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Anger and Frustration… they are PTSD symptoms.

Anger and Frustration… they are PTSD symptoms.

I asked Craig a long time ago to explain to me what the anger feels like to him. It’s something that is really hard to explain to others but I think Craig found a way to explain what anger and frustration with PTSD are like, that is the best explanation I have ever heard…

“It’s like the anger and frustration are just sitting right there, under the surface, at all times, just waiting to come up for air” -Craig

Anger is another one of the hardest things for others to understand. A person can be, or “seem” in reality, okay then what seems like out of nowhere… there’s the anger exploding out of the water for air.

The reality is the anger was there all along. The one with PTSD was just being able to manage it or keep it at bay… was able to cope with it. For many with PTSD, the battle with controlling and managing the anger and frustration is a constant fight within themselves, for others it may come and go as it builds then decreases some.

When anger surfaces, it most likely seems directed at a person or an object. This is NOT something that is purposely done. It’s not a contious thought of “I’m mad, I’m going to throw this glass against the wall”, for example. Most likely that glass just happened to be what was there when anger could not be managed any longer. The outburst, release of anger, is a reaction to the symptom.

Anger can be triggered. A trigger is something… a place, smell, touch, sound, vibration, ANYTHING that pertains to any of the body’s senses that brings back the thoughts of and relates to the person’s trauma. Even the weather can be a trigger if it relates to the way it was at the time of the trauma. Anger can surface right away when a trigger presents itself, or it can build then come to the surface with an outburst.

Anger is a real symptom of PTSD. It’s going to come sooner or later, and each person may experience it in different ways.

So what can be done when it does? MANY THINGS!

The FIRST thing always, make sure safety protocol of some type is in place. For the one with PTSD as well as others. No one wants anyone to get hurt!!! But the reality is, it can happen.

Anger that comes with PTSD is not the same, so to speak, as a person who is an abuser, even though if nothing is done that is exactly what one may become until they get help. Abuse unfortunately is very real and it can be in the form of physical or mental abuse. Anger with PTSD CAN be managed so abuse does not happen, or stops happening!

Learn and use coping skills! I will preach this one to you because I have seen with my own eyes how well coping skills and techniques CAN work if you practice and use them on a regular basis.

Craig himself use to have outbursts of anger. He would never touch another person (thank you survivor’s guilt and the true person he has always been!) But he could sure throw things or hit things, and he could sure throw some nasty tones and words. Anger has never gone away for him, it’s still right there just waiting to come to the surface, but he learned what works for him and how to manage it.

Yesterday was an anger day for him. I as his spouse have learned the signs of when anger surfaces, and I have learned how to respond or NOT respond. We both have to do our part when anger symptoms come.

I could tell by his body language, his quietness then when he spoke the tone that was obvious he was fighting to control. I watched the frustration throughout the day, how he would sit in a chair, then lay on the bed, then go out to the boat and tinker on it, then repeat. How unsettled he was, like his skin was just crawling and he could not get comfortable. I saw that PTSD glare when he did not want to do something, like eat. Simple things that are a part of daily routines. I heard him complain about having to take medications. Patience was not something the day consisted of for him. Those are all cues that anger is trying to break the surface.

It was a day that his personal space was needed and the only conversations were ones he started. I sat here and worked on writing, did my stuff around the house, spent one on one time with my daughter, and just gave him space. I could see what he was battling, I could see him working hard to cope with what was obvious he was feeling. So I just kept things calm around the house all day, and did not push any expectations onto him. With him working so hard to cope, coping is where his focus needed to be. Late last night he finally said to me, “I have been so angry all day.” I simply responded, “I know. I love you.” Then he replied, “I love you too.” Then he opened up and talked about how he was feeling. And I listened.

And we made it through the day without any outbursts or negative words.

It took us a long time to understand what works for us. It does take time to figure out what works best for each person. With Craig it’s taking a nap if all else fails. But he does pretty good these days with using coping skills and preoccupying himself with something that keeps him busy. He also avoids other people when anger comes, it’s just a precaution so harsh words do not surface that he will regret later, avoidance… another very real PTSD symptom that can also work to your advantage at times.

For me as the spouse, seeing the signs that anger is surfacing and knowing his limits during those times have been the keys. Giving him his personal space to cope, even if we are sitting in the same room. Avoiding deep or heavy topic conversations that could give PTSD the debate or fight it wants, is a huge help. Not pushing for expectations during those times, helps. Not over talking to the point is causes him to be overwhelmed with static noise, as I call it. I just simply allow him to focus on himself.

We do have code words/phrases of sorts also, for times he does not recognize his symptoms are increasing. It does not take much, just a simple, “I can see you are struggling today with [symptom]”. No deep conversation, no pointing out everything he’s done or doing. Just a simple bringing his attention to a symptom I notice. That’s worked well for us.

These things have made life with PTSD SO much easier. When he’s ready to talk, he will. Just like last night, he opened conversation with telling me his struggles of the day. And I don’t take those types of days personal. I use them to do things for me, things I like to do, things he would not normally do with me. It gives a balance and keeps him from feeling like he needs to be doing something else. It leaves his focus on coping, as well as opens myself for a little me time and self care.

It does take time, lots of trial and errors, a ton of patience, but anger is something that can be managed. Don’t expect it to go away, but work on managing it and learning ways to cope through the symptoms. You just have to find what works best for you and your loved ones. Don’t give up on yourself or your loved one, even if things are really rough right now… it can change and get better then where things may be at this moment.

Now, take a deep breath, yesterday is behind us and today is a new day. Try something new. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

PTSD… The Give and The Take

PTSD… The Give and The Take 

This is a little different then what I normally write but I felt there needed to be a clearer, more blunt, picture for those that do not understand what PTSD and living beside PTSD is like.

**This is by NO means meant to be disrespectful or hurtful in ANY way to anyone living with or beside PTSD!!! Just to make that point clear up front. Craig and I both are in the shoes ourselves. This is just simply to bring a real life view of PTSD to OTHERS that do not understand. If you are one that is living with PTSD, and some of the following applies to you or your loved one, NEVER give up because things CAN get better then what may be at hand right now!!! Craig and I have worked hard, and continue to, and we are proving things can change for the positive.  ***

Life changes when PTSD becomes a part of it. I’ve written MANY things about it, I educate others using our own life experiences and what has helped us get through the tough times, how to still live life, how to still be your own individual, a better couple, and family, and everything else that comes with it.

But what about the Take and Give? (Reversed on purpose)

What changed? 
In reality, many things have changed since PTSD became a part of life. What PTSD has “hidden” or “masked”… I don’t actually like the term “taken” away. But also what it gave to us.

The things that many that don’t live this life have a hard time grasping.

Real life with PTSD…

Every morning when my husband wakes he looks for me. Very rarely does he find me laying next to him in our bed, like normal couples would be, like it use to be for us. My arm is not there around him or his around me. There’s no waking up together and looking into each other’s eyes first thing in the morning, there’s no good morning kisses, no cuddling before our day starts. He never wakes with that handsome grin of his on his face like I use to see every morning.

I watch him as he opens his eyes and looks across the bed at my empty pillow. I see the look on his face when I’m not there beside him. A look of sadness, a look of despair, and the guilt.

Then he looks across the room to my chair, where he knows I will always be when he wakes. I smile and say, “Good morning.” His first words are normally, “I guess I ran you out of bed again?” My response is normally along the lines of, “You don’t need to ask, it’s really okay.” Then it leads to him saying, “I wish you could sleep. I wish these nightmares would go away. I feel so tired. I assume since you are sitting over there I had a rough night?“.

I take a deep breath, not wanting to answer that question again, like I have to every single morning. But he needs to hear the answer, it can’t just be left alone, PTSD won’t allow it to just be left alone. It does not matter how I word things to avoid or get past that question, it’s still there. He has to know what the night held.

The truth… 
PTSD was there and it brought the horrors of his trauma in the form of nightmares and terrors throughout the night, active nightmares. I cannot touch him, I cannot comfort him. I have to ground him (bring him back) to time, place, and who I am from a distance.

PTSD took away our mornings and the relationship closeness that comes with waking up together and being able to stay a full night in bed together.

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I did not say that. That never happened. I did not do that! You’re lying!” Those are things I have heard in the past, a real life fact that still exists even though we have learned now how to manage these things. Those things brought arguments, unsettled feelings towards each other, and things that no couple ever wants to experience, should not have to experience.

Those things caused friends to walk away. They caused work to become impossible, and clients to disappear. They cause family to become quiet, because they honestly don’t know what to say or do. Luckily we have strong family support rather they understand or not, many do not have that.

Memory, cognitive dysfunction, and dissociative symptoms are a very real part of our lives. It’s not that he just forgot or does not want to talk about something, it’s not that he is avoiding conversations or situations, or purposely picking a fight. It’s not that he does not want people around. It’s not that he does not want to work, because he would give anything to have those things back.

PTSD took away large parts of his memory, concentration, and focus. Things of his life every day that should be memories, do not make it to long term memory. They just slip away. PTSD stole or hid memories we lived and enjoyed together years ago, as well as what he lived for himself, and it continues to do so still to this very day. But that trauma that caused PTSD, for him it never goes away.

To see someone look at photos, and have no memory of special events, happy times, real life events. Then ask did that really take place?… That’s what PTSD can cause for many.

All of this leads to avoidance. One does not want to look or sound stupid, they don’t want people to view them as a liar when in reality they are not lying, they are telling things exactly as they recall or think happened. They don’t want people saying “You already told me that.”

PTSD causes life to become lonely. In many cases it takes away from a person the ability to share stories with your children or grandchildren, to be able to share the good times as well as the bad experiences. It can also take away the ability for one to rely solely upon themselves. Things that people have always been able to do. PTSD steals or hides a part of one’s life.

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I just can’t do that today.” a very real to life phrase. For several years I watched my husband sit in his chair, not being able to bring himself to exit the house or many days not even our bedroom. The longer there were delays in treatment (not our doings), the worst he became. Depression also at hand which is very common with PTSD. He had no interest in living life to it’s fullest, like he use to. He felt like a failure who had let every important person in his life down, as well as our country. He has survivor’s guilt, linked back to his trauma due to those that did not make it home. The strong man I knew so well since I was 16 years old, was sitting in a chair with no view of a future left for himself.

Suicidal thoughts are very real with PTSD. With all of the symptoms at hand, one loses sight of why they should live, they just want the pain from the horrors they experienced to stop. They start viewing there is only one way to make the pain go away.

I will never forget sitting next to the bathtub that he was sitting in, him wanting his life to end. Myself placing photos in front of him and talking to him for hours, telling him and giving him every reason he HAD to LIVE.

I feared things that I never thought imaginable for our lives, but they became real life very quickly. I feared one day I would walk in, and he would be gone from this earth. I am VERY thankful we made it through those times, but I am never blind to what PTSD can bring.

PTSD brings fear of dying, as well as living.

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My social butterfly. I watch him try his hardest to be the social butterfly he use to be, but that part of him is so deeply hidden within the symptoms of PTSD that we have not yet uncovered it. He tries, he will put that mask of a smile on his face and try to make it out that front door. He tries to be normal, he tries to be the person he use to be. PTSD has a way of “masking” the true person one is. Avoidance and triggers become a huge part of life when PTSD steps in. They prevent one from doing the things they use to find so easy to do.

It’s taken years of hard work and treatment for my husband to make it out that front door just one time per week, but we are there! A HUGE positive step! Once we are back home all of those PTSD symptoms he worked hard to keep in check while out, just flow back in. I watch the energy it takes for him to manage them, the space he needs after each trip outside, I see the reality of how hard one has to work to simply try to live some type of normal life. I see things that outsiders don’t and won’t see. I see not only the struggles but I also see the effort, the strength and will power to still live, and every small step that comes from it. I see things that most people take for granted being able to do, but yet to one with PTSD and their family are now huge steps in life and accomplishments.

We no longer have date nights, the crowds are unbearable. If we go out it is during off times and during the week when less people are out. Sit down dining out is only once or twice a year, if that. There are no more going to parties or large gatherings, things people enjoy doing. We use to throw some awesome parties, something we enjoyed being the social butterflies we were. Those are things we had the joy of experiencing in this lifetime, but only the future will prove if we will ever get back.

We have been back together for 11 years now, and have not seen one movie in a theater. Closed dark rooms full of strangers is not settling to PTSD. Of course I won’t complain at all on that one, look at the money we are saving lol. But seriously, it’s something that others experience with no hesitation, that has been deleted from our lives.

PTSD masks and takes away normal from one’s life.

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I watch across the room as my husband’s legs shake, how his hands trimmer, how he chews his nails until there is nothing left to chew. Things he never did before. I watch the worried look fall over his face. I watch him sit quietly like the world is sitting upon his shoulders. I listen when he speaks, many times I have to ask him to repeat himself because I cannot make sense of what he is trying to tell me. The words get jumbled up or they are slurred to where I cannot make them out. I watch how he tries to do things so quickly that he drops things or things are not done the way he use to do things. Then other times it’s like he is frozen in time.

Anxiety and the “what if’s” PTSD brings. The brain never slows down until it hits overload, then everything stops and one has a difficult time functioning. The brain majority of the time stays on high alert to everything and everyone.

One worries about making right decisions, doing things right, not letting others down. Everything becomes overwhelming and many times causes one to shut themselves away or pull away physically and emotionally from others.

PTSD causes one to honestly feel they need to protect themselves, even from loved ones.

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I could honestly go on forever with real life examples. But I hope these few bring a small view of what PTSD is like. Many people wonder why one will not just snap out of it, get over it, move on with their life. Those are very easy things to say, but very very difficult to accomplish. PTSD does not just go away. It comes from experiencing a real life trauma that was so bad that it just does not fade from the memory, it relives itself constantly. It does change a person. Many people wonder why the suicide rate is so extremely high for PTSD, I hope this gives you a sample of, an idea to why.

Unfortunately, not every person will survive PTSD even though we work hard to change that, not every family will stay together, not every marriage will survive. PTSD is not easy, it’s just a hard fact.

But, I’m by no means going to leave out the other part to this life!

PTSD may bring so many serious life changes to ones with it or living beside it, but there is more to it.

I have been writing publicly about PTSD for just over 3 years now, since I reached out in hopes to finding answers to the changes in my husband and this new journey in our lives. Living this life for 11 years now, knowing it was PTSD at hand for 6 years.

I have found that ones with PTSD are SURVIVORS! Their spouses/partners are SURVIVORS! They are the “best of the best” and some of the strongest, most caring people I have ever met in my lifetime. They are the ones that do fight every day to make it to the next, they are the ones that do not take the simple things in life for granted, and they appreciate life in a different way then others. Life means something, family means something, friends mean something… those things are not just words that fall off one’s tongue. They may have trouble with showing how they care through PTSD symptoms, but if one digs deep, it really is there.

Even through the numbness, frustration, anger, resentment, fears, and symptoms PTSD brings, when one works through all of those symptoms each day, and finds what works for them as well as their family, they may not find the person they use to be but I am seeing with my own eyes something greater! People who DO have a purpose in this world and life. People who DO care about others! People who are helping each other in ways that are just unreal and positively supportive! People who are valuable and have the knowledge to help others.

No, PTSD is not easy to live with or beside and it is constant work. Life does change, things in life change, but it does not mean life stops! Some things may come back, others won’t. None of us would wish PTSD upon anyone. BUT… I see a lot of good things happening too!

People who have PTSD do NOT deserve to be shunned by stigma, tossed to the side like trash, ignored by those who use to be close to them. They are still human beings and they can bring a meaning to life that others just have not had the life experiences to bring. Sometimes, they just need to be reminded that they DO matter and a positive support system is urgent!

If you are one that does not understand PTSD or what a person or family actually goes through each day, I hope you stop and take the time to learn. I hope you learn how you can be a positive support person in their life. If you don’t, it’s really not their loss, it’s going to be your’s. Please stop the stigma and take the time to learn.

Life has changed for us, we have lost a lot due to PTSD, our relationship is different then what other think a relationship should be, but this life is not all about bad things, there’s good with it too, it’s just different then many consider normal. 

I see the guilt on my husband’s face every morning when he sees his nightmares caused me to lose sleep. As much as I hate him feeling guilt, it does actually show in a different way he cares. We may not be able to have date nights like others, but he watches movies with me at home and we have one on one time, we re-learned how to communicate and have formed a very strong relationship… even through all of the symptoms. He is a VERY good father even though he cannot manage things other fathers may do. He is highly respected and loved by our children, and they all call him dad and are proud of him. He works hard to manage his symptoms so they do not effect others… that’s a man who cares even though it’s a different way of showing it. I could sit here and list things for days. My point is, yes PTSD changes one, yes things are different now and not called normal by others, but sometimes you have to look through the symptoms and the not so normal, to see what is actually there.

There is still life with PTSD.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

PTSD and the Reality of it…

PTSD and the Reality of it…

This is one of the most crucial and critical topics we can discuss! Unfortunately, it is a topic and conversation that many people put off. Many people get into a mindset of…

Oh their PTSD is not THAT bad for us to have to do that.” or
Oh they cope just fine…

There is nothing worse than a crisis starting, or has already happened, and hearing “HELP! I don’t know what to do, this is what is happening…” or “If only I had done this…” or “I had no clue what was/is happening or what to do…“.

Folks, let’s face reality… we are talking about PTSD! 

PTSD is NOT something people should be fearful of! Just to state that upfront in a very serious way! It is however something you need to have knowledge about! Knowledge to know what to do, when to do it, how to respond in different situations, and how to manage things BEFORE something serious happens, etc. And the knowledge to understand that no matter how mild or severe you think one’s PTSD is, you never dismiss PTSD is in reality at hand, at all times.

PTSD can come with many different types of symptoms… flashbacks, nightmares/night terrors, frightening thoughts, anger, frustration, dissociative symptoms, concentration issues, cognitive dysfunction or memory issues, hyper arousal/being startled easily or feeling on edge, high alert, anxiety, avoidance, numbing feelings, loss of interest in things one enjoyed, depression, isolation, guilt, survivor’s guilt, suicidal thoughts/tendencies, etc. etc. etc.

Now, is this something that you just blow off or sweep under a rug? NOT on your LIFE or their’s! LITERALLY!!!

Spouses/Partners, keep in mind I am saying this with love and because I care about EVERY single one of you! But I have a bone to pick with many of you that I hope you take to heart, someone HAS to say it! So I’ll be the bad guy on this one and hopefully you will be thankful I said this later…

Many of you just simply have not been around PTSD enough to have the knowledge yet, you are still learning, so this will hopefully be of help. Then there are some others, well, you are tossing to the side reality. Whatever the reason or where you stand, I hope this helps! 

YOU need to, have to, step up to the plate when PTSD symptoms escalate! For yourself AND your partner’s BEST interest. (Family members or friends this could go for you too) There is nothing worse to me then hearing about a crisis at hand and a spouse saying, “But he/she will get mad at me.” REALLY??? Reality check, they have PTSD, most likely they are going to get upset or mad anyway if their symptoms are escalated, that’s a part of PTSD. BUT isn’t them getting mad or upset at you better then someone getting hurt OR you having a funeral to plan! REALITY! Fact is, they may get mad or upset up front but I can pretty much guarantee they will thank you for helping, later when symptoms decrease.

When a person is experiencing escalated symptoms, most likely they are not going to be able to think rationally, they are not always going to know what they need to do for themselves, and if they are in a flashback… well that brings a whole new ballgame, they may be physically there but in their mind they are completely somewhere else, and to them you may be someone else! They are right back to that trauma. If you sit back and do nothing, well, sooner or later it’s not going to play out as a pretty picture.

YOU are their spouse/partner! YOU are their support person, they rely on YOU rather you realize it or not, rather they say it to you or not, when PTSD causes them not to be able to rely on themselves. PTSD is NO joke! They did not ask for this, they do not do these things or act these ways on purpose, they are NOT out to purposely harm anyone or hurt someone’s feelings. PTSD is what happened to them! Even a person who has milder symptoms and/or has learned to cope very well can backslide into severe symptoms from time to time, and at any point in time! It only takes one trigger.

As a spouse/partner AND/OR as the one with PTSD… you need a plan for the worst case scenarios that could happen! Again, don’t say “that won’t happen“, if that’s what you are doing you are being blind to reality, have not truly accepted PTSD is a part of your life yet, or simply have not learned enough yet.

Oh yes, before I go any further here… I did not say exactly what this conversation is about, because many of you would have skipped right by this if I had said this up front.  It’s about safety! Safety protocol… as Craig, myself, and our family calls it. Putting a plan together, and knowing in advance how to handle situations when they do come. It’s PTSD, situations will come sooner or later. With every ounce of love, heart, and caring bone in my body I have to offer… THIS is a reality check!

Now that that is out of the way and hopefully I have your attention… 

What are things you can do in advance to help everyone when PTSD symptoms escalate?

* Emergency contacts

Do NOT wait until there is a crisis at hand to dig for phone numbers or ask people who you should contact! Make a list of emergency and crisis line phone numbers, addresses, even print out maps of how to get there!

When a crisis comes, you are NOT going to be able to focus clearly or may not have the time to dig for information. Make that list NOW! Hang it where everyone can get to it or see it in your home. Save info to your phone, carry a print out with you at all times.

* Medications/Weapons

This is urgent! PTSD as well as depression and survivor’s guilt DO in reality come with thoughts of suicide. Even if you have never heard a person say they have thought about it, reality is I personally have never come across a person with PTSD that the thought has not at least slipped quickly through their mind at some point in time.

PLEASE, I will beg you on this one! Use safety in your home! Lock those things up!

Weapons: I am NOT saying a person cannot own weapons or have a means to protect themselves, so please do NOT even start that debate here or it will be deleted, I believe in rights. But I also believe in being responsible and using safety precautions when owning weapons. I mean let’s be serious here, many with PTSD were or are military, law enforcement, or grew up knowing and understanding weapon safety… if anyone knows about weapon safety it’s THEM! Many others have experienced a personal attack and do have the right to protect themselves. So I am simply stating to have safety in place so when PTSD symptoms escalate no accidents happen.

Another thing I have actually heard of several cases of, and do want to bring to your attention are nightmares/terrors and weapons. When one is having a nightmare they are back to the time and reality of their trauma. Weapons under a pillow or beside the bed can be a safety issue during nightmares. It needs to be taken seriously! Even a person that is more than safe while awake, may experience things out of their normal during nightmares/terrors. I have heard of one confirmed case where a person committed suicide during a nightmare. PLEASE be cautious to reality.

Medications: Lock them up! It is an overall safety precaution for ANYONE that enters your home! Many people have children and/or grandchildren, friends with children that visit, even pets in the home. It also keeps PTSD from turning to medications as a way out when those suicidal thoughts come AND/OR accidentally overdosing when memory and/or concentration are at hand.

* Abuse

Unfortunately abuse can happen. It can come with anger and flashbacks with PTSD. PLEASE have a plan in place. No one purposely abuses another when PTSD symptoms are at hand, but it can happen. Make a plan together! “If a symptom escalates to this, we will do this…”. Spouses/partners, IF you have to leave a home due to abuse taking place, safety does come first… but for everyone!

PLEASE do not leave your PTSD partner alone! Have someone that the two of you AND the designated person have agreed upon go and stay with your partner! At least to just have someone present on or just off of the property until the symptoms decrease. Many times once a spouse/partner leaves, the one with PTSD can experience many different thoughts that could lead to self harm. No one wants this situations to happen! Make a plan ahead of time!!!

DO NOT be one to cry wolf! We all know where that gets a person and you won’t be taken seriously when something may indeed happen. There are many ways to talk one down from or manage anger or VERBAL outbursts. (See my postings regarding anger and outbursts and PTSD and Anger… some things to try which may help BOTH people and by all means talk to your doctors!) If you are being yelled at when PTSD symptoms have escalated, that is NOT physical abuse! There are many things one can learn to help manage verbal outbursts.

I know verbal abuse is very real, I know it can be very scary, as well as cause mental harm. Learn what to do for these situations even if it’s something as simple as saying “I’m going to another room so you can cope with your anger. If you need me I am here.” and remove yourself from the situation. Calling law enforcement every time one with PTSD (only) yells at you will eventually be taken as a non-serious situation. You do not want this to happen.

* Emergency Situations

If emergency responders are needed, contact them! It’s not the time to say “oh he/she will get mad at me”. TALK about this ahead of time! IF you have to call law enforcement or medical help, PLEASE tell them the person has PTSD AND how to approach them correctly so symptoms do not escalate even more than they already will, as well as you are not putting the one with PTSD OR the emergency crews in any unknown to them harms way, especially during flashbacks. Do NOT allow someone to walk into a home blind to what is happening! You can save a lot of extra stress and heartache by keeping everyone properly informed. And I will tell you right now, law enforcement is sent in as “get the situation under control”, it’s their job. ANY and ALL info you can give them BEFORE they get there will be of help to both them as well as the one with PTSD!

* Children 

I have written several articles regarding teaching children and safety. The largest mistake, in my opinion I see, is a parent who causes children to fear a PTSD parent. Many times a parent will allow their own fears or opinions roll over to their children. Many times conversations happen in front of children that are NOT for little ears. This is mentally damaging to a child, their personal development, as well as their relationship with BOTH of their parents.

TEACH children on their age levels what to do in different situations, TEACH them about PTSD on their age level of learning, TEACH them coping skills they can also use. You want your family to form and maintain a healthy balance. That balance only comes when everyone knows safety protocol and learn about life with PTSD. Children are still learning, they have not developed stigma yet, YOU can make a huge difference in their lives as well as others by simply teaching them about PTSD and how to live life with it, just as you would teach them anything else in life they need to learn.

* Focus 

Many people lose focus in escalated situation. BREATHE! As a spouse/partner these are the times that your focus is needed the most! Do not over react to the situation, focus on how to help or what needs to take place to get things back to a manageable level. These are the times that you have to focus so you can use everything you have learned and the things that could help BOTH of you. What you do, how you say things, even your body language will matter.

      
From time to time I do have to get serious about certain topics, this is one of those times that it is urgent and serious. These are just a few things of MANY that can be of great help when symptoms escalate. PLEASE do something now. Use this basic information to build a plan for you and your family. Don’t wait until things are out of hand to try to figure out how to handle a situation. I know you won’t always have the answers for every situations, no one will every time, but what you do now can sure help you and your entire family when situations do come. Please don’t dismiss the reality, embrace it and use it to your advantage so you are prepared. Again, PTSD is not something to fear, knowledge brings balance. 😉

Much love to ALL of you! You’ve got this, you CAN do this, it’s simply communicating and making a plan. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook Page

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

Let’s talk about PTSD and Anger…

Let’s talk about PTSD and Anger…

Anger is a huge topic with PTSD… in other words you have been warned this will be a long posting. I am breaking it up for easier reading. 

One who has PTSD can be seemingly doing okay, then what seems like out of nowhere BAM! There’s that anger or high frustration. When this happens most likely something has triggered PTSD and/or possibly one has become overwhelmed.

Anger, frustration, and outbursts ARE symptoms of or do come with PTSD. They are very real and majority of the time do get taken out on those closest to them or whomever is right there at that time. It’s not done on purpose, anger is a response of what PTSD causes.

This is one of the most difficult things for a spouse/partner to handle, or to comprehend it’s not actually personal towards them, even when words spoken makes it seem as if it is. It leads to the arguments, fights, unsettled feelings, and also many times gives PTSD that fight it’s looking for. The “fight or flight” which also comes with PTSD. You guessed it, that one trigger sends a vicious cycle into motion.

I learned a long time ago arguing with someone who has been triggered or in heightened levels of symptoms, or anyone that’s angry for that matter… is just not worth it. They are not going to always view things as rational… how could they? They are now in a high alert, high anxiety, hyper arousal mode. Many times, survival mode! When one does give into the fight, normally later it’s nothing but tears and hurt feelings towards each other.

After the fact, the one with PTSD many times is truly sorry, feels guilty, or may not even recall what took place. Ever have an argument or disagreement then notice the one with PTSD later acts normal like nothing ever happened? Bingo, right there is why. It’s not that they are pushing what happened to the side, it’s that the state of mind PTSD caused was at hand.

When anxiety and other PTSD symptoms go up, including stress, concentration and the brain processing things can go down. This can prevent things that happen from making it into long term memory. Memory issues, cognitive issues, and concentration are not directly stated symptoms of PTSD, but they are VERY real with PTSD, and anxiety itself.

Okay, so we get the why now. But what can we do?

Without learning how to manage the arguing, fighting, or the stress and conflict that comes with it, sooner or later it will mentally effect both people, and sure does not help relationships. This is when that good ol’ trial and error comes into play. You have to try something!

A few days ago I shared an old posting of mine “Anger and Outbursts” which shared several different ways of learning how to cope with anger. Yes, there are ways to manage anger, it’s not going to make anger go away, anger is a PTSD symptom, but it can be managed better. It does not mean the same thing will work every time for every single situation, trial and error.  And you keep trying.

Craig has always best described anger as “floating anger”. As he says it, “It is right there, all of the time, laying under the surface just waiting to come out.” It’s one of the symptoms he has learned to manage pretty well. Sometimes it takes more effort then other times, sometimes I will step in and calmly prompt that a situation is becoming too much, overwhelming or stressful, time to step away from a situation so he can focus on coping.

The largest thing I personally found that helps as a spouse, is simply listening AND watching how I respond or word things, as well as when I respond can help. It does not mean I just sit back and take it! I don’t. But my choice of wording etc. can help anger be managed, and find ways to calmly help in order to allow the feeling to be managed.

Many times when symptoms are high, one does not realize how they sound, how things come across to another person. Many times it’s a build up of trying to hold everything in and it vents out, other times it’s triggered.

Now, just to note here, flashbacks are a totally different subject! One needs to be grounded if in a flashback. We will talk more about those another time. This is not relating to flashbacks… only anger, frustration, and outbursts.

Over time, Craig and I found that body language really breaks through PTSD more then words, even though I learned how to word things and those work also with him. All I have to do now when I see he is becoming frustrated or angry is sit back, raise my eye brows a little, and give him that “okay, I’m listening” female look.  Even if he does not realize how PTSD is causing him to act, that look cues him coping skills are needed NOW. Arguing is really a thing of the past with us, but the PTSD symptoms have not gone away, we have just learned how to manage them. 

So, other than body language, what are some of the things we have come up with that help?

You start with tone. Speaking when anger is present, your tone is everything! If you are snappy, bitter, have a raised voice, or toss anger OR hurt feelings back, you will most likely get the “fight” with the anger. It takes a calm tone in my opinion, to break through what PTSD is causing at that moment. As I say it  (figure of speech), this is when you really have to “bite your tongue” and do not lash out, back towards one. You focus on your tone, your wording, and your own coping skills.

I found that even telling myself, “This is PTSD. This is not him.” helps me keep focus, keeps things from being taken personally, and allows me to look for what will get through to him. It keeps over reactions down as well. In reality, it’s in a way forcing a sort of dissociation in order to be able to cope and help him through an anger state. I’m right there, I’m listening, but at the same time I’m maintaining my own balance so I can help him.

I get asked quite often, “What do you say when anger comes?

Now, keep in mind, every person may respond differently! It is trial and error to find the words that work best for each individual. I will say that over the years I have learned to notice anger very quickly and we have learned how to get it managed before it escalates. Craig has also learned to notice the symptom and feeling of anger when it starts to increase, and manages it very well with coping skills. But it was not always that way.

NOTE: I am not a doctor of any sort, these are things from our personal experiences that have simply helped us. I am NOT giving medical advice and if you are unsure how to handle a situation or what is best for your situation please contact your doctor or local crisis hotline.

How I, or we, word things for different situations…

Personal Situations/ One on One:

“I notice you seem angry. Do you need some time to yourself to use your coping skills?”

This one addresses what I am noticing in a caring, concerned tone. At the same time it is presenting an option or prompt that coping skills are needed.

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“You seem frustrated. Do you want to talk about it?”

If talking is an option this is where listening and not over talking or giving too many personal views as a spouse takes place. You don’t want to add static noise when you are addressing anger and frustration. That could lead to “fight”. You are simply allowing one the option to vent and communicate.

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“You seem like you need some down time to unwind. I’ll be in the next room if you need me.”

Again, it’s prompting that you notice a symptom is escalating. It’s allowing personal space to cope. But at the same time it opens communication in case one is wanting that, it’s not just one walking away.

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“What’s on your mind right now? Is there anything I can do?”

Straight forward in a calm tone. Prompts one that you are noticing something is bothering them and opens up a line of communication.

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What became the golden line for us in the past…

“I know this is PTSD talking this way, you do not talk to me like that.”
Followed by, “I am simply listening to you.”

VERY calm and level tone! That line was our original breakthrough. It was the first thing that ever worked for us to break through the anger and arguing. I would wait until he said “Why aren’t you saying anything!” or something along those lines, you know… PTSD looking for the fight. It was a pause and I used my response to break through to Craig through his PTSD. I always waited for that break/pause in the anger before I would speak. No arguing back! It’s not something that happens the first time, it takes time and you keep trying, repeating it, but this worked for us.

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Outside Negative Influences:

There are times in high stress situations where anger will rise and I will step in to help manage it if in the situation Craig cannot focus to recognize it. Normally these times are based around outside negative influences such as… Someone brings on high stress even when told not to or “that’s enough”. Someone tries to start an argument or becomes verbally out of control themselves first. Or someone stepping beyond personal boundaries such as the stealing from us episode we experienced a few days back.

There are many outside negative influences that can trigger PTSD anger.

I have become rather quick to tell others when they are bringing on too much stress or triggering anger. Some of the following things Craig uses also. High stress can lead to anger. Unfortunately, some people love to push a person to see if they can set PTSD off. Many times these are the people who are not happy within themselves or with their own lives and they take things out on others or cause conflict… those with PTSD seem to become almost like targets for these types of people. Other times they dismiss the fact one has PTSD or they don’t understand it. So you have to be the one to take control of your boundaries when these situations are at hand.

Unfortunately, many times if there is a conflict the one with PTSD gets blamed simply because they have PTSD. It’s not always PTSD that starts things! Anyone can cause conflict, and anyone can have anger. Learning what to do for your best interest in these situations to manage/cope with your anger and the situation can help prevent blame as well.

This is when “flight” comes in handy.  WALK AWAY if possible! If someone is bringing on too much stress or triggering anger, or is angry themselves… there is nothing wrong with walking away from them and the situation in order to help control your anger or frustration. Even if it’s simply walking to another room until everyone calms down. Learn your boundaries.

Here are some things we have used for these situations:

“You are causing too much stress right now. This needs to be discussed at a later time.”

You are addressing what they are causing, prompting the conversation ends for now… in other words you are leaving the situation, but at the same time not dismissing that something needs to be discussed.

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“We need to be heading home”

Quick out without anything else needing to be said.

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“You are angry, we do not need to talk while you are this way. Let’s talk later”

This can be used by anyone really. One with PTSD can point out when it’s actually someone else that is angry. The one with PTSD is NOT always the instigator or “bad guy”. You are addressing it and at the same time avoiding you being the one who uses anger back. Then you allow the conversation to end there! Your points can be made at a later time when anger is down in both people. Very seldom do any conflicts get solved when two people are angry.

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There’s another thing that we learned years back that also helps greatly, especially if it is a situation where important information is included, needs to be remembered (keep in mind remembering things in any stressful situation and if anger is up, with PTSD, can be difficult!), but yet it’s a situation that could bring conflict, anger, or fight between people…

It’s called EMAIL! 

A form of communication where face to face conflicts, telephone/verbal conflicts, and anger can be avoided! You can type it out, save it to review later when your coping has been used and you can think without so much anger, proof read it, all before you hit the send button. Just keep in mind, once you hit send there’s no taking it back.  Email and saving emails can be a way of maintaining communication as well as remembering the important things… just use it wisely.

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There are many coping skills that can help with anger, there are many different ways to address or say things to help keep anger low or help manage anger. Learning to communicate correctly can help greatly! The things I mentioned are just a few of MANY!

Anger can be triggered in many different situations for many different reasons, hard fact is, life brings stress and conflict anyway. But, what you do, how you learn to cope and manage anger, can make a huge difference in positive ways. It’s not something that you learn to do over night, it takes time, patience, and a lot of learning but it’s well worth it!

Anger is not just going away. It does come with PTSD. But everyone can do their part to help manage it. I don’t miss the arguments and conflicts, it’s a part of PTSD that we learned to manage and things have become much better for us since we learned what works for us and how to properly communicate. Don’t ever give up on yourself, and don’t ever stop trying. And don’t forget, you are better and stronger than PTSD  Find what works for you, your partner, and your situation.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook Page

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

NOT everyone with PTSD is physically violent!

If you had the opportunity to explain something, anything, to a person who does not understand #PTSD and/or it’s symptoms well, something that would help reduce stigma and false information from spreading… What would you say?

Here’s mine:

* NOT everyone with PTSD is physically violent! 

Believing that a person with PTSD means they are violent or a threat to others is a HUGE misunderstanding about those with PTSD. Just because a person has PTSD, and PTSD symptoms include anger, frustration, flashbacks, and more, does not mean those things are out of control or not managed in all people. There are many with PTSD that would NEVER harm another person. Anger, frustration, and other symptoms CAN be managed and proper coping used so the symptoms are managed. It does not mean one does not have the symptoms, it means they have learned how to manage them so those symptoms are not physically taken out on others.

Many with PTSD also suffer from survivor’s guilt. Survivor’s guilt is when one lived but another person did not, and guilt of being the one who survived forms. Ones who suffer from this also, even in a high rage are unlikely to physically take the rage out on another person. High rage if not managed correctly might be taken out on things, objects, or even one’s self, but rarely and I mean rarely taken out on another person physically. Again, there are ways of coping with these symptoms when they do come.

Flashbacks. Flashbacks are when one with PTSD believes they are honestly reliving their trauma. They may lose realistic time, place, and even people present during a flashback and believe they are experiencing their trauma from the past, but to them it is presently taking place. To my knowledge, the only time a person with PTSD becomes physically violent towards another person during these, is when their trauma did include some type of physically altercation with another person.

However, flashbacks/the person can be grounded in majority of cases. A person can learn to ground themselves in many cases once learning the onset of symptoms and/or recognizing their triggers and learning how to properly cope when triggered. In other cases where this is not possible, it is important for those around them to learn and know how to ground them. Grounding is bringing one back to present time and place. This is normally done by talking to the person in a calm voice out of their reach, and telling them where they are, who you are, the time and date, and even letting them know they are experiencing a flashback. Repeating these things until they are grounded.

There are many, many, with PTSD that have worked hard to learn how to and do manage their symptoms well! Many maintain constant treatment in order to help themselves as well as those around them. Many have never become violent towards others.

Labeling someone as “violent” just because they have been diagnosed with PTSD is one of the most false and stigma related labels known to PTSD.

Having PTSD does not mean a person is “bad”, it simply means they went through a life altering trauma that maybe another person did not.

Before you indulge yourself  in the stigma, take the time to learn the FACTS!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

SAFETY! Which comes in many forms…

What would normally seem like the obvious, isn’t always obvious…

My daughter came home last night and she was just not her happy go lucky self. This morning same thing, so I talked to her. Over the weekend she found out that a friend of her’s was in a serious car accident and is in a comma, and if this friend comes out of the comma will need complete facial reconstruction. I won’t go into any more detail then that, but this brings to light some things that I think EVERYONE should always keep in mind.

I know this page is about PTSD and other mental disabilities/injuries, but this is something for every person out there, mental illness or not!

SAFETY! Which comes in many forms…

* If you are frustrated/angry, having an argument, overly tired, etc. DO NOT drive or even grab the keys to! It’s NOT SAFE! When in that state of mind you can not cognitively make good choices.

* If you know or someone tells you that you are not acting yourself, LISTEN, THINK, and take a break. Use your coping skills to get a self balance back!

* If you know you are angry/frustrated go to a room away from others until you are able to cope with what you are experiencing. This prevents your anger/frustration from coming out on others and at the same time allows you the time you need to manage your feelings/emotions.

* Rather your symptoms are mild or severe, which could be the one with PTSD, mental illness or not, and others in the home, have a safety protocol in place for your family. Basically, “If this happens we do this…” etc. Symptoms can change, increase or decrease, be prepared for when that happens. That goes for anyone. We are all human and experience these emotions no mater what level they may be.

* BE HONEST about how you are feeling with those around you. I’m feeling angry, I’m feeling frustrated, I’m feeling lost, I’m feeling depressed, I’m feeling sad, I’m feeling overwhelmed…. This helps those around you know how to respond, and/or give space, and/or know how to help. It also helps others know not to take things personally.

* Teach children/grand-children safety protocol. It is no different then teaching them anything else in life, and the skills you teach them can help keep a balance in your family AND a balance in the child’s mental health. It also helps to avoid triggering a person. Simple rules, that is all they are. Adults, you need them also! MAKE them and use them!

Example: “Don’t jump on mom/dad’s back without them knowing you are going to do it.” Then give an age appropriate reason so they understand why. “When you do that it startles/can scare him/her, like if someone jumps from a hiding spot and scares you. You don’t like that so we have to be careful not to do that to others.”

* Be cautious to little ears as well as others. Choose appropriate settings to have conversations, especially if there is a disagreement at hand.

* COMMUNICATE!!! No matter who you are, learning how to properly communicate and talk to others can help in many, many life situations. MAKE time for it!

* And pay attention! I know this is a busy world we live in, but learn to slow down and pay attention to others around you, pay attention to yourself, just learning and forcing yourself to slow down at times can make a huge positive difference in life.

These are just a FEW examples of things to think about. It does not matter if someone in your home has a mental disorder or not, SAFETY is important! Do not dismiss things that should be so obvious or that you may think are common sense. TALK about them and make sure everyone in your home understands them.

People are going to make mistakes, they are going to make bad choices at times, at times things will or can be out of their control, but what you do ahead of time and the plan you have in place can make a huge difference… And not only to your family, but to everyone around you or for those that know you!

Anyone can find a balance, anyone can use safety first, now it’s up to you to choose to. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Category: Life with PTSD: Symptoms, Uncategorized  Tags: , , , ,  Comments off

Increase in Anger and Frustration…

Increase in Anger and Frustration…

My question to everyone a couple of days ago on my FaceBook page was:

“I’ve noticed a pattern, so wanted to reach out further on this one…

Be HONEST! 😉
How many of you are battling anger and/or frustration right now? 

NOT only those with PTSD, everyone!”

I received an overwhelming amount of responses, both publicly as well as privately, which did back what I have been seeing over the past week or so. MANY suffering from increased anger or frustration. BUT, more came to light then only those two things! Which is exactly what I was looking for, the why. There is also a higher level of feelings of loss, guilt, hopelessness, and even resentment which seems to be a huge root to many having increased (from the normal level of) anger or frustration issues right now.

Part of my theory was we just had Valentine’s Day and that day seems to be the day of the year people reflect on what use to be, how people use to be, expectations, and compare those things to life now. Something that can play on a mindset in a very large way. However, I did have another opinion brought to me that also fit into this, we have all settled down from New Years, the resolutions… what has or has not been accomplished, the year moving forward. BUT, many are not yet seeing the positive changes they were hoping to see or experience for this new year.

Another large part that surfaced was situation of circumstances. Rather it’s treatment, lack of treatment, job related, lack of support system, and the big one, other people not understanding unseen disabilities.

All of these things are VERY real and seem to be a big picture view of why there are above normal levels of anger and frustration. All leading back to those very real base feeling of loss, guilt, hopelessness, and/or resentment forming.

Loss.

This could be a wide range of things causing this feeling of loss. The largest thing seems to be loss of who a person was or who you were, or the life that you had. This is VERY common with PTSD. It’s what I refer to as part of the mourning stage. Even people who have had PTSD as a part of their lives for years seem to be refacing the mourning stage. It can and does happen in many cases. Just like one with PTSD can re-experience symptoms over and over, mourning is no different, one can experience it again.

I am no different then the rest of you. 😉 I had a touch of this the other day. On my FaceBook page I shared that song I had heard, I took all of you on a small trip down memory lane with photos from our past. BUT, what else did I do? I turned those negative feelings of loss around. I focused on a plan for the future and how even though PTSD has done to our lives what it has, and it’s still here hasn’t gone away or decreased, I don’t allow myself to stay stuck in the mourning of a loss. I do face and remember what the past was like, I allow myself to experience those real feelings, but I also find ways to look at the positive the future can bring. Finding the positive helps you move forward as well as helps keep you from being stuck.

The other things I heard a lot about were loss of job or difficult time with or getting treatment. Even though these two things are separate situations, both of them can change for a more positive outlook. The key here is DON’T give up!

If it’s regarding a job, keep looking, that right job that is perfect for you will come along. I know it might not be in a timely manner that you need, and it sure does not help financially when that money is needed to live on, or you have to take a job you don’t really care for or a place where others just don’t get it, but don’t give up! There is something out there that is perfect for you, it might be in a totally different line of work then you are use to! You might discover something you like more and is better suited for you. Keep your eyes and mind open to different things. No matter what, don’t give up on trying.

Medical treatment. Another thing you just can not give up on! I know how rough it can be when you don’t feel you or your loved one is receiving correct treatment, or even none at all! Push for it, with every ounce of energy you have. If you are not getting it and you want it, you demand it… for lack of better words. If you feel you could be getting better treatment, then change doctors! Ha, we have done this before. 😉 You know what? It made a huge difference in a positive way! Don’t settle when it comes to treatment. It’s part of your lifeline and making sure you get to the best point you can possibly get to. Don’t accept anything less then what you know you need and is best for you!

Resentment.

This is one that spouses seem to have the most difficult time with. In many cases it starts with the loss, the mourning, as well as taking things personal, then it turns to frustration or even anger. Many times towards the one with PTSD. This can lead to your life, both of you, becoming unbalanced and things being taken out on each other. Take a deep breath and look at the big picture at hand. There is not a single person out there who asked for PTSD or any other medical condition. I know life with PTSD can become frustrating, and that frustration will, if you do not get a grip on it, roll over to including anger, them towards the one with PTSD and/or the rest of the people around you.

Resentment can form because of the changes in life, the weight of many more things being placed on your shoulders, again the loss of the life that was. Then the vicious cycle begins of PTSD symptoms going on defense and fighting back. STOP, take a good look in the mirror and face what this is doing to you and what is causing it. Remember that this is no one’s fault that life changed, stop pointing fingers or placing blame and remember you are in this life together, live it together, learn and use coping skills, get professional help if need be, and find the positive ways to get past the resentment so you both can work forward from this point. Things can get better then they may be right now! I know this for a fact based on how far we have come in our own lives. PTSD is not going away, but the things you do, the way you start viewing things in positive ways, and communicating and working together can make the symptoms and life so much more manageable. DO something.

Guilt.

This can come in so many different forms and for different reasons! Rather you have PTSD or not, guilt can play into this life big time. It can form from what PTSD has caused and to others, to guilt of taking time to yourself in order to cope, to everything in between! Guilt causes one to pull away from others and/or society itself, it can be damaging to relationships or family, it can cause people to stop taking care of themselves. No matter what the case may be at hand, work on things that can help you control this very real and extreme feeling.

If, for example, you are one with PTSD and you feel guilt because PTSD symptoms causes you to not spend enough time with your children/grand-children. I’m using this example because it is one of the many I hear of most often. This could go for spending time with your spouse or partner as well. Try taking more often short periods of time with them. Time is about quality, not quantity. Especially with PTSD involved. Overwhelming yourself with long periods of time may very well in many cases lead to a few days of not wanting to be around anyone, just a fact that comes with PTSD. Try short periods of time, and more often, and build from it! Focus on the quality of that time, one on one attention, finding things in common or new things that you like and enjoy together. This is one of those small step, stepping stones of getting guilt under manageable control, at least for short time frames and using that quality time to have something good to focus on when guilt tries to step back in. 😉 I’ve seen it work, try it! If you are the other person, give them the chance to do this! Do NOT play guilt trips on a person who is trying!!!! You are only hurting yourself and your family if you do.

Guilt also comes from either person when “me time” is involved. You HAVE to make and take me time, time to yourself, in order to be there for others as well as to make sure you are taking care of yourself! Life with PTSD does bring a lot with it, it’s just a hard fact. You have to take care of yourself in order to keep a balance in this life as well as within yourself… which leads to being able to cope with all of those other negative feelings or situations when they come.

Hopelessness.

This is HUGE and again, very real. Rather you are the one with PTSD or not, you can experience this feeling. Those golden words… DON’T give up! Kind of like that old saying on gravity, what goes up must come down, very true but if it went up once then who’s to say it won’t again? 😉 PTSD is very well known for being a roller coaster ride. It’s the term that fits best. But even through the worst times that can come, that ride can shift to a different gear and things can get better. You have to learn to embrace the good and use those times to battle the not so good times. The good times or better times can give you strength! Use it to your advantage and don’t get stuck in the negative when it comes, use the positive to get through things.

There are many situations that will test you as much and far as they possibly can, beyond belief that it’s even occurring. During these times you have to use every single thing that you have learned about PTSD, use them to your advantage to find the good. Try different things, do different things that can help or to learn what helps, make sure you communicate, use those coping skills and a support system.

If you are one feeling hopeless because you do not feel you are getting “better”, ask yourself, “How far HAVE I come to this point?” Use what you have already experienced to your advantage to build on and from! If you are not sitting at rock bottom, and I mean the bottom of rock bottom right now at this point for the very first time, then you have something there to build from, use it!

And, if you are one at that first rock bottom, hang on tight because there are MANY things and people that can help pull you out of that spot and back to a more balanced ground!!! Ones with experience, knowledge, and all sorts of things that can help you! DO NOT lose hope! Even when it seems that there is no hope left (again, a VERY real feeling) or you are in a state where you do not see it or feel it, it is there, it’s just masked by what PTSD causes. Learn the “tools” and reach to the people who can help.

Anger and/or frustration…. two very real things that come with life containing PTSD. Many feel these things on a daily basis, “floating anger right under the surface just waiting for the opportunity to come up” is the way Craig describes it. Even at times when there feels like there is no reason behind the feelings, if you look deep enough, to the roots, there is a good chance you will find the cause… the WHY. Like I always state, and truly believe, when you see/feel the what then you can look for the why to it, that why will help you find and use things that help. PTSD is not just going away, we all know that, but learning and understanding the why to things/symptoms when they happen can sure help you take that step forward, even if it’s a small step. 😉

As always, these are just a few examples of what I am sure are many, but after so much input from all of you, which I GREATLY appreciate! I found a few very common roots to the high levels of anger and frustration many people are experiencing right now. Use those roots of the why to find ways to cope, manage, communicate, and move forward. And remember, no matter how low you may feel right now at this moment… YOU are awesome! Don’t allow PTSD, or life beside it, mask that. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Video Games

PTSD and Video Games

This is a topic that comes up many times! Sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way.

Let’s go ahead and get the what is considered “bad” out of the way.  See, video games can be addicting… There are a lot of positive things that can come from playing games, however you have to make sure you don’t get stuck only playing games. They can cause your life to just pass you by and you miss out on the important things in your life and/or cause others to have negative feelings towards you. As well as playing too much prevents you from finding ways to step forward and cope in other ways.

Okay, let’s not dwell on the bad part though. What about how video games can help?

I am hearing from more and more people, stating that their doctor told them to play certain video games! See games can help with cognitive functioning, the memory, the fine motor skills, there are actually a lot of benefits that can come from them.

They can also help when one needs that “escape” from PTSD symptoms such as stress, anger, or overwhelming situations. It’s a way to “get things out” without it coming out on others, a form of release. If you are one that uses them in this way however, take caution to your time spent on them. It’s okay at times or for short time periods in order to avoid other things, but don’t allow them to consume you to the point they make matters or avoidance worse then what the situation may already be. In other words, use them as a positive tool but don’t allow them to run your life! You have a real life waiting for you to experience. 

Tips for video games:

* Play games that do help in a positive way with cognitive functioning and fine motor skills.

* Ask your doctor which games could be a benefit to your situation and symptoms.

* Avoid games that could be triggers or cause you to become angry towards others.

* Set a timer! Have a certain amount of time you play then force yourself to step away. Or only play when you are in need of a different type of coping skill.

* And write down (sticky notes are great!) what time you start and what time you will step away from a game. AND follow through on it.

* Remember you still have a real LIFE to live away from that game  Don’t allow games to consume you.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

What is PTSD?

What is PTSD?

Sometimes we need to get back to the basics of what PTSD is, especially for those of you that are just starting to learn or have not heard of PTSD before.

PTSD is the abbreviation for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Majority of the time you will not see it spelled out and “PTSD” or “PTS” are commonly used.

PTSD is a psychological reaction to a highly stressful event(s)/trauma(s) which is/was outside of normal human range of experience. It is caused by experiencing or witnessing life threatening harm to oneself or that of another person. PTSD can effect anyone who has experienced a severe trauma where the symptoms last more then a month. Many believe it is only military related, which is untrue. Civilians can develop PTSD the same as one who had a military experience. The trauma experienced may be different, but the symptoms from “what happened” are much the same no matter what the trauma was that one experienced.

Some examples which could lead to PTSD developing:

* Military, Law Enforcement, Emergency personnel, Prison Guards, Doctors, Nurses, etc. related event(s).
* Car accident.
* Personal physical attack.
* Rape/Sexual Assault.
* Home invasion.
* Child abuse.
* Natural disaster.
* Witnessing a death of one close to you.
* Abuse (adult)
* Major surgery (such as breast cancer and stroke patients)
* Kidnapping or Torture.
* Mugging or Robbery.

Virtually any trauma that is life-threatening and damages the physical and/or emotional state or well being of an individual or causes intense fear.

Symptoms of PTSD:

  •  Reoccurring thoughts/re-experience of what happened.

Nightmares of the event.  Flashbacks.

  •  Dissociative symptoms.

Can include memory issues. If you have not heard of this one, please research it! This can in many cases explain things that do not seem to be PTSD related symptoms.

  •  Avoidance of people, places, or things that remind one of their trauma they experienced.
  •  Increased Arousal. Feeling keyed up.
  •  Sleep problems.
  •  Anger, Frustration, Irritability.
  •  Negative changes in beliefs and feelings.

May include guilt, fear, shame, lack of self-worth.

  •  Self destructive behavior. Such as alcohol or drug abuse.
  •  Suicidal thoughts or attempts.
  •  Physical symptoms can co-occur with PTSD.

Such as heart disease, digestive issues, upset stomach, high blood pressure, diabetes, and others.

  •  Other mental illnesses can co-occur with PTSD.

Such as depression, survivor’s guilt, dissociation, and others.

These are a few of the most commonly seem symptoms of PTSD.

Developing PTSD does not mean a person is weak, which is a huge misunderstanding by many. It means the person has experienced something beyond what is normal. Many people who develop PTSD may have experienced more then one trauma, compiling the traumas. Again, anyone could develop PTSD after a life threatening trauma, it is not based on being weak or weak minded.

There are many different treatments and therapies to help manage PTSD. It is highly recommended to seek help as soon as possible! The sooner you seek professional help, the sooner you can learn to develop ways of coping and managing the symptoms, as well as being able to maintain a more normal lifestyle.

Having a support system of some form, rather it is family, friends, support groups, online support, etc is urgent. These things are needed not only for the one who suffers from PTSD, but for family members as well. It is in your and your loved one’s best interest to take time to learn as much as you can about PTSD, the better educated you and your loved ones are, the stronger you will be to “battle” and cope with PTSD symptoms, as well as what can come with living life with or beside PTSD.

PTSD is not new. PTSD has been around for many, many years… just known as other names such as shell shock, battle fatigue, and soldier’s heart. With the technology in today’s society, PTSD has become a more known name due to the many forms of awareness and ones speaking out to the public in hopes of helping others and reducing stigma. Past generations suffered alone in many cases due to the stigma which does come with PTSD and the lack of information provided. Thus in the past, majority of known cases were related to military and other cases were unreported.

These are some of the basics of PTSD. There is a lot that can be learned as well as taught regarding PTSD. Rather you believe you know someone who suffers or not, the hard fact is, you probably already do or sooner or later you most likely will know or meet someone who does suffer from PTSD. Learning about PTSD could very well help save lives. PTSD is a very real disorder and has touched many, many, people’s lives. It is not something that one can just snap out of, get over, or forget about. When PTSD affects one’s life, they relive the trauma they experienced each and every day, it is not just going away. Ones with PTSD are very strong individuals who fight every day to make it to the next the best they possible can and to be there for their family/loved ones, have a heart, please take the time to educate yourself.

One who suffers from PTSD is no different then you or I, they have just experienced something we may have not.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD” :Website

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

PTSD vs Taking things Personally…

One of largest battles for a loved one of PTSD is to NOT take things personally! I hear this a lot, used to battle it a lot myself, and it’s become a #1 rule.

PTSD brings out some nasty comments. It’s always good to keep in mind when this happens that it’s the PTSD talking, not your partner!

One with PTSD seems to take things out on the one they love the most, are the closest to, most comfortable with, and most of all the one they trust. You learn over time what is PTSD by how they respond to things, how they are acting, etc. By learning the signs, it helps you know the difference between what is PTSD talking and what is the true them.

When PTSD gets to a point of being harsh, listen. Just listen. And sometimes it helps if you remind them that you know this is PTSD speaking to you this way because you know they would not do this, it’s not the true them. I know it does not excuse what is being said or how it is being said, but you always have to keep in mind that PTSD is there and sometimes the venting is needed. For BOTH of you, find a way to communicate so you can keep the harshness at bay. No one intends to hurt each other, so find a way to avoid it.

To the ones with PTSD, be honest when you are feeling the anger coming. Tell your partner you are feeling angry, frustrated, or that you really need to vent. This keeps the arguments down and allows the door to open to helping each other through the rough times. Communication is a huge key in battling PTSD, use it! Work together! It takes time for both of you to learn this and how to approach a subject, but you can do it.

Things like this can be of help:

“I notice your PTSD has a grip on you today, is there anything I can do to help?”

By saying this, you are accepting that you see PTSD is causing the issue. You are pointing it out in a nice way when maybe your partner is unaware of how they are acting. And it opens the door for communication which can avoid an outbreak later. The one with PTSD can do the same thing in reverse, accept and tell when you know you are having a PTSD battle that day. A heads up to a partner on this can help things go more smoothly. Sometimes it’s the partner that might be acting off key, accept that you are not perfect and built up frustration, anger, feeling alone, etc can cause you to act in a negative manner as well… it does happen!

“You seem to be having a rough day, why don’t you just take it easy today.”

Wow! Huge statement there isn’t it? PTSD wears you out! Accept that some days your partner needs to just rest. Never expect too much. Anything that needs to be put off today can always be rescheduled for another day. It is important to give that down time when it is needed. No expectations. The doctors have actually told my husband that if taking a nap or going back to bed is the best way for him to cope, then do it. Start the day over when you get up. You just have to always keep in mind not to let depression keep you down too much of the time though, but breaks in the day are okay. Even take this time to watch a movie, or just talk if you are okay with doing this at this time. 😉 If not, take that nap and start over. Even take a nap with your partner… sometimes we all could use the extra sleep. 😉 It’s better then taking anger and frustration out on the one you love.

Keeping in mind that a lot of anger and frustration comes from PTSD and knowing not to take these things personal is urgent. They are going through a great amount of battle within themselves, and taking everything personally… even when and especially when it is directed at you, can make matters so much worse. Focus, use the coping skills, and make sure you take care of yourself during these times. PTSD can bring you down, but you can find ways to pick yourself up and continue being there for your partner, especially through the rough times when they need you most.

Communicate with each other! Don’t take things personal… remember PTSD is there! I can’t state that enough!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”