Archive for » October, 2014 «

There IS a PTSD Crisis!

This is to EVERYONE that it can possibly reach, whether you know someone with PTSD or do not believe you do.

I am a very strong woman, and I will be the first to tell you I have a lot of pride, but I will fall to my knees and beg you to PLEASE listen to what I have to say!

I know PTSD, my husband battles it every day of his life just like many others do. This is not from a story or a text book, this is not some movie that was made up, this is from firsthand knowledge of REAL LIFE, in hopes that it will help open eyes and save lives!

People are dying! MANY people are losing their battle to PTSD. Do you understand and know why? Do you even care? If not, I’ll explain why you should!

There is a PTSD CRISIS at hand! I have sat here in deep thought after receiving word of another “PTSD brother” that has lost his battle to PTSD. I thought, how can I help people understand that there is a crisis, it is real life, and the crisis is world wide? How do I get people to take the time to care about others in this fast paced world we live in? I’m only one person.

Even with the amount of awareness there is out there, it’s still not enough! Too many people are letting the term “PTSD” pass right by them like it’s no big deal. Too many people are not hearing or learning the facts, and many are still carrying stigma. Too many people are still saying, “That could not happen to me or my family”. Too many are saying, “Why should I care?” Others are saying “My PTSD is not that bad, no big deal, I can suck it up.”

If you are one of those people, I need to tell you with all of my heart the truth, “YOU are WRONG!”

Every day I educate others on PTSD and the seriousness of it, around taking care of my husband and our family. I share our personal story and what each day is like living with or beside PTSD. I share things in hopes that others out there may understand that they are not alone and there are many things that can help. I hope that what I offer will help just one person and/or family if not many, find a shorter path to learning how to manage life with PTSD, something my husband, family, and I did not have when PTSD became a part of our lives. I hope that what I write, will make one person if not many, choose to dismiss the stigma they may hold and realize that stigma kills human beings, real people that should have a chance at life.

They are no different than you or I, they have just experienced a trauma that changed their life, something no person should have to experience. Those with PTSD can still have relationships, they can still be good fathers and mothers, or grandparents, or friends. Many can still be great at their career and in the workplace. Many walk through society and no one would even be able to recognize they have PTSD. Many you would have to be around when symptoms are increased or live with them to understand or actually see what they battle. It takes a lot to manage PTSD, no matter how well manged or bad the symptoms are, and so many do not have the tools and support that are needed, yet.

PTSD is not an individual problem or issue! The reality is, with the number of people who do suffer/survive with PTSD, every person this reaches most likely DOES know someone with PTSD. Whether you realize it or not! It may be your spouse/partner, your mom or dad, brother or sister, or another family member. It may be your best friend or a co-worker, it may be your neighbor, or that person you pass on the street everyday.

It only takes ONE life changing trauma, for PTSD to develop! That one trauma changes life forever.

Traumas effect military, police officers, doctors, nurses, emergency personnel, emergency operators, news reporters, military subcontractors, prison guards, teachers, etc. All of the people who are there for you. It can effect those who have experienced an assault, rape, child abuse, adult abuse, car/transportation accident, dog/animal mauling, cancer or stroke patients and more, natural disasters, kidnapping, school/workplace shooting, mugging, home invasion, the loss of a life of someone very close to them… The traumas are endless in this world we ALL live in, life threatening traumas are endless. They are experienced by military and civilians.

Now take all of the traumas in life people can experience, everything you hear through the news as well as from people you know, and think about how many people could actually develop or already have, PTSD. Until there is peace on this earth, accidents and natural disasters stop, which unfortunately reality is… will never happen, there will be PTSD! History has already proven itself. And the reality is, the numbers are growing. It’s no secret that this world is in a state of chaos, all you have to do is watch the news, read the papers, or listen to the stories of others, and you see it. That chaos brings more traumas.

No, one person cannot change the world or the things that take place in it. I know I sure can’t. But each person can change themselves, and slow down the pace to care about others. It’s actually pretty simple and really does not take that much time.

Stigma does not hurt people, stigma kills people! My opinion is stigma comes from the lack of knowledge or fear of the unknown. There are too many people who are still choosing to hold onto stigma. Which in return is causing those that really need help, to hide in the shadows of PTSD. They are suffering in silence, and many are losing their lives in the battle PTSD does bring. Many are losing their support systems because of stigma, people are walking away from them when they need their family and friends the most.

As far as “sucking up PTSD”, those that do it, are told to do it, or are in a position where they are forced to do it, the hard fact is you will only be able to suck it up for so long. There have been too many people to try to manage PTSD on their own without learning the tools needed or ignore it all together, too many have just dismissed that they have PTSD, or feared what would come from reaching out to someone for help. If you or someone you know are one of them, sooner or later PTSD will break you, or them. Even one who would never have suicidal thoughts or any type of self-harm before, PTSD can change that, negative changes in thoughts or feelings of one’s self, others, or even the world is a VERY real part of PTSD, do not dismiss the facts of PTSD.

It does not matter how strong you believe you are or who you are, PTSD will break you without proper help and support. PTSD has affected some of the strongest, most intelligent, will powered people there are. It effects the strong minded, the ones that take everything that has been thrown at them and keep on pushing forward. Everyone has their limit, you are human. Do not allow PTSD to find your’s. There are too many things that can help, PTSD does not go away but it is manageable and life can continue to be lived! Do not put off what could save your future, as well as YOU!

Why should you care? Because PTSD can in reality happen to anyone! Again, it only takes one trauma, and no one can predict the future to who will be affected. I can guarantee, if you are one day in the shoes of PTSD, you will hope there is someone there that cares about you!

A strong person is one that knows and accepts when they need help. If you have PTSD, I can pretty much guarantee you, you are one of the best of the best. Learning the tools to properly manage PTSD, so you can not only survive but live with PTSD as a part of life, makes you even stronger. It takes a strong person to battle and live life with PTSD each day, and you can do it! Make that reach, you ARE worth it!

A positive support person is one that chooses to step past stigma, and learn, whether you can truly understand PTSD or not. One who takes the time to care about others, even if it’s something as simple as listening. When someone reaches out to you or you see changes in someone after a trauma that brings questions, take the time to care and pay attention. Unfortunately the truth is if you don’t, there may not be a second chance or tomorrow. I have been speaking out publicly about PTSD for close to 4 years now, and the most heart wrenching things I hear from others are, “If only I had taken the time to listen or say something, he/she may still be here.” and “If only I had believed PTSD was real, maybe I could have helped him/her and he/she would not have lost their life to PTSD.” I do not believe anyone wants to be in those shoes, those are very real life shoes.

You may be the one with PTSD, a family member or friend, you may be the one that does not understand PTSD or believe it is real, you may be the one that is just curious. Whichever shoes you are standing in, I want to say “Thank You” for taking the time to read this, by doing so it really could change another person’s life… or even save one!

Unfortunately, many lose their battle to PTSD each day. ONLY of the Veteran reported suicide cases in the USA, there are 22 Veterans losing their battle to PTSD daily. That does NOT include unreported PTSD cases, un-diagnosed PTSD cases, law enforcement and other lines of work related PTSD cases, or civilian PTSD cases… and not world wide numbers. If we were able to add ALL of those numbers up, folks, that is a PTSD Crisis!

Not every suicide can be prevented unfortunately, but WE CAN change those numbers and decrease them by educating ourselves and others, and by taking the time to care about others.

Please take the time to care! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Building a Stronger Relationship: Part 3 PTSD and Emotional/Physical Closeness

PTSD and relationships

PTSD and Building a Stronger Relationship: Part 3
PTSD and Emotional/Physical Closeness

Bottom line, this is VERY hard for many that have PTSD! I am getting a lot of questions from partners of one with PTSD that cannot seem to get the emotional or physical closeness from their PTSD loved one that would be “normal” for a relationship.There are many different symptoms as well as situations that could be a part of this.

PTSD comes with negative changes in thoughts, views, and feelings. Which can be about one’s self or others. Those could play a huge role in how one acts or holds back, is guarded. Some may view themselves as they do not deserve a relationship, are not good enough for another person, would be a burden on someone else, or even worry that a relationship may not work, if others have not worked.

Avoidance is a symptom of PTSD, and is not limited to places or things, but can be of people, even people they love. It’s not something that is done on purpose, it’s what PTSD causes. This can take place especially when PTSD symptoms are high, or increased during trauma anniversary times.

There could have been a relation to one’s trauma causing physical or emotional distance. A death of someone close to them which causes them to be guarded towards others or a new relationship. Their could be fear of losing someone else or possibly hurting one emotionally or physically depending on their level of coping or symptoms. One may have experienced an assault or rape. Each person will be different and their trauma may have some sort of connection to them not being able to get physically or emotionally close to another, or not yet.

Some with PTSD have to focus on themselves a lot in order to manage PTSD and help prevent it from effecting others as greatly as it could. It’s not something to take personally, it’s what at times must be done for their personal health as well as in the best interest of others.

So those are just a few of many examples of why PTSD can bring “guard” to a relationship whether emotionally or physically. It does not mean one does not love or care about their partner, it’s that “normal” has changed when it comes to relationships. It also does not mean the one with PTSD will always or all of the time be emotionally or physically distant, it can fluctuate or change as symptoms and coping skills/managing PTSD changes. It can also change as trust builds, self-esteem builds, and time takes place.

Craig tells me everyday that he loves me, and I know he does and that those are not just words to him. But the emotional and physical closeness is not always a part of our relationship anymore. He’s one that does have to focus on himself a lot to manage his symptoms. Negative changes in thoughts of himself is a large part of his battle. We have times that he can be emotionally or physically close to me, then other times he just cannot through what PTSD causes him. Our relationship is not what I view as bad, it’s just different than it use to be or what others would view as normal.

I had to learn to not take things personally when he is distant emotionally or physically, and accept that it’s NOT that he does not love or care about me, or does not want to be with me. It’s simply things that PTSD does cause at times.

I have mentioned many times about “motions lead to emotions”. PTSD brings numbness, another symptom. Going through the motions no matter what steps that may be or related to, can over time help with emotions. Even if it’s only small breaks in the numbness. But it will not happen overnight. It’s just like anything else that comes with PTSD, it takes practice, patience, and a lot of effort to trying.

Another thing that is important, is making sure you do not become co-dependent, which can easily happen. A relationship with another person adds TO who you are as an individual, you have to make sure you are taking care of yourself and are not solely relying on someone else to make you happy. If you have trouble with doing things on your own, enjoying things without your partner being right there all of the time, and finding what makes you happy… those are going to be things to work on, or it’s going to be hard to survive in a PTSD relationship and have a healthy balance.

You have to be able to trust yourself so your relationship adds to who you are, and not be what defines you. By learning to stand on your own two feet, so to speak, it can actually help take the weigh off of the one with PTSD, which in return may allow them to become more close and less guarded. It can take some of the worry away in some cases. I know in our personal lives, Craig does much better, so to speak, when he sees that I am doing okay. It does play a part in a relationship when self balance is there in a partner/spouse.

Some partners who are not married or don’t live together have issues, or worry really, when there is silence or breaks in communication or seeing each other. They are not there, they do not see exactly what is happening and yes, they worry. Make a plan! It’s probably the best thing you can do together. There are going to be those breaks, there are going to be times that physical or emotional distance comes, or lack in communicating. Those of us that are living together experience the same things, we are just able to actually see it when it’s happening.

Make a plan together, print it out if need be. If one feels [this] then [this] is how we will handle it so neither of us worry about the other.

Okay, physical touch. Everything above weighs into this part. But, there is a lot more that may also be a part of it. Medications and/or physical injuries can be a huge part of it for many. Intimacy does not have to be only about sex! Something that really needs to be kept in mind. Talking about or pushing for sex all of the time or often, as well as negative remarks, can push a person right away from you. PTSD weighs into intimacy or sex in many ways. Another time not to take things personally BUT be cautious to how you are speaking or acting.

If it’s a new relationship or PTSD is new to them, there is the chance in some cases that your PTSD partner is not ready to open up and tell if there are medications or other injuries at hand. That is hard for them to handle because it may bring negative thoughts of themselves, and they do not want you viewing them negatively. So they may avoid physical touch all together. Again, there could be many different reasons, these are just a few more.

Some people will need to take physical touch of whatever kind slower, especially if their trauma was connected to physical touch. Some may have those negative thoughts to get through before physical touch happens. There is no time limit and you can’t set one on when one will become comfortable. It may be a part related to their trauma that they have to work at their own pace to get through. Be honest with each other, talk about it so you are both on the same page and no one is taking it personally.

Whatever is causing a guard to be up or PTSD masking emotional or physical closeness, be patient and work through it together. PTSD may mask those things, but it does not mean those things will not ever be there.

I personally have a light hearted rule of sorts I live by, “Take the closeness and enjoy every second of it when it’s given. And hold onto that feeling and thoughts when the rest can’t be there.” One with PTSD does not do these things on purpose, and it takes time to work through whatever is at hand. Do not take it personally, and again, work through it together.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Facebook page

Caregiver/Family Guide… In other words, my “tool box”

Caregiver/Family Guide… In other words, my “tool box” 

Over the past few weeks of Craig’s PTSD showing us it’s for sure “that” time of year (PTSD anniversary), I have had many come to me concerned about how I am doing through this… and Thank You for caring!

I admit, this has been one of the roughest anniversaries we have experienced at this point. BUT, I have been and am honestly doing A-Okay.  I’m not at all stressed, I’m not walking on eggshells, my anxiety is not up,and I’ve just tackled PTSD as it comes at us step by step. NO problem.

Over the years I have learned and filled my toolbox with so many valuable tools that help not only Craig, but me! My toolbox is how I can avoid all of those negative things that as a spouse and caregiver I use to experience, what many experience. I know how and what I have to do to keep my personal balance through what life holds and PTSD and Depression throw our way.

There are MANY things that caregivers, spouses, and family members can do for themselves. You know I’m going to say it…

“You have to make sure you are taking care of yourself in order to help or take care of others.”

Too many are forgetting to use their “tool box”! I will preach this until it sinks in, but only you can take that step for yourself…you HAVE to make and take the time to take care of yourself. And if you don’t, well you might as well pull a seat up right next to PTSD and Depression because you are going to start experiencing some of the same symptoms as your loved one, or other symptoms of your own that are not positive to or for anyone… if you are not already there!

Many people get so stuck in their routine, the overwhelming things/symptoms that come, walking on eggshells, the hustle and bustle of every day, that they forget OR set to the side and ignore themselves, what they personally need.

When this happens YOU are not going to maintain a healthy balance, mentally or physically. YOU are going to be the one that has snappy tone with others… become angry or frustrated, you are the one that will become overwhelmed, you are the one that will experience anxiety or even depression, you are the one that will honestly feel like you are falling apart! When this happens and you don’t do something to manage it and keep a self-balance, the rest of your world is going to join you or fall apart around you. It’s not a pleasant experience.

So, I am going to open up and share a few things from my toolbox with you. These are things I maintain, not things only used when life gets rough. By these things becoming a part of my everyday life, they help keep a consistent self balance.

1. MAKE and TAKE time for yourself!

By doing this you are better able to maintain your own self-balance mentally and physically. When you do this it gives you what you need to make it from today to tomorrow and still have life within it. This helps YOU and it helps your FAMILY!

Start a hobby, go window shopping, have lunch with a friend, something, anything that you enjoy doing and that gives you time to maintain yourself.

2. Coping Skills!

We talk here about coping skills all of the time. There is a VERY important reason for that, coping skills help you when the most challenging times come, they help you prepare for them and they help you manage through them, they help you keep your personal balance. There are MANY, MANY different forms and techniques of coping…

LEARN them, PRACTICE them, and USE them!

By practicing coping skills daily, when the time comes you need them they are already mastered and can be used correctly with no hesitation. If you have children, teach them coping skills too! You don’t have to directly tell them that’s what they are unless they are old enough to have that conversation, but by teaching children how to cope with what they experience in the life of a child, it helps them maintain their balance, and they can learn from a young age. 

3. Get Outside!

Many caregivers and/or family members are inside a lot, way more than normal. When disabilities are at hand it does become challenging to get outside for a healthy amount of time. You HAVE to! If you don’t you are cutting yourself off from the world, you are cutting yourself off from maintaining a healthy environment, and you could cause it to happen to others in your home as well.

4. Respite Care!

Make sure you have someone that can provide back-up care. This allows you to do the things you need to do. It allows you to take a break (even though we love and choose to be the one to take care of another, you still need breaks!). It allows you to have some time to make sure you are taking care of yourself and maintaining a healthy self-balance. It is a part of helping prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.

There are MANY places that can help with providing back-up care!
Family members, friends, neighbors… If those are not available, there are professional companies, if you can not afford those then check with local churches, organizations, VFW’s can provide info if not some back-up care time themselves. There are many things available, use the phone or do the leg work and find them! You NEED back-up and help, do NOT dismiss that fact!

5. Eat!

Many times caregivers are so busy taking care of everyone else that when it comes to themselves, they simply just do not eat, do not eat right, or are too tired to eat. This is NOT healthy! Your body is like a car, it needs fuel in order to function, food is the body’s fuel. Make sure you have the fuel your body needs or you will find yourself on empty!

Keep prepared veggies, fruits, healthy snack bars, etc on hand. These are quick and easy snacks for the whole family throughout each day. Keep a schedule for meals. If you are tired when it comes to meal time, take a few minutes to just sit, relax, use those coping skills so you feel like eating. And make sure you are drinking enough fluids throughout the day! Staying hydrated helps keep you healthy!

6. Exercise!

It does not matter what type of exercise you do, do something! Don’t think you have time for it? Well try this So your partner likes watching movies (a common one for those with PTSD), do yoga or floor exercises while you are watching the movie! Now that’s a two for one. There are a lot of two for ones that can happen… Walk or play outside with the dog or kids, take a walk with your partner, you BOTH get exercise. While cleaning house put on your favorite music and sing/dance that broom away! Anything physical can be exercise, and you can make it fun at the same time. You don’t need expensive gym memberships or equipment to exercise.

7. Write, Journal, Talk!

It’s NOT healthy to keep things bottled up inside! Come on let’s face the facts, not everyday is going to be butterflies and flowers. You NEED an outlet! Even if you write it out then shred it (what my 14 year old actual does at times), get it out! Talk to someone you can trust or a therapist! Even a conversation with a stranger in a grocery line, no matter what the topic is, can make a world of difference!

8. Talk/Communicate with children/grand-children

There is one thing many dismiss. If you are a parent or grandparent, if you notice children not doing well, YOU are not going to do well! It’s a fact about being a parent! Take the time to just talk with the children in your life! This not only helps them, it teaches them how to communicate, it helps you know when something is wrong or not quite right, or bothering them, and you can get to the root of things quickly before something becomes a large issue. It makes them feel important and let’s them know that you care! Many times, caregivers are so overwhelmed with their daily caregiver rolls and helping another person, that the kids are just there, so to speak. There HAS to be a balance!

I have seen it go the other way in many families also, many times sadly. The non-disability spouse pays more attention to the kids then the one with disabilities. It’s like a protection of sorts, and it can be harmful to the family structure! Some end up with children resenting the parent with disabilities, some end up resenting the parent that was “protecting” them, some couples end up with marriages/relationships on the rocks or failing, because all of the attention is on the kids. There HAS to be a balance so the entire family as well as your relationship maintains a healthy balance!

9. Which leads to One on One Time!

Everyone needs one on one time! Children need it from both parents/grandparents and relationships need it! Family time is important but don’t forget that one on one time is equally important! You know I’m going to say it… It helps maintain a healthy balance!

10. Unplug!

There is NOTHING wrong with stepping away from that computer, video game, or putting that phone down! You have to live real life even though those things help you stay connected to others. Spending too much time sitting in front of a screen is NOT healthy and it takes you away from the real world you need to be living in. It can also become an addiction to where important things in your life take a side seat, folks, that’s not good!

This is a rule I live by! Even though I blog and LOVE communicating with everyone, even though I am in the process of writing a book, even though I enjoy my new phone, I still make sure I step away from them each day. As a caregiver, I can’t stay on them constantly. When Craig and I are talking, or I am talking with my kids, you won’t find a phone in my hand or my attention focused on my computer, etc. My attention is solely on them. I am a wife, a caregiver, a mom… those things come first. It helps maintain a balance, as well as respect, it’s important to you as well as those around you. It also teaches children that it’s okay to step away from those things, in this technology world we live in, many kids stay stuck to a screen and are missing what there actually is in real life out there.

No number needed on this one… Respect Yourself!

Have respect for yourself. You are not a superhero, you are a human being and every human being has their limits. Don’t push yourself too far, don’t expect yourself to be perfect all of the time, allow yourself down days to re-group, allow yourself to be you! Don’t lose yourself in taking care of someone else. Sure things have changed, what you can do or not do has changed, your roles have changed, but that does not mean you have to lose who you are in all of it. YOU are important too! Don’t lose sight and respect for yourself… it helps keep a healthy balance.

Being a caregiver or a family member that helps out another, is a big job, it can and will weigh you down if you do not do the things you need to. YOU can find and maintain a balance that not only is healthy for you, but also healthy for all of those around you. Don’t forget to make the time, take the time, and most of all… Don’t ever forget to use your toolbox.

The best feeling in the world when life contains PTSD or other disabilities, is knowing when the tough and rough times come, I do have a personal balance, am prepared, and can handle anything that comes my way, I am A-Okay! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Facebook page

And then the guilt stepped in… PTSD.

And then the guilt stepped in… PTSD.

Many people do not realize how much guilt can be a part of PTSD. The first thing many think of is it comes from whatever trauma was at hand that caused PTSD to develop. Which can very well be the case, but it can go much further than that!

Guilt may not only come from what happened in the past. It can come a little more with each day and depending on how that day was, and how PTSD was for that day.

Guilt can come from nightmares (or even flashbacks)…

Nightmares can cause a spouse/partner to lose sleep. Maybe there is a need to sleep in separate rooms. Maybe the PTSD nightmares are physical and unknowingly to the one with PTSD at the time, physical contact was made on the one they love. Maybe one screams out during their nightmares, which a spouse/partner or other household members hear, which means hearing the details of. Maybe one paces during the night due to nightmares or is restless.

All of those things can cause guilt to step in, and then those PTSD negative changes in thoughts or feelings come. It does not matter how much a spouse/partner understands, and knows these things are not intentional, guilt still seems to step in.

Guilt can come from believing you let someone down…

Life changes when PTSD becomes a part of it. Maybe one cannot not do things the way the use to be able to. Maybe they cannot leave the house or not as often. Maybe they cannot attend large events. Maybe they have trouble attending school functions for children/grand-children. Maybe they have issues joining in for the holidays. Maybe they do not see family or friends like they use to.

All of those things can also cause guilt to step in. It’s not that one does not want to do things or be a part of things, it’s that PTSD tries it’s hardest to hold them back. When this happens, even through the numbness PTSD causes that guilt of one is letting others down can weigh in.

Guilt can come from a loss of a career or change…

When PTSD becomes a part of life, it can in reality effect one’s career. One may lose their career or have to change to a different line of work. Some can work, some have to work less, and some with PTSD cannot work at all. Maybe they try hard to work but have issues at work because of PTSD symptoms. And the lifestyle you were use to living now changes.

All of those things can cause guilt to step in. It has nothing to do with one not wanting to work, not wanting to do their best, or not wanting to provide for others. It’s what PTSD may cause.

Guilt can come from what others go through…

Those with PTSD know what it’s like to live with it, they also know and see what it may cause others around them. Life changes, relationships change, activities change, the way you manage things change, etc etc etc.

All of those things can cause guilt to step in. When one knows or sees that what they are going through does in some way effect another person, it makes it very difficult for guilt to not become a part of it. No one with PTSD asked for it, and they sure do not want it effecting those they care about.

I know guilt plays it’s part in PTSD. But I also know this, even with PTSD as a part of life, even with all of the changes that come, even with having to learn new ways to manage things, life, and symptoms… Your loved one would not be standing beside you if they could not handle this life. They CHOOSE to be there with you! That is really something to think about.

There are so many things that help bring a balance to this life with PTSD… Learning about PTSD, learning what works best to manage symptoms, learning coping skills, getting professional help, talking to and learning from others, even helping others, having a positive support system, trial and error of trying new things to see what works or does not, re-learning how to communicate, etc etc etc. The list is endless!

There’s no changing what happened, unfortunately. But from this point forward, the only guilt that should weigh in, is if you sit back and do nothing. MUCH easier said than done, I know! But it’s something everyone can work on.

Things are going to happen, that’s a part of this life, and you figure out how to work through them together. Things or situations that come from PTSD are not done on purpose, anyone who is educated on PTSD knows that. If your spouse/partner says they understand, it’s okay, can we try this, we will figure out how to get through this… accept it, trust them, and try not to let the guilt of a situation over power you. In reality the situation may be weighing on you much more than it is on them. That’s what PTSD causes, it’s a part of the negative changes in thoughts, views, and feelings. Work together.

Guilt is dangerous. It can effect your thoughts of yourself, your relationship, your family, and your life. Work on trying not to let it weigh too much into what PTSD already brings. I know that’s hard, but it’s not impossible. If you feel guilty about something that has happened, talk to someone. Figure out a way to change things in the future or try a different way of managing things. PTSD brings many challenges as it is, don’t let it and guilt take away from you what could be.

Life can still have a balance, life can still be good, and steps forward can be made. YOU are worth those steps!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

Category: Guilt/Survivor's Guilt, Uncategorized  Tags: , ,  Comments off

“How do you handle PTSD symptoms when they increase?

I was asked a question regarding increased PTSD symptoms…

“How do you handle PTSD symptoms when they increase? Do you just ignore them or leave, or what do you do as the spouse?”

To start with, each person with PTSD will not always respond the same way as another person may, and each situation may be managed differently depending on the situation as well as the level of symptoms at hand. As well as depending on what you both have already learned and how you work together.

Over the years of helping manage PTSD, I have learned a lot about PTSD and what comes with it, real life experiences, and do have the ability to “read” Craig very well. He teases me and says I know him better than he knows himself. He does not have to say a word for me to recognize which symptom(s) is/are weighing in at each moment. This is not a superpower of any sorts, it just takes paying attention, listening, and learning what the signs or cues are to PTSD symptoms, then you can learn to recognize them when they start, and learn what helps to manage them.

Time and experience, trial and error, are to a spouse’s advantage. I can tell when he is angry, frustrated, feeling guilty, something is weighing on him, I know the signs of flashbacks starting even nightmares, I can tell when depression is getting it’s grip on him, I can see when he needs space or needs someone close to him, I can tell when he is okay with company coming over or not, I can tell when it’s going to be a good day or a rough one, I know his triggers, I know when those PTSD negative thoughts come, etc. None of these things are learned overnight, it takes time to learn how to recognize them as well as how to manage them when they come.

For us personally, I do not walk away from him when symptoms are increased, and I do not leave. I am with him all of the time (I am his caregiver) and if I am not here my respite care person is here with him. I might step to another room briefly then return, or come in and out of the room he is in. I might sit in the same room quietly and do my own thing… normally writing and leave him alone, that is common if I can tell he just wants to be left alone. I will talk with him, help him with coping skills, or whatever is needed. I’ve learned a balance so I can help him but at the same time not smother him. But walking away, even to another room, I do not do unless I know he is able to manage the symptoms with coping skills on his own.

If symptoms are really high, sorry, no way will I leave him alone, period. Suicidal thoughts/tendencies are a very real part of PTSD and I will not chance them stepping in and him having to manage them on his own because no one is there with him. I take high increases in symptoms very seriously. Even those who would never have thought of harming themselves before, can have those thoughts once PTSD is a part of life.

As far as ignoring symptoms, well I guess my view on that is I don’t really ignore them, I just know when not to take them personally, and know when to respond or not respond to them. Craig and I do have good communication skills and I can address when I see symptoms starting or increasing, which many times he does not recognize on his own or he will try to remain quiet and keep them bottled up inside… which is not good and can lead to an outburst or symptoms increasing more later. So by addressing what I am seeing (in a helpful nice way) it helps him know that coping skills are needed or just opens the door for him to talk about what he is feeling. At times I will do coping skills with him.

I have different little sayings we use as cues…

“I’m seeing PTSD/depression has a grip on you today…”
“You seem angry right now, is there anything you want to talk about?”
“It’s a frustration type of day, let’s just take it easy today.”
“Why don’t you take a nap, it might help you feel better…” (naps are a coping skill he uses for anger or frustration when other methods don’t work, especially after a rough night of little sleep)

Things like that, where it’s not pointing fingers, not accusing, or me getting upset, but pointing out what I am seeing and offering help or to talk if he wants to. It’s like giving a loving nudge without being demanding or controlling. Sometimes I will get that PTSD roll of the eyes and know to back off, other times he opens up. Either way a cue was there, and whether he seems to like it or not, I can tell he takes note of it and it helps. Again, I just do not take PTSD’s roll of the eyes, that look, or even a snappy reply personally. I already know a symptom is at hand, so there’s no reason to take it personally.

Another thing that is important to me in that, is by addressing things, it’s also of sorts, off my chest. I’ve said in a nice way what I have noticed, he knows I’m here and recognize when he’s struggling, and I don’t walk on eggshells around PTSD symptoms anymore. So it really can be beneficial to both people when you get to the point of that type of communication. Again, it takes time!

Building your knowledge of PTSD and it’s symptoms, learning to communicate and work together, knowing when to back up or pull them closer are all a huge help, and a lot of trial and error. Just understand, and I am purposely repeating myself here, it does NOT happen overnight! Life changed when PTSD became a part of it, it takes time to re-learn how to manage things now, so you can find a healthy balance for both of you as well as you as a couple.

And if Craig and I can do it, so can you! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

“PTSD hates me”, said with a grin.

“PTSD hates me”, said with a grin.

I remember the days of tears, heartache, and feeling that I had lost my husband to this thing called PTSD. It was the most horrifying feeling as a spouse, I could ever experience. It brought so much anxiety, hurt, anger, and a battle that seemed like it was one I would never win.

As PTSD grew and placed it’s claim on my husband, the arguments, the misunderstandings, the loneliness, the pain grew right along with it. The man I loved and knew so well seemed to be gone! I remember the feeling of my heart shattering into a million pieces, with no one and nothing that could put it back together.

I felt so alone as I watched this thing called PTSD rip my husband from me. I felt defeated, I was worn out, and nothing was normal anymore. Our world was shaken not just stirred, and it felt like life no longer existed.

I remember debating if I should just walk away, the feeling and actions that this thing called PTSD was not only taking him away, but was killing me. I died a little more with every word, and every action that PTSD was throwing at me.

Then one day I looked at myself in the mirror, and I realized this person I was looking at was NOT me! PTSD was defeating me.

Everything I was doing or trying, to reach my husband was not pulling him back, it was pushing him further away into the hands of PTSD. As I stood there and looked at myself, thought about things for a long time, I realized that I loved my husband too much to allow PTSD to do this to either of us.

I thought to myself, I have a choice to make. I’m either all in or I’m all out, of this life that now contained PTSD. Then I thought to myself, the old me is a fighter not a quitter. I had to give it another shot, I could not just let go of what I knew deep inside my husband and I had together. And I knew I could not give up on him!

I realized that day that the battle I had been fighting was actually against the man that I loved so deeply. I was fighting him, when the battle was actually PTSD. I changed how I was doing things, and the words that I would speak. I no longer fought back when my husband would try to battle me, my fight was not with him… It was with PTSD.

I learned real quick that I had to learn about PTSD in order to know how to battle, it was like I had been going into a gun fight but only with carrying a pocket knife. I had to have the right tools for the battle, if I stood any chance of winning against PTSD.

In all of the chaos PTSD was bringing, I started educating myself, looking for and talking to others that already knew this battle, I started creating tools of my own, and I started listening.

When I started listening to the words and anger that came from my husband, I realized it was not in a sense him, it was PTSD. But through what PTSD was saying and doing, I could hear and see my husband’s cries for help, he was still in there, he was just masked by PTSD.

I realized that he was so lost within himself to PTSD, that PTSD was not a battle he could fight alone. It had taken him so far away that he was losing his own battle, and he needed me.

My hurt, anger, loneliness, and pain I turned around to focusing on the “why” to everything that PTSD was throwing at us, and figuring out what things could be done differently.

Today I can grin and say “PTSD hates me”, when PTSD brings it’s battles before us. It’s battles are no less than they were back then, it still tries to shake life up, it still tries to pull my husband away from me. But my heart has been pieced back together, I stand the strongest person today than I have ever been, and I have the tools it takes to face PTSD’s challenge… and I can face it with a grin.

Today WE stand strong together. We have learned the right tools for the battle, and we are now the challenge… to PTSD.

Find the tools needed for this battle, stop battling each other when PTSD is the real battle. Learn about PTSD and the why’s to it, those why’s can lead you to the tools needed. Learn to communicate, learn to listen, take care of yourself through the process, and don’t lose sight of who you both really are. PTSD will try to take that away from you, don’t allow it to. Even through the roughest challenges PTSD can bring, you can make it through them, and come out stronger than you were before. You just have to learn which tools will work best for you. And one day you may be the one saying “PTSD hates me” with a grin, because you are the one challenging it and taking your life back, with a new normal.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Category: Caregiver/Spouse/Partner, Uncategorized  Comments off

The person who wears the mask called PTSD.

The person who wears the mask called PTSD.

Is a person who has seen and experienced things no human should have to endure.

Is a person who suffers through intense emotional pain, which weighs on the mind and the soul.

Is a person who relives their traumas, their brain will just not let go… even when not wanting to hold onto those memories.

Is a person who no longer drifts through life with ease, every day brings a new challenge, and takes every ounce of energy they have.

Is a person who feels lost within themselves, as the mask shelters them from their true being.

Is a person who knows the meaning of safety, so powerfully that keeping it becomes an excessive need to protect and take caution.

Is a person who knows alone, and many times will battle in silence.

Is a person who may carry much guilt, shame, negative thoughts and feelings of themselves, or even the world around them.

Is a person who may view themselves as a burden, a failure, useless, that others are better off without.

Is a person who knows the face of death, thoughts of, and the challenge it is… not to give into it.

This is the same person that…

Is a person who cares about others, not wanting to let anyone down.

Is a person who knows love deeply, though the mask does not always allow it to shine through.

Is a person with strength, more strength than any person should have to experience.

Is a person who will stand up for another, no thought of doing so needed.

Is a person who will not turn their back away from another that needs help.

Is a person who does not place judgement on others, they know what judgement brings firsthand.

Is a person who respects life, in a way that only they can understand.

Is a person who is intelligent, carries wisdom that is beyond what most people have to offer.

Is a person who knows how to stand back up and still step forward, when life brings them to their knees.

Is a person who this world would be truly lost without them… If only they could see that through the mask of PTSD.

Life becomes an everyday struggle when PTSD enters it, and becomes a lasting part of it. PTSD does not make one weak, it forms the strong ones, that can make it through anything life brings. PTSD can make their life feel like a very dark and lonely place, please show them there is still a light, there is still hope, and they are still loved beyond what PTSD will allow them to acknowledge.

To the one with PTSD…

I will never let go of you. I will be one to help give you extra strength when PTSD brings you to your knees. I will offer you my hand, my patience, my understanding, my love, and will help guide you when needed. But I will NEVER let go of you! Do NOT give up on yourself, you ARE stronger than PTSD! You bring so much meaning to this world, to life, and to me… NEVER give up, never give in to PTSD, take my hand and hold on!

We WILL get through this life together… you are not alone!

 Love, Me

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

Category: Letters to use for Others, Uncategorized  Tags:  Comments off

PTSD and Building a Stronger Relationship: Part 2 “PTSD changes in negative thoughts/feelings vs Relationships”

PTSD and Building a Stronger Relationship: Part 2
“PTSD changes in negative thoughts/feelings vs Relationships”

After my posting regarding PTSD and “Negative changes in thoughts and moods or feelings”, I wrote on Oct. 11th (it’s on my page if you missed it), I have had many questions coming to me regarding how this part of PTSD effects relationships and what are things that one can try to help with or do regarding this part of PTSD.

Unfortunately, this is a part of PTSD that not only effects a person as an individual, but can really effect a relationship. The changes in the way one views things, people, and even themselves, well… It can cause changes in a relationship as well. But like with other PTSD symptoms, it is something we can work on!

Spouses/partners, you are going to play a huge role in this! We do not want a spouse/partner walking on eggshells, but at the same time the way you act, respond, or word things will be very important. Life changed when PTSD joined it, and with that we all change in ways. With that, the way we manage things and our own views has to change. But this is by no means a one way street. There are things that BOTH people in a relationship can do or try that may help.

**Just to note: I am not a doctor of any medical field, the information and opinions I share are based on what we have personally experienced, our knowledge, what has helped us or others, and what others have communicated with me regarding. Not every situation with PTSD will be the same or the same things help in every situation. If you have an emergency, crisis situation, or need professional help PLEASE contact a crisis helpline, contact your doctor or call one. This page and it’s contents do not replace professional help.**

You are going to notice I’m dividing the following up into sections, but in reality they all flow together and are important.

* Communication Complications

One of the first things that you want to think about is, “How is our communication?”

When PTSD causes one to experience negative changes in thoughts and feelings (which partners are not exempt from negative thoughts either, it can be one of those vicious cycles), this is going to play into communication complications. You might notice arguing or increased arguing, things may be taken in a different way than they were meant, how a partner is viewed may be totally different than the way they were viewed before, things may be said that never would have been said by that person before, etc. All of these things can be a part of what those PTSD negative changes can cause. In other words, a good possibility (your “why”) to these things happening.

Once there is a break in communication, things seem to just go downhill from there. So what are things we can try?

The number one rule Craig and I use is, do NOT jump to conclusions! That is going to be one of the hardest steps to master, so do not get discouraged if it takes time! It will not happen overnight, but is something you both can work on.

To keep from jumping to conclusions, especially when something sounds “off base” from what would normally take place or be spoken, ask questions! Try to keep the defenses down, take a deep breath, and ask your partner in a calm fashion to please explain why they feel that way, why they did that, or what do they mean? It’s not to make one feel bad or look/sound stupid (oh I hate that word) or uneducated, it’s simply what may help get to the root of the why and/or decrease misunderstanding or mis-communications.

PTSD can cause one or a spouse/partner can be, quick to view themselves in a negative way and/or take things personally. By slowing down and asking questions, it can help with communicating in positive ways. You cannot forget that PTSD likes having it’s hand in things, so to speak, so you want to find ways to work through things and understand each other without PTSD taking control.

Wording is going to play a huge role also. AND accepting when one or the other person needs to change the way something was worded! Again, it’s an easy slip of the tongue for things to be blurted out, and/or things to be taken personally. Allow for corrections to be made without jumping straight to conclusions, or hurt feelings.

Some examples which may help, for either partner:

“I am taking what you said as… Is this how you are meaning it or am I misunderstanding you?”

“I think PTSD is messing with us right now. Can we stop for a moment and collect our thoughts so we do not argue/fight or misunderstand each other?”

“I know that is something you would not normally say to me. Can we slow down for a minute, so we can talk (calmly) so I understand why you are feeling this way?”

You can even agree to step to other rooms apart for a few minutes to calm down if need be, then agree you will start the conversation over.

“I think you may not have understood what I was meaning. Can I explain it in a different way so we understand each other?”

Learning to create a pause as well as how to word things can be huge steps in battling the negative thoughts or feelings when they come.

* Taking things Personally and Self-Esteem

This is a very large part that comes with life, when PTSD is a part of it! For BOTH people! When things are taken personally it weighs on the self-esteem. Oh the self-esteem! How you view yourself AND how you think others view you.

It is hard enough managing how you feel about yourself, but then what others think or you believe they think adds into it. It all plays on one’s self-esteem no matter where it is coming form. It can also effect all areas of self-esteem, which can effect different parts of a relationship other than what we have already talked about.

*Intimacy and Trust

What about intimacy and trust? Yep, I’m going to tip-toe there just a little here! (This will be another complete topic in another posting at a later time.) This is one of the largest subjects that comes to me. Any level of intimacy is how two people show they care about each other, that there is a connection, a bond… and is something that PTSD does step into the middle of at times. PTSD comes with avoidance, numbness, and again all of those changes… negative thoughts/feelings.

Things get taken wrong, people view themselves in negative ways, people start feeling like they are just not good enough for their partner, cannot please their partner, thinks their partner deserves better, or may think incorrectly about how their partner actually views them. OH NO! NOT a good thing or place to be in a relationship at all!

Those negative thoughts and feelings, as well as taking things personally are a real part of life with PTSD. They cannot be avoided in all situations. Why? Because negative thoughts and feelings are a symptom of PTSD. That in many cases can cause a situation with intimacy… of whatever level.

In my opinion, I think this is where trust really has to step in. We know what PTSD causes, we know it can effect both people and their relationship, and the best way to battle this one is with trust. Which is another part of a relationship that PTSD likes to mess with.

PTSD does not allow one to let their guard down very often, the things it brings to a relationship can cause a partner to be the same way. It is easier to build a wall, be on defense, and protect yourself from hurt feeling that hit the heart, than to let that guard down. Craig and I have a saying for this, “You have to take that wall down one brick at a time.” I can pretty much guarantee that every single person that has experienced life with or beside PTSD, has built a wall at some point.

Your partner is the one there (or you may be single right now but have a new relationship in the future), they are the one that chooses to stand beside you, both of you chose to live this life together. You have to re-learn to trust each other. If Craig and I can do it with the things we have been through that effected our relationship, you can too.

Not by any means taking or meaning this lightly when I say this, I’m saying this sincerely… Taking the chance on that person standing beside you, removing those bricks one at a time, and re-learning how to trust each other again… Cannot be as bad as what your trauma and/or PTSD has already caused you, and the two of you as a couple. Give each other a chance, even if it’s one brick at a time.

When your partner, either one of you, gives a compliment or says something with love, start building that trust by accepting it whether PTSD or what you have been through wants to accept it or not. Talk to each other, listen to each other, and learn how to communicate. Do not allow PTSD and life with it, take away from you what you really do have together. There are many ways of turning those negatives to a new normal of positives, don’t let go of each other through those changes.

The battle really is PTSD, not each other.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Category: Personal: Marriage, Dating, Uncategorized  Comments off

What are things you can do to help prevent becoming overwhelmed?

What are things you can do to help prevent becoming overwhelmed?

The fact is, when PTSD and/or other disabilities enter your life, whether you are the one with PTSD or the spouse/partner, life changes. Which leads to you changing how you do or handle other things.

I use to be one that cleaned the entire house on Mondays. Did all of my paperwork on Tuesdays. All the laundry on Fridays… etc, you get the point.  Each day had something assigned to it. But when all of the new normal stages of this life stepped in I found that it was not always possible to stick to the schedule I had always done before. I found myself becoming overwhelmed or not having enough energy to complete everything in one day, like I use to do.

What does that lead to? Things that needed to be done not getting done! Everything started piling up. As that pile grew, it at times became overwhelming and just not possible to complete. The larger that to-do list became, the harder it was to complete it and even look at or think about. So things had to change. 

* To-do lists

These are awesome to have, however can cause you to feel overwhelmed, exactly what we are trying to avoid! I found that if you are one that really needs a to-do list, breaking it down into sections helps greatly!

You can break it down into lists of must do priority, then everything else by the amount of time you believe it will take… Important must do, Quick list, Time consuming, and Full day projects. Then each day pick things to do by the amount of energy you have and time available, around appointments, must do schedules, and how PTSD or other disabilities are that day.

* MAKE and TAKE a day off!

How often do you see a job that works a person 24/7? It’s not healthy! No matter what you do, whether you work, are a caregiver, a stay-at-home parent/grandparent, etc, you NEED a day off.

By making a day that you can place everything to the side for that day, it helps you keep your balance, have focus and energy, and helps you from becoming overwhelmed. It’s healthy and in everyone’s best interest, especially for yourself. Taking one day a week to just be, relax, do something you enjoy… can make a huge difference in positive ways!

* Mix each day up

This is what I have personally found works best for me. At the beginning of each day, I choose which chores/things I need to do each day based on the energy I have. I make time to go outside, “me time”. I have my must-do things. I choose something I enjoy and want to do or work on. Etc.

I have found by doing this, it helps me maintain a healthy balance. I get a little bit of everything accomplished but do not become overwhelmed. And, that is with taking care of Craig full time… it IS doable!

* Ask for Help 

There is nothing wrong with asking others for help! No one person can do everything by themselves without feeling overwhelmed or worn out. You would also be surprised at how asking someone else to help you can bring a positive self-esteem to another person at the same time.  Now that is a 2 for 1 deal!

If you have children around, let them help! Not only does this help you out, it teaches them as well. It also helps build their own self-esteem and creates a bond between people! Things that are very important for children when PTSD is a part of their lives as well.

* Accept when things are not perfect

I have noticed over the years of this life including PTSD and from those that I communicate with, it’s very easy for a person (normally the spouse/partner) to try to make everything perfect. In reality, OCD type symptoms may form due to this. Life is not perfect, and it’s very easy for you to overwhelm yourself with trying to make or keep everything perfect. Give yourself a break! It does not mean just let everything go, it simply means to accept that no one is going to do or be perfect all of the time.

* Preparing Meals- What can be one of the largest challenges.

You HAVE to eat!!! Preparing meals can become tricky to accomplish if you are so overwhelmed each day with the things you are trying to accomplish. By the time dinner comes, you are worn out, “spoons” are all used up, and then you face that dreaded question, “Oh my, what are we going to have for dinner?”

A huge help…LEFTOVERS!
When I cook, I make sure I cook enough for leftovers and/or enough to freeze for another time! Of course I’m not one that seems to be able to cook for only one meal anyway lol.  By cooking larger amounts when you do cook, you have the option of getting a day off tomorrow from cooking, and/or the option of freezing prepared meals to have on the busier days or days there is just no energy to cook.

Freezing prepared meals is a favorite around here. They are also handy when there are picky eaters or different likes of foods in the house. Each person can choose the meal they want and you know they are still getting a healthy, home cooked meal.

Crock-pot meals are also good! The recipes that are available now are endless, and you start it then can move on to whatever you have to do during the day and know you will have dinner ready when it’s time for it.

Another option if you are not one that cooks or need that break from cooking, are fresh or frozen prepared meals or easy fix meals. The frozen ones may not be quite as healthy as a fresh or home cooked meal, but you have to eat and there are many out there that are really good and a balanced diet. We use these as well and I catch them when they are on sale, honestly you can not cook for the price of these at times. So these can help if you are on a tight budget also. Most grocery stores also offer hot cooked meals that are also another option.

Another thing you can do is toss in a take-out night. These are handy when you were planning on cooking and it just did not seem to happen.  That last minute decision for take-out can save the day! Just be cautious to the cost, it can become quite expensive if you do this too much. I actually budget in a few nights of take-out each month from my grocery budget. Come on! Who doesn’t like pizza night! 

* Coping Skills

Oh you knew this one would be in here.  Coping skills can help everyone! Craig uses them, I use them, even our children have been taught and use them. They help bring a balance and can keep you from becoming overwhelmed!

* Positive support

A must have for everyone! Do not try to go through this life alone. Talking to someone you trust can really help you! Whether it’s a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a professional, talk to someone! At times even talking to a complete stranger or someone that understands PTSD can bring a positive type of support. Keeping everything bottled up inside can be extremely damaging and cause you to become overwhelmed. It’s healthy to just let things out at times!

So these are a few things that I/we have found help prevent us from becoming overwhelmed. Find what works best for you, the key is find and do something! Being overwhelmed is one of the worse feelings you can experience, it can easily cause you to become stuck… NOT a good place to be, and it can really play negatively on your health as well as your relationships with others. Find ways and things that bring you balance. 

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

PTSD and Building A Stronger Relationship: Part 1 “Life needs- Understanding the basic steps/levels in life”

PTSD and Building A Stronger Relationship: Part 1
“Life needs- Understanding the basic steps/levels in life” 

In order to work on one’s self and/or building a stronger relationship with others, we need to start with the basics of what is “needed” in life.

What are “Needs”? These are the basics of psychology and life itself. I think it really explains a lot when it comes to PTSD and why so many are, well… lost within themselves, and relationships are taking a hard hit from it. Your balance in life, either of you, and what you have accomplished to this point has been thrown off track, so to speak. In reality that is exactly what has happened.

PTSD is known for being a roller coaster, a term that describes it so very well. You hit every twist, turn, dip, high point, low point, upside down and then some, then go through it all over again when PTSD is a part of your life. But, I also believe that when you have some idea of what is coming, the best possible knowledge you can that is, then the ride becomes a little more easy to understand. In order to be able to help yourself, to help someone else, or even your relationship you have to understand what is actually going on. So hopefully this will help!

So what are needs? Not wants, not things that are optional for living, but the must have needs for life in general. Don’t let me lose you here, I’m getting to a very important point with this. 

Now I will say, there is debate that level/importance of needs can alter from one population to the next/community, area, between if it is war time or peace (this is NOT only related to military, just to note that here), etc. Some category parts can parallel each other, and some can fall into different levels depending on the circumstances, but the ultimate need in life seems to always be the same. Again, don’t let me lose you here, this does relate to what happens when PTSD is a part of your lives.

So keeping that in mind, here are the original 5 stages of “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” from basic needs at the top to most important at the bottom…

* Biological and Physiological Needs 

Air, Food, Drink, Shelter, Warmth, Sex, Sleep, etc.

* Safety Needs 

Protection, Security, Order, Law, Limits, Stability, etc.

* Belonging and Love Needs 

Family, Affection, Relationships, Work group, etc.

* Esteem Needs 

Achievement, Status, Reputation, Responsibility

* Self-Actualization 

Personal growth and fulfillment: expressing creativity, helping others… desire to give to society, pursuit of knowledge… achieved when all basic and mental needs are essentially fulfilled.

SO, now that the basics of psychology needs, are out of the way, now lets add those to life with PTSD. Told you I was going somewhere with that. 

You have PTSD in your life now, both of you most likely had accomplished all of the steps above, had reached the fulfillment of self-actualization, the actual top of the pyramid, the grandest place in life. Then somewhere in life something happened, a trauma. Resulting in PTSD.

What just happened to all of those steps you had accomplished? I can tell you what happened, you both just got knocked off your feet and right back down to the bottom basic steps. Maybe the effects of PTSD cost one their career, maybe you lost your home, maybe you worry about how you will feed your family, sleep… oh how PTSD effects sleep. Sex, yes I’m listing that one too, some are probably grabbing onto it with a vengeance or don’t want any part of it at this point! Which comes with PTSD and all of the symptoms, and in some cases medications, it can bring. And the list goes on. (And just to add it in here, this does NOT make you a failure! Even though I know that is a true feeling. To me, a failure to anything in life only comes when you never try.)

Stop and think about it. Where do you and/or your partner sit right now? What level of basic life needs are you or they at? Have you ever thought about that before? The answer is probably no! And if you have, I bet there’s a good chance you are sitting right there dwelling on it, stuck… another part of PTSD that can happen. There can be just too many thoughts jumbled up together and trying to survive and sort through them.

Your thought might be the here and now actions of what you are experiencing with no understanding of why you are experiencing them, the psychological root to the why, besides the obvious… PTSD. Whichever level it might be, I am sure PTSD has a hand in where you are sitting, as well as being able to make it to the next step… which you can do! It is just going to take a little more than you were use to… for BOTH of you!

Spouses/partners, have YOU yourself taken a step back, looked, and thought about any of this? It’s easy to lash out or back and say this isn’t fair or stop treating me this way. But trust me, that does not solve anything and can make matters worse. What are the triggers? What is causing one to feel the way they do? What is making YOU feel the way you do? Find the why to whatever is happening and you can find what works best to take the next step.

If you are lacking intimacy in your relationship, the big one that comes with PTSD, a large part due to the negative thoughts or feelings that are a real part of PTSD. Instead of dwelling or complaining about it, find it in life’s steps and then find what is missing, find what’s preventing your partner or even yourself from reaching that step, and be supportive to help each other reach it.

If social interactions are missing, again find that step in life’s needs and look to see what’s missing so you can make it to that step. Life changes when PTSD is a part of it. Your social calendar is not going to look like it did before, but that does not mean you cannot work on things and figure out what works to help with different symptoms and situations, as well as individual needs, so you can get something back the two of you may be missing.

No matter which level a person is on, you really need to be considering the “why” to it so things can get better, for both of you! And make sure you yourself are finding those steps as well.

PTSD can and does knock a person down, even both of you, it’s just a fact. But that NEVER means you can’t bring yourself back up! I could sit here and go through every single step above to life needs, but they are pretty clear, and pretty clear to what is needed to reach to ultimate goal in life, even with PTSD… Take one step at a time. But in order to do that you have to understand the basics of order when it comes to needs.

Work towards building yourself back up. So you got knocked down, so what, just because you got knocked down does not make you less human, PTSD does not decrease one’s intelligence level, PTSD does not mean a relationship cannot work or improve, and PTSD sure does not mean life has to end. We all know that PTSD has it’s ups and downs, the PTSD dance as many of us call it… one step forward two steps back. But you don’t stop taking those steps.

Each of you and your loved ones are equally important in life. Each of you deserve a chance, understanding, and to make this new life with PTSD the best it can be. I stand strong behind my saying, PTSD affects “the best of the best”, the ones that are strong, taken everything thrown at them, and continue to survive each day that comes even though PTSD developed. If you can do that, then you can accomplish many of life’s basic needs. It’s just going to take that extra strength, time, patience, and understanding to do so. Don’t ever give up on yourself or your loved one. You both are worth more than that!

I know many of life’s basic needs are being trampled on right now. I know many are suffering more then normal, and a lot of worry and stress have been added to what you already go through. And the difficult times are far from over. But don’t give up. Life has changed, and starting over is never fun, experiencing that step back and having to step forward again can weigh on you, but it does NOT make you or your loved one a failure, it does NOT mean that step forward will not come, it just means life has changed and focus needs to be placed on building it back in a different way.

Please take the time to understand that life does in reality have and needs a balance. It takes work, communication, coping, and working together to make that balance happen. Take the time to care, take the time to view what others or even yourself may be struggling with, and work towards that next step to things getting better. PTSD is not just going away, but your life and relationship can improve from where it may be right now. And be one that offers positive support in the process, it can change a life, save a relationship, and even save a life!

~Bec
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