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A Perspective of what PTSD is like…

comparison of ptsd

Many times, in order to learn how to understand something better, you have to have something to compare it to that can bring an understanding.

I was trying to come up with a description or comparison of what PTSD is like, especially when the fight or flight and other symptoms are high. There is only one example I could think of off the top of my head that I think fits and helps explain what it’s like for one with PTSD, and at times even their spouse/partner…

It’s like when a bird flies into a room, through an open door or window, it does not matter how it entered, it’s still, so to speak, closed in the room, and it’s desperately trying to get back outside, but can’t find the way without a lot of effort, struggle, and help.

Picture that in your mind. How the bird acts, the way it flies around the room, it panics and struggles to desperately find an exit, to escape from. Some birds will hit the walls or windows of the room trying to find an exit. Other birds will shut down, fall to the floor, seem almost dead but are actually in a panic stage and it takes time for them to recover from that stage. Then sadly, others hit the walls so many times, so hard, that their life actually ends… in essence, they lose their own life in the process of trying to escape what happened to them.

I imagine that those of you that know PTSD are agreeing with me right now. But maybe this will bring a little better understanding to those of you that do not understand or have a lot of knowledge of PTSD yet.

No one knows why the bird flew through the window or door, maybe that opening was just on their flight path, maybe it was a direction they were forced to go and had no other option, we don’t know… it just happened. PTSD is no different. It’s something traumatic that a person experienced, whatever the path or reason was, it still lead to the same place… what happened to them.

It happened, the bird is there, it flew into a room. Now it’s trying hard to find the exit, the solution of how to get out. It flies around in a panic and fears for it’s life. PTSD is the result of a real life, extreme trauma that caused one to fear for their own life or that of another. It causes a person to feel trapped, really no different than the bird.

Where as the bird makes that quick response of “have to find exit now” and everything it experiences happens quickly in time frame, take that experience and multiply it. PTSD drags the experiences out, they last for more then a month in memory and can last a lifetime. Repeating that same experience of the trauma over and over again in their brain, through flashbacks, nightmares, triggers, anxiety, and many more symptoms.

Can you yell at a bird and say, “Hey bird! Stop flying around, stop and look for the window or door“? You can yell all you want to, but that bird is not going to hear you or listen, it’s a bird. The fear has it in a panic, fight or flight, and it can not slow down, it’s fighting for it’s life.

PTSD is no different. Sometimes it just can’t hear one’s voice because of the results of the experience being there, replaying itself. Voices and reasoning are just static noise compared to a real life trauma replaying itself through the brain, in many cases much of the time.

At times the bird will wear out, find a safe place to perch as it regroups to fly, try to find that exit again. PTSD does the same thing. There can be outbursts, anger, frustration, fear, panic, then the brain and body get tired, worn out, and one just retreats to a safe place, away from everything and everyone.

What happens next? The bird has perched for whatever amount of time, long or short, then starts the same things over again trying to find an exit. Again, PTSD does the same things.

At times that bird will find an exit. After the struggle and fear it finds an open window and flies away. Other times, maybe a human that saw the bird trapped stepped in and helped it get out of the room safely. Other times the bird falls in a panic and it takes time to recover in order to start flying again.

These things the bird experienced can be compared to PTSD. Some people push themselves through their trauma, it does not make the trauma go away, they won’t forget it, but they learn coping skills, they reach for help, they allow others to help them, they find ways not to escape, but to live with PTSD. They learn how to manage it even though it is a constant “bird trapped in a room” feeling that is very real. They learn how to survive and live with PTSD being a part of their life.

Then sadly, there is the bird that flew so much, hit the wall so many times, and just could not find that open window or door, that it died. It happens, it’s real life. There are 22 Veterans per day that commit suicide. Now that’s only veterans of reported cases in the United States, that does not include civilians, unreported cases, or world wide numbers.

Folks, these are those “birds” that did not make it out of that room they were trapped in. They are the ones that did not have enough or any help, they are the ones that tried and tried and just could not find that exit to safety. This HAS to change!

You just watched that bird in that closed room fly around and around, hitting the walls, struggling to find that exit. Did you help it? Or did you sit back and watch?

If you see or know anyone that is struggling, lend that hand, open that window to help… open your ears and listen, even if you don’t “get it”. You cannot make PTSD go away, but you can help by learning and caring about others. Understand that PTSD is not something they can just get over, it’s VERY real and what they experience every single day is real. Do not be the one to sit back and just watch, or you might be the one to watch that final “bird” scene when you could have been the one to help save them. Open that window, be there for them, take the time to care. PTSD is not just a personal issue or problem, it effects everyone and it needs EVERYONE in order for the one who suffers from it, as well as those around them, to survive and learn how to live again. Please do NOT be that person who just sits back and watches the “bird” trapped in a room, be the one who does something, be the one who helps save another person’s life or loved one.

Whether you know someone who suffers from PTSD or not, odds are you actually do. Take the time to learn, take the time to care. Others need to understand and the only way to get awareness out there… is to spread it!

Please share if you care!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Website

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook Page

“Walking on Eggshells”…

“Walking on Eggshells”…

This is a very common phrase to those who live with someone who has PTSD. It can also be one of those vicious circles as well… PTSD symptoms are up, the spouse feels like they are walking on eggshells, then that feeling or actions roll over to the one with PTSD, and back around again.

Anxiety, that is really what this phrase boils down to. It is a mind set of what words/actions need to take place in order to keep peace and calm environment to help PTSD symptoms settle down, and doing them. Which can in many cases lead to one developing anxiety.

Walking on eggshells is the phrase used when one watches closely what they do, how they say things, how they act, used when they are trying not to cause frustration or anger in another person. They are just simply trying to keep things calm, not rock the boat, so to speak. Things that have to be done but in doing so, many times they leave out the balance needed by themselves and instead, allow the walking on eggshells feeling consume them. You then feel on edge all of the time, you lose your self balance.

There is a problem with this. There is not a single person on this earth that can manage and do everything perfect. You are expecting yourself to be a super hero with super powers… folks, that is too high of expectations of yourself! Then add to that, we are talking about PTSD being a part of our lives, and with that come the symptoms. It goes back to what I always say, you have to find a balance and you have to know what to do and how to take care of yourself in order to help someone else.

I know the “walking on eggshells”. I am no different then anyone else, as a spouse of one with PTSD I’ve experienced it. It is the most horrible, draining, heart aching feeling that hits your gut a spouse can experience. And you want it to go away quickly when it appears. And yes, I myself have anxiety, much of what came from the walking on eggshells, and I’ll be the first to admit it, but I learned to control it instead of allowing it to control me. 

See, when PTSD symptoms rise it is normal for a spouse/partner to feel the eggshells. You think “what’s coming next” or “when is the other shoe going to fall”, “how will we make it through this time”, “will the things that worked last time work again?” or a simple throw your hands in the air and scream “What do I do!”… etc etc etc. This brings anxiety in the spouse/partner. You start watching everything you say, every action you take, anything to keep things calm. The spouse is experiencing something very similar as one with PTSD does, they start thinking about the “what if’s” and those what if’s can take over. They can also experience the feeling of just being lost in everything happening and not know how or what to do… which leads to anxiety.

So, what do you do?

You face it! I don’t know any other direct way to word it. I learned that when I say to myself AND out loud  “My anxiety is up right now” or even at times “I know your PTSD has you on edge and I feel on edge too, so please just understand that.”, it helps. Then I redirect to what I know I have to do for myself as well as my husband to help him through.

Some examples of things that work for me/us:

* Communication

Both of us learned to tell the other what or how we are feeling. This helps both of us understand the other. It does not mean we can “fix” each other, it simply means we are on the same page so if words or actions seem off, we understand why and don’t take it personally.

* We don’t point fingers at each other.

“This is how I feel…”, “This is how I took what you said, can you explain…so I can better understand…” which can be based from the other person’s words or actions, however we don’t accuse or place blame, we explain this is why and I need us to work on this together or time to get a grip on what I am feeling or what happened. We work together to find a solution and/or allow the other person time to work out what they are feeling. NO blame! No guilt trips! And it’s all in the wording.

You have to allow a person to feel and experience their emotions and thoughts. It’s their feelings, their emotions, and rather they seem totally off base or not allow them to express themselves so you can work through those feelings and emotions. You also have to keep in mind “It’s their’s, they own it” that means you can address it, except it, help support and talk through things, but you don’t have to own that feeling or emotion if it’s not your’s to do so with.

* Redirect yourself.

If I feel the eggshells coming or anxiety rising, I find something to do to help calm it. It could be doing something that makes me feel good, working on a hobby or just getting outside, it could be using coping skills, etc. Self-help, the strongest, most powerful tool you have! You are NOT going to be in control of every situation that comes up, but you are in control of what you do and do for yourself when it does. 

* Don’t feel guilty.

Again, this is life with PTSD. You can not control everything and things are going to happen, especially when PTSD symptoms are high. At times you will need to take me time, at times you might not know exactly what to do… if there is even anything you can do. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t have the answer or solution. That does take time to figure out, and there’s no guarantee when you do find something that helps that it will work every time. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty, basically about being human. You can still be there as support, to help, to listen, to talk, etc. but that does not mean you will have all of the solutions or answers.

Many spouses are known for saying or feeling… “Well if I had done this…” or “If I had said that…”. You are laying a guilt trip on yourself by doing this. Change your mind set! “Okay, next time I know I can try this… or I can word it like…”. Use what you have learned and allow it to work for you next time. Do not land yourself in guilt and cause you not to look forward. You are human and with being human you are not going to be perfect every single time or situation, no human is.

These are just a few things of many. Bottom line is, walking on eggshells is a very real feeling. It will happen sooner or later, but find ways and things to help you lessen that feeling. Even with taking caution to words and actions in order to help one with PTSD, you can still find a self balance to help keep yourself from becoming too overwhelmed. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Life with PTSD and Shame/Being Vulnerable

Life with PTSD and Shame/Being Vulnerable 
***This is NOT one to skip just because of the title*** 😉

There is a topic that many people, rather you have PTSD or you are the one living beside PTSD, is missing. I have people write to me everyday and ask, “How do you and Craig do it? How do you make it through this life with PTSD and other medical conditions the way you do? And have the relationship you do?”

Craig and I, since his medical conditions started, have had a very challenging life. It’s still not easy and both of us will tell you that. Those are very serious and heart felt questions asked. There is a lot that comes with learning about PTSD, life with it, coping skills, professional help, managing daily life and as a family. Then there is the relationship, and learning a new normal.

What’s our secret?

When rubber meets the road, I think it comes down to we both learned to be vulnerable. Which is a very difficult task, but you can do it. We learned that neither one of us are perfect, and with that we cannot expect the other to be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes at times, everyone has something in their life they are not proud of, everyone has things that bother them that cause shame or guilt. And everyone experiences not wanting to be vulnerable. All of these things are normal and knowing what they are and how they work in life, helps make life with PTSD better. We learned to communicate on the deepest levels that we know, by being vulnerable. Craig IS my best friend. He’s not just a husband on paper, he’s not just a father, he’s not just a man, he’s not just a person with disabilities. He’s my best friend that I can honestly share anything with and know that I am safe in doing so. This is something that Craig and I have always been able to do, but PTSD did change that for a short time. It took time for him to re-learn this through PTSD effecting him and changing his life, that he could do the same with me again, but he did.

I want to share one more video with you today that i came across. To me, this video pretty much sums it up from both sides of the fence without me typing another book on this topic. 😉 It is WELL worth the time to sit and watch, and really hear the entire video by Brené Brown, Ph.D.. It will bring you a different view on how Craig and I manage things the way we do, it helps us understand each other… it can help you understand yourself as well as others, and I believe it is a huge key to helping life with PTSD. I know PTSD is not easy, I know facing the things that are in this video are not easy… some of you may really need a tissue for this one because even though it carries humor, it IS going to hit home base heart strings for many of you. But at the same time it may bring some much needed understanding. It does not matter if you are the one with PTSD or you are living beside one with PTSD, this really is a must watch. So, with that said, I’ll turn this one over to the following video. 

Brené Brown: Listening to shame: TED Talk: Inspiring: Informative: Ideas

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Spouses/Partners of one that is Home Bound.

Spouses/Partners of one that is Home Bound.

My last posting brings another large topic…

What about the partners of one that is home bound?

This is when the spouse/partner HAS to make sure “they are taking care of themselves in order to be able to take care of someone else”! It is very common when a person has a PTSD or with other disabilities partner that are home bound, for that spouse to become home bound as well. And any good doctor will tell you it is not healthy!

This is when all of those tips, and what seem to be off topic postings  I mention, come in handy. 

Here are some things I personally do:

* I have backup care! 

I have an adult son, as well as family, that will stay with Craig anytime needed so I can do the things I need to do. Rather it’s grocery shopping, going to get my hair done, or me simply getting away from the house for a little while by myself, etc.

* I take time outside.

Every single day I MAKE it a point of going outside! It does not mean I have to stay out there hours on end, even 10 minutes at a time off and on helps! I tinker with my pond (a hobby now), I “work”/play with the dogs, I go down to the lake and just simply sit there and take everything in. I do some gardening. I love taking photos. Many times I will simply just lean on the fence and watch the world around me.

* Hobbies.

Hobbies can be anything you enjoy doing! It gives you something different to do other then what you are required to do in your day. Make it something you ENJOY! 

* Social Connections. 

I know social connections are difficult with PTSD, but try to keep some connections. Meet a friend/family for lunch or for coffee/tea. Talk to neighbors. Any type of human connection that keeps some sort of social environment in your life. This goes for your children as well… minus the coffee of course. 

I personally have several neighbors that I talk to. It’s that meet at the fence, just talk and enjoy the conversation time. Communicating with others outside your home brings a sense of fresh air, good feelings, and in reality… something else to talk with your partner about. 

* Take care of your own mental and physical health.

Goes back to the gas tank theory, if you don’t take time to stop for gas, you are going to run out. Make sure you are eating and getting exercise, as well as taking care of yourself mentally! Coping skills  ANYONE can use them!

*Self-Help Therapy.

I have a standing thing of buying myself flowers each month. They are pretty, they make the house smell lovely, and they just brighten my day. Something so simple but carries so much power in a positive way. Anything you do for yourself that makes you feel better can be a sort of self-help, and you don’t have to spend a penny  be creative.

It all boils down to making sure you take care of yourself so you can take care of another. There is not an excuse large enough for not taking care of yourself. You HAVE to MAKE time to take care of YOU! It helps keep your balance in a healthy way. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Category: Caregiver/Spouse/Partner, Uncategorized  Tags: , ,  Comments off

“As a home bound PTSD suffer I was wondering how often does your hubby leave the house?”

I had a very good question and topic come to me…

“As a home bound PTSD suffer I was wondering how often does your hubby leave the house?”

I don’t think I can answer this in a short answer  It’s just a huge topic.

I have to say, this is probably one of the most drastic changes in Craig. He use to be that type of person you had to beg to get him inside. He was always outside, he loved water sports, travelling, washing his car, even mowing the lawn lol. Going out to eat… oh he loved dining out! We had our favorite meals at different places. We use to get together with friends all of the time, cookouts, parties, meeting up at different public places, going to the beach. You get the idea, life changed once PTSD came out of it’s box.

Now, in all fairness to answering this question (and Craig said I can share this), he does suffer from more then only PTSD. His original diagnoses was conversion disorder, which developed after having the West Nile (same time PTSD came out of it’s box as we and the doctors say it), and conversion disorder and west nile have gone dismissed for the most part since he was discharged in 05, and the focus has for the most part been on his PTSD and Depression, until recently.

We do not have solid answers yet, but his awesome (so far) new doctor believes that a huge part in why Craig just has not seemed to respond to therapy and some medications as one with PTSD normally would, and why he has difficulties with daily activities and taking care of himself, is because the “executive function” of his brain has actually not been functioning correctly. So, no solid answers on that yet, but it sure makes sense to the other symptoms that don’t seem to be PTSD related. We have been told for years it is severe memory issues and/or permanent memory impairment, but this new view on his medical might actually be what has been going on with him, along with PTSD. Depressive disorder is also a part of everything, which many with PTSD also suffer from. Craig is considered agoraphobic by doctors, he rarely leaves the house and when he does it is a task to do so. The doctors consider his case as “complicated” and “complex”.

So, with that said, Craig is for the most part home bound.

He does make an effort to go to the end of the driveway almost daily to check the mailbox, and will majority of the time stay outside for a few minutes up to 10 minutes each time, because we both know he needs outside time.

I do try to get him to take his dog out into the back, fenced in yard one time per day. Which is good for both of them  she is a retired service dog so she still needs her “daddy time” outside with him even though she is no longer working.

Craig does go to all of his doctor appointments, and I go to all appointments with him. They are for the most part a straight there then back home. Then he won’t go outside the rest of the day. Sometimes, I can slip in if I see it’s a better day for him an, “oh we really need to stop by the store” on the way home, and he will go in the store with me, but it’s a mission of get what we need and get out. At times if I softly push the “I really need you to go with me” card on a better day, he will go with me, say to the hardware store. It’s still a mission, but at times he will go. So he does try.

Once in a blue moon we will take a walk around the neighborhood. His anxiety does go to a high level and I have to remind him to slow down his pace, so I can keep up with him. 

Craig is required to do ALL visitation travel to get his kids as well as take them home (hotels are not an option with his medical). That puts travel as 14 hours in one day for us, unless by chance the grandparents can do a leg of travel. This is one of the hardest and most challenging things that comes with his medical, being able to see his children. He only gets to see them 2-3 times per year when they are out of school, and there have been times that no matter how much he wants to see them, his medical does not allow for that travel. After this type of away from home, it normally takes him a couple of days to recover.

Getting him out of the house is something that he and we do put a lot of effort into, and the doctors are working with him on building his outings up. I do have the goal of getting another RV, which the doctors are on board that it could help Craig leave the house more, and have that “safe place” to retreat to when needed that is his space, his things, and a sort of comfort level… also getting something back that he loved but lost when his medical became severe. Only time will tell on that one, but we are going to try.

Bottom line to the question, on average he leaves the house one time per week unless he has multiple doctor appointments. There are some weeks that he just cannot leave the house.

When it comes to PTSD, each person is going to be different on how much they can leave the house. Again, with Craig he does have more going on with his medical then only PTSD. Some people can make it out of the house every day, some still work or go to school, some have found that having a service dog helps, it all goes back to individual cases and what is at hand, to what level of outings away from home they can manage.

PTSD does make it difficult no matter what the level, so to speak is. It does take a lot of effort and trying, in order to make it out the front door. For many, the time away from home can be built up slowly to more time out. It’s one of those things that a person can work on. Getting help and learning coping skills do play a huge role in this, and the sooner the better! It doesn’t change or cure PTSD, but it makes it more manageable. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Category: Avoidance/Numbing, Uncategorized  Tags: , ,  Comments off

Arguing and PTSD

Arguing and PTSD

Arguing, this is a topic I get many, many questions about. I also get asked how much Craig and I personally argue. So let’s talk about this…

First thing I want to say… If you are experiencing this, it CAN change! Don’t give up on a relationship because you feel the arguing will never stop!

It takes time to figure out what will or will not work, just like with anything else that comes with life with PTSD. I am not a doctor of any sort, and can only give my personal opinions and experiences on this based on what we have been through and what helped us.

Back at the beginning of us trying to figure out what was going on with Craig, we fought! He was not acting like the person I knew, picking fights, saying mean, hurtful things, just pure mean with an I don’t care attitude. And I was fighting back, I am a very strong and level headed southern lady who knows how to stand on my own two feet, and I was not going to stand for this attitude coming at me. I fought back trying to make him see the changes in himself. I mean the arguments were just heartbreaking, hurtful, and so damaging beyond words… which was totally out of character for us and our relationship.

There did come a time right around the time we were told he has PTSD, that I was struggling. I was worn out, I was tired of the picking and arguing, my anxiety level was so high I was passing out and having panic attacks, this strong southern lady had met her match and I so badly wanted to walk away at times, but just could not! I knew Craig and I knew this was not the true him, that’s when I started learning and looking for anything and everything that could help me understand and help us. I knew I had to be the one to make that step and move past the stuck arguing position and find a solution. Arguing with him sure was not working, it just brought a larger fight.

It goes back to what I always say, stop, listen, and really hear what is being said. When I started listening to his words, feeling where this anger was coming from, it in a way gave me a direction for finding answers, and with answers came things to help.

See, to me, my opinion, PTSD causes them to “look for the fight”. PTSD causes anger, frustration, numbness, they don’t sleep well, they experience flashbacks, and all of the other symptoms that come with it along with the fact that their life has changed. When all of those symptoms are being experienced it can cause them to just be angry, and many times not understand why. Craig actually now calls it “floating anger”, it’s anger that is always there, underneath the surface, just waiting to come out. Which leads to them lashing out at others, normally towards those they are closest to.

Once I realized this is exactly what was happening, I had the tools to make a change and break this arguing cycle. Again, I was the one who had to, because Craig could not, there was no real balance within himself for him to. Now lol, I won’t say it was easy, it took time, patience, listening, not taking things personally but recognizing it was PTSD causing this, and then holding my ground in a gentle caring way, not visible headstrong way. This new approach for me was all we really had left to try to break the cycle, and I added in coping skills to my side of it. 

I stopped fighting and arguing “with PTSD”. And I am sure I literally bit my tongue at times, but I stood solid I was not going to feed his anger and frustration. I sat and I listened. Sooner or later he would yell, “Well aren’t you going to say something?” And I would softly reply, “I love you and care about what you are going through, so I am just listening.” Craig has never been one to purposely lay his hands on another person, so I assumed that would not be an issue, which I was right. His anger when I started this did get worse, he would hit objects or throw things. He would yell at me “Get away from the door so I can leave.” Fight or flight was coming into play. I would calmly say “leaving won’t fix this and I will sit here so we can talk.”, but he never touched me.

***Just to note, if you are in a situation where a person will lay their hands on another, DO NOT do this! Safety first.***

Craig would eventually max out on the anger, then the “I am so sorry, I did not mean that” stepped in, then we could talk. Not to sound funny or disrespectful here, but it was kind of like breaking a horse. It’s still psychology. They fight until they wear out then you can ride them and teach them, you just have to hold on tight until you get to that point of settling down and learning. That’s in a way what I was doing to PTSD. No human can yell forever, there will be a break in it sooner or later. And that is exactly what happened, the break came and there was my Craig again, and we calmly talked.

I was holding the reins, but WE were learning together how to “break” PTSD. 

Then coping skills came into it. The next time he lashed out, I sat on the bathroom floor and used the breathing exercises the doctors had taught him. I mean hey, if they will work for him then they should work for me too. He yelled “What are you doing?” I calmly said breathing exercises. He asked why and I told him. He stomped off to another room mad. But you know what? It was not long before I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye and HE was using them! 

Nothing happened overnight, it did take some time. The more he saw how I had changed the way I was handling things, the more changes started showing in him. He started using different coping skills to keep the anger from coming out on others. Things like the breathing, listening to music, sitting quietly and doing different meditation techniques, and even laying down and trying to sleep if the anger is beyond everything else.

His PTSD and symptoms are just as bad as they were when we were arguing all of the time, but what we do to manage them changed.

He still has times of lashing out verbally, but he and I can quickly get it under control again. He has issues still with getting frustrated with people outside our family, and I help him through those times. But us arguing? I honestly can not tell you the last time we had an argument, we talk and communicate now, we don’t argue.

We understand that we will not always agree on everything, no human will in reality. We understand that at times one of us will have to give in and other times it will go the other direction. We lay facts on the table and both accept looking at the facts to decide together what the best outcome or solution is. We remind each other when coping is needed, if it’s not noticed as being needed. We don’t take it personally when one of us points out something to the other… such as “you seem anger”, “you really need a break”, “you seem off balance today”, etc. All of those things provide a platform for us to work together now, helping each other, and arguing just isn’t a part of it anymore.

So, don’t think arguing is a permanent part of life with PTSD. It does not have to be. It does take work, but it is a part of PTSD that can change so to speak. It’s all in how you handle it, manage it, what you actually put into place and use, and finding what helps you get past the arguing. Each person might need a different approach on what works for you, look for it and find what works for you.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Music. Let me tell you a story…

Music. Let me tell you a story…

You know, music can be good for the soul, there is no other way to word it. It touches something inside of us and just brings so much meaning and feelings. Many of us listen to music when we are feeling different moods or emotions, or listen when we travel through different experiences in life, it can help calm us, help us vent frustration or even anger, it can help us process so many emotions and feelings of the past, as well as while we move forward through life.

But there is something else that music can very well do… Help us understand that we are not alone! It helps us feel and know that there are real experiences in life, and many times others have experienced something similar.

Not too long ago, Craig, who is a true music buff lol, played a song for me. It was a song about PTSD, bringing awareness. That song touched my heart. I had no clue where he found it, I just listened. I saw how the song touched him, I know how it touched me.

Craig listens to songs quite often that are written and/or performed by other Veterans as well as Active Duty Military. They seem to bring him a sense of someone else out there that understands. To me, they bring me an understanding and compassion of him as well as what he has experienced and feels, through music and words.

This morning I received a message on here. It was from a disabled Veteran and song writer that is a volunteer for an organization called SongwritingWith:Soldiers. I honestly do not know anything about this organization except for what I looked at this morning, and listened to.  BUT, I do know how what they are doing with and for our Heroes has personally touched our lives. This Veteran sent me a link to a song that he wrote, but you know what? That link was to the very song Craig had played for me!

I can not explain how much it touched my heart to receive that message! In this huge world we live in, full of so many people, it is amazing how paths cross at times… and to think music, one simple song full of so much meaning, was what brought the paths together.

No matter how paths cross, or the meaning behind them, there is one thing that stands tall… WE are all in this together! The words that come with so much meaning, understanding, and just simply the thought of we are not alone, are proving it. Each of us are here for a reason, we bring awareness of life with PTSD and other disabilities in many different ways… but we are in this together!

 ~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

A new little rosemary bush… brought way more then just rosemary

So I slipped away for a little “me time” this morning, actually haha grocery shopping and just walking through the store looking at everything… but it was still me time. 

I decided this month instead of my self-help buy myself flowers,which I do once a month, I would buy a new rosemary bush! My other one did not survive the winter sadly. And I can’t allow our little family tradition of rosemary for dad to be interrupted.  😉

So, when I got back home my step-daughter asked me why I bought a rosemary plant. I explained that the old one died and I had to get a new one… she does not live with us full time so when she is here she is still learning.  I explained what her step-sister does for dad and why. (For those of you that do not know the story, you can find it here.)

You know what a small conversation about this new plant brought?

Craig’s daughter learning about breathing exercises (coping skills) and how this new little plant can be a big part in it and all of the good things it can help with. We even did them together so I could show her how to do them correctly. She was SO excited and said this was “really cool“. I explained to her that anyone can use breathing exercises and how it can help you calm down when you feel nervous, anxious, worried… you know 😉 when you experience anxiety.

We talked about how the oils and fragrance of the plant has a relaxing effect (by the way, if you can’t be around rosemary, lavender is my other favorite). How you can just brush your hand across the leaves or pinch them off and place them in a little bowel then rub them in your hands when you feel you need extra help to relax. We talked about how the oils transfer to your hands then you just hold your hands up to your face as you breathe. We talked about how combining the rosemary scent with the breathing exercises helps you relax more.

She loved this! She thought this was something she could do to help her when she fidgets and just can’t seem to slow down. She said she has a rosemary bush at home but thought it was only good for cooking. That now she knows another way to use it.

The catch to all of this?

She was just taught something that she can use throughout her lifetime, but did not realize this is a “coping skill”… she viewed it as something fun and new that she learned. 😉

Children can learn about PTSD and things that can help at any age level. Teach them on their age appropriate level and make the learning fun! And look at what one little rosemary bush just taught a child. 🙂 You know what else? How much do you want to bet she teaches this to someone else? 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

“I am human too”

I want to talk about something that is very real, extremely important, and a topic that gets brought to me literally every day. It’s one that sooner or later, every single one of us will experience, and most likely already have.

I do want to start by saying, I am not a doctor or in any medical field, I am just a spouse of one with PTSD… that has been there. This is in NO way meaning to be disrespectful towards either the one with PTSD or their spouse/partner, and there is no finger pointing or blame being placed on either party. It’s simply the facts of life with PTSD… facts on the table, and I hope everyone will take the time to read this entirely and understand this is coming from the heart, with great understanding as well as meaning, and is a topic that there just simply needs to be more understanding to, from both sides of the fence.

“I am human too.”

There are going to be times in this life with PTSD when things become unbalanced. Everyone will experience it sooner or later. Even the most educated, patient, understanding people on this earth can and will experience this from time to time. There are going to be times when treatment might need adjusting or there is actually more going on then you know about at the moment. There are going to be times when coping skills might just simply not be enough or used enough. There are going to be times when your plate is so full, your mind overwhelmed, that the slightest thing or a combination of serious things will cause your world to lose balance, even if just for a short time. There are going to be times that the strongest, most level headed people are going to stumble. My “family”, it’s a part of real life with PTSD, as well as other mental and/or physical disabilities.

When one person becomes unbalanced, it will roll over to the other person. Either person can wear either set of shoes on that one. When there is an unbalance, it has to be corrected. To correct it there has to be communication, and both people have to work together.

It is very common for the one with PTSD to, at times, keep things bottled up within themselves. In reality, how could they not? They know what PTSD feels like, they see what it can do to those around them, and many times they just don’t want it to effect others so they wrap their arms around their full plate and do not share what is on it, so to speak. The spouse can do the same thing.

But, there becomes a huge problem with this. As much as you think you are protecting your loved one, there is no way to hide that you are holding a heavy, full plate. And that full plate turns into increased symptoms, as well as at times viewing things differently then what they may really, in fact, be like. It can cause finger pointing, arguments, hurt feelings, lashing out at others, feelings of no one really cares or understands, and it will cause one to feel alone and at times you may feel like the world is against you. It’s a part of PTSD and very real life.

When a person experiences any of these things there are several things that can also happen.

First, it is going to cause a break in communication. If one is not sharing what they are thinking or experiencing, the other person is only going to see the symptoms, reactions, changes in how one acts… but they are not going to know or understand how to help, what to say, or what the true issue is if they have not been told… then eventually, things are going to be taken personally. Taking things personally can be very damaging to any sort of relationship. And sometimes just a simple, “I need you to just listen” can be all that is needed.

Secondly, whatever is going on causing the unbalance is going to cause, like I said, the other person to become unbalanced or at least off centered sooner or later. When nothing seems to be helping and that person is grasping at straws of what to do, what needs to happen, or just not understanding why there are changes or increased symptoms… that person is going to start acting differently as well. Many times this person is the spouse/partner.

When a spouse/partner becomes off balance, starts acting almost cold, snappy in tone, sarcastic, angry or even as if they are mad at the world… or you, whatever the reaction may be, it is not that these actions are what or how they mean to act, it’s also not always right, it’s that these actions or even words are a human response to a unbalanced situation. It’s not that they are purposely acting this or that way, it’s their defense to the situation. It’s really no different then one with PTSD reacts. Again, not that it is right, it’s just what happens at times.

Then we have that vicious circle. It causes PTSD symptoms or the way one with PTSD responds or acts, to become worse. It drives an extra wedge in-between two people.

The difficult fact is, many times the one with PTSD does not realize how they are responding to their full plate, which rolls over to them not understanding why their spouse/partner is acting/responding the way they are.

With this, there is a great issue that arises. When the one with PTSD is experiencing a rough time, that full plate, they need and many times expect a spouse/partner to be balanced, “perfect” is a commonly used word. When that balance is not there, it many times is taken as “You are always mad at me.”, or “I can’t do anything right.”, “You are never happy with me.”, etc etc etc., the one with PTSD is taking the spouse’s actions personally.

As a spouse/partner, it is just a hard cold fact that we are the ones relied on to keep a balance. We are the support person, we are the one who keeps things managed, many cases the caregiver, we are the ones who are there when no one else may be, we are the ones that are suppose to keep a level head and take everything PTSD brings into our lives and our partner’s life into consideration without holding grudges or resentment, and everything else that comes with it. And honestly, we would not be with our PTSD partner if we did not accept them and want to be with them, period.

But, we are human too. 

Spouses have feelings, emotions, they at times NEED to cry, at times they will become snappy or sarcastic, at times they have that urge to yell or lash back, they can get frustrated, at times they will take things out on people or things that are totally innocent in this, and at times they will not use the right or enough coping skills. Really, they are no different then the one with PTSD, only difference is they are in the other pair of shoes. Spouses are human beings, and there is not a human on this planet that is perfect or that will handle everything the right way all of the time. Even the most strongest, level-headed, rational spouse, can and will stumble at times. They are only human.

When this happens, it’s really no different then everything we learn about regarding how to handle PTSD and how to respond or help the one with it, it’s just the spouse’s turn to need the support and that listening ear. Many times, if the one with PTSD will stop and focus on what a spouse is going through or how they are acting, and don’t take it personal, no different then what we teach the spouses, and really think the words “they are simply human too and this is their human reaction to the situation“, it can help the situation very quickly.

At times it does need to be taken into consideration that the one with PTSD does have a full plate, especially when their symptoms are at high levels, and they may not be able to stop and focus on someone else. These are the times that in some cases a simple, calm talk may be what is needed. A spouse saying and reminding/explaining, “I am human too. I have emotions and feelings just like you or anyone else. I am human and will experience things as well. And I would like to talk to you about how I am feeling, what is weighing on me and causing this, so I can get my balance back and we can work on things together to get our balance back.

This is real life and there are not any super heroes that can handle everything. The roles will reverse from time to time, this is when it is so important for good communication skills to be in place and used, it’s when you help each other through whatever the feelings are or situation at hand, and understand that sometimes when either person is keeping things bottled up… it can become damaging instead of protecting, as well as come out as personal to other people. It’s when you talk CALMLY and truly hear what BOTH of you are saying as well as feeling. Then you take the steps needed to get your balance back instead of taking everything personally. Many times when this cycle of unbalance starts, it’s just two people who’s emotions and situations are playing off of each other, talk and figure out the “why” so you both can move forward and find that balance again.

The fact is with the above example, you can flip that whole thing to either person. Either person can experience either pair of shoes, you BOTH are human and things are going to happen, emotions and feelings are going to be experienced… it’s part of being human. But the only thing that will stop this vicious circle is to recognize when it is happening, then do something.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAY “A Spouse’s Story PTSD”!…

HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAYA Spouse’s Story PTSD“!

Three years ago today something very special happened, the birth of this page! Which has grown into a wonderful family, support system, and friendships have formed… even those who have not met each other from around the world!

Each day we meet here for coffee, or tea 😉 and we share parts of our lives with each other, the good, the bad, and just life itself. All with the same reasons… having others to talk to that understand, learning as well as teaching others, and just simply knowing that we are not alone in this world of #PTSD.

I am so thankful for every single one of you that are here with us. As good as I am with words, words can not be placed on the powerful strength this page has become. I never dreamed when I started this page, that it would grow into something so meaningful, and beautiful. Each of you are a part of that, each of you we consider as our “family“.

We all know that life with PTSD is not the easiest thing in the world, and can be a true roller coaster ride at times, but when people come together like everyone has here… PTSD just does not stand a chance! 😉 It’s not going away but we all sure have a huge support system to help each other understand and find things that can help. We have of support system of many hearts and many intelligent minds, and we work together to make life the best it can be. You ALL are awesome!!!

With every comment or email I receive, telling me how the words written helped one personally, helped a relationship or family, or saved a life that thought there was no other option but to give up… I see how important this family is here, I feel it, and I can not express how grateful I am to and for each of you. As much as you say my words help you, you need to know that you help me/us as well! It does go both ways! 

So before I get sappy here lol 😉

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to THIS FAMILY!

If you know someone who is struggling, or needs an extra support system, another place to learn or to bring a little more understanding about PTSD and life with or beside it. Please invite them to join us here. NO ONE deserves to feel like they are alone!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

 

Happy birthday and thank you for all the knowledge that you give us.” -Amy

Thank you Bec, for all you do for us” -Dede

Happy 3rd birthday! This page has been a God send!!” -Lynda

Wow! I didn’t realize you were barely an infant when I joined. What a blessing you and this group have been in my journey of trying to understand PTSD and why things are the way they are! God bless you, A Spouse’s Story PTSD, Becky, Craig and family.” -Carole

Thank you, everybody…especially to Bec…you help me understand me better…” -Joe

Thank you for EVERYTHING!! You have taught me so much about PTSD. 10 years ago my husband was diagnosed with chronic and severe ptsd…I didn’t know what that meant. What do I do? We have been married for almost 30 years, and I didn’t want to lose him. You have been my savior, my support, my everything. Thank you, keep up the good work.” -Laurel

Thanks so much! Very helpful and encouraging!” -Dakota

Thank you, I appreciate what you are doing.” -Bob