for triggers. But you already know that. 

Well, these are just a few ideas to help you through the day/evening. If you are going out tonight please be safe, and if you are attending an adult type party (drinking) please be careful mixing alcohol or too much, with medications, and make sure you have a designated driver. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

What about PTSD and Cognitive Function?

What about PTSD and Cognitive Function?

I read an article the other day while I was waiting for Craig to finish with his appointment. Then I ran across it again. It really made me stop and think. It was a study done by the University of Texas in Dallas (Source: Association for Psychological Science). It was actually on the aging brain and memory/cognitive functioning, even though it was done with an age group of 60-90 years old, it caught my attention. Okay lol, anything associated with memory catches my attention since that’s one of Craig’s medical issues.

The study was based on using photography, then other things that exercise the brain… word puzzles or classical music, less demanding things. Then things such as photography, quilting, or both. Things that use a higher demand of engagement learning a new skill, used long term memory and other higher level of cognitive functioning.

Anyway, the outcome was basically that doing things that use more cognitive processing, learning and engaging in something new, provided more stimulation mentally as well as socially which lead to improvements of memory, over the activities that were done at home. In a comfort zone.

So, you know this got me to thinking. 😉 It sounds rather simple and common sense to the outcome of the study, BUT what about those who suffer from PTSD?

We know that memory and cognitive functions can be difficult with PTSD for many. So would something like the activities used in this study also benefit those with mental illness/disorders? I’m not a doctor to say the least, but I would believe so.

With the combination of learning a new skill, something you find that you enjoy, getting out of your comfort zone in order to do that activity in some cases, and having to learn the new steps or procedures to it (such as the quilting or photography examples), I would think it could help!

It increases the brains activity and like with photography, gives you something new to experience with each click. I know for example, when Craig and I had to attend the wedding recently he stayed behind the camera taking pictures. He could move around as needed, his focus was on what he was taking a photo of through the lens, and even though he still had high anxiety, he was able to manage being at the wedding for majority of the time. It made it a little easier for him to attend the wedding.

There are so many different things that can help with memory and cognitive function… meditation, reading, music, what you eat or drink, word puzzles, walking, exercising, even sex. The list I am sure is endless. I will add in here, watching TV is one of the things that has been found to decrease brain function, just to note that. 😉

But maybe tossing a few more challenging things into the mix can help with more PTSD symptoms, not only memory and cognitive function in general, but other symptoms as well. As I always say, make sure you exercise your brain. 😉

Just something to think about. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Category: Memory Issues, Uncategorized  Tags: , ,  Comments off

A Walk…

I have to share something! This may seem like nothing to many but it’s HUGE to me! Many of you with PTSD will understand, 😉

Yesterday it was a bit cooler here, Craig does well in cooler weather because he now has heat sensitivity and of course anxiety makes him sweat.

Well, yesterday afternoon, now this is after our outing to the doctor, he said, “Want to go for a walk?” Now you know I didn’t pass that one up!!! I put my knee brace on, grabbed a bottle of water, and out the door we went before he changed his mind. 

We walked around the neighborhood. It was quiet and peaceful. And let me tell you, it felt awesome! Craig rarely gets outside, he is now considered agoraphobic and leaving the house for any reason is a chore. So this was HUGE! I’m SO proud of him!

Once we got home I had to know  what sparked this? Well, he had notes he had taken and I noticed him reading them yesterday. He told me, “I want my doctor off my back about walking. Every time I see him he asks me (now this has been 3 years with this doc mind you) if I have been walking and I want to be able to tell him yes.”

Craig and I use to take walks together every evening, it was something we always did even before PTSD became severe. It’s been, oh, maybe 2 years since it was a regular on and off routine. Oh I can not explain how good it felt for us to take one simple walk together!

I know his anxiety was very high, I kept having to remind him I’m in a knee brace and can’t walk that fast. Now let me tell you lol, those long legs of his can move when his anxiety goes up lol. But he did it!!!! We walked then when we got home watched a movie together and just relaxed.

Progress! What great progress! I know that took A LOT for him to do, but he did it!!! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

How do you handle knowing or not knowing the trauma(s)?

Well yesterday’s topic of knowing or not knowing details of the trauma that lead to PTSD, became a huge topic. So let’s take it a little further.

How do you handle knowing or not knowing the trauma(s)?

First rule to make sure you abide by… do NOT push to know or learn details! I can not emphasize that one enough! When one has experienced a trauma, they will share when or if they are ready to. Working up to those traumas coming out needs to be up to the person who experienced the trauma and/or left to a good doctor to handle.

Some people may not recall portions of or their trauma, or even anything about the trauma, this is normal. The brain has a way of protecting itself from traumas and can lock those events away. So not remembering details can happen. If one doesn’t recall details, there is no way of them telling others and it can lead to a lot of frustration and guilt if pushed to tell. We sure don’t want anything else added to what they already experience from the symptoms, so be careful with pushing to know.

Others may not speak details of traumas because of guilt or mental pain it brings them. Those details are difficult to relive each day as it is, and speaking them sometimes, many times, can be too overwhelming. That’s normal!

Some also do not want to share the details because they do not want those details to become a burden to another person. Think about it, look at what that trauma did, many view it as they don’t want that to roll over to someone they care about.

Pushing someone for details of a trauma can lead to:

* Added frustration and worry

* Increased anxiety

* Increased PTSD symptoms

* Increased relationship/family issues

* Increased self-esteem and/or self-worth issues

* Increased inability to find a “normal”

It boils down to the facts at hand, no matter what the details are they experienced, the trauma was something a person should not have had to experience which lead to PTSD.

You can still help them work through symptoms even without knowing details. The fact is, PTSD is there and working through the symptoms are more important then knowing the details of what happened. You can still learn the triggers and such based on what they experience and have reactions to now.

I personally know the details of the main trauma. It was shared with me and also comes out during nightmares. There are many that do know the trauma and/or details.

Knowing the trauma and/or details brings different things then not knowing. Some are good and can be very helpful, and some can be not so good, it’s all in how you handle it.

Knowing can help one have a better or quicker understanding or notice of triggers, nightmares, and other symptoms. The “why” is there to work with, which can be a huge help. It also helps with communication and both people involved being able to openly talk. It can also help with doctor appointments, another person being able to add input that can help the one with PTSD when at times they can’t speak what they have been experiencing or what lead to where they are now. So there are many positive things that can come from knowing, even though knowing details is not needed to help work through the symptoms.

But there is also a side of it that one does need to take caution with. This is where where education and self-help come greatly into play. You have to make sure that if you learn or know the details of a trauma, you learn how to manage knowing.

You have to make sure that their trauma does not become your own. This is very real and can happen. Does it mean sharing a trauma should be avoided? By NO means! It just means you have to have understanding of how to handle what is shared.

* Make sure you keep in mind it is not a trauma you as the non-PTSD person experienced.

* Make sure you are taking care of yourself. Having a self-help balance is the greatest thing you can do for yourself as well as the one with PTSD.

* Get therapy for yourself if you feel you need to OR if your loved one with PTSD thinks you need to! Just like ones with PTSD sometimes will not see help is needed, it can go both ways. So listen and take to heart if someone is saying you are off balance and could use some extra help.

* Make sure you are taking time for yourself, that “me” time I always talk about. Even while caring for someone with PTSD, you still have to maintain yourself and things you enjoy. It’s the best way to make sure you can take care of or help someone else.

* Make sure you do NOT place blame on the one with PTSD!!! Placing blame instead of practicing positive support can become damaging to both of you very fast.

So, these are just a few things to think about. Rather you know about or details of the trauma or not, rather you are the one with PTSD that has shared your trauma or not… Work together to get through the symptoms!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

When it comes to weekends or Leaving the house…

It’s Friday, the jump for joy weekend is here! Oh wait, the weekend?

More people are off of work, stores and other places are more crowded with people getting things done they did not do during the week. People out enjoying activities, movies, ball games, having date night (oh that term I no longer like lol), and families out together.

It’s just things that don’t always mix well with PTSD. Many with PTSD, not all, but many have a difficult time when weekends roll around. It can bring increase in all of the PTSD symptoms.

I have found that more and more people who suffer from PTSD, stay home during the weekend. I raise my hand, we fit into that category. There’s no other term for it, it falls under the avoidance symptom.

Many with PTSD have rearranged their schedule of doing things to help keep PTSD symptoms down. They shop during the week when stores are not crowded, and in the off hours. Many dine out early or late to avoid the crowds… or avoid dining out all together. Take out becomes a huge part of life over a sit down dinner out. Many find places off the beaten path to be able to still accomplish outings the best possible with less stress or anxiety.

Then there are those that have extreme difficulty making it out their front door. This is pretty much where we sit… right now at least. And this by no means is meant in a negative, disrespectful, or in a finger pointing way, it’s just the facts of life. You do not realize how much PTSD can effect someone until you see a person who before PTSD could not wait to leave the house to do things, then PTSD takes much of that want and need to get out away.

It’s by no means because a person does not want to go out! That has nothing to do with it, in fact they would want nothing more then to be able to. It becomes an inner struggle of mixed emotions and thoughts. The “I use to this” or “I want to go there” then PTSD gets that grip on them and just won’t allow them to just go. The “what if’s” set in. Do you know what that leads to? Guilt. Pure and simple. They start feeling guilty that their life has changed, and even more it’s changed the lives of those around them.

Let me give you an example…

Craig was recently asked if he likes food. Kind of an odd question, don’t you think? But oh there was a lot of in depth meaning behind it. He really couldn’t answer the question. It boiled down to “It’s just something I do because Bec makes sure I eat.” He had not ever thought about that. Later he was asked if we go out to eat. Nope, we haven’t been out to eat in a very long time. Then another question, “what are your favorite foods?“. He couldn’t answer that one either. It ended up being something along the lines of, “I just eat whatever is cooked or placed in front of me, it really doesn’t matter.

Then came the kicker of a question, “Did you use to go out to eat?” Wow he jumped all over that one, eyes lighting up! “Oh yes, Bec and I had our favorite places to eat, each place we would go to because of the certain favorites we had at each place. We would go to [name] for steak, we would go to [name] for seafood, we would go to [name] for Mexican… We use to eat out at sit down meals at least once a week if not more depending on what we were in the mood for. It’s something we enjoyed doing.”

(And thank you Craig for letting me use this example, love ya babe!!! )

Do you see what happened? There is a much larger picture here and that example shows it clearly!

It’s not only the anxiety, what if’s, and everything else that comes with PTSD. It’s the fact that battling all of those symptoms leads to a loss of interest, and many times depression. It’s not that a husband doesn’t WANT to take his wife out on a date night, it’s that everything that comes with battling that date night has just simply resulted in a lack of interest in doing things. PTSD wears a person out, there are no other words to describe it. It’s not lack of love, it’s not lack of wanting family time, it’s NOT PERSONAL towards other people. It’s what has happened to them.

Back to the example of Craig, if he did not want to go out to eat, then why was he so excited to tell about what we use to do and where we use to go, the favorite meals we ate at each place? He even told about how we use to go and just sit on a bench and have coffee, people watching lol. If he didn’t want to do these things there would not have been any excitement in his tone when he said those things. Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?

I will give another example. The one thing the doctors keep pointing out to Craig and I, is PTSD has taken travelling away from us. I call it “my golden key to beating PTSD” at this point. It won’t make PTSD go away, but it can sure give something back! I know if I can manage to get another RV sooner or later, I could help change not only Craig’s life, but our lives. Give something back that we lost. And you know why I strongly believe this? Because since it had been brought up, I see Craig every day looking at RVs online. Sooner or later that will lead to him saying “hey let’s go look at one.” Sooner or later it will lead to getting another one (when we can financially afford it of course). And that will lead to him going out the front door and finding a peace of his and our life again, meaning, and interest… with still maintaining a comfort zone. Patience, time, and baby steps. We have set a goal of travelling again, and meeting people from this very page. It’s a goal with meaning and life to it.

No, I’m not going to end this without saying something directly to spouses/partners or family of those with PTSD. I know first hand what life with PTSD is like. But I also know if you are holding things over your PTSD loved one’s head, blaming them for things you can not do or do less of, getting upset with them when they don’t want to do something or CAN’T, and you are taking things personally as an ‘attack’ against you… then you are not helping with that step forward. Most likely you are causing them to crawl into a deeper hole that it’s going to be difficult to get them out of. I know it’s hard to not take the things that come from PTSD personally, but you have to try, and learn to understand so you can get to a better place then where you may be right now. Positive support and communication, those are huge for baby steps to happen!

None of this means PTSD will keep you locked inside your home forever and always. It doesn’t mean the day won’t come where you can have a date night or a weekend day out with your family. It does not mean the day won’t come that you can actually enjoy something over the PTSD symptoms. It doesn’t mean baby steps can’t be taken to get some of what you think you have lost back. It just simply means you have to learn and understand the “why’s” to PTSD in order to move forward.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

A note from L.L.

This has hit home for me! Because of your messages Bec that you share with us, I have realized even more symptoms and situations due to PTSD with my husband. And it’s helping me so much to understand him so much more…a lot of the time he doesn’t know how to put it all into words when we have our talks or he just doesn’t want to talk about it and shuts down. Thank you thank you thank you. And thank you to Craig for sharing his experience through you!” -L.L.

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

 

 

Category: Special Notes from Special People  Comments off

What about Neighbors? PTSD and Neighbors

What about neighbors?

I have had the question come to me, what do you do or how do you handle when you move to a new area and your neighbor’s first response is, “Is he/she dangerous?

Obviously the first thing at hand is educating them to what PTSD is, and getting them to understand that just because a person has PTSD does NOT mean they are going to harm other people.

Another thing is just simply letting them have the chance to get to know you. Many with PTSD rarely go outside of the house, others just not as often as a person who doesn’t have PTSD would. So it can really be a mute point in some cases, but still, you don’t want your neighbors to fear something they don’t understand.

In our personal case, I got to know the neighbors. Of course with that you can imagine they have learned a lot about PTSD. I never overwhelmed them with it, but it never failed, every time I would be talking to one they would ask about Craig and how he is doing, so the door opened for more educating. People by nature are curious, use that curiosity to educate them on the facts.

We also have kids. Kids play with kids! Children are what I believe, the cure for stigma. Children don’t judge people and normally give everyone a chance… and that gets taken back to the parents. When Craig has a better day and can get outside some, he throws the ball with the kids in the street or stands out there with them. The neighborhood kids and our children’s friends have gotten to know him. They all know he has PTSD and they also know he has never been mean to them or harmed them. Kids make their own decisions about people. And I will tell you, there is one little boy in our neighborhood that just keeps an eye out for Craig, that child looks up to him like nothing I have ever seen before and looks forward to Craig’s good days when he goes outside! And you know what developed from that? The dad of that child started talking football with Craig.  See what I mean?

People fear the unknown, stigma. You just have to find ways to take that stigma away. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Frustration

PTSD and Frustration

If you know PTSD then you know what I’m talking about. Frustration is huge with PTSD!

Many people don’t understand the extent of it though. Frustration can come from not only big or huge things, it can come from or with small things as well… if not more.

On top of PTSD symptoms already there… nightmares, lack of sleep, anxiety, triggers, always being alert, checking doors/windows or your back, etc. etc. etc What about the little things?

Someone saying something the wrong way, acting in a way that bothers you, floating anger… as Craig words it, “that anger that is right there under the surface all of the time that is just waiting for something to make it come out.” That brings frustration within itself, and no one wants or intends for anger to come out in the first place.

But what about doing things?

Fixing something, working on something, doing anything that you use to do but find difficulty with now, or that PTSD symptoms seem to get in the way of doing.

I have found this brings the most frustration of all! Trying to do something that you know for a fact you use to be great at, and now you find difficulty in doing. Maybe something that you know would only take you a few minutes to complete before, but now it takes hours. Oh boy! Talk about frustrating, that would do it.

But why? I had a huge key to it with what I just mentioned. PTSD symptoms. You have to remember that the anxiety from PTSD causing you to lose concentration, focus, even difficulty with remembering things. Anxiety also causes physical aspects to come into play, what about sweating? Ever notice when anxiety increases so does sweat? Sure can! And when you start sweating you become uncomfortable, and when you get uncomfortable then your focus goes to what you are experiencing and off of what you are trying to accomplish. Probably resulting in increased anxiety and the vicious circle begins. It brings frustration and the “why is this happening“.

The expectations of the outcome can also be at hand, that right there can get PTSD going in a bad way. You start questioning yourself or even viewing yourself as you can’t do this “task” anymore. But reality is, can you not do it anymore OR is PTSD just in the way?  You know what I’m going to tell you, your IQ has not dropped at all! You are just as intelligent as you always were. You just have all of those PTSD symptoms there also, that you now have to work through to accomplish things.

Just because something may take longer to complete then what the time frame would have been before, don’t give up on trying! If you have to take a break and come back to it, that’s okay! If you need to use your coping skills to manage what you are trying, that’s okay too! Use them.

But whatever it is you are doing, don’t put yourself down if it does not come to you as easily as it use to. You have a lot more at hand now then you did before, it does not you can’t accomplish it, and it does not make you a failure at all, it just means there might be extra steps or extra time involved in doing something.

You can even use humor to battle PTSD. 😉 Ever laugh at something and just speak out loud “Why can’t I do this?” Well, laugh at PTSD and say “You might try to stop me from accomplishing this, but you aren’t going to win!” When frustration comes, take a break and fight it with a good laugh. It might sound stupid to you, but you would be shocked at how it can really help bring that frustration level down.  It helps with anxiety too. Just like a person with anxiety that starts to constantly talk when their anxiety goes up, the constant talking is a defense mechanism to the anxiety (babbling as I call it lol… I do this one myself. 😉 ) Sometimes you have to find other ways around the frustration and/or anxiety so you can get some focus back to what you were trying to accomplish. Bringing a little humor into the mix can sure beat wanting to throw something also. And it sure can help beat those PTSD symptoms. 

Just because you may experience frustration more now, then ever before, does not make you any less of a person, it does not make you a bad person, it does not make you a failure or useless, and it sure doesn’t drop your IQ! Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take a moment to step out of the box and see what’s causing your frustration and figure out the best way for you to handle it and get through it. The answer is probably going to be your focus and concentration is on everything else except what you are trying to do. Realizing that, can help you through it.

Hang in there, and don’t give up!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Surviving vs Living… and PTSD

Surviving vs Living… and PTSD

Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it? Craig and I have many conversations, we talk about the old days, we talk about things we have done in this lifetime… so far, we talk about the future. Yesterday, well yesterday we talked about the here and now.

We’ve had this conversation before, many times actually. And every time we have it, I find myself pushing a little harder. We are known for facing reality, our dreams and goals in life have never been so far fetched that we could not reach them, we don’t live in some fantasy world where everything is just a dream. We have always been the type of people that “do” over dreaming.

When I sit and think about it, look at us, look at what we have done so far in this lifetime. At ages 30 and 32 years old (when we got back together 10 years ago), within approximately 3 years, we traveled across this country from coast to coast 10 times not including commercial flights, that was 10 times across country just to travel and see what we could see. That does not include going up both coastlines, east and west, of this country. That does not include all of the shorter travelling trips.

We have watched leaf changing season in Tennessee. We have hiked the Great Smokey Mountains. We have visited wineries from east to west coast. We have visited Florida’s waterfall… “trickling falls” as we call it lol, and of course everywhere else in Florida off the beaten path. We have experienced Dam Sliding in Texas.. now that was a blast! We even found ourselves stuck in San Antonio, TX on the 4th of July another time and having to battle afternoon heat to make it over the mountain range in our small Cessna we had. We have seen the Grand Canyon when it was snowing. We have walked on the Hoover Dam. We have felt the “hairdryer” winds of Arizona, then drove up the same day to the snow on the mountain tops. We have hiked the Yosemite National Park mountains… all the way to each top and I swam in the ice cold waterfalls (word of advise from a FL gal, don’t dive into the top of a waterfall lol, it’s just a little cold).

We always found ourselves as the talk of whatever RV park we stopped at, because people of our age group at that time did not do the things we were doing… we were normally the youngest in the park. We would laugh until we cried seeing the elder RV’ers gathering and pointing in our direction. Then we would make our way over and introduce ourselves. It never failed, there always seemed to be a bet going on about if the RV was our’s or not, what we did for a living, or did we inherit a fortune. LOL, no one ever got it right, we were just two young adults on a budget that made things work so we could live life to it’s fullest, the way we wanted to live. We enjoyed every second we had with every new person we met. And OH the stories! We loved hearing the stories! Just so much laughter and life! With every new face we met, a new friendship formed. We were living!

Those are just a few things we experienced in a few short years.

Yesterday, I heard that same thing I have heard before. The same conversation that my goal is to never have to hear again. It’s not going to happen over night, but with every ounce of being I am it will happen in this lifetime, somehow.

Craig said to me, “People are suppose to live life over surviving life. We are not doing that. We do more surviving then living.”

You know what? Hard truth to swallow is he’s right. PTSD changed our lives. WE lost a part of us in the process of surviving. Every day I hear the honest words of  “I can’t wait for this day to be over.” then when night time comes “I don’t want to go to bed because of what will come.” It’s a vicious circle of surviving. And I’m going to take a wild guess, many of you here probably feel the same way.

Many people do not understand how PTSD drastically changes life. It becomes a life of surviving each day instead of a life of living. People wonder why the #suicide rate is so high for #PTSD, again right there is just a small portion of the answer. Surviving wears a person out, the survival part outweighs the living part, and sadly a lot of people give up the fight.

I see what just stepping out the front door does to Craig. I see how the sweat from anxiety soaks his clothing. I see how the other symptoms of PTSD takes living away from him. But somehow, someway, we are going to fight this battle, with the ultimate goal of living and taking back a part of our lives PTSD stole from us. I am realistic, life won’t be the way it use to be, but we will find life again and I won’t ever allow him to give up looking for it.

So many people in general forget to live life, they get caught up in the everyday hustle and bustle of life that they are not really living life. Then there are those that living life has been just swiped away from them. Take your life back, find a new way of life, find a way to live!

Set realistic goals and reach for them. It might be something like “I will be outside for 10 minutes today.” That’s a step! Just because PTSD is a part of your life does not mean you stop making goals, it does not mean you can’t take small steps to get to those goals. I know it’s not easy, trust me, I know. But I also know that PTSD does enough to you already, and survival is very real, but it does not mean you can’t find a little life in there also.

When you start missing life and wondering why you are still here, set a new goal for yourself, anything, whatever you want to achieve rather it seems big or small to you. That goal not only can help you survive, it can help you live. Just something to think about. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Have you thought about the effects of Nightmares? Other than the obvious…

Has anyone ever thought about the effects of nightmares?

The most obvious is your sleep schedule and the effects of having the nightmare/terror in the first place.

I want to talk about the not so obvious effects of them. We have some huge ones going on here, and finding a way around them has not been so easy.

Just to note, Craig has nightmares every night, I honestly can not recall a night he hasn’t had at least one, many nights they come over and over again. He’s on medications for them, he uses coping skills and relaxation techniques, he watches what he does and even what he eats/drinks before bed, we watch that no conversations that could be intense happen before bedtime, we make sure everything is calm and relaxed environment… we do everything that we have been taught or learned on our own to do.

But there are still nightmares, and they are bringing different issues that ones may not always think about.

These are some of the things I hear a lot of each week, some daily:

“Why aren’t you in bed?” or “Why are you up?”

The obvious answer is because he is restless during #nightmares and I have to leave our bed. It’s a touch one! There’s more that comes with that then you may think.

Do you have any idea how difficult it becomes to tell one with PTSD that you are not in bed with them because they were having nightmares? It wasn’t difficult at first. But when you start hearing the same question every morning, then you see what the answer does to them, it becomes really hard to answer.

I have actually tried saying things such as, “I doesn’t really matter, how are you doing this morning?“. And even avoiding the question by moving into conversation “Hey are you ready for coffee” or “Hey I read this….“.

I’ve even looked at him and kindly stated, “Craig, do you really need to ask that question?“, in a loving tone. But you know what, it doesn’t matter, he has to hear the answer even if it’s the same thing over and over again. It’s like it’s a cycle of need to know that can’t be broken. He has to know if I am out of the bed because of him. And don’t even say it, there is no making up a reason, I have to be truthful or trust will be tampered with. And his IQ hasn’t dropped lol, he would know if I didn’t give him the correct answer. He knows if the sheets are are messed up and pulled off the bed, he knows how the dog is responding to him, he knows if there is sweat on the bed… there’s no altering the truth.

There are occasions that I do just wake up early, how could I not? LOL. My time clock has changed because of him having so many nightmares. You would have never caught me awake at 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning before. And that leads to the next issue…

“I never get to wake up to you in bed with me.”

See, before Craig’s PTSD became so severe, we woke up together. Most morning, apart from occasional nightmares, we woke to seeing each other’s faces right there beside on another. We would lay in bed and talk, just snuggle. It was a fresh start to every morning.

It’s very rare for us to be able to do that now. Craig states it very clearly, “I ran you out of bed again.” When he wakes up now, he instantly looks towards my desk. He knows that if I’m not beside him in bed then most likely I am across the room in my safety zone.

I use to leave the room when I had to get up, but that wasn’t working out too well for him, or me. He would wake up with a migraine and need me there, or not grounded and then once becoming grounded would not know where I was and panic, even though I was in the same place every time. So we were told the best thing for us, was for me to stay in the room to ground him or be there to help him if he woke with a migraine. So I am, it’s the best thing for both of us.

But back to the statement, “I never get to wake up to you in bed with me.” That’s a difficult one to get around. I see the damage it does to him, I see the look on his face, the guilt he feels… and it’s not good.

It’s something that has changed our relationship because of PTSD. It sounds so simple and small, but in reality it is something very large.

I have even tried going back to bed once a nightmare passes. But guess what happens? Yes, another one just follows and I’m out of the bed again. These are things he can’t control, there’s no reason for him to feel bad or guilty, it’s just a part of how life has changed with PTSD being a part of it. But you know what, it doesn’t make a difference to how it makes him feel, and in return how it makes me feel when I see the look on his face and know what he is thinking.

I have even explained to him that I don’t mind being up early. The house is quiet, I sit here and write before the day gets started. I always say no big deal I can take a nap during the day to make sure I am getting sleep. But you know what, it still does not make a difference in the way he feels. It makes him feel as if he is a burden and that I deserve better then what PTSD causes me to go through.

I accept PTSD, I understand it, and I sure don’t put him down or hold it against him, and I have adapted to what comes with it and how to handle it when it does. That early morning up gives me some “me” time to write, I actually love that. Sure I would much rather be in bed with my husband, but that’s just not possible during parts of many nights. I’m there when I can be there. But it still doesn’t change how it effects him.

When he wakes up, the first feeling he has I am sure I can describe it as he feels alone. PTSD causes that in the first place, but when you have a relationship like we have had, that waking up with your partner not beside you does effect you greatly. There’s no just getting over it, letting it go, or accepting the facts it’s okay. It’s right there, in your face, with waking each morning that PTSD is indeed a real part of your life, and it hasn’t just gone away.

That’s tough! Something that seems like it should be so simple but yet carries such great meaning and emotional pain.

I don’t know the answer to these. All I know is I keep trying new things, new ways of saying things, reassuring that it’s okay and I still love him just the same… and hope one day the effects PTSD change, at least some.

Moral to me sharing this…

Don’t dismiss the things that seem so simple. PTSD effects people in ways you may not realize, and differently then things may effect you. Always take all things into consideration and never give up on trying to find ways that work and finding things to ease what comes with #PTSD.

And to Craig,

I love ya babe! And even though I may have to be across the room when you wake, I’m still here. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD