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Shell Shock, Battle Fatigue, Soldier’s Heart… PTSD. What’s next?

Shell Shock, Battle Fatigue, Soldier’s Heart… PTSD. What’s next?

Throughout history the term or wording has changed, all of these terms that have been used throughout history relate to the same medical condition, what we now know as PTSD.

This week there have been news articles regarding this, again. A name change for PTSD is being readdressed. There are studies being done to see if the term does make a difference or not, aimed at the Veteran population, their integration back into society and the job market.

I speak many times about how wording is everything when it comes to those with PTSD. Which is very true, I know this personally from how my own husband reacts or responds to things spoken to him or the way a person will phrase something. The look on his face when someone says something, the way he will distance himself from people or move closer to join a conversation. By how he will later say, “Hey they kind of understand.” or “They don’t get it at all.“.

The way things are worded or not worded effects communication, the way one will view things said to them, how the words will effect them mentally and emotionally.

So, if wording does play a huge part in everyday life with PTSD, does the term itself make a huge difference?

To note up front… this is not being written as or to bring a debate, but as a question seeking opinions, conversation, and just really… something to think about.

A few years back I wrote about this same subject when there was a name debate over the wording of  “disorder” or should it be changed to “injury”. My view back then was, “Does it really make a difference what name is placed on what we now know as PTSD? The symptoms are all still the same, life with it is still the same, the stigma that follows it will still remain as a new mental illness term becomes known.

I do have to add to this. My largest personal issue with terms of the past is the fact that awareness, advanced studies, and technology in the medical and social world have proven that PTSD is NOT only military related, but can effect anyone, military or civilian, that has experienced a life threatening trauma. The terms of the past were all related to military, which understandably makes sense, because the military is where this medical condition was best known or from. Stigma of mental illness kept the majority of civilian cases, for lack of better wording, hidden and kept within the family structure.

Many believe with another name change it will change the way people view PTSD. Studies are ongoing, however showing that dropping the word “disorder” can change the view or state of mind of the one with PTSD. It is believed with the word gone, society will not view a person as “there is something wrong with them”. Leading to more jobs and acceptance in society.

I still have a personal issue with these views. It goes back to my original statement, PTSD is still PTSD no matter what name is placed to it. I can see how changing the name could help in some ways, like the way one with PTSD views themselves or how they feel others will view them under a different term. But, reality is, whatever it is called, it’s still there.

But society? I’m not sold on that one. I still believe that once a new term is learned, we would be right back to where we were. I still believe that instead of playing so many name games with something that is so real and effecting people’s lives every day, awareness and education is the key over trying to mask PTSD under a different name.

We talk all of the time about how acceptance is a huge first step to moving forward when PTSD is a part of our life. Doctors tell us how facing your fears, traumas, symptoms, etc. can help you. Think about all of the things we, as the ones with or living beside PTSD are taught, in order to move forward with positive steps. Now, again, “people” want to change the name? In my eyes that contradicts everything we have learned and been taught, that help each of us take positive steps forward. Isn’t a name change, in a way, avoidance itself? The very thing we are all learning how to manage life through.

My question here is, hasn’t history already repeated itself? And how did that work? This medical condition is still here, it has not gone away, the symptoms are still the same, sadly… there is still stigma.

The gradual positive changes are happening because of awareness, people speaking out to educate others, people learning because they know someone or met someone who has PTSD. I know it is a long road to changing society, but it’s happening.

Look at the children that are learning and educating others! My own children educate others about PTSD, they show people through a child’s eyes that PTSD is not something to fear or hold stigma towards.

This morning was a very good example. My daughter will soon be 14 years old. I have educated her (on age appropriate level of learning) about mental illnesses since she was about 4 years old. This morning she said, “So what are you writing about today mom?“. I responded to her, “I’m writing about people wanting to change the name of PTSD to something different.” She looked at me with the most puzzled look on her face, paused for a moment, then stated, “MOM, that’s outright stupid! Why would anyone want to change the name when everyone knows or is learning the term PTSD already? What about all of the awareness already out there that can help people? That makes no sense what so ever. That would be like starting all over with the same thing but a new name, how will that help anyone? Are they crazy?” From the mouth of a babe 😉 there you have it. I said one simple sentence to her, and that was her response.

What would changing the name again do for the next generations? Honestly, I feel it would put the next generations back to square one, right back into our shoes we have already walked in.

Changing a term/name, again? Will that really help or will it put society right back to starting over on awareness? I honestly believe the latter. PTSD would just be added to the list of terms in the history books and we all would be starting over with a new term, re-explaining it as “Oh it was PTSD, but now it’s…“, as well as new stigma that in reality does come with new mental health terms. It would be history repeating itself when in reality we all are changing history right now! We can and are moving forward with the term already at hand.

I really, honestly, believe that another name change, even with the good aspects it MIGHT bring, and the psychology view that wording does make a difference… which I do believe… would in reality cause one of those huge steps backwards in this case, one that is not really needed.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

I have to tell a funny… PTSD and noticing things

I have to tell a funny…

The ladies here will really get this one. 😉  Yesterday Craig made me feel, ummm, weird, for lack of a better word LOL! He had an appointment yesterday so I got up, did my writing, then got ready to go. The entire day, and I mean every time I turned around or got that gut feeling someone was watching me, there he was… staring at me!

I laughed it off with what I’m sure was a schoolgirl chuckle each time and would ask him, “Why are you staring at me?” He would smile his smirk and say, “Just looking at you.

Now I’m serious, this went on from the time he got up to the time he went to bed! This was not normal, well, at least not his new normal since PTSD, haha. 😉 All that kept going through my head was, “Wow, am I getting a glimpse of my Craig today?“. Oh yes, I enjoyed every single second of it! 😀 This was something that I am for sure not use to anymore. (No bashing him by any means, PTSD just changed things and a lot of his focus must be on himself in order to cope and manage.)

SO, what was this mysterious staring and smirk I was receiving from him all about? My makeup and hair! See, on around the house days, which is honestly majority of the time, many days I won’t put makeup on, why waste it when I will just be cleaning, cooking, doing yard work, etc? The hair gets pulled up into a ponytail or hair clip, it all depends on my to-do list for the day and what is comfortable. Yesterday I did my hair and left it down ALL day (that is a rare occasion within itself with the length of it, to my waist) and I did my makeup.

Yesterday I heard, “You are so pretty.“, “Wow I can’t believe how long your hair is.“, “I’m not use to seeing your hair down.“, “Your makeup looks so good today.“, “I’m not use to seeing you wear makeup around the house.“, etc etc etc. It had nothing to do with if he thought I looked better or not, he still states I am beautiful either way, it was about him noticing and that smirk of a smile he was giving me all day. 🙂

Moral of this… Even when you think they notice nothing, they still see everything.  😉

See, it does not matter if I do my hair and makeup or not. Times that I do those things every day, it becomes the normal, then when I don’t do them, it’s the same response as this story. He noticed the change! That I had done something differently. It is a very well known symptom that ones with PTSD notice everything, so when there is a change you can bet they will notice it. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

“I don’t want to go to bed!”

“I don’t want to go to bed!”

Many have probably said that very thing, or heard it. It is very common with PTSD! Or one will just avoid going to bed all together. I have heard everything from “I don’t want to go to bed.” to “Oh, I just like watching you sleep.“, and many other things in between.

This can cause spouses/partners to become frustrated, feel like they are not wanted or not good enough, distance is put between two people, etc. Many things that are taken personally, when in reality should not be!

But what is the real reason for it?

Nightmares and/or night terrors! A simple answer, but it comes with SO much behind it. For anyone that experiences nightmares or terrors on a regular basis, making it into bed at night is tough, it’s a hard chore to be honest. All of the thoughts come rushing in as the sun sets and that bedtime approaches. “Will the nightmares come tonight?“, “I’m tired of seeing those images over and over again, they haunt me.“, “Will I swing on my loved one in my sleep?“, “Will I scream out and cause others to panic or become scared of me?”, “Will I know where I am when I wake from them?“, “Will I keep my loved one awake? I feel so guilty they don’t get much sleep.“. Will I, will I, will I… what if!

PTSD nightmares bring intense, real life images of their trauma experienced right back to them, night after night in many cases. Others may experience more nightmares around anniversary dates of their trauma or when high expectations arise and anxiety increases.

Many delay going to bed as long as possible. Others will avoid going to bed all together. Nightmares bring avoidance, and all of those what if’s.

We know that everyone needs sleep! Even if it is not solid restful sleep, sleep is still needed in order to be able to function mentally as well as physically. Lack of sleep can cause symptoms to increase, cause one to be frustrated or grumpy during the day… moody, and many other things. Sleep is urgent!

So what can you do?

There are many things you can try that may help. TRY being that key word there.

  •  Pay attention to what you eat or drink when bedtime is approaching. Don’t eat or drink things that are known for keeping you awake.

 

  •  Limit the content… what you watch or read before bedtime. You don’t want to set yourself up for increased anxiety right before bed. The things you watch or read before bed can set the pace for what your night will be like. Be cautious of those things.

 

  •  Intense conversations. This is a huge one! Majority of people with PTSD already have increased anxiety about going to bed and it causes their mind to focus on serious subjects. Many times intense conversation about important subjects towards bedtime can set you up for increased nightmares.

 

  •  Coping skills. I am telling you, coping skills can help! Breathing exercises, different forms of meditation such as mindfulness and body relaxation techniques can be of great help in settling the mind and body before bedtime. Try them and practice them! Coping skills take practice and one time of trying them will not cut it.

 

  •  Soothing music or sounds. These things and allowing yourself to just experience the soothing sounds you are hearing can help ease the mind and thoughts. I like the sound of water or certain types of music personally. There are also different types of sound machines that can be of great help.

 

  •  Mind set. If you focus on the what if or “I know I won’t sleep tonight” or “I know I will have nightmares.“, what are the chances you will get sleep? Very slim if any. Change your focus to “Hey! I AM going to get some sleep tonight.” or “You know what, it’s just a nightmare and I am still going to get some sleep.” Changing your view of going to bed can help. It’s like you playing a trick on your own brain.  It can work at times. It does not mean you won’t still have a nightmare, but it does mean you might get more sleep then you normally do.

As always, there is an endless list of things you can try! What you are basically doing is taking your thoughts away from the what if’s that can come, and things that can cause sleep issues, and teaching yourself to focus on the positive things that can help and allow you to get at least some sleep. And when you do have a rough night, don’t view it as a failure! Catch a nap during the day and say “Okay, I had another one of those nights but I will try again tonight.”  It might just work. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Increase in Anger and Frustration…

Increase in Anger and Frustration…

My question to everyone a couple of days ago on my FaceBook page was:

“I’ve noticed a pattern, so wanted to reach out further on this one…

Be HONEST! 😉
How many of you are battling anger and/or frustration right now? 

NOT only those with PTSD, everyone!”

I received an overwhelming amount of responses, both publicly as well as privately, which did back what I have been seeing over the past week or so. MANY suffering from increased anger or frustration. BUT, more came to light then only those two things! Which is exactly what I was looking for, the why. There is also a higher level of feelings of loss, guilt, hopelessness, and even resentment which seems to be a huge root to many having increased (from the normal level of) anger or frustration issues right now.

Part of my theory was we just had Valentine’s Day and that day seems to be the day of the year people reflect on what use to be, how people use to be, expectations, and compare those things to life now. Something that can play on a mindset in a very large way. However, I did have another opinion brought to me that also fit into this, we have all settled down from New Years, the resolutions… what has or has not been accomplished, the year moving forward. BUT, many are not yet seeing the positive changes they were hoping to see or experience for this new year.

Another large part that surfaced was situation of circumstances. Rather it’s treatment, lack of treatment, job related, lack of support system, and the big one, other people not understanding unseen disabilities.

All of these things are VERY real and seem to be a big picture view of why there are above normal levels of anger and frustration. All leading back to those very real base feeling of loss, guilt, hopelessness, and/or resentment forming.

Loss.

This could be a wide range of things causing this feeling of loss. The largest thing seems to be loss of who a person was or who you were, or the life that you had. This is VERY common with PTSD. It’s what I refer to as part of the mourning stage. Even people who have had PTSD as a part of their lives for years seem to be refacing the mourning stage. It can and does happen in many cases. Just like one with PTSD can re-experience symptoms over and over, mourning is no different, one can experience it again.

I am no different then the rest of you. 😉 I had a touch of this the other day. On my FaceBook page I shared that song I had heard, I took all of you on a small trip down memory lane with photos from our past. BUT, what else did I do? I turned those negative feelings of loss around. I focused on a plan for the future and how even though PTSD has done to our lives what it has, and it’s still here hasn’t gone away or decreased, I don’t allow myself to stay stuck in the mourning of a loss. I do face and remember what the past was like, I allow myself to experience those real feelings, but I also find ways to look at the positive the future can bring. Finding the positive helps you move forward as well as helps keep you from being stuck.

The other things I heard a lot about were loss of job or difficult time with or getting treatment. Even though these two things are separate situations, both of them can change for a more positive outlook. The key here is DON’T give up!

If it’s regarding a job, keep looking, that right job that is perfect for you will come along. I know it might not be in a timely manner that you need, and it sure does not help financially when that money is needed to live on, or you have to take a job you don’t really care for or a place where others just don’t get it, but don’t give up! There is something out there that is perfect for you, it might be in a totally different line of work then you are use to! You might discover something you like more and is better suited for you. Keep your eyes and mind open to different things. No matter what, don’t give up on trying.

Medical treatment. Another thing you just can not give up on! I know how rough it can be when you don’t feel you or your loved one is receiving correct treatment, or even none at all! Push for it, with every ounce of energy you have. If you are not getting it and you want it, you demand it… for lack of better words. If you feel you could be getting better treatment, then change doctors! Ha, we have done this before. 😉 You know what? It made a huge difference in a positive way! Don’t settle when it comes to treatment. It’s part of your lifeline and making sure you get to the best point you can possibly get to. Don’t accept anything less then what you know you need and is best for you!

Resentment.

This is one that spouses seem to have the most difficult time with. In many cases it starts with the loss, the mourning, as well as taking things personal, then it turns to frustration or even anger. Many times towards the one with PTSD. This can lead to your life, both of you, becoming unbalanced and things being taken out on each other. Take a deep breath and look at the big picture at hand. There is not a single person out there who asked for PTSD or any other medical condition. I know life with PTSD can become frustrating, and that frustration will, if you do not get a grip on it, roll over to including anger, them towards the one with PTSD and/or the rest of the people around you.

Resentment can form because of the changes in life, the weight of many more things being placed on your shoulders, again the loss of the life that was. Then the vicious cycle begins of PTSD symptoms going on defense and fighting back. STOP, take a good look in the mirror and face what this is doing to you and what is causing it. Remember that this is no one’s fault that life changed, stop pointing fingers or placing blame and remember you are in this life together, live it together, learn and use coping skills, get professional help if need be, and find the positive ways to get past the resentment so you both can work forward from this point. Things can get better then they may be right now! I know this for a fact based on how far we have come in our own lives. PTSD is not going away, but the things you do, the way you start viewing things in positive ways, and communicating and working together can make the symptoms and life so much more manageable. DO something.

Guilt.

This can come in so many different forms and for different reasons! Rather you have PTSD or not, guilt can play into this life big time. It can form from what PTSD has caused and to others, to guilt of taking time to yourself in order to cope, to everything in between! Guilt causes one to pull away from others and/or society itself, it can be damaging to relationships or family, it can cause people to stop taking care of themselves. No matter what the case may be at hand, work on things that can help you control this very real and extreme feeling.

If, for example, you are one with PTSD and you feel guilt because PTSD symptoms causes you to not spend enough time with your children/grand-children. I’m using this example because it is one of the many I hear of most often. This could go for spending time with your spouse or partner as well. Try taking more often short periods of time with them. Time is about quality, not quantity. Especially with PTSD involved. Overwhelming yourself with long periods of time may very well in many cases lead to a few days of not wanting to be around anyone, just a fact that comes with PTSD. Try short periods of time, and more often, and build from it! Focus on the quality of that time, one on one attention, finding things in common or new things that you like and enjoy together. This is one of those small step, stepping stones of getting guilt under manageable control, at least for short time frames and using that quality time to have something good to focus on when guilt tries to step back in. 😉 I’ve seen it work, try it! If you are the other person, give them the chance to do this! Do NOT play guilt trips on a person who is trying!!!! You are only hurting yourself and your family if you do.

Guilt also comes from either person when “me time” is involved. You HAVE to make and take me time, time to yourself, in order to be there for others as well as to make sure you are taking care of yourself! Life with PTSD does bring a lot with it, it’s just a hard fact. You have to take care of yourself in order to keep a balance in this life as well as within yourself… which leads to being able to cope with all of those other negative feelings or situations when they come.

Hopelessness.

This is HUGE and again, very real. Rather you are the one with PTSD or not, you can experience this feeling. Those golden words… DON’T give up! Kind of like that old saying on gravity, what goes up must come down, very true but if it went up once then who’s to say it won’t again? 😉 PTSD is very well known for being a roller coaster ride. It’s the term that fits best. But even through the worst times that can come, that ride can shift to a different gear and things can get better. You have to learn to embrace the good and use those times to battle the not so good times. The good times or better times can give you strength! Use it to your advantage and don’t get stuck in the negative when it comes, use the positive to get through things.

There are many situations that will test you as much and far as they possibly can, beyond belief that it’s even occurring. During these times you have to use every single thing that you have learned about PTSD, use them to your advantage to find the good. Try different things, do different things that can help or to learn what helps, make sure you communicate, use those coping skills and a support system.

If you are one feeling hopeless because you do not feel you are getting “better”, ask yourself, “How far HAVE I come to this point?” Use what you have already experienced to your advantage to build on and from! If you are not sitting at rock bottom, and I mean the bottom of rock bottom right now at this point for the very first time, then you have something there to build from, use it!

And, if you are one at that first rock bottom, hang on tight because there are MANY things and people that can help pull you out of that spot and back to a more balanced ground!!! Ones with experience, knowledge, and all sorts of things that can help you! DO NOT lose hope! Even when it seems that there is no hope left (again, a VERY real feeling) or you are in a state where you do not see it or feel it, it is there, it’s just masked by what PTSD causes. Learn the “tools” and reach to the people who can help.

Anger and/or frustration…. two very real things that come with life containing PTSD. Many feel these things on a daily basis, “floating anger right under the surface just waiting for the opportunity to come up” is the way Craig describes it. Even at times when there feels like there is no reason behind the feelings, if you look deep enough, to the roots, there is a good chance you will find the cause… the WHY. Like I always state, and truly believe, when you see/feel the what then you can look for the why to it, that why will help you find and use things that help. PTSD is not just going away, we all know that, but learning and understanding the why to things/symptoms when they happen can sure help you take that step forward, even if it’s a small step. 😉

As always, these are just a few examples of what I am sure are many, but after so much input from all of you, which I GREATLY appreciate! I found a few very common roots to the high levels of anger and frustration many people are experiencing right now. Use those roots of the why to find ways to cope, manage, communicate, and move forward. And remember, no matter how low you may feel right now at this moment… YOU are awesome! Don’t allow PTSD, or life beside it, mask that. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Trust

PTSD and Trust 

Trust. One of the largest, heaviest weight carrying words, feelings, there could be in life. Now imagine it being combined with PTSD, and even the trauma that occurred itself!

There are so many different directions that trust issues can be at hand. I hear a lot about trust issues from both sides of the fence of PTSD, so we know it is a real word that can cause serious issues in life with PTSD… But why?

Do you recall my story about Craig’s memory issues and how he would not recall things? It was leading to arguments (NOT like us) and him having great frustration and anger come from it. So I had to find a way around the situation to make things better for us, and for him to understand he was not remembering things? I asked him, “Do you trust me? I mean 110% honest trust me?“, once things had settled down. And he replied with yes. I had him write a note to himself and sign it, then I locked it away so I could use it in only absolute must need situations when nothing else worked to get through to him. That letter to himself had the words “I can trust Bec, she will not misguide me. Listen to her, I can trust her…” within it.

I realized that when memory was behind an issue, his PTSD defenses and fight were escalating. To him, what he remembered or how he thought something happened, were right. But reality was memory was causing his views to be skewed from real situations. I found something that worked for us, a way to open up communication, a way to get his symptoms to decrease, a way to remind him he can trust me.

My point of this example is you have to learn and understand the why in order to find positive things that can help. I had his trust to work with in our case, but you know what? He doubted that trust when it came to memory problems and PTSD symptoms, he was in survival, fight mode. A simple thing as a letter helped us get past that so we could work on positive things to help him.

But what about other things?

PTSD can bring the need of caution to everything, even to the point of one becoming paranoid. Those things cause trust to become an issue as well. One can start questioning what or who they can trust, are they sure they can trust that person, re-questioning themselves over and over. When this is at hand, it can cause one to doubt being able to trust anyone, even and especially those closest to them. They almost become vulnerable to the what if’s PTSD can cause.

The way others respond or react to them, even fight back against them during these times, can cause the situation to become even worse. I discovered a long time ago, if you fight PTSD symptoms instead of finding positive solutions or things to help, you are going to get one hell of a fight back… which will not help anyone! They will start trusting themselves and no one else, they might second guess everything at those heightened times, and withdraw from everyone, then the avoidance comes into it.

Avoidance can cause hurt feelings, anger, resentment, mindsets where if the what and why were understood, and a situation handled differently, would decrease. We all know avoidance is a huge part of PTSD as it is rather it’s people, places, or things. When trust issues are added to that, it’s only common sense that avoidance will become greater. Not something anyone wants or means to happen, but it’s a defense and survival tool of PTSD.

What about the trauma itself? We talk so much about how to get through the here and now of PTSD symptoms, but when it comes to trust, you can not set aside the trauma one experienced. There are MANY traumas that result in trust issues!

Examples:

  • A car accident where one was severely injured, or a life of another was lost, when that person was not the one driving. This can result of them not trusting others to drive. Their mindset can become “If I drive that will not happen again.” Or the opposite, they were the one driving when something severe happened and now no longer trust themselves to drive, it’s still a trust issue rather towards someone else or towards themselves.

 

  • An assault and/or rape. Rather it was an assault from a man or woman, the trust in the sex of the attacker, male or female, can greatly become an issue. The person who experienced the trauma at hand can carry no trust in others that are the same sex as the attacker.

 

  • Military, Police, Work related trauma, etc. What about a trauma that occurred because of a mistake or a situation that was a must do order from your commanding officer or leader/boss? Trust can weigh heavily when it comes to trusting a new leader or even co-workers. What about when someone was suppose to “have your back”, but something occurred and they were not or could not be there? What about a life lost situation where it was not your fault, but you were blamed by others? All of these things are real life situations that can cause trust issues.

 

  • A trauma from a medical procedure. It does happen, a surgery or other procedure gone wrong, did not turn out the way it was suppose to. Or a procedure or health issue that was so overwhelming that PTSD formed (common in cancer and stroke patients). It can cause one to lose trust in doctors or medical staff.

Those are just a few real life traumas that many people do not think about when it comes to trust and PTSD. Those can play a huge role in trusting or not trusting others throughout one’s lifetime. The trauma related to why PTSD formed and trust issues created at that time can weigh heavy on views, actions, and words in the future. All of these things have to be considered when trust becomes an issue so you can find positive ways to cope with it, as well as find ways to step forward.

You knew that word was going to come, cope. I speak highly about coping skills, why? Because they can work for you AND those around you! We use them daily and you know what, they make life with PTSD so much easier to manage.

You can do the old reliable, write things out on paper. What caused you not to trust a person that a conflict is with right now at this moment? Has that person honestly done something to you? Or is PTSD causing the conflict with it’s what if’s and symptoms? As I always say it, facts on the table. Many cases you might find it’s PTSD symptoms taking control of a situation causing you, or the other person, to not trust someone that in reality you can trust! It happens.

Life is going to contain people and things where some can be trusted, then others honestly can not be. You have to find ways, trial and error also, to sort things out through PTSD symptoms and the situation at hand. Being able to learn to face why you or someone else has a trust issue is extremely important, that why will help you find positive ways to get through it and possibly past it with the person there with you now. The past can weigh heavily on one, either person, when it comes to trust. Finding ways to view the here and now, the why or what, with facts on the table, can help you manage through and cope through what the past has caused relate to current situations. Like with PTSD itself, there’s probably not going to be a cure, but it can help you manage and find positive ways through tough situations.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

My coffee and things to think about…

Okay 😉 I have a confession…

Last Monday I had my check-up, and you know my doc told me I HAD to decrease my coffee intake. Those of you that know me well, know I LOVE my coffee! Since I was a teen I have drank 3-4 cups per day, then water the rest of the day. Doc said I HAVE to decrease to 2 cups per day and then I can have 1 decaf cup. WOW that was a hard one for me lol!

The reason for the decrease is because I am very healthy, but I do have anxiety. Her words were she would hate to see someone as healthy as I am have a stroke because of the combination of my anxiety/heart palpitations and high intake of coffee. She was pretty darn serious with me about it.

SO, I listened and have been following doctor’s orders. I wasn’t too thrilled with this, but did what she said I needed to. I have only had 2 cups per day, one day I did have a cup of decaf as my third cup but that, haha, that was not for me.

I have to confess, the doc was right! It’s been five days and I can tell a huge change for the better in the way I feel/my heart feels! I have drank high quantities of coffee for so long that I never thought coffee would actually effect me, or my anxiety! Boy was I wrong! I feel better and you know what? My coping skills for my anxiety are working even better for me then what they already were!

There are many foods, drinks, and other things that can effect the way you feel, effect things such as anxiety, PTSD, in general health, etc. This small example of what I had to change, shows that you do need to be watching what you do, as well as how those things are honestly affecting you! I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought my coffee intake was adding to my issue or could cause the problems it could potentially cause with the combination of my anxiety.

If your doc says to change something, trust me 😉 don’t put it to the side and think a change will not work, your doc might just be right!  😉

SO, my 2 cups of coffee per day is perfectly okay with me!  I can feel the change and it feels good!! 🙂

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Category: Anxiey/Hyperarousal, Uncategorized  Tags: , , , ,  Comments off

Valentine’s Day and Every day…

Let me tell you a story…

(and don’t worry, I’m getting somewhere with this PTSD related)

I grew up celebrating every holiday that card companies put on the calendar lol, as many people view it. 😉 Oh it was fun! It was an all out holiday no matter what it was. I carried on the traditions of decorating the house, buying gifts, special foods or baking, etc. Today is what I refer to as the hearts and love holiday.

Yesterday I took my daughter to the store, she has a boyfriend she wanted to buy something for. 😉 WOW, kids grow up too fast. Anyway, as she was looking at things and figuring out what was perfect for him, she told me he loves chocolate and loves dogs… so picked out a box of chocolates and a stuffed animal.

I stood by the shopping cart and looked around at all of the people who were there. The two Valentine’s sections of the store were packed with people! I watched them gathering heart shaped boxes of chocolates, roses, stuffed animals, or jewelry. The card isle was full of people picking through cards to find the one with the perfect saying. All of the things that in a materialistic way show on this day you care about someone. You know me, I probably over observe people lol.

But as I watched, and realized that all of these holidays just don’t carry the heavy expectations as they use to, to me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love them, but my expectations changed. Sure, I had a blast watching my daughter as she picked things out, the smile on her face, and her silly giggle. I saw the joy she had and how excited she is about today, same with everyone else that was at the store shopping. Things I use to do!

Why wasn’t I there among everyone else looking for things to buy? When did my views change? What changed?

These changes are by no means bad to me. And I sure do not judge others for their holiday traditions! Have at it and enjoy it, LOL! Craig and I will be grilling steaks here at home today, something simple.

What changed with me was a day when I saw with my own eyes just how valuable life really is, everyday. How precious every breath a person takes is. The day I felt fear flow through my soul. Fear that my special someone would not have even one more day with me.

That day was many years ago now, but it has never left my mind. I sat in our bathroom, on the floor beside the bathtub. The tub that he was sitting in, crying, speaking the words that he could not do this any longer, no one was helping him, no one cared, no one was fixing him, how he could not remember things and it was destroying him, how the migraines were unbearable, how he had lost everything to an illness that he could not manage another day through… he wanted to die.

It was the longest day of my life as I talked him through what he was feeling, the words he was speaking, what he was thinking, and showing him photos and telling him the reasons he HAD to live! I reminded him of all of the things that we had made it through so far, and how I will not let him give up. How we would find help and he will get better then he was at that moment.

My heart sank that day, my fear was at the highest level it had ever been, and I kept talking. I knew something had a hold on him, what we now know as PTSD , depression , and survivor’s guilt had consumed him. I was faced with the reality of what these illnesses can do to a person, something that he would NEVER had allowed to even cross his mind before, and I was not about to give up on him.

I sat by that tub for about 8 hours straight. I did not freak out, I did not get angry or lash harsh words out because of his actions or words, I was in survival mode of seriousness, calmness, helping him through every step or word that came.

When he finally spoke in calmness to me, and he told me “Thank you for loving me and being here for me.”, and he got up out of that tub… Those were the most precious words my ears had ever heard. I took a deep breath and told him we will make it through this, and we will make it together, I promise you. And we have done just that.

I know to many today is a day of love and expectations, chocolate, flowers, fine dinners, etc. But those things hold nothing to the fact that your loved one is still here with you, that each day holds a new day of life, and you do have the chance to say “I love you”.

If I can give you any thread of advice for today… Don’t allow expectations of things or what a “normal” holiday should be like mess up your day. Cherish the fact that you have that person with you today. Whatever the day holds or does not hold, make the best of it. Every single day of life is a special day.

To those of you that may not have a special someone in your life right now, know that you are loved and there are people who care about you! And, just because there is not a special someone today, does not mean one won’t come along tomorrow. 😉 YOU are special and sooner or later another special person who understands you and excepts you, will come along. Until then, know you ARE loved!

I send each and every one of you much love today! You have become a huge part of our family, and I could not imagine it being any other way!  <3

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Stop, Think, and Breathe!

Stop, Think, and Breathe!

Are you getting so tied up in what is happening right now, that you are forgetting how or what to do to make it through it?

I am seeing MANY people lately that have some serious issues or situations going on. Then I’m seeing the results and how lost they are becoming because of what is going on, as well as how the one with PTSD is responding. The situation has become unbalanced. Not good.

Are you forgetting that PTSD and the symptoms are also involved? Are you forgetting to use coping skills? Are you forgetting to look for the “why” in order to find what works best for managing situations, as well as PTSD? Many, if honest with yourself are going to answer, “Yes, yes I am forgetting“.

I know it is tough to focus on what you need to do or need to remember when serious situations arise! The brain of one without PTSD wants to resort back to how you would handle things in a “normal” situation or resorts back to viewing things through “normal” eyes. My friends, if PTSD is involved, handling or viewing things with a “normal” response is not in many cases going to get you very far, and you might just be causing a serious matter to become worse.

I am seeing many that are so upset either with a current situation or with something that has happened regarding one with PTSD, that they (or you) are allowing their emotions to take over to the point they are now the one having issues. (And when you have issues, you can bet your bottom it will cause the one with PTSD to have issues!) The pointing fingers has started again at the one with PTSD. Communication is breaking down. And the coping skills of how to handle reality has leaped out the window. The positive ways to find solutions or what is best has been set to the side and you are stuck in the negative. STOP! Step back, and take a good look, think… and for goodness sake breathe! 

If you do not take a step back to look at the big picture and figure out the what and why to it, you are going to over react, your world will fall into chaos mode, and you are going to become very unbalanced… which can lead to all of those around you becoming unbalanced.

Life throws curve balls all of the time, it’s life! It happens to every single one of us, but how you handle it can make all of the difference in the world. It’s like I always say, make a plan and make sure you have a back up plan. But in order to make a plan you have to slow down and take a good look at things in order to move forward.

Keep in mind:

* PTSD is involved.

You have to keep in mind what one with PTSD goes through each day and that they also have coping they have to focus on. Keep in mind their symptoms, and the “why” to things that happen. Those “why’s” will and can help you find solutions or what can help best with a situation or symptom. You can NOT dismiss that PTSD is a part of life now.

* Coping Skills 

Don’t forget YOUR coping skills! Coping skills need to be used every single day rather you feel you need to use them or not. The more you practice them, the better they can work for you when a tough situation arises. They become your new normal for handling stress, frustration, anger, sadness, and any other emotion or feeling that can come with intense situations. USE THEM!

* Make a Plan 

It does not matter what the situation is, you can take a few minutes to think it out and make a plan, and a back-up plan! If this happens we handle it this way, if that does not work we try this. Plans are easy, you can come up with one at any point in time. But you have to stop and think…

* Slow down.

You have to slow down! If you allow yourself to go full speed in a tough situation, you are not allowing yourself to look at the big picture and figure out how to handle it best. Many not so good decisions and overreactions can happen, or even worse situations can come if you do not slow down to think rationally and take in everything involved, so you can find what the best course is or you think will be. Even if you take 5 minutes to stop, slow down, and think, it can be a huge help!

* Don’t Overreact 

Overreacting is one of the largest mistakes when it comes to life involving PTSD. Think of the symptoms, think of the why’s, and try to figure things out, and communicate before you allow an overreacting nature take control of you. Again, life has changed now that PTSD is a part of it! What made sense before might not be the normal now. You can still find ways to work through things and find a balance, but you have to work on it.

* Balance 

The golden key to life with PTSD and life in general. You HAVE to find a balance! A balance in emotions, feelings, responses, coping, managing, communication, etc etc! Even though life can change from one day to the next, or one situation to the next, you can still find a balance. But it’s sure not going to be handed to you, you have to DO things in order for it to happen.

These are just a few very important reminders that I have found extremely helpful. Life with PTSD is different from the normal, but you know what? A new normal can be found if you work on it. Stop, think, and don’t forget to breathe! Those things can sure help make life a little easier, as well as make it more balanced.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

“Cupid’s Arrow” appetizers

I interrupt a serious PTSD day to bring you a reminder….

It’s now February!
Which means all of those cute hearts and love in the air… okay moving on 😉

Here is an easy appetizer that you can make at home if you have a party, child school function, or are staying in for Valentine’s Day this month…

Little Smokie sausages
Your favorite block cheese
Skewers

Heat sausages and cut in half at an angle. Place the two halves together (points together) to make a “heart”. Cube cheese into small cubes. Cut part of cheese cubes in half at an angle (triangles) to make “arrow points”. Other cubes of cheese are for back of “arrow”. Slide onto skewers and wallah… you have cupid’s arrow appetizers!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

 

Category: Recipes by Rebecca, Uncategorized  Tags: , ,  Comments off

PTSD and how Empathy plays a role…

A subject I have brought up many times on here (for very good reasons) rather the term “empathy” was used or not. I believe it is a huge part of bringing understanding as well as finding solutions or what works best in many situations that arise from PTSD, as well as understanding the person who suffers from it.

My comments of  “put yourself in their shoes“, “no matter which side of the fence you stand on“, “find the ‘why’ in order to find a solution or what helps” (one of my largest, most used comments), etc. All of these are in a way, guides to recognizing that a sense of empathy is needed at times. Now, please note that empathy and sympathy are not the same thing, but often times confused. I found that having a sense of empathy helps me, as a spouse of one with PTSD, understand what my husband experiences which leads me to finding things that help him as well as both of us. It also helps one find a level ground for developing good communication skills!

Another thing that does need to be understood, ones with PTSD many times lack or experience less empathy then ones who do not have PTSD (Apathy. Which is lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern which many times can be regarding important situations.). It’s NOT that they do not want to, it’s that their brain and PTSD does not always allow them to experience empathy, or even sympathy in some cases. This is where many mis-communications, misunderstandings, or feeling that one with PTSD “just does not care”, come into life with PTSD. Some studies have shown that empathy can be developed or re-developed, but it takes practice and effort. (Which in my mind, means patience is needed.  )

There are many studies which have been done, there are many articles on the topic, information is endless. But you have to take the time to understand how empathy can play a huge part in life when PTSD or even other mental disorders/illnesses are involved. I have been working on an article regarding this, but honestly, the more I write the more I think the most helpful way to get to the root is by understanding how and when to use, or even how to develop empathy.

The following is an excerpt from a “Psychology Today” article that I found and thought would be helpful, which I highly recommend reading in it’s entirety which contains the “empathy exercise” example.

“When We Should Use Empathy

Once we have gained practice in using the empathy exercise we could apply it in a variety of situations. Here are just a few of many possible scenarios:

1. Whenever we seek to understand someone better.

2. When we find ourselves arguing unproductively with a spouse or a significant other.

3. When we have trouble connecting emotionally to the plight of a loved one.

4. When we want to calm our tempers and manage our emotions.

5. When figuring out how best to complain effectively.

Empathy comes more naturally to some than it does to others. However, by taking time to truly paint a picture of what it is like for the other person and imagine ourselves in their place, we will gain valuable insights and forge deeper connections to those around us.” Excerpt from: psychologytoday.com, Guy Winch, Ph.D.

I hope this helps bring a little more understanding to how much can really be involved or needs to be taken into consideration, in life as well as life with or beside PTSD. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD