Archive for » November, 2013 «

Happy Thanksgiving… no matter where you are!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today (and always) I am thankful for so many things in my life…

I want to say Thank You to all of our brothers and sisters in the military that are not home today with their families for Thanksgiving. I thank you for the job that you do and for how giving you are of yourself and the sacrifices you make for all of us… you are in our thoughts today and always. I wish you a safe Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for my husband. Even with PTSD I could never imagine my life without him. Craig you are my love, my soul-mate, my best friend… and still the other half of every heartbeat my heart takes! I am thankful we fight this war of PTSD together by each others sides and not against each other. I am thankful that our relationship has grown to something greater then one could even dream of or imagine during this battle… PTSD does not stand a chance against us! I love you babe <3

I am thankful for our children. We have 4 of the most kind hearted, understanding, happy and loving kids, and they carry no stigma towards anyone, and do carry on educating others with pride… how could we ever ask for more. I am a very proud mom/step-mom of all of them. I am thankful for the unique personalities each of them have and for the strong souls within them. They are our daily reminder that life and family with PTSD can in deed exist as we hear them laugh, tell jokes, and pick on each other about their taste in music lol. 😉 Children grow up too fast, enjoy every second of it! I love you kiddos! 

I am thankful for our families. Craig and I both have strong families that are always there for us and with us. Some may still not quite grasp PTSD and our life with it, but that has not changed that they are family and family sticks together. I am thankful our parents raised us with loving hearts and strong upbringings which help us today as we ourselves grow stronger.

I am thankful for each and every single one of YOU! <3 I stand strong that we are a “Family”! Each of you are special and very dear to my heart. I am thankful that we all have the chance to learn together, lean on each other, help each other, and friendships form that have a bond that many people never have a chance to experience in their lifetime. We stand strong together against PTSD and finding a positive type of new life even through the roller coaster it brings. I am proud of each of you and the strength you have. I am Thankful to be able to call you our “family”!

I am thankful for the strength and love I have been given within me to understand, learn, help others through our personal experiences, and to stand back up and stay positive when PTSD tries to knock me down. And that I can pass along education to others about PTSD, other unseen disabilities, and life itself… in a positive light. And lol 🙂 I am thankful you can tolerate my lame humor and southern slang! 😉 Humor is a wonderful coping skill!

I wish each of you a very special Happy Thanksgiving today, no matter where you are, because I am thankful for YOU! Please know that you are loved and cherished. I hope your day brings a smile and even a chuckle. Please be safe if you are on the roads today or as you travel. Stay strong  <3

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD vs Accomplishing or Completing Things

Do you find some things are difficult to accomplish or complete?

This is something I actually hear a lot about, and have witnessed it myself. But do you know why?

This is actually something huge for many with PTSD. It’s not by any means that they/you do not have the knowledge or even ability to do so, and their/your IQ sure has not dropped by any means, it’s that PTSD seems to step in the way of getting things done.

You know me, I don’t stop until I find the answers to the “why“! 

I use to think in our personal situation that Craig just wasn’t capable of doing certain things anymore. Something I actually accepted after watching him try so hard with certain things and just not being able to do them anymore. (And just to note, I am by no means throwing him under the bus here, just using our real life situation(s) as an example.) And there are in deed things he can just no longer do based around his memory issues, he has memory issues/difficulties as well as “memory blocks” that are just gone. However, it did not stop there. I learned that there is much more to it then only the situations where his memory impairments are the reasons.

The “why” was much greater then I had thought back when I was just accepting memory problems were the problem, period.

Memory issues, let’s start there. Memory issues with PTSD normally come from anxiety or during times of increased anxiety. Unless you have something else effecting your memory also, such as TBI, dementia, or other organic cause.

Many suffer from memory issues and do not even realize it. Good signs that memory issues are at hand are: repeating stories that have already been told, arguing over something that happened but one swears it never happened, not recalling where things are placed when they are in their normal locations, leaving things on that should have been turned off… out of the normal, not recalling special dates or events that were not forgotten before, etc. Dissociative Symptoms are also a part of PTSD, if you do not know what that is, it’s something everyone really needs to learn about since it does many times come with PTSD (and it is treatable!), many times it can answer the “why” to certain issues that are not normal for that person.

When anxiety steps up, it causes you to have a difficult time on focusing, your concentration decreases, your arousal goes up, and you lose sight or partial sight of what you were trying to accomplish or finish. Your brain starts focusing on everything else instead of staying steady on what you are working on.

I do want to add a twist to this part though from the other side of the fence. Spouses… ever have a time when your PTSD loved one is so focused on doing something that they just don’t hear you or respond when you are talking to them? OR they spend hours doing one specific thing and won’t leave it until they are done? I’m sure I am seeing all hands raised lol. Well right there you have it! It’s difficult to focus on multiple things at one time for many with PTSD.

If your PTSD loved one is really trying hard to accomplish something, anything rather small or large, it is difficult at times to get their attention off of what they are doing and onto what you are saying. It’s not that they are ignoring you at all! It’s that their brain may only be able to focus on the task at hand. When their concentration alters from their mission, it’s hard to get back onto it. That is another reason you may see them so diligently working on something, then something else happens or someone starts talking to them, etc. then they just walk away from what they are working on and it just sits there not completed. The focus and concentration were lost or altered.

Now let’s move on to frustration. We all know that PTSD comes with frustration. When one is having difficulties with doing something it turns into the, “I was great at this a year ago or 5 years ago, but now I can’t do it.” or “This use to take me 15 minutes to complete and now it’s taking me hours.” That is more frustrating then anything! You know that this task is something you use to be able to do, complete, and maybe in a timely manner, but now it’s more difficult instead of easy for you. Do you see the vicious circle forming? I do. Frustration, concentration, focus, anxiety, memory… and now self-esteem.

Oh the evil thoughts self-esteem can bring to one! Those negative thoughts of you are not good enough, you are a failure, you can’t do anything right, you are useless, you are such a burden on others, you are not the man/woman you use to be! You throw your hands in the air and walk away. OUCH, that hurts! Fact is, you are NOT a failure, burden, useless, or those other things at all! Come on now  it’s just your PTSD stepping in the way. Don’t be so hard on yourself! Easier said then done, I know.

Then all of these things combined lead to what? “Why do I even try?” Oh boy! This goes back to what I always say… If you don’t try then you will never know what you CAN do or accomplish! No matter how difficult things become, don’t give up on yourself!

PTSD being a part of your life is going to throw you for a loop, to put it nicely. It is going to make things more difficult to do or accomplish at times. How would it not? Look at all of the symptoms that come with PTSD, and the things I mentioned do not even include the more severe and real symptoms of PTSD that also effect you. The nightmares, which leaves you tired, lacking sleep, and just plain worn out… and also effect your focus and concentration. The triggers, which throw you way off balance. The flashbacks, which also throw you off balance until you are able to be grounded from them. The extra anxiety of crowds or others being around. The physical symptoms that co-occur with PTSD. Other things such as depression. The list is endless, but it does NOT mean you are useless or can’t do anything!!! It just means you have to find different ways to do things. 😉

Just to note in here: I am not a doctor of any sort and these are my opinions based on our personal experiences and what we have learned.
So, what can you do?

* You know the first thing I will say is Coping Skills! 

They do help so greatly when battling symptoms when they start. Learn them and use them! The more you practice them the more help they will be.

* Pace yourself!

This has become a golden rule around here. If you get into a rush or have high expectations beyond what is reasonable, then you are going to have issues with everything I mentioned above. Pace yourself, it can help.

* Step away.

I know when you start something you do not want to stop for the fear of not completing it or not being able to get started again. But at times stepping away from something, especially if you get frustrated can lead to having more focus when you can return to it. Don’t be worried about taking breaks when you need them! It also helps keep you from becoming overwhelmed. You can even set an alarm or reminder for yourself. You will take a break for x amount of time, then go back to what you were working on.

* Ask for help.

I know, it’s the hardest thing to do! You want to prove to yourself and/or others that you can do this and you don’t need help. But you know what, at times everyone needs help and there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking. It may be to complete something in a more timely manner, something you just are having difficulties with recalling and could use that extra hand with, or simply to allow someone else to feel good about being included in a project. 😉 It does not mean you can’t do it by yourself, it can mean all sorts of different things, and not negative reasons behind it. You know what? Sometimes when there is another person there it also helps you mentally, it’s a gentle push that can help keep you away from some or all of those negative personal thoughts that can develop when you are doing something alone.

To say the least these are just a few things that you can try that may help. I hope this will give a little better understanding to why things can seem or become so difficult at times for ones with PTSD, and also help those living beside a loved one who suffers from PTSD. No matter what, keep trying and don’t give up on yourself! You are better than PTSD 😉 Don’t be too hard on yourself, you are worth more then that! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

A Special note about a Special person in our lives…

I have to say something very special this morning… This is something I don’t normally do on here, but hey! 

There is a Veteran that has truly gone above and beyond his duties. We “met” him through my page back when I started the page in 2011. He has been here with us from day one, he has reached his hand out to others many times over without hesitation, he gives an extra pick me up of support whenever one needs it, even through his own struggles he has always been there.

This Veteran brings such a positive support and shining light to so many and has so much heart when doing so. He has over the past couple of years become a true part of our family. This Veteran is my backup for Craig, he is quick to send a chat Craig’s way or my way anytime he notices something is “off” or just to check in on us to see how we are doing. Not only does he check in on Craig, but he checks in on me as well to make sure I am doing okay. And lol, he’s REALLY good about pushing and supporting my writing (my book) in a positive way. 

There is a short story that sticks in my head (and always will)…

I was trying to find the right wording to type one day on my page, and I was referring to the older generations of veterans without using the word old! Because they are not “old” to me. This veteran tunes in and said “Just say it, we are old.“, lol in a joking manner. Nope, I was not going to do it! That day with full respect I used the word “elders“. Oh did that ever stick lol!  He joked with me about it and since that day I have joked with him and he received the nickname “My Elder“.  It’s become a good laugh between us over the years and I chuckle and smile every time I type it and think about how he played off of my stumbling for words that day.

Today, I want to wish “MY ELDER“, Dean Evans, a VERY special

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAN!

I am thankful you came home. I am thankful you found my page and are a part of our family here. I am thankful that every day you continue to fight your battle instead of giving in to it… so you can be here with us. I am proud to call you our friend and our family! (Yes Dean, you have been adopted lol  and so has your lovely wife) Your kind heart and words have made a positive change and gives us so much strength to fight the battles in front of us.

 <3 Thank you for being you! Happy Birthday my friend! <3

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Holiday Gatherings vs PTSD

Holiday Gatherings vs PTSD

This is probably one of the toughest things there is! It’s family, it’s friends, it should not be problem, right? But what about when it’s combined with PTSD?

PTSD does not pick and choose who to be around and who not to, or when. Even if it is family and friends, it still brings a gathering, a crowd, expectations, anxiety levels may go up, things out of a normal daily routine, etc. etc. It has nothing to do with “who it is”, it has to do with the symptoms of and PTSD itself. This can be very hard for people who know you or knew you before PTSD to grasp.

This also brings times of meeting new people, or being around ones you are not use to being around on a regular basis. That can cause symptoms to increase as well.

SO… What are things we can do to still be able to TRY to manage through gatherings and the holidays?

* TRY! That is a key word to PTSD. 

See, PTSD brings a massive symptom of avoidance. When you give in completely to avoidance… don’t go, don’t make it out of the house, don’t at least attempt… you really don’t know honestly what you can manage through and what you can’t. That’s not being fair to yourself!  You might just find a break in the day where you can actually enjoy seeing friends and/or family members. Even if it is only for a short time, give yourself a chance to see what you can actually accomplish. In order to do that, we have to know a little more about how. 

* Gatherings at your own home

We have personally found these are the easiest! If there is such a word as easy. But this is real life and everything in life is not going to take place in your own home, there’s a huge world out there for you. But, if the gathering is at your home, there are things you can do to help your day run as smoothly as possible.

If you need a break from everyone, take it! Go to a room where you feel more at ease in and use your coping skills. It’s okay to step away from others for a little while when need be, then when you are ready to, go back and join them.

Walk outside. This is something else that can help greatly! Get your mind off what is going on inside by taking in everything that is going on outside… the sounds, the sights, hopefully a little peace. Once anxiety comes back down or other symptoms, then go back inside with the others. You might have to tell someone “I just need to step outside by myself for a few minutes”, so others don’t follow you, and again that’s okay!

Use your coping skills!!! I can not say that one enough. If you have not learned any as of now, then start learning before the holidays get here so you know how to use them correctly, so you are use to using them, and can notice when to use them. In honesty, everyone should learn coping skills rather they have PTSD or not.

* Gatherings at another person’s home

You can still use the same things that you would use at your own home! Just ask ahead of time or have the person you are going with ask if there is a room in the house you can go to or use if needed while there. It’s a simple “Sometimes [name] has a little anxiety with people he/she is not around a lot. Can they use one of the rooms if need be?” You can still ask without it being overly obvious if they do not know you suffer from PTSD.

You can use the bathroom to step away to also. Great place for coping skills and giving you a few minutes to gather yourself… well, until someone else knocks on the door. But it will still give you a little time to yourself.

Step outside. Normally on holidays people are in and out of a house anyway. So this will not always be extremely noticeable. If you have someone there that you are comfortable with, ask them if they want to take a short walk with you. That person can help you with coping and taking your mind off the gathering of people, or simply give you someone to talk things through with before returning.

* Gatherings in public

Make that plan! My other posting went over this one. There are many things you can do to make it through a public gathering, or at least try to for a little while. And the bathroom “escape route” for coping works better in public then in a home. 

* Time to leave

If you need to leave early before others do, that is okay! Don’t be hard on yourself or try to keep up with others. If you get to the point where you have tried and coping skills, meds., etc. are not helping enough and it’s just time to leave, that is okay! The fact is, if you went to a gathering, were able to make it out the front door and go, that is an accomplishment! You did something and put the effort into doing it and that is what counts!!! PTSD brings a lot of symptoms to battle and if you tried then you did NOT fail even if it comes time for you to leave early. The length of time you are somewhere is not what matters most, the fact that you made it there and tired IS! 

* Those that can not make it out

There are still going to be those who can not make it out to gatherings. PTSD does not have a schedule, just a fact. You do not know when the good days or bad ones are going to come. If you are one that can not, even with trying, make it away from home, do not allow others to guilt trip you! Many times this will happen without the one saying the words even realizing what they are doing. Not everyone is going to understand PTSD or what comes with it. It’s just a hard fact that many still have not learned or may not care to learn. Do not allow those people to bring you down.

The one thing that Craig and I have found works best is, “We would love to come and will try to make it, IF we can.” Simple phrases like this one shows you care, shows you do want to attend, but at the same time holds no promises. This also cuts down on your expectations, not only for or by others, but also on yourself! At times when expectations are removed or lessened, it helps reduce the “what if’s” and anxiety, which in turn gives more of a chance of being able to attend or at least try when that day comes.

These are just a few things that may help with the holidays or any special event. One day at a time, one step at a time… and don’t give up if you have a day that you can not manage getting out, tomorrow might be different. Always TRY! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

To “my” Vietnam Veterans this Veterans Day

To “my” Vietnam Veterans,

To those of you that know me, know I hold a very special place in my heart for “my” Vietnam Veterans. With Veterans Day coming I just wanted to say something to ALL Vietnam Veterans. And if you are reading this please finish reading it and don’t click away!

A date just a little while before my own birth, the last US combat troops left Vietnam. I know to many of you the years since that war have been very difficult, old memories coming up of what it would be like to return home with the way so many in the country were protesting, knowing that this country sent many to war when that really was not in their cards of life… but yet the cards dealt, and everything else that I’m sure I could not even begin to imagine in this lifetime.

But I want to say something! YOU made a HUGE difference and impact for and on this country! My words can not even begin to express what our Vietnam Veterans mean to me! YOU have made so many changes in this world and I know coming home back then was almost, if not worse, then the war itself. I know the PTSD that developed from all of what you experienced, and I also know I could not begin to imagine what my personal life would be like without each and every single one of you!!!

You all paid the ultimate price but I have some serious news for you, YOU changed MY life… and for the good!

I could not imagine my life if a Vietnam Veteran had not been here to reach out a hand to me when Craig needed someone the most, when PTSD was at it’s rock bottom worst… which I know is one reason Craig is still here today. I could not imagine what life would be like for me if those Vietnam Veterans had not taken the time at the VA to sit by me, talk to me, and tell me their stories… you taught me how to live life beside PTSD and other disabilities, and showed me it is possible. I could not imagine my life without the Vietnam Veterans that still to this day provide me with backup when Craig has bad days. I could not imagine my life without the Vietnam Veterans that send me messages to check in on me to make sure I’m hanging in here and doing okay. I could not imagine my life without each of you!

I know the wounds to that war cut deeper then many can imagine or even see as real. But I know something else too, because of each of you I have a wound that has been bandaged and a chance to in a different way heal. You have given me the strength, the knowledge, and the kindness of your hearts to fight this battle, side by side, that my husband goes through each day.

I know many of you still to this day wonder why you were the one to make it home, wonder why you are still alive now, wonder if anything will ever get better in your life, carry the guilt of war, and some of you with your head bowed down to what you went through for this country… wounds that don’t heal very well if any at all.

I know there were no welcome wagons for you back then like our troops get now, no I was not here to experience it… but I know your stories, I feel your pain, and if I had the power and strength to change things I would do it in a heartbeat!

See, when I say “Thank You” those are not just words to me, I mean it from my heart! I mean it sincerely. YOU, our Vietnam Veterans made a change in my life, and you helped save my husband, and that will be a change that I am always grateful for. I was not on this earth during the war, but I sure know how you have made a change in this world, a good change! And I am not ashamed of any of you! I stand proud to call you my elders and my Heroes!!!

MY HEROES! That is exactly what you are to me! My husband might not still be with me on this earth if it were not for you and your sacrifices. Without those sacrifices history could not have changed the way it has for our current troops. I know it’s not fair to you what you have been through and still go through every day, and again if I could change that I would, but I can’t. All I can do is let you know how much I appreciate you and what you have personally done to change my life and my family’s lives.

If there is ever a Hero to me, that my friend is YOU… Our Vietnam Veterans! I am proud to have you as my elder, my friend, and my family! You do still have a mission and a very good reason to be here with all of us. Life is not something to turn away from when you have so very much to offer. YOU are worth life! YOU are what helps life in this crazy world of PTSD! YOU are what leads the next generations and helps us find a better place and ways to cope!

YOU “My Vietnam Veterans”.. I proudly claim you as “mine”… YOU are my HEROES! Raise your chin if it is down, and know that you are loved and do have the respect that you should have had years ago… you have it from me! I stand proud of YOU!!! And you will NEVER be alone!

Your strength, your stories, and kind hearts have shown me what life is about, I am forever grateful!

“Welcome Home!”

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Pushing too hard

PTSD and Pushing too hard

Let me tell you a story…

There was a day that I needed to wait in a waiting room at a medical facility, the only seat available at the moment was next to this young gentleman who did not seem to be doing so well. He was leaned forward, his elbows were on his knees, fists on the front of his face… he had actually nodded off to sleep.

With knowing it was a mental health waiting room, I could pretty much guess why he was there. I sat down, giving as much room as possible with seeing he had nodded off so not to startle him when he woke. A few minutes later I could hear his breathing change, I understood it because of the way Craig sleeps. I knew he was waking up. I softly said to him, “You didn’t get much sleep last night, did you?” The soft voice was enough to let him know I was there but not startle him.

He turned his head slightly towards me, opened one eye, and replied “No m’am I didn’t. Thank you for asking.

He then leaned back in his chair and just looked at me for a second, then said, “I just can’t handle this.” I looked at him with full attention then he continued, “They push me to go to school full time, I am working a full time job, and my nightmares don’t allow for any good sleep. I am wore out and tired of fighting.

To say the least we had a long conversation while we both sat there waiting.

His words rang in my ears like a cry for help. I’m not a doctor but I sure sat there and listened to everything he wanted to say, and I talked to him. Gradually other seats cleared and it was only the two of us waiting. The more he talked the more I realized that there may be such a thing as pushing one with PTSD too hard, too much, for too long.

I asked him if he had told his doctors that all of this was too much for him. He replied, “Yes m’am, but they said I have to do all this stuff. I’ve been doing this for over a year now and I just can’t take it anymore. I’m trying really hard not to fail them, not to let them down, but this PTSD? I’m not going to make it.

It was very obvious that this young man had been pushed so hard to try to have a normal life, that he was worn out and ready to quit the fight. I watched the tears form in his eyes as he talked to me, he would look down every time they would form, hoping I wouldn’t see them. He was trying so hard to please everyone else that he had no focus actually on himself and only on that he could not do this anymore.

I looked at him and asked him to look at me. “What about you? What do you want for yourself?” I asked. He looked at me and a tear ran down his face as he paused, trying to hold himself together. “M’am, no one has ever asked me that before.

Well?” I asked him. He had a hard time answering, he really didn’t know because he had never stopped to think about it and was just doing everything he was told he had to do. He finally replied, “I want to be able to get better but there is no time to get better with everything they have me doing. They say all of these things will help me, but they aren’t, I feel like I’m just getting worse. I go to work, then go to school, then have homework, then I’m exhausted and try to sleep but can’t, then the cycle starts all over again. I hardly see my wife or my kid, and my wife, my wife brings my kid to meet me between where I have to be to make sure I eat and so they can see me some because by the time I get home and get my school work done I am too tired to stay up with them. Then I have my doctor appointments also I have to make it too. It’s too much, I can’t do this.

“If there is so much, that you are not feeling you are getting better after this long of trying, but actually becoming worse, and not wanting to battle PTSD any longer because of it, then at what point do you start looking at the too much part of it and what’s best for you? Not as you have failed or can’t do it, but as maybe I need to pace myself and not over-do it to the point you don’t want to continue?”, I replied.

You know what he said? “I have never thought about that or what’s best for me.” He thanked me for sitting there and talking to him, he told me I just made all of the difference in his world and he could not wait to get home and hug his wife and tell her how much he loves her. Then he said, “You were sat beside me today for a reason, thank you.

To say the least I’m not a doctor (and he knew that) and it wasn’t my place to give medical opinions, we were just two people having a conversation. He finally asked me how I know so much. I simply replied, “My husband has PTSD.” He simply smiled, then it was time for me to leave. I looked back at him and told him, “Never give up on yourself, you are worth more then that.” He just smiled and told Craig thank you for being here today. Craig just looked at him, lost of course, and said, “No problem man, take care.” And we walked away.

SO… With that being told now, isn’t there a thing as too much? Everyone needs to try for obvious reasons, and push themselves to see how much they can accomplish. If you don’t try then you won’t know the extent of what you can do or how much better you can indeed become. But doesn’t there come a point in time that if you are being pushed to the point of wanting to give up everything, life itself, you have to step back, look at the big picture, figure out if all of the pushing and expectations are actually what is causing you to get worse not better? Then regroup and try things differently?

I personally don’t believe in giving up, especially not on yourself. But I also believe that every person has a limit, and that limit is going to be different for each individual. I believe you have to pace yourself so you don’t become too overwhelmed. You have to know or learn your own boundaries. Just because something may be too much for you today does not mean that it will be tomorrow or the next day or next year. But if you are so overwhelmed right now and nothing seems to be changing, and you feel you are just becoming worse, then isn’t it time to regroup so you can continue to get better then you may be right now, at your pace? If you are so overwhelmed by others expectations, and trying not to be a failure to others that you do not want to take another breathe, aren’t you forgetting about you and what’s best for you? Which in turn will be best for everyone as you pace yourself and find a balance that is right for you. PTSD is not just going away, but finding a balance in life and within yourself so you can manage it… I believe makes all of the difference in the world and in getting better then you may be right now.

Life is too precious, don’t give up on it, and don’t give up on yourself!!! 

If you know someone that is having a hard time with PTSD and life, and you believe my story can help them, please share it with them. Their life matters, and they need to know that!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

2013 Veterans Day Offers

The following link provides information on Veterans Day offers listed on The American Legion website.

Thank You for your service and Welcome Home!

Veterans Day 2013 offers

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

 

 

 

If you Care, hit “share”!

If you care, hit “share”!

Every single one of my postings, or postings on other PTSD or mental health related pages have a “share” button. That share button can be extremely important whether you realize it or not. There are MANY people who still suffer through PTSD in silence, that have not yet reached for help, and they are fighting this battle alone.

NO ONE needs to feel or think this is a one person battle! They need to know others are out there for them and understand what they are experiencing. It’s going to be difficult for them to find others if they are feeling they are alone. One share could take the alone feeling away from someone or at least lessen it, it could save a life!

Even if you think you do not know anyone with PTSD, chances are extremely high that every single person who reads this actually knows someone who is suffering, someone that is among your own friends and family members… they may have just not voiced it or not even realize that PTSD is what they are battling. YOU could help them! And without even having to say a word. It’s one simple click of one button.

When I started speaking out about our personal story and sharing the things life with PTSD has brought to us, I was shocked at how many of my old friends from years ago and even family members contacted me and told me they, a family member, or friend suffers from PTSD. I had NO clue! But by me sharing things about PTSD it has honestly helped MANY of them!

Some people do not like sharing PTSD related things due to stigma. Well let me tell you, just because you share something does not mean you suffer or stigma will be placed upon you, it simply means you care about others. So if that is your case, simply add a comment to the share of “Because I care about other people”, that should fix the issue of stigma. And if they comment to something you have shared and say PTSD is not real or people should suck it up and get over it, you are more then welcome to have them private message me and I do not mind at all chatting with them as time permits through my FaceBook page That’s a battle I have taken on many times and I don’t mind doing it.

It’s all about helping those who may think there is no help! It’s about CARING!

The suicide rate is through the roof, just reported veteran cases of suicide is 22 per day! That does NOT include others, world wide, or civilian PTSD cases. It’s time to really work on bringing those numbers down, 0 per day is the best number to me personally! But in order to do that we have to spread the word and educate others while doing so.

“If you CARE, please SHARE” any postings from my page or others that could help! YOU could help save a life! You can share a social media page or a website link.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD (FaceBook link)

November is National Family Caregivers month!

November is National Family Caregivers month!

I want to personally say  Thank You  to the family caregivers for the important role you take in your family’s health and well being!

Many people do not realize just how many people are caring daily for a family member, rather it is a spouse, child, parent, or more than one person…

Did you know that 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. are caring for a family member with significant health issues. -Pew Research Center

We use to know caregivers as ones caring for the elderly, times have changed and there are many more caregivers of younger generations included in caregiver numbers now (many due to TBI and PTSD, also due to the increased number of children with chronic illnesses), many of which have young children. Many family caregivers are of a working age group but have taken on the role of caring for a family member(s). As a caregiver of any age group, their roles include things such as managing medications, bathing, toileting, dressing, feeding, managing doctor appointments and finances, providing wound care, helping their loved one mitigate life through dementia or memory related chronic illness, caregivers have many different tasks related to physical and/or cognitive medical conditions, taking on many medical and nursing tasks on a daily basis.

Family caregivers are more likely then other adults to:

* Research medications and other treatments online and/or with physicians.

* Gather health information on specific medical issues.

* Use online reviews for medications and treatments.

* Connect with others who are caring for a loved one with similar medical problems.

* Track their own weight, diet, health conditions, and exercise routines.

* Read online other people’s personal stories of medical conditions.

(Resource: Pew Research Center)

Being a caregiver to a loved one consists of much more then many may think. There is a false impression that caregivers just get to stay at home and do what they WANT to do. That’s so far from the truth. Caregivers spend their time and energy making sure their loved one is taken care of and helping them through everyday life. It has nothing to do with wants, it has to do with needs of another person.

It is important for caregivers to make sure they are taking care of themselves through this! Like I always say, “You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.” It is very easy for caregivers to find themselves overwhelmed, stressed, even becoming depressed when you are taking care of a loved one full time. You have to maintain a balance within and for yourself. As mentioned above from the Pew Research Center, one of the things caregivers are known for doing more than a non-caregiver is tracking their own health, this is the very reason for that… you have to keep your own balance in order to take care of others.

There are many things available to caregivers that can help with maintaining their own mental and physical health. Many have access to respite care, this is when someone else comes in to take care of your loved one so you can do things that are needed or simply to give you a relief period. There are support groups, which can be face to face and/or online groups. These groups allow you the opportunity to talk to others in a similar position you are, allows you to compare things that could help you with daily life, get new ideas and help each other find positive solutions not only for your loved one… but for YOU, and just have someone else outside the home to talk to. And importantly, there are doctors and mental health professionals for YOU! Being a caregiver is a huge responsibility, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with reaching for extra help when you need it or in order to maintain your own health!!!

I want to again thank the many caregivers that are out there, and let you know how much YOU ARE appreciated!

Helpful links for Caregivers:

Caregiver Action Network

VA Caregiver Support

Family Caregiver Alliance

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

American Red Cross

Easter Seals

Mental Health America

National Adult Day Services Association

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Face to Face vs Social Media “Friends”

How many people find themselves having more “friends” on social media then in face to face real life?

I find this one rather interesting myself. I will raise my hand lol. I think that the hardest question to explain or answer is “How many friends do you have“. That would be easy, right? 😉 MANY!

However then you find yourself thinking about the question and ask a question back, “Do you mean friends I actually see or do you mean friends in general?” Now that throws a monkey wrench into the original question! But many times that question does not get asked and the buck stops at the response of “many“.

Never fails, if you did ask a “do you mean…” question back, there is a long pause for thinking time of how to respond to that. Normally the response back goes something along the lines of, “Um, well friends that you actually do things with. Spend time with.

Oh wait then, that answer of many just drastically changed!

I have noticed that when your life includes PTSD, the “how many friends do you have” question becomes a difficult twist of how to answer. “Well I have many people I communicate with through social media, but I don’t see ‘friends’ very often, I really don’t have any friends anymore since my PTSD. People just don’t come around anymore really.

What if it were a medical professional asking this question, then left it with your original answer of “many friends”? Their first reaction, rather they say it or not, will probably be “oh that is great you are doing really good then.” It becomes kind of twisted thing again, doesn’t it?

I am actually bringing this up because I have had many come to me and complain on how their doctor put it in a medical report that they have many friends and good social standing when actually they rarely see anyone. If that fits your situation, the example above is probably why. 😉

Social media becomes your outlet for friends over the physical outings or get togethers. Your mind starts recognizing those you communicate with as your friends, even people you have never met face to face. And trust me, social media does build some strong friendships rather you have met the person or not.

Craig and I are great examples of that! I mean look at how many of YOU I (or he) private message with, some on a regular basis. Look at mine and Craig’s “friendship” with Jeff and Shannon of PTSD And Me… that’s a great example!! We have all 4 become “friends” through social media, we have talked on the phone, video chatted, we message each other… but as of today… the 4 of us have never met face to face. But we feel like we have known each other forever and value our “friendship”! It IS a real friendship, but as of right now it’s not a physically social one, we have never met, we don’t get together, we don’t even live near each other.

Kind of puts a huge “why” to why many professionals get the wrong appearance of what your social circle really is.

It’s happened to us! We have seen reports and wondered why a doctor could write that, and it caused an upset feeling because they are not in our shoes, they are not here to see everyday life and what it is like. But in reality, many times it goes back to mixing up the view of how the word friends is defined or what another person considers as friends.

People who live life with PTSD don’t have as many “face to face” friends in most cases. It’s not your fault, it’s not other people’s faults, it’s just what happens when PTSD is a part of life. You don’t go out as much, to area social gatherings, many times having people over is not easy, or others understanding your situation is not easy and it just simply gets to the point where your life doesn’t fit well with theirs. Many times people might want to drop by for a visit, but it may be a time when PTSD can just simply not handle it. There’s really no one to blame for it, it’s just what can or does come with PTSD.

I thought about it, if there were a report written today, just for example purposes, and it stated Craig has good social skills (and I’m not throwing Craig under the bus here), I would be highly upset. I had to really think to use this as an example lol.  We did have a neighbor stop this past week to talk to Craig for just a few minutes when he saw Craig out at the mailbox, besides that, the last time we had face to face friends get together with us was JULY! When my old high school buddy came to visit us. This is November! It’s not that a few have not offered to come by, it was just the timing with PTSD was not good for it.

Timing with PTSD was not good for it“, that says a lot doesn’t it? So many get so upset at lost friendships, people not understanding, friends walking away, etc. I learned a long time ago to stop being mad at people for their reactions. Yes, it’s upsetting at times, that’s only human! But in reality it’s just NO ONE’s fault. It’s what happens when PTSD is a part of real life (for many people).

So, back to the professional questions… Many will also be asked questions such as “How many people could you confide in before PTSD?” Then “How many now?” Those questions right there come with huge reasons and insight. Yet again, doesn’t “friends” and social media come into play? Sure does! Many with PTSD or those who live beside PTSD find themselves being able to “talk”, actually chat, with others that have the same things in common. People on pages, in groups or support groups, etc. Again, there comes a twist… real face to face vs social media.

It’s very difficult to face reality of what PTSD causes, especially when it comes to friendships. Social media makes it easier to cope with! There is no other way to say it! You do form friendships and bonds with other people through social media, why wouldn’t you? You have things in common therefore understand each other!

I find even myself mentioning things at times referring to something so and so said/posted or we “talked” about, at times it brings additional conversation between Craig and I, and the realization that others go through the same things we do, it brings a sense of normal.

One day my daughter said to me, “Mom, I have never seen [name] who is she? How do you know her?” Boy lol, that made me stop and think. It made me realize that I view this person as a very close friend actually, someone I can honestly confide in with my deepest thoughts and conversation, but you know what? She doesn’t even live in this same country! I have never met her face to face! It shows how social media does become a very real part of our lives. I had to think on how to answer my daughter. I told her that this lady’s husband and dad both have PTSD, so it’s easy for her and I to talk to each other and I do consider her my friend even though I have never met her. Of course I had to back that with keeping my daughter’s age in mind with “But you do not need to be talking to strangers on the inter net at your age…” Well, luckily she took that well lol. Her response, “Mom I’m glad you have so many people you can talk to… will we ever meet her?” Darling I sure hope so!!  My daughter’s thing now when she hears a name of someone she has never seen is, “Mom, is that one of your Angels?” Yes darling, it sure is! A friend that is a friend but I have not met. 

But when it comes to facing the reality questions of how many friends you have, you have to stop and think. Who is asking the question and the reason the question is being asked. Be honest with a full answer… “This is how many face to face friends I have and this is how many social media friends I have that I have not physically met.” 

Wording your answers fully and separating “types” of friends can help the professionals get a better understanding of your everyday true life without confusion or misunderstandings. It also helps show that it’s not that you don’t want friends, or that you don’t try to make new friends, but the situation may be where social media is your way of communicating with others when PTSD at times can’t manage the face to face interaction and socializing.

Just something to think about. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD