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As I Promised! Our 1st trip out in the boat!

As I Promised! Our 1st trip out in the boat!

Jumping for joy is an understatement! We made it out for the first time in the boat today!!! What better time to go then right before the rain storms when no one is on the big lake.  You know I’m ALL smiles today 🙂

This is such a HUGE step for Craig! It has been several years since he left the house to do something other then have to things. Just HUGE! We stayed out for just under 2 hours, had the lake basically to ourselves, and enjoyed it! 🙂

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

 

 

Long Distance Relationships and PTSD

Long Distance Relationships and PTSD

Okay, my mailbox is lighting up with messages asking questions about long distance relationships! And I’m going to need some input on this one. 

Questions coming to me are:

“How do I handle my PTSD partner being long distance? I don’t know when or when not to contact him/her and I worry so much about how they are doing.”

“My partner and I are in a long distance relationship and everything will be going fine, then 2-3 weeks of me not hearing anything or being able to get in touch with him/her. What do I do?”

“Our long distance relationship was doing great, but now out of nowhere my partner said he/she no longer loves me. Is this PTSD or are they serious? I don’t know how to handle this. Will this pass? I want to wait, but not sure if I should wait or move on.”

“Our marriage has been okay even with PTSD, but my husband/wife was transferred with work and now our marriage is falling apart. I don’t know what to do to fix this.”

Okay, those are a few things that have come to me, edited to include either male or female in order to help others. I am seeing there are huge relationship issues coming with long distance relationships when PTSD is a part of it. I would have to say the first question is, “Are these things normal as far as the personality of this person?” Some people may not be able to answer that question, especially if it’s a newer relationship. If it’s not related to personality, then PTSD MIGHT have it’s hand in these problems that are starting.

Mine and Craig’s relationship actually started with a long distance relationship, when I was 16 years old. We met, went on one date, then he left the next morning for 3 months to Australia. Probably why I did not have issues when he was gone with the ship during his military time. So we actually grew our relationship and got to know each other through phone calls and letters during his time away, BUT that was before #PTSD!

Once PTSD was a part of it, yes I’ll admit it made things a little more challenging, especially since at that time we did not know it was PTSD at hand.

Anyway, many long distance relationships, based on what has come to me, seem to adapt the “Out of sight, out of mind” saying. Which obviously is not a good thing.

Communicate! Talk and come up with an agreement that you BOTH can follow. There are times that one with PTSD does not want to talk to anyone, and it’s nothing personal. They are battling their symptoms, trying to adjust to changes, actually missing their partner which can cause PTSD symptoms to present numb, distant reactions or even emotionless responses. Other times they pull away, in a way to protect one or protect themselves from feeling as if they are a burden. This is when that “you deserve better then me” comes into play. There could be many reasons connected to it.

The other thing I hear a lot about is, “Now that we are physically apart from each other, he/she has had a relationship with someone else. But, says they still love me and wants to be with me.” The other side of this is a new relationship started and they no longer want their original relationship, no matter how long of a relationship they have had or close the two were when physically not distant.

NOT saying cheating of any sort is acceptable, but this does seem to come into play quite often. It seems to come from PTSD causing one to feel alone mentally, physically alone, and at times one is trying to find some sort of “normal” (IF cheating is not a part of their personality to begin with) and a not so good way of coping mind you. Another thing I have seen linked to this is when the non-PTSD partner “nags” or complains a lot, or does not except one’s PTSD and/or what life with PTSD is really like. I do hear a lot about nagging being the relationship breaker. It pushes the one with PTSD away. They of sorts, go into survival mode and some do not realize they are even doing that.

Another thing I have heard linked to long distant relationship issues are the constant phone calls, text messages, or emails… From what has come to me from both sides of the fence, these can push one with PTSD away, even though in reality, in many cases this happens because the non-PTSD partner is worried about them! You have to find a balance that is good for BOTH of you if this is happening! Many times the one with PTSD will just stop replying or answering if the number of messages are overwhelming them. This is not a good situation for them OR the worried partner. Many times this causes one to feel they are being treated like a child or being harassed and it gives off a false since of what the non-PTSD partner is actually doing and why. TALK! Come up with a plan that will help BOTH of you.

There is something that my parents actually agreed to, and it is something that Craig and I agreed to when we got back together. If there is EVER a time that either of us decide this relationship is not for us, and I mean really decide and know it’s just not going to work no matter what (not based on a PTSD knee jerk reaction or out of anger words), then we tell each other. Be honest. If a relationship has no chances of making it, be honest about it. And you part your ways without harshness towards one another. I think this agreement has honestly helped and even made our relationship grow and become stronger. No matter what PTSD brings, unless this agreement is brought up then there is nothing to take personally and we always know where each other stands in our hearts.

Whatever the cause for the issues, in my honest opinion you have to find the “why” to it, so you can work on finding a solution.

This is just a small amount of my input based on what I have had come to me. All input is welcomed on this topic!

** I will say though, let’s keep this peaceful and productive! NO “beating up” those that have caused hurt to you. We are trying to find positive things that can HELP long distance relationships have better chances of growing in good ways.**

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

From others:

“My best advice is to avoid that situation and if your in that situation make it a goal to move closer.Long distance relationship’s are going to be non traditional. There is going to be a new set of rules( for lack of a better term) ” -Beth

“Having had a long distance relationship with me being the PTSD partner in the deal….all I can say, is the person you are seeing must determine their boundaries in the relationship and then abide by them. I think the partner needs to decide what constitutes, “All they can handle, and it’s time to call it quits”. Sometimes that is not a chosen option, and the partner chooses to stay till the end….however that may unfold. Patience and tolerance of the disease is essential….informing yourself of the nature of the disease is most helpful, and lowering your expectations of the relationship is essential. Just remember, this relationship is probably not going to unfold in a manner you are accustomed to in your past. Long distance means you have the obstacles of time and distance also factoring in the equation. PTSD relationships are difficult, whether long distance or inhome….but they ARE doable! All I can say, is know your limitations. Not all persons can or will handle a relationship of this kind….you just need to know where you stand with the challenges PTSD behavior manifests, and whether you can deal with the behavior from a long distance perspective! My wife knows I can be challenging, and she has been able to put up with me for 17 years….that’s pretty magical!” -Steven

The long distance thing is very difficult. My husband is stationed in KY and I’m in Texas. When we see each other everything is great. But when he goes back to KY he seems to retreat. He says he doesn’t feel married. He gets very depressed and lonely, and starts drinking and taking everything out on me. He calls me very ugly names and says he wants a divorce. Then the next morning when he’s sober he says I’m his whole world and he doesn’t mean any of that. I on the other hand, feel very married. I’m counting on the days for him to get out (this October) so we can finally live together. It scares me though some times that when he says those things …. maybe deep down he means them. Maybe he has decided he doesn’t want to be married and he just doesn’t want to tell the truth about it for fear of hurting me. Fills my days with anxiety and sadness.” -Tania

Let me add this—If the relationship you are in began before the occurrence of PTSD, and now you are looking at a long distance problem, your afflicted partner may feel He/She is not the person they were when you got together. They feel they have let you down. If they have met someone else, who understands their problems as they are now, it becomes easier to let go of the past relationship….kind of “I’m not living up to what I promised, and life will be happier for you without me.” They still love you, and desperately wish that they could still be that person you first met…it’s just not possible. Hope that helps, Bec.” -Larry

 

 

 

The true meaning of Memorial Day

I have to tell you what happened yesterday! Craig was watching videos online where people were asking others what they were doing for Memorial Day and in these recorded interviews they were misleading people to what the meaning of Memorial Day is, on purpose, trying to find out how many people actually know the true meaning of Memorial Day.

I was in TOTAL SHOCK at how many Americans, of all generations, do NOT know the true meaning of Memorial Day! So if you want to pass the following along, you are more then welcome to… Memorial Day is a day that EVERYONE should understand the meaning of!

Memorial Day

Many know this as a long weekend, a chance to take a short vacation, time for parties and/or family gatherings, a time to start the grill and have a cookout, time to hit the lake or beaches. It is a start to summer time. However, what is the TRUE meaning of and for Memorial Day?

Let us not forget…

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday, it started as being known as “Decoration Day” at the end of the Civil War to honor and commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War. It was a time when ladies placed decorations/flowers on the graves of the fallen, a tradition which carries on today.

Today, Memorial Day honors and remembers all of those fallen during military service, man and woman. It’s a time of remembrance and a time of respect to all of those who gave their lives for us.

As you honor this time this weekend, please don’t forget the true meaning of this day. If you fly a flag in honor of this time on Memorial Day, please remember to fly it at half-staff until noon, then raise it back to the top for the remainder of the day.

Memorial Day can be a difficult time for veterans, military, and loved ones. Please keep that in mind if you are celebrating this weekend. If you know of a veteran that is alone this weekend, take a little of your time and visit with them, many of them have lost a battle buddy or a loved one who served and did not come home.

To those that know someone or have a loved one who suffers from #PTSD, here are a few things to remember and/or things that can help through this time…

* Remember that many suffer from survivor’s guilt. This can make this time a very difficult one for them, even more then normal.

* Don’t push them to participate in gatherings. Let them set their own pace of what they are comfortable doing.

* Talk to them and be there to listen.

* Be careful with your words! Be respectful with things you may say or ask regarding service time.

* If you are setting off fireworks, PLEASE make sure you let them know ahead of time or let them know if your community will be setting some off. Even if it is not loud or from sound, remember the smell can be a trigger to some. By mentioning it ahead of time it can help keep triggers down or help them be able to control them.

* Some families remember by setting up small memorials or even place settings for an empty seat at the dinner table as a sign of remembering those lost in battle. If you have someone joining you or in your family with PTSD, PLEASE be careful with doing this, if they have survivor’s guilt and/or PTSD this could easily trigger bad memories. If you plan on doing this, ask if it’s okay first.

* Allow one to grieve during this time if they need to, don’t push them to be happy and join in events, let that be up to them.

* Know the signs of suicide and be cautious to them. This is a difficult weekend for many and PTSD could be more severe then normal.

And PLEASE, teach your children the history of Memorial Day, and what it really means.

These are just a few things to keep in mind this weekend. If you are out and about please try to enjoy yourself, be safe, but always keep in mind the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Those lost in battle may not be with us in body, but they will never leave our hearts. Each and every one of them gave their lives for each and every one of us.

Not one of them, will ever be forgotten! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD… But what about “Life Goals”?

There is something with PTSD that was really brought to my attention yesterday. In a way it made me sad to start with, then empathy really kicked in… I felt what Craig was experiencing by watching the expressions on his face, watching his body language, listening to his words as he struggled to define answers.

Then, I listened to him laugh as he told about how we first met on the lake, and he handed me a lily pad. I watched him smile as he told about how we use to hike and all of the places we traveled together. How we use to take a solid month each year and just go! Travel anywhere.

Then I continued listening to him speak of how he is just numb. How he just feels nothing, no emotions or feeling, for anything or anyone. Something that is very real with PTSD. So how do you change that? What can you do? It was a question he honestly could not answer. (And just to state this, he does not mind me talking about and sharing this.) “I don’t know.“, he answered.

This struggle I watched, and felt, really made me think. It made sense! Then I realized it may be a huge puzzle piece that is missing for a lot of people who have ‪‎PTSD, or a disability of any sorts, and honestly… even for the spouses/partners. The big picture.

Then it really set in that there is something missing in everything HE does try to accomplish.

PTSD brings a here and now. You work hard to cope, manage the symptoms as they come. You work hard to make it from one day to the next. You work hard at learning as much as you can so you can live this new type of life with the challenges it can bring. You work hard to manage through any physical medical you may also have.

But in this here and now that does exist in life with PTSD, many times the “Life Goals” are missing.

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” 
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Life Goals. Now that’s a huge topic! But I’m also seeing it may just be a huge puzzle piece that is missing for a lot of people.

Many of you already know our story. Craig and I had our life planned out! It was planned from the day we got back together all the way to the day we said our final “until later” to each other… at hopefully a really old age. 😉 Our goal was he would retire from the military. We had already talked to owners of an RV park we had planned on purchasing around retirement time. I would run a dog park/dog training facility inside the park and he/we would maintain and run the park. We would travel ourselves during the closed (snow season) months of the park. Etc. Etc., We had life goals, a plan, and had our life all worked out to the very last stages of it.

Then life changed, disabilities became a seriously real part of it. Our life goals were unraveled in the living in the here and now of each day. Awhile back I worked out a new plan. I realized that our life goals were still very important for us, and to who we are together as well as individuals. It did not include purchasing an RV park lol, but it did include what we loved… traveling and meeting people. The plan, goal, had just changed and would take much longer to accomplish since we were back to square one. But some of our life goals could still be accomplished.

Then there are my personal life goals. Last year I realized that a huge part of me was missing, that puzzle piece. I buckled down and started setting goals again, and not just the day to day goals of making it through each day. I decided to face my fears and write my book (which I’m still working on). This would also fit in well with our travel goal, but is my personal goal I can accomplish. And extremely important since dog training (what was my career) is something I can no longer do with this new life. My goal of continuing to help others, stands in place. My goals for spending time with my children, our every day talk time, etc. are still in place. Relationship goals… that is a tough one, Craig and I have an awesome relationship, but as with any relationship that involves PTSD, it has changed drastically and getting a part or something back that the disability has stolen or hidden from us, and continuing to build it in new ways, is a goal. I have short term, mid-term, as well as long term goals set… that do fit into the reality of my and our lives. But, I also realized that even my life goals are not complete…yet. 

But what about Craig? What about the many others with PTSD? What about the spouses/partners? I do see that many have lost or misplaced life goals because life changed without warning.

There is so much involved with life now, that life goals get lost or misplaced. This is a part of life that everyone needs! And I will not lie to you, it’s going to be one of the most difficult things to do or set into motion! You have to go back to those baby steps that we talk about all of the time. 

Sit, think, and visualize. What do you want? What do you enjoy? What makes you happy? HAPPY being a strong key word here. Goals need to be something that make you happy, that bring on that smile, that cause the excitement to rush into you. You don’t focus on the how will I accomplish this, that comes later, you focus on the this is what I want to achieve in my lifetime! Think of it as a bucket list of sorts. We all know what a bucket list is, things you want to do before you die. Well, think of this as a list for living! Taking your life back, and having things to work towards. Actually write all of your thoughts down, list them out… you are simply making a visual list of life goals for yourself.

But, there’s a catch I am seeing. That “I don’t know!

No one can move forward if they are unsure of where to start. I think we can safely say that life goals can be a part of the “stuck” that comes with PTSD or living life beside it. The “I feel numb, life has changed, I don’t know what I like or enjoy anymore.” Baby steps, don’t jump ahead of yourself! You start by visualizing what you want your life to be like, and it might include things you know you use to enjoy and things that made you happy. It may be something like going out to eat. Volunteering somewhere. Getting together with other people. Compile a list, just write down anything and everything that you want for your life… it could be of short term, mid-term, as well as long term goals.

You might have to find new things, trial and error, to see what you like now. You might want to try doing something you know you use to enjoy. But that comes later and from your list.  Hey, Craig decided we were buying a boat! That was him taking back something he missed, something he wants to share with our children, and… something he and I use to love doing together. That to me was a huge step, and a little scary for me honestly after us losing so many materialistic things due to the changes in life PTSD/disabilities brought lol, but the step was taken as his goal and there was no way I was going to say no. His next small step is getting the boat clean and ready to take out on the water. You saw the step he made yesterday with the photo I shared! He went to a store he had never been to before to get a polisher to clean with. Then the obvious, taking it out. Which over time will help with getting out of the house, and meeting new people.

The RV even though it is a life goal (which in reality comes with many reasons and goals, not just to own something), was not something that was helping him now, so a smaller step was taken to work on reaching a long term goal.

So, once you have your goal list made, then what? This is a positive, but positive has to have more to it then just talk, now positive steps have to be made to reach those goals. You make a plan.  It does not mean you can’t have down days when needed, it does not mean you have to work constantly every hour of every day, it does not mean one goal is the only thing you do. You have to make a plan that takes those small steps forward to accomplishing, but not forgetting or dismissing reality of every day life either. You find a balance.

You now have a vision of what you want in life and what you want to accomplish, now you work at it, at whatever pace you can. Again, life goals are something you LIKE, ENJOY! When you set goals that bring enjoyment, they are easier to accomplish.  You are building your motivation back that PTSD may have decreased or taken away from you.

Craig and I were able to LAUGH yesterday while talking about life goals! I said, “Hey, I think a goal should be once a month, on a Tuesday, we take the boat out on the lake and eat lunch, off hours, at the little bar and grill on the lake. Because Tuesdays are all you can eat fried shrimp! (My favorite food in life by the way  ).” We did get a good chuckle out of this! BUT, look at the goals that are actually contained in it. Craig is basically agoraphobic these days remember, he only leaves the house for must do things, which is still a chore for him. This one thing I mentioned, look at what it contains in reality… It sets a schedule… which is extremely important and helps the brain work. We get out of the house. We take the boat out and get onto the lake, in nature. We eat out, even if to start with it’s down on the beach area and not in the restaurant around so many people. AND, he has a happy wife because she got all you can eat shrimp!… Relationship building. 😉 And, we laughed talking about this! WOW, it seemed so small of a goal but look at what comes with it!

Goals are important. And before I type you an entire book here, I’m sure you get my meaning.  You have to have something in life to look forward to, without it, you are going to be stuck. PTSD does enough already which changes all of our lives, but it does not mean it has to take life away from you. You have to start somewhere, and that start comes with making a list of things you enjoy and want to accomplish. Even if you HAD life goals that you can no longer accomplish, it does not mean you can not make new ones, or change them around some. But you have to have something in life that you look forward to. Without it, you sit, and we know what sitting without anything does to a person.

Make your list and start taking your life back! Take small steps, don’t over-do it or it won’t be enjoyable and you want these things to be enjoyable, not a task! Work on forming a schedule, which can include anything. Schedules help activate the brain and the body. And you know I have to toss this in… “Motions lead to emotions”, relationship goals, something that has proven to be very true and can help greatly. “Proud”, that word was mentioned yesterday and let me tell you, it stuck big time as the perfect word to me. What so many people are missing after PTSD steps into their lives. Things that can make you proud of yourself. Goals can bring pride, self-esteem, and a part of you back or create a part of you that you did not know you had in you. 😉

Now, here’s my question to all of you…

What is a life goal you have?
There are no wrong answers 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Look! ;)

Hi ho, Hi ho… yep it was a VA appointment day. 
And it went much better then we expected.

BUT… after the appointment guess what? Seems the boat idea is working in small steps. 😉  Craig said he needed something so he would not get overheated outside while cleaning it, like what happened last week… uh huh, big boy toys  But, he’s in a store!!!  That is an appointment AND a trip to get something at the store while out… awesome!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

“Stop, Drop, and Roll” in PTSD Terms… “Roll, Drop, and Move”

“Stop, Drop, and Roll” in PTSD Terms… “Roll, Drop, and Move”

You know, as a child many people learn “stop, drop, and roll” for when there is a fire involved… it’s a safety protocol. For some reason that safety guideline really sticks with me when#PTSD nightmares come. It just fits so very well when you have to leave the bed quickly to make sure you are out of the way of physical actions which may come with nightmares.

I heard “Leave” shouted, no other twitching or warning they were coming, which was odd actually, and I was out of bed! No hesitations.  (Leave me alone… being the first noticeable sign of the nightmare) I’m not sure who responded first to this one, Alex was coming up between us and I was rolling out of bed.

By the way, Alex is my trusty sidekick dog who I trained to get me out of bed when Craig’s nightmares start so I’m not in the way of the physical actions that come with them.  This also allows Craig and I to still go to bed together for at least part of each night and safety still be in place.

There are many that do experience physical aspects with their nightmares. And let me tell you, it makes them feel awful as well as guilty. Especially if they unknowingly make contact with their loved one during them. It can also scare their spouse/partner and cause relationship and/or fear issues to start. The hardest part is understanding that what happens during nightmares is not intentional, however some type of safety does have to be put into place if you are going to remain sleeping together in the same bed.

There are many that can no longer sleep at night with their PTSD partner because of nightmares, rather it’s due to the physical actions, the talking out during them, and/or lack of sleep the partner gets. If this is the case, you have to make sure the two of you are still taking your one on one time together before you part to separate beds or sleep areas. It helps maintain the personal relationship.

For me, the “stop, drop, and roll”… which is actually “roll, drop, and move”… has been one of the largest things to help, besides Alex of course. 😉 It allows me to roll out of bed safely which keeps me away from swinging arms or kicking feet. It puts me out of reach because I am not sitting up in bed to get out of it or in a position to be grabbed. It puts distance between me and the nightmares, and allows me the room to move to a safer location. It’s not a human response during a nightmare to reach down beside a bed. 😉

I do have to say something though, even if your PTSD partner does not have active nightmares, PLEASE do not ever get into the mindset that they won’t. I have had some spouses come to me and state that after 20+ years of no activity during nightmares, their partner has now started having physical nightmares. So it’s something to be cautious or aware of, that can happen. Same as with touching one through nightmares, take caution and make sure you make wise choices. No way you will ever catch me touching Craig during a nightmare lol, no way not happening, already experienced that rodeo years ago. 

Just because you have always received a positive response to touching one through them, does not always mean you will… it’s still a nightmare and they can not control it. That is another thing some have come to me with because the actions or response to them has changed over time. It only takes one time of one of these things happening and it can change your life (either one of you) and/or your relationship, and there is no need for that when there can be safety protocol in place to begin with.

There is one thing about PTSD that is no fault of anyone… you don’t know what’s coming next, no matter how well you know your partner and their symptoms. I personally can tell you what the night will be like before it even comes, I can tell you what body language or words (and lack of) will lead to what reaction or symptom, I can tell you if it’s going to be a good day or a rough one, I know the triggers… but no matter what, it’s still PTSD and you are not going to know everything, every time, no one can. Having some sort of plan, safety protocol, in place no matter how minor or major it seems, saves a lot of hurt feelings and/or physical mishaps. And safety can sure help cut down on the guilt one with PTSD can have, compared to if something out of their control happens and nothing was in place to help prevent it.

There are many things you can try or put into place, rather it’s for nightmares, triggers, flashbacks, children, and the list goes on…

Caution, safety, and awareness can help prevent fear, mishaps, and/or broken relationships, and they can sure help prevent some of the guilt from forming. Do not dismiss that.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

More about Dissociative Disorders/Symptoms and PTSD

The other day some very real comments appeared under one of our topics, which did lead me to posting a question asking “How many with PTSD suffer from #dissociative symptoms?”

You knew I was going somewhere with that question. 

Many, especially spouses/partners do not understand that there ARE many with PTSD that also suffer some level of dissociation, rather a disorder or symptoms. After reading some of the comments I realized this was a topic that we really needed to learn more about so there is an understanding that one with PTSD MAY NOT always have or be in control of their actions, that is if they are experiencing a dissociative state/episode.

Now, I will say this up front…

Dissociation is a very difficult condition to understand or wrap your head around! It does take research, talking to your doctors, and learning how to accept that it may be a part of what one with PTSD experiences. The good news is, in many cases dissociation can be treated with psychotherapy and at times medications, and symptoms can decrease or change as different coping skills are learned.

The most commonly known types of PTSD which dissociative disorders are seen, are “chronic PTSD” (which is actually what Craig has) and “complex PTSD”. The highest numbers to develop dissociative disorders are those of child abuse, long-term sexual and/or emotional abuse. However, anyone with PTSD or has experienced a trauma may experience dissociation…war, natural disaster, assault, car accident, etc and can be an adult or child when developing the symptoms. There are also other mental health conditions which dissociation can also co-occur.

Another thing I want to be clear about, just because a person may experience symptoms of or have a dissociative disorder of any level, does NOT make that person bad!!! Even if their actions to you may be. It simply means their brain uses a different way of coping, protecting them, from their trauma and the after effects of it.

I also want to state that dissociation is not something one has noticeable symptoms of 100% of the time. This state/form of coping normally occurs when one is under high stress or is triggered by something linked to or is a reminder of their trauma. However, it can be a very damaging form of coping and does need medical attention.

So, What are Dissociative Disorders?

To accurately explain, I am using excerpts from the Mayo Clinic website and PsychCentral website… the professionals. 

“Someone with a dissociative disorder escapes reality in ways that are involuntary and unhealthy. The person with a dissociative disorder experiences a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions and identity.

The symptoms of dissociative disorders — ranging from amnesia to alternate identities — depend in part on the type you have. Symptoms usually develop as a reaction to trauma and help keep difficult memories at bay. Times of stress can temporarily worsen symptoms, making them more obvious. Dissociative disorders cause problems with functioning in everyday life.

Treatment for dissociative disorders may include talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medication. Although treating dissociative disorders can be difficult, many people learn new ways of coping and lead healthy, productive lives.” (Excerpt from Mayo Clinic staff, mayoclinic.org)

What are the different types of Dissociative Disorders?

“There are three major dissociative disorders defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association:

Dissociative amnesia. 

The main symptom of this disorder is memory loss that’s more severe than normal forgetfulness and that can’t be explained by a medical condition. You can’t recall information about yourself or events and people in your life, especially from a traumatic time. Dissociative amnesia can be specific to events in a certain time, such as intense combat, or more rarely, can involve complete loss of memory about yourself. It may sometimes involve travel or confused wandering away from your life (dissociative fugue). An episode of amnesia may last minutes, hours, or, rarely, months or years.

Dissociative identity disorder. (DID)

This disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, is characterized by “switching” to alternate identities. You may feel the presence of one or more other people talking or living inside your head, and you may feel as though you’re possessed by other identities. Each of these identities may have a unique name, personal history and characteristics, including obvious differences in voice, gender, mannerisms and even such physical qualities as the need for eyeglasses. There also are differences in how familiar each identity is with the others. People with dissociative identity disorder typically also have dissociative amnesia and often have dissociative fugue.

Depersonalization-derealization disorder. 

This disorder involves an ongoing or episodic sense of detachment or being outside yourself — observing your actions, feelings, thoughts and self from a distance as though watching a movie (depersonalization). Other people and things around you may feel detached and foggy or dreamlike, and the world may seem unreal (derealization). You may experience depersonalization, derealization or both. Symptoms, which can be profoundly distressing, may last only a few moments or come and go over many years.” (Excerpt from mayoclinic.org)

The other two are…

Dissociative Fugue

Like dissociative amnesia, dissociative, fugue also is characterized by sudden onset resulting from a single severe traumatic event. Unlike dissociative amnesia, however, dissociative fugue may involve the creation of a new, either partial or complete, identity to replace the personal details that are lost in response to the trauma. A person with this disorder will remain alert and oriented, yet be unconnected to the former identity. Dissociative fugue may also be characterized by sudden, unplanned wandering from home or work. Typically, the condition consists of a single episode without recurrence, and recovery is often spontaneous and rapid.

Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (DDNOS) is an inclusive category for classifying dissociative syndromes that do not meet the full criteria of any of the other dissociative disorders. A person diagnosed with Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (DDNOS) typically displays characteristics very similar to some of the previously discussed dissociative disorders, but not severe enough to receive their diagnoses. DDNOS includes variants of Dissociative Identity Disorder in which personality “states” may take over consciousness and behavior but are not sufficiently distinct, and variants of Dissociative identity disorder in which there is no amnesia for personal information. Other forms of DDNOS include possession and trance states, Ganser’s syndrome, derealization unaccompanied by depersonalization, dissociated states in people who have undergone intense coercive persuasion (e.g., brainwashing, kidnapping), and loss of consciousness not attributed to a medical condition.” (Excerpt from: psychcentral.com, In-Depth: Understanding Dissociative Disorders By MARLENE STEINBERG, M.D.)

Now that we know a little more based on professional information, dissociative disorders and/or symptoms are very real, and when they accompany PTSD, well, it will throw you for a loop and then some rather you are the one with PTSD or the spouse/partner… until you learn about them, understand them the best possible, and learn better alternatives of coping.

Craig and I know these symptoms, if you think back to some of the personal stories I have shared, then compare them to the symptoms and definitions, you will see the connections. Yes, he did things and acted in ways that were completely out of his character. Yes, he would wander and later have no knowledge of it or not know where he had been. Yes, he has “lost” memory or gaps. There are a lot of things that fit that he has experienced, without going into all of them.

Those “out of control PTSD” days, as I call them… yes dissociation had it’s hand in them in ways that in reality should have torn us apart! But you know what? We did not allow that to happen. When Craig started receiving treatment for PTSD, and they started him on medications and put him through (ongoing) therapy, I’ve noticed a huge change in dissociative symptoms, they have decreased as he has learned healthy coping skills.

I have always said, if your PTSD partner is acting in ways that just don’t “fit” PTSD symptoms, doing things out of their character, it’s best to look deeper into dissociative disorders/symptoms and talk to your doctor about what is going on. There are many things a person my do or that may happen that are indeed out of one’s control. Those things can damage the person, their partner, as well as their family structure, those things will tamper with morals, beliefs, and everyday life itself. But they don’t have to! Get help if you or your partner fit into the definitions or symptoms.

#PTSD as we know is no easy ride, but things can change and things can improve. Dissociative disorders/symptoms are no different, you learn how to manage them and life can get better then it may be right now. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

We will see what today holds.

We will see what today holds. 

Yesterday Craig had a migraine… and a doctor’s appointment. So handling those were what our day consisted of. He was physically sick all weekend after over-doing it on Friday, trying to get outside more to tinker on the boat. You know how it goes, one good day step forward then three steps/days back. But that’s okay!! He made great effort and that is what counts!Proud of him. 

You all know the first day we actually get the boat to water I will be posting photos and you will hear the excitement! I think this boat may really help him, and our family, get a sort of small part of life back that we lost so long ago. Small steps we are bound we will get there no matter what it takes!

Well, as of late last night we read there seems to be a new game plan going into place that we actually have not been told about yet. Yeah, nothing like reading doctor notes before the doctors inform you lol. From the sounds of it our boat may actually work well into this plan, we are a few steps ahead of the docs already I think.  I guess that simply means we are already on the right path.

Neurology is working on the migraines in hopes of reducing them some. It’s been so many years of him having 2-4 per week along with additional headaches, and the migraines laying him up, anything would be a great help at this point! Craig tries really hard to be active, but between the multiple migraines then being drained from them, then throw in #PTSD… well it is honestly extremely difficult and a challenge. BUT we will never give up! 

I did get a straight answer yesterday. Not really what I wanted to hear but we don’t always hear what we want to. I asked again if Craig having west nile virus when all of his medical conditions seemed to start, had any hand in his cognitive dysfunction and memory issues. The answer… We will never know. Seems from what I have been told (and Craig said I could share), that because spinal fluids were not taken at the time west nile was discovered in his blood that there is not a way of knowing if it has long term effects on his brain. So, basically it is being assumed that his medical conditions are all psychological related (PTSD, Depression, and anxiety). There’s no real answer. I was told however that west nile was the trigger (or one of, we know the ship was another) which brought PTSD “out of it’s box” Craig had been able to keep it in. So it basically set PTSD symptoms in motion that he could not cope with.

You know, no matter what the doctors say or don’t say, do or don’t do, Craig and I have made great effort to get him to the point he is today with the challenges disabilities have brought to our lives. That effort will never stop. I will never lose hope and we will always continue trying to improve our lives. Craig reading that report last night was really damaging to him, as well as myself. It was kind of in a way from what he read to me, saying this is it, there’s nothing more we can do, work on becoming social again, find some support (I really don’t understand that one with the huge family we have here on this page as well as our family), and we will check back with you at a later date. It just seemed to contain things that lack a huge realistic understanding of us, who and how we are, and what life in reality is like. Today is a new day and I refuse to let someone else’s lack of understanding our reality keep us down… that just would not be us. 😉

SO… here’s to a new day for all of us! Chins up, force that smile, and taking another step forward.  We are so thankful to have all of you as a positive part of our lives!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Now that’s some type of self-help therapy now!

WELL!

I’ve heard, “Craig really needs something that he use to love that he can get back, that will help him get out of the house more.” I’ve heard “We only have a couple more years before our teenagers are out doing their own things.” I’ve heard “I want us to be able to enjoy things we use to do as teens, with the kids before it’s not cool to hang with mom and dad anymore.” And I’ve heard… “I feel guilty that you and the kids are so bound to the house because of me.

The guys (Craig and my son) did some online shopping the past few weeks and… Mysteriously this just happens to be sitting beside our house! Seems some people around here decided on an early “Mother’s Day gift”. LOL!!!

Now you all know why Craig took me for the drive around the big lake the other day looking for quiet/not crowded areas. 

I was told my gift is we are going to start taking small steps of getting out of the house more and taking a part of our lives back! The second part of that statement was “with this“. LOL.

Some days you just give in and let them have their way, especially if it could help them!!! I think an RV will be on hold for the time being while smaller steps are being taken. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

To answer the birthday question…

I have people asking, so let me tell…

Craig did something special for me yesterday for my birthday. He left the house!!!

We had to do the ol’ tag renewal, and thankfully there were no lines lol. Then we went and walked around a used boat lot real quick, then… ready for this? We sat inside Wendy’s for lunch! There was a seat available where Craig could put his back against the wall and we ate lunch inside! I told him we could take it home or sit outside at one of the picnic tables, but nope  he said we were going to eat lunch inside. Then we made a quick stop to pick up my new writing table.

Craig said the best thing he thought he could give me was part of a day out away from the house together. YEP, he was right!!!

Then we headed home to relax. Once the kiddos got home we put the cat tree together, which just happened to arrive on my birthday lol. I laughed at Craig and my daughter helping me put that thing together, then we all laughed until we cried at Miss Marble and Alex. We decided on pizza at home for dinner… I knew Craig and #PTSD had enough for one day. 😉

So yes, overall it was a good day! 🙂

Thank you again for all of the birthday wishes!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD