Anger or Outbursts

Anger or Outbursts

Let’s be real! We ALL know these two things can come with PTSD. We also know that the person they come from does NOT mean to take them out on others! So let’s go over some things that can help when or if these times do come. Knowing things that can help ahead of time can change how things are handled during these times.

I have to add this in  I’m not a doctor of any sort, just a spouse who has experienced what comes with PTSD, so I can not give medical advice and if you have or are in an emergency situation please contact a professional NOW. The following are my opinions, what has worked for us or others.

Things to try:

* Retreat.

There is nothing wrong with going to a room away from everyone when you are angry or could be verbally or physically harmful to others. By retreating away from everyone, to a safe place for you… mind you, it helps keep conflict down, allows you time to cope and regroup your emotions without others “chattering” in the background. Once you calm down and are able to cope with the feelings you are experiencing, then you can return to being around your family/friends.

Now, partners/family/friends. If you see someone retreating DON’T follow them! Let them have their space to cope and calm down. If they are retreating from a situation they are doing what is in the best interest of everyone! Give them their space! The ONLY time you would have to intervene is if you know they are intending or showing signs of harm to themselves.

* Make some signs.

You might think this is silly, but it works! Make them ahead of time so you have them exactly when you need them! It could be for your personal space, for your front door when you don’t want visitors, anything! When you are angry, words are only going to sound hurtful and that silly little sign could mean a lot more.

Some examples:

“PLEASE give me my space right now. I love you and will be out once I am coping better”

“I just need my dog right now but I do love you and will be out shortly”

“I don’t want to take this out on you, please give me some space to cope for a little while”

“No visitors today, sorry. I/We will catch ya later. Thank you!”

“No visitors today, ONLY deliveries may knock/ring. I will see all others later. Thank you!”

Signs are wonderful to use! They allow you to voice yourself in times when you may not be able to nicely. And by following up your message with the positive note of you will see them later or come out once coping also gives others the piece of mind that you just need your coping time and it’s not personal against them. 

* Punching bag.

You think I’m kidding lol, I’m serious! If you know you have anger that gets out of control, especially on things or people, get a punching bag to hit away at instead of venting it on your loved ones or things you have worked so hard for. This allows you to vent but at the same time saves the heartache of what comes later if you vented anger on a loved one or things. Direct your anger to the bag and not other things or people. This can help you as you learn other coping skills that can help and you might just find out that one day that punching bag isn’t needed anymore. And if you don’t have one or are unable to get one, a pillow can work just as well.

* Stress Ball.

Those hand size therapy balls that are squeezable. When you feel anger escalating start using one. It may seem simple or as if something so small could not help, but you might be shocked at what it can do. And if you are one that throws things, until you learn to cope and not throw things, these little balls could save a lot of damage from being done. Throwing things at times is a form of venting anger so until you learn to control that anger, if you are going to throw something due to the anger reflex, throw something that won’t do any damage. BUT work on those coping skills so the throwing things can go away. 

* A pet.

Okay I’m going to be pretty serious on this one, you HAVE to have enough coping skills on this one so your beloved pet is not in danger of you harming it!!!

Pets are miracle workers! They love you unconditionally, they don’t talk back… well lol, not in human voice, and they would do anything for you. Pets also have proven to reduce blood pressure and are a help to many different responses of the human body.

You don’t have to have a well trained or specialized animal to use an animal for coping purposes.

BUT, you do have to be able to understand NOT to take your anger out on that animal. If you know you could be a harm to your pet do NOT take it in the room with you, wait until you calm some to bring it in. Here’s what you can do… once you stop pacing, which when angry most people do, sit down or lay down and wait for your pet to come to you. That animal will know when it’s safe to approach you, so don’t force it to come to you.

It’s body language gives you a neon sign to what you are feeling rather you can see it in yourself or not. If your anger level is still too high you can tell by the way that animal responds or does not respond to you. Focus on that animal and nothing else! Watch it, look at how it is acting. Really study it’s body language and think about it or even talk out loud about how it is acting or ask yourself why does it tuck it’s tail or why is it wagging it’s tail. Animals can tell you a lot if you focus on them, and they don’t have to say a word. You don’t want your pet to be scared of you, it loves you and you love it. Put all of your focus on it. Before you know it your focus on that pet will help reduce your anger and your pet will come closer and eventually to you where you can pet it. And you have done nothing but focus on that pet.

Then there are those animals that nudge or follow you when they sense you are upset. Again, DON’T take anger out on them!!! However, yet again, focus only on that animal, they are trying to tell you something! Let them calm you, focus on them but do not lay a hand on them or yell at them. Focus on how and why they are acting the way they are.

Once your pet comes to you, pet it. And keep petting it. Petting an animal will reduce stress and anger and again, reduce blood pressure. Animals can give a great form of teaching you to cope better with what you are feeling. And they don’t mind if you cry on them either.  After anger, many times the tears will come and I promise you a pet will not tell anyone if that happens. 

* Writing.

Okay, I’ll be honest, as good as it is to write and vent in that way, if you are extremely angry writing may not be where your focus is going to be and throwing that pen and paper might be a more factual response. With some, writing when angry helps, with others not. So that one is up to the individual. I can help to write your feelings and emotions down even after the fact though, or when you feel it building.

* Take a walk or do something.

Ladies are known for cleaning house in full gear when they are angry. Any type of physical movement that is not a harm to others can help release anger. Do something that is not destructive.

* Sleep.

This one is doctor approved by the way. If you are having a hard time coping with anger, go lay down away from everyone. You might be shocked at how you can actually fall asleep when angry. It’s the body’s way of saying “okay enough, time to rest”. This is one of the easiest ways to put anger at bay. And when you wake up, one you will be more rested, and two you can in a way start the day over. If sleeping is what it takes to cope, there is nothing wrong with doing it, and at any time of the day. Your anger might have actually stemmed from lack of sleep in the first place. 

* Listen.

If someone tells you you are acting “off” or off balance, listen to them! They are not being mean or attacking you, they are pointing something out before it escalates. They are giving you a warning so to speak that it’s time to use coping skills. Take note of what others say. And to others, SAY IT NICELY! Don’t say things rudely to where you are going to set their anger off!

* Professional help.

This one is a given.  Many times it takes an “outsider” to help you though things and how to better understand yourself and what you are going through. Don’t toss that to the side when it can help you learn how to manage symptoms.

* Coping skills.

Oh learn them and use them! They can help! Rather it’s music, a hobby, breathing exercises, exercise, meditation (which has MANY different forms you can use anywhere), anything that can help you keep balance in the way you feel or how you handle those feelings when they come. And this does not only go for the one with PTSD, spouses/partners YOU need to learn them too!!! When everyone in the family learns to cope and learns how to keep a balance it makes things A LOT easier!!

To say the least, as always, these are only a few things that can help. No matter what you do, learn what works for you and keep trying new things until you do find something that helps.

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

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