Many people just do not realize how PTSD affects your life.

Many people just do not realize how PTSD affects your life.

Last night Craig looked at me and said, “I wish I could have just one morning where when I wake up you are still asleep next to me. I miss that.”

The only thing I could respond with was, “I know. I wish the same thing. One of these days it will happen again.”

Those were the last words spoken last night. And here I sit across the room from him, with coffee in hand, listening and watching PTSD nightmares.

The things that so many people take for granted, simple things, at times are just purely impossible when PTSD is a part of life. Even though we never give up on trying.

I was asked, “You always stay on a positive note, even when things are bad or rough. But, besides the obvious, what other things have changed in life since ‪‎PTSD‬ became a part of it? The negatives.”

That’s a hard one for me to answer, but I will. I do like to focus on the positive things, and positive ways of managing this life. We have to or PTSD will take over our lives more than what it already has.

Here are a few things that changed due to PTSD:

***To state up front, none of this is in any way being disrespectful towards my husband or what he goes through (love ya babe), it’s simply the realities of what has changed in life.***

* Having to learn and accept that our lives have changed, the way our lives were is gone, and accepting that disabilities are a part of life now. We work hard every single day to make each day the best they can be, but that does not bring back the life we had.

* The example I gave. Nightmares/terrors do not allow us to sleep together or only for a limited amount of time each night. Safety has to come first, which takes away being able to wake up together. It takes away that closeness.

* Personal Connection. We do love each other dearly, but the personal connection has greatly been affected, mentally, emotionally, and physically. PTSD brings with it a disconnection, numbness to feelings and emotions, avoidance, and more, they do weigh heavily on a relationship, even the strongest relationships.

* Personalities. Oh yes they do change. The photo collage I posted of Craig not too long ago bluntly shows the changes in him. I as the spouse/caregiver, well, I had to take on a more serious role. Life is not just foot loose and fancy free, do what you want to when you want to. Life now contains much more responsibility. For both people it’s like having the person you were, the person people used to see, trapped inside of you and that old you just can’t come out, or not nearly as often.

* Roles change. That was a huge change for us. We each used to have our certain roles, what each of us did or were responsible for. Craig does what he can, but majority of things are up to me to accomplish or make sure things are taken care of. Disabilities do bring a lot of role changes, it’s no longer the old mindset of the man does this and the woman takes care of this, that cannot be a mindset in this life.

* Being able to sit in a restaurant, or any type of “date night”, and when we have in the past PTSD is always scanning and watching everything and everyone to the point it is not enjoyable. IF we do leave the house it’s pretty much for must do appointments or during off hours to when other people would not be out and about.

* Being able to watch movies away from home, not happening. The 12 years Craig and I have been back together we have not seen even one movie in a theater, something we used to enjoy doing. Dark room, crowds, strangers, not happening.

* Traveling. We were known for traveling much more than our age group at the time normally did (We were in our early 30s back then). If we were not working, we were traveling. We loved it! Without having an RV, where he has his space, his things, and a familiar place to retreat to, traveling has not been possible. Hotels are not an option, we have tried and PTSD is on high alert and he can’t sleep in unfamiliar places, especially with hotels having strangers walking by or out and about so often, and strange noises.

* Social Circles. The once social butterflies became wrapped back up in a cocoon. We have many social media “friends”, some being old friends from our past (love you all!), but friends as in get together and do things with, hang out, get the families together… there are not any. The last friend to visit us was a dear friend from my high school days which came from out of state with another friend and they stayed a weekend with us, that was two years ago this July.

With PTSD and depression, it makes it difficult to make plans, keep schedules, or do things away from our own home, which makes friendships difficult. People do have busy lives and things with their own families to do, work, etc. and hearing “Not today” or “We can’t make it” only lasts so long before people just stop calling or wanting to be around. Some could not handle how PTSD is, and the changes it has caused, and simply walked away. We don’t blame anyone or hold grudges because of it, it’s just what does happen when life includes PTSD.

As the spouse, my social circle is our neighbors, when I am outside and they happen to be too.

* Our children. We have four between the two of us, now ages 20, 15, 14, and 13. I have to say we have honestly gotten lucky with them. I say lucky because not all children are able to have or form the relationship and understanding that our’s have. Children can be greatly affected by PTSD, many are. So yes, we are lucky.

They are social, well adapted, do great in school, and are your typical funny and enjoy life teenagers. But making sure they have and had a healthy balance in life, emotionally balanced, did/does take much more than what a family without disabilities has to do. They have to be taught differently on top of normal parenting.

We have educated them from very young ages, on age appropriate levels of learning, about PTSD. It has for sure paid off! They love dad dearly, they do not view him in any negative way and do not hold any grudges or discontent towards him. They do understand that he is always here for them, that he loves them and they are the world to him, but at the same time there is a lack of physically being in the same room much of the time or having a lot of time with him. They know to enjoy the time they get with him. Quality vs Quantity, quality of time is what means the most. It has to, because PTSD does take time away. But when he spends time with them, he gives it everything he’s got, every ounce of energy possible, to be a great dad.

My 20 year old is actually my respite care person, so I get breaks to take care of myself. He knows every aspect of how to take care of dad (step-dad) and understands PTSD and Depression, what to do or needs to be done, better than anyone who does not live with us. When growing up with a parent with disabilities, children mature much quicker than kids normally do, because life and rules are different. But, in a way it has formed a closer but different type of bond, they would not give their dad up for any other dad or the world! He is the world to them, all four of them.

* Work. We would both love to be able to say we “are heading to work, see you later”. We were both work-a-holics before PTSD and other disabilities. We miss it. Not everyone with PTSD is unable to work, however my husband can’t due to the conditions that come with his disabilities, and he requires a full time caregiver, 24/7. I am lucky in the way that I can be his caregiver, however neither of us are able to work due to his disabilities, life drastically changed for both of us. When we see people complaining about having to go to work, we see it differently, nothing against them of course, but we wish we were the ones able and capable of heading out that door each morning… like we used to do.

* Life goals. We had our lives planned out, lol. I mean planned, budgeted, right down to every t crossed and i dotted. I was a dog trainer and he was an air traffic controller by career and private pilot. He was going to complete his 20 years in the military, then he wanted to work airport management, and we were going to purchase this little RV park in Tennessee, run it during RV season then during off season I would work Search and Rescue dogs and he would be our pilot to get us to where we needed to be. Our two professions and loves in life went very well together. Those things are just not possible now.

Life goals changed, now we just hope that one day we will be able to purchase another RV and he will be able to travel again to some extent, to get him out of the house and to be able to take back a small part of our lives that meant so much to us. What was once a mission to do SAR, to help people, now is a different mission of sorts, I am hoping that it will be a book signing tour, still with the goal of helping people, just in a different way than what we had planned. It’s a life goal we have set even though we know it’s going to be a hard reach.

So those are just a few of many examples of how life changed when PTSD and other disabilities became a part of it. The one thing I/we have learned in this life among many, many things, is you can’t focus on the negatives or all of the time, or this life will swallow you and there won’t be any sort of life. You take life one day at a time, one step at a time, and you give it all you’ve got. You have to!

I will close with this,
“PTSD is a diagnosis, it’s not a definition of who a person is, or who either of you are.” Sure life changed, drastically changed, but life still continues, it’s just different now.

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