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“PTSD vs Avoidance”

“PTSD vs Avoidance”

You know how you do things and just don’t think about it? Well, back when I first injured my knee I was headed for another cup of coffee, bummed knee so hobbling, and I thought, why don’t I go the other way through the kitchen? It’s a pass through kitchen and I take the long way…every time. So I turned direction and went the other way, the shorter way. Then I realized why I take the long way…there’s not a light switch for the kitchen at the other end.

**Again, I’m not a doctor of any sort and can not give medical advice. These are only my personal opinions and experiences.**

Ahhh…I was going somewhere with that, wasn’t I? 😉 One of the true symptoms of PTSD‬ is avoidance. You avoid crowds, gatherings, family, friends, events, relationships, the news, tv or newspapers in general, maybe things that seem simple to others such as a trip to the grocery store, emotions, thoughts, etc. You may avoid getting close to others, relationships (emotional or physical). The list is endless.

Are you really avoiding all of those things? Or are you really avoiding the “what if” that comes with them? The situation which may arise or happen? The feeling that you are different? The mind set of something bad is going to happen? The chance of a trigger happening? The avoidance of feeling or emotion?

Avoiding things has it’s good as well as it’s bad that comes with it. It’s a way of coping right then and there, short term. It helps you get through a situation or the what if’s. You might feel like you want to cry, or on the flip side lash out. Avoiding the thoughts and emotions of what you have been through can help keep these things from happening. One that many do, you get quiet. Which at times, and I clearly state at times, can help avoid tricky or uncomfortable situations, arguments, conflicts, and helps give you time to cope and think… which can be a good thing.

However, long term avoidance can be more damaging. Avoiding things and seeing it helped you hold back those feelings or did avoid that tricky situation, can lead you to being numb. Pulling you away from family and friends or even things you used to enjoy doing. I know, that feeling of if I face it am I going to lose control or something bad happen? Control of the tears, control of the anger, and everything else that may come with it. Are expectations going to come?

Sometimes you have to just have that trust, that trust within yourself. If I face this, I won’t lose control, I can have a grip on it. Sometimes it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to face things…you are human!

I have watched my husband become a hermit because of PTSD avoidance along with it’s other symptoms, and depression. I have also seen him bounce back at times for small amounts of time. And when he does find the strength to face some things, it’s not easy! Anxiety goes through the roof. But I also see his reaction when he has made it through something, done something, gone through a motion even without emotion…and nothing bad happened! That smirk on his face of ”I did it.” That smirk is priceless!

Walking out that front door is one of the hardest things for him to do. It takes a lot and every ounce of energy he has, and many times I do kindly remind him it’s healthy to go outside, how he will feel better when he does even through the anxiety and what if’s. The fresh air, seeing things around you other then four walls, the sounds of nature. It all plays a roll in being the best you can be, even if it’s just for that moment.

Mark it on a calendar, I’m being serious! “Today I made it outside for 10 minutes”. Do you know what that can do? Come tomorrow when you look at that calendar you might think “Wow, yesterday I went outside for 10 minutes. Hum, today I can make it for 15.” It gives you something to look at, to put into perspective of what you accomplished and a goal to work forward from. Maybe today is a day you can’t pull yourself from your bedroom. Mark that too. When you start seeing on paper, in your own handwriting, hey I haven’t made it from my bedroom in 4 days, what do you think you will do? I bet you make it to the living room. 😉 It’s okay to have those bad days, they are going to be there, but they are also something to build from.

I always direct you back to a wall calendar. My reason, you can see it plotted out by days. You can see how many days have passed by, you can see accomplishments you have made, you can figure out where you want to improve things from here. How about “Today I didn’t have any triggers”, then another day you might have 4, write them on there. It helps you notice the triggers and at times may help you figure out exactly what they are. It can help you face them in a way that you don’t feed the avoidance…with your own writing. You can also flip back when you want to an look at things. Just something to think about. 😉

There is something else that works really well that a doctor told us once. Take a sheet of paper. Write down what it is, whether it’s a fear, something you want to do, etc. Then make 2 rows. In one row write what would be positive or accomplished…the facts of the situation. In the second row write the negative or the facts that could lead to a negative outcome… the facts. Everything is based on the facts. For example, “I don’t want to go on a cruise because the ship will sink.” Okay, that might very well be true, but what are the odds? Take the facts and numbers of how many incidents have in reality happened and weigh them against the unlikeliness of it happening. Odds are, you are more apt to have a good time and enjoy your trip than the likeliness of the ship sinking. You can use this method for viewing the reality on paper which can lead you past the fear to try. No, I’m not saying the fear will just disappear, we know it doesn’t, but it gives you a factually based guideline to help you do something that you would normally avoid.

Avoidance is going to be there, it’s all a part of PTSD and what you have been through and I’m by no means saying it’s not. However, sometimes in some situations looking at the facts can help you get through the avoiding feelings and help you get a little piece of life back that you thought or feel is gone. You might just find out that you are stronger than a lot of those avoiding feelings. Again, it won’t happen every time, so don’t view yourself as a failure if something doesn’t work out, but trying will make you stronger and help you find new boundaries to your limits of avoidance… as well as the limits you thought were there that you can step past, even if it’s just a small step.

PTSD is so overwhelming that you can lose sight, and focus on the “who I was”, “what I was”, “I let you down”, “I’m such a burden”. Getting past that, or to a better place than you are right now is hard! Beyond words! Finding the good and positive in things is a difficult task and no one can do it for you. It’s a step you have to take or try for yourself. Does it make the horrors go away, no. Does it make the triggers stop, no. Does it stop the anxiety, no. Does it stop avoidance, no but it can help. But does it put things into a perspective you can understand and look at? Yes. It helps you with the avoidance.

Battling avoidance… Easier said than done? Absolutely! But then again, what in life is easy? Especially when PTSD is with you. Nothing! The calender idea and making a fact sheet are just a couple of ways for you to be able to learn and watch your path, to see when coping is needed as well as what does or does not really need to be avoided, and simple ways that may help you learn to live again. There are many things you can try. PTSD is not the end, I refuse to believe that! You all are worth more than anything that could be put into words.

A simple example. How many of you have avoided posting on here? I bet at times every single one of you. I know I myself bit my tongue at times. 😉 Why? Because someone may judge you? Someone might not like what you say? Someone might think you are crazy? SO WHAT! Do those things really matter? You are who you are, and that is a very special human being. One thing you think and don’t post, know what that one thing might do? It might just save someone’s life, might make another person stop and think, it might even educate someone close to you that didn’t understand you or PTSD. Look to the good my friends, at times it’s there and just hidden or masked… and you might be surprised at what you find there. (And no, I don’t expect everyone to post! I leave that to each of you and your comfort zone! That was simply an example 😉 )

Sometimes avoiding things is needed, but other times it’s not. Will I stop taking the short way to the kitchen when it’s dark? Yes, I sure will, there’s no way of having light from that way. But will I take the short way when it’s daylight? Yes, it helps me with my bummed knee. There’s 2 ways to look at everything, always remember that. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

Category: Avoidance/Numbing, Uncategorized  Tags: ,  Comments off

Our neighbor’s got stuck… but LOOK at what it lead to!!!

our neighbor's got stuck

Morning 🙂
Yesterday is what I am going to call a “good day”! After months upon months of PTSD giving us it’s challenge, then other medical issues on top of it, I think it’s safe to say I saw a small glimpse of my husband yesterday.‪ PTSD‬ was by no means gone or at bay, but I saw Craig fight it with everything he had! I heard my husband laugh a little, and I was able to get him outside!!! It took some serious doings but it happened.

I sat here looking out the window yesterday, watching our neighbors try to get a boat on a trailer into the lake, with a vehicle that is not a 4×4. Now, our lake which you can tell by the many photos I post, is not a well used lake, it’s overgrown and wildlife is plentiful. The water level has finally after several years come back up. But it also means around the lake is muck. 😉 I know you can see where this is going.

YEP, they got stuck! Long story short, I watched another truck come in to try to pull it out, it got stuck too. Well, after awhile Craig woke up and asked me what I was looking at? I said with a chuckle, “The neighbors. Seems the guys decided to try to get the boat into the water with a Trail Blazer”. Craig got curious of course and started watching as well. And I heard a chuckle from him. He then said, “Didn’t you tell them about this lake?” I said, “Yep, sure did”.

So after awhile of watching, I told Craig I really think they need some help, there’s no way they are getting that vehicle out of there. Thinking he would budge. Nope, he didn’t. So I then said I was going outside to see if the neighbor lady (I called her by name) was outside, which I figured she was not missing all of this lol. Her and I have talked a lot since they moved in and I would say it’s on the path of forming a friendship. I let my son know I was going outside, he was home yesterday so it was actually a respite day for me. My plan was to soak up some sunshine lol.

Sure enough the neighbor lady came out when she saw me come to the fence. Her and I talked and laughed! She said the guys were determined to go fishing. After a little while, and the neighbor man and his best friend laughing as well, he came up from the lake and said they were not getting it out of there and needed a tow truck.

They called around, have any idea how much a tow truck costs on a Saturday, when you have a vehicle and trailer stuck in a lake? Let’s just say A LOT! I said, well let me see if I can get Craig to come out and bring the Tahoe down, it’s a 4×4, we can give it a try even though it may not do the job with me still having street tires on it, I haven’t put off road/all terrain tires on it yet.

I went back into the house and told Craig that they are really stuck, can we take the Tahoe down to see if we can help them? This was actually my second trip back into the house, the first was to get my snatch strap, so Craig knew what was going on. I told him what the tow truck was going to cost them and said it was ridiculous. I then said, “You really should come out. They have not even met you yet and have been here for a couple of months now. They are great people and I want you to meet them. That and it would really do you some good to get outside, it’s such a beautiful day out there.” It also would help considering some of our neighbors have started to think I am single! Because Craig is never seen. Oh my, that’s a whole ‘nother story within itself lol.

Craig finally gave in. No, the Tahoe could not do the job lol, not with the tires on it and we discovered the vehicle was frame bottomed out, back tires were just spinning in the water not touching anything. But Craig met the neighbors for the first time. PTSD was still there by all means (and wanted to retreat back into the house), anxiety was high, he had to step away at times and walk over to our property away from everyone, but no one minded! I talked with the ladies, and we laughed at the guys, lol, actually with them. Craig was back and forth to where the guys were, and they went with it without questions every time Craig had to step away, and let him without saying a word then would pick right back up when he would go back over to them.

Get this, ALL of them understand and know about PTSD!!! 😉 All of the new neighbors we got on our street a couple of months back are in the medical field and there has not been any stigma at all from any of them! They were just ALL awesome yesterday!!!

So, did the vehicle get pulled out of the lake? Yep, it sure did lol… I called my Dad! 😉 When all else fails, always call daddy and he can get the job done. 🙂 His 4×4 set up for off road and has a solid hitch, was able to snatch it out of there after a few tries. So I got to see my parents yesterday too for a little while.

Once it was all over Craig quickly shook hands with the guys, then retreated to the bedroom for the rest of the day/night, which was okay! That was a serious type of outside time for him with how he’s been for months now, but he did it!!! WE spent some time outside with the neighbors yesterday!!! I have to say that was one of the most awesome feelings I have felt in a very, very long time.

So what does Craig tell me last night? “Ya know Bec, they are really nice people, and funny.” That was enough for me to know that a small glimpse of Craig shined through yesterday. 😉 Oh, and everyone got to see that I do actually have a husband, LOL! 😉

Those are the type of days you hold onto, cherish them, let them bring you strength… because they are many times few and far in between coming and you never know what tomorrow will hold. But today… Coffee in hand and getting this new day going… with a smile 🙂

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

PTSD and Disconnection From Others

PTSD and Disconnection From Others

You know, we live this life with or beside PTSD‬ and/or depression‬ day in and day out. It does become our new normal. What we do now, how we handle or manage things as well as symptoms, how we support each other and help each other. We learn the tricks of how to make it from one day to the next, and keep on making it.

Craig and I have been battling this life and forming a new normal for 11 years now. This morning while I was looking for one of my older articles for someone, I came across one that I wrote almost 2 years ago regarding PTSD and numbness. Unfortunately it made me realize that in reality Craig has become more disconnected, much more, than he was two years ago.

Disconnection is the one part of PTSD that has been a battle for so long and no matter what I try or come up with for him or us to try, it just does not seem to help him, or us. Every symptom with PTSD and depression that he and we battle, I have been able to find something, no matter how great or small, to help it be battled, but the disconnection? It’s the one that gives me a run for my money, so to speak. And I say that with no disrespect towards him, it’s just a part of the battle at hand that is real life.

I’m one that will not stop for anything to research, read, try new things, find new ways of doing things, I send Craig links to articles that I think may be of positive help to him and us, as a couple. Things to think about or that give different views that may help him battle what he feels (or doesn’t) and that may help in some small way. I try to enjoy each day we have together and just live in the now, and make the best of each day. I accept him for who he is and the disabilities he has.

I mean I love Craig. I will never give up on him or us. I’ll never stop researching, reading, and trying new things in the hopes that something helps. I will never stop trying to make the most of each day. But the disconnection that comes with PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder makes things and life extremely difficult. It’s just a hard fact that comes with this life.

This life beside PTSD can be extremely lonely which in turn brings a lot of guilt to those with PTSD, they don’t want or mean for their spouse/partner to go through that or feel that way, they know or view it as it’s not fair, and in return it causes them to pull away even further. Another vicious circle in this life with PTSD and/or depression.

I was asked, “How do I keep my partner from being or feeling so disconnected from me? I know I’m loved, I’m told I’m loved, but it ends there. I know their disconnection from me and even others is really strong, I know PTSD causes this. What can I as the partner do to help?”

In that older article I wrote, there were two quotes that really hit me hard.

The first one was a quote from the movie “The Vow”, a true life story about a wife that has TBI, that Craig and I can really relate to due to the memory issues involved…

I wrote: The husband in the movie told his friends, “She fell in love with me once, so I won’t lose hope she will fall in love with me again.” -Quote from the movie “The Vow”

The second thing I wrote in that article that hit me was…

“Sometimes one with PTSD needs a guide so to speak through the numb feelings. Craig told me last week he needed help through the numbness, he’s not sure how to get through the numbness to feel the love he knows he has for me, how to find the motions or what they even are.”

(I’ll add the link to that full article at the end of this for anyone that would like to read it.)

The only way I know how to answer that difficult question that came to me is this…

Don’t lose hope, don’t stop trying, don’t stop showing your love for and to your PTSD partner. And make sure you are taking care of yourself through this life, that is one thing that you are capable of no matter what.

A spouse/partner is not a cure, you cannot make PTSD and Depression or their symptoms go away… so don’t put that on yourself. All you can do is be your best, be patient, supportive, learn, find new things to try, and do what you are capable of doing and be there for them. The rest is not up to you, one person can only do so much, not everything. There are many things one with PTSD and/or Depression can work on even with the symptoms they do experience, some things can change… at least to some level, one can at least give things a try to see what helps and what doesn’t. Other things may never change and there will have to come a point in time where you just accept this is the way they are now. And I cannot answer, which will be which or what will be what. Each person will be different and have different circumstances.

Disconnection and avoidance are very real life symptoms of PTSD, as well as depression. Too many are faced with having to let go or are let go of, the disconnection PTSD brings is normally a huge factor in that. PTSD and depression can cause life to feel or become very lonely, for both the one with PTSD as well as the one standing beside them. Don’t lose hope, don’t stop learning and trying new things, don’t stop believing in each other, and don’t lose that grip of each other’s hand. You, your partner, and your relationship are worth it, hang onto each other.

I myself will not lose the hope I hold onto, that Craig and I will someday have that connection again like we used to have between us. It was the most amazing feeling two people could experience together, full of love, passion, excitement, mental and physical closeness. It was a connection that people envied and were jealous of, they wanted what we had together. I will not give up on finding that personal connection again that we had, even some small part of it… even with PTSD and Depression being a part of our lives now.

As I am known for stating and believing,
“The battle is PTSD, not each other”

April 4, 2013: “PTSD vs Numbness

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook Page

The “What If’s” of PTSD: explained

The “What If’s” of PTSD

This is a topic that many may just not understand, unless they are standing in the shoes of PTSD‬ or one that stands beside them. I had someone mention to me how they do not understand how something that should be not a huge deal, is huge to someone with PTSD. I have also discovered some new views that may help others with or standing beside one with PTSD. So I wanted to see if I can explain this so it makes more sense to others.

You know, everyone experiences something in their life sooner or later that changes the way they view things. It may be something simple such as, let’s say for example you got food poisoning. Something that unfortunately is common and many can relate to. So what happens then? You will most likely never eat at the place that food came from again, you may even avoid eating that certain food from there forward. You start relating that specific food to what you felt and experienced, getting sick. You see this happen all of the time. You experienced something that was bad or unpleasant, so you avoid it. You get those thoughts of “If I eat that, what if I get so sick again?” You just did a “what if”.

This relation is something that is human nature, even animals experience it, it’s the way the brain works. There is the relation of bad followed by avoidance because you have already experienced something unpleasant and don’t what to repeat that experience.

Now, take that to a severe, life changing experience… a trauma. Think about what traumas may consist of, a life may have been in danger or even life lost, fear is involved. When this happens those “what if’s” become more up front, thought about, in-bedded in the brain “I can’t go through that again”. The feelings become extremely strong. It can start effecting majority if not all of the decisions you make in life. It becomes a survival skill.

Those what if’s can start running your life, which is not a good thing as we all know, and people who experience this on high levels do not like the feeling or what it does to them. It’s not something that they purposely do, it’s in a way how the brain and mind reprograms itself so bad experiences can be avoided. And it’s why avoidance is a huge part of life with PTSD.

It takes a lot for a person who has experienced a trauma to push themselves through the what if’s as they come. It effects things related to or that remind them of their trauma, but it can also effect every aspect of their life. What if’s can start forming around anything, large or small in other people’s eyes.

We had something that had to be done this week (without going into details of what it was). It was something that Craig and I chose to let go of several months back (his decision which I agreed with for the best interest of his health), but not long after that decision Craig started second guessing himself, it started weighing on him, it lead to him feeling like a failure for not pursuing or completing what he felt like he should, which lead to guilt. I have watched this cycle happen time after time around this same “situation”, we will call it. So I knew something had to be done so he could find some sort of peace regarding this situation, so there would not be any more guessing of “what if’s”. There had to be some type of resolution, an outcome, done had to be done so this does not weigh on him any longer, which also means weighing on his health.

When Craig set in his mind “I have failed and I really need something to be done about this”, he and I talked. We had to find some way to relieve this stress, guilt, and his negative thoughts of himself that kept returning. So with help from one of my support ladies who understands this type of situation, we came up with a plan. I discussed it with Craig and he agreed with this plan, he would give this a try one last time. The plan included me doing what I can so to relieve him from as much stress as possible, so he could make it through this. Any level of stress effects him greatly, so this was an urgent part that had to be managed.

See, stress and those what if’s go hand and hand. They play off of each other in huge ways. It’s not situations where one can just say “Oh no big deal, I’ll just handle it”, because those what if’s are there that bring those negative thoughts of “What if I go through the same thing again?” or “What if the outcome is not good?” or “What if I fail?”. Those are huge worrisome thoughts, especially for one with PTSD and/or depression!

Over the month that this “situation” has been worked on, even with me handling as much of things as possible, Craig’s not blind and he is very intelligent. He knows what is at hand, the importance of it to him personally, and he obviously sees me working on it. His symptoms have increased, those what if’s have increased, but he also knows this is something that had to be taken care of for the best interest of his health and so his focus can remain on his health. So this is seriously important to remove it from his plate, so to speak. In other words all of the what if’s have to be faced and there has to be an outcome.

I was already prepared for what Craig’s PTSD and depression may do to him, which it has done to him, this is something that again we have faced before. So my plan had to include more to make sure Craig could make it through this. I informed the important people involved in this of what it is causing for Craig as well as my concerns regarding his health, I talked to his doctors so they could do their part in helping him make it through this, we have put every precaution in place here at home, and we have a serious support system on call… for BOTH of us.

Yesterday was Craig’s largest hurdle in this, his part of this that I could not do for him and he had to face. The people involved and his doctors that I informed really pulled through for him. He made it through yesterday, he’s still exhausted from it, and knowing him and his disabilities I know he will need a few days down, but he made it through it! And I am so proud of him!!! Now we wait for the outcome.

The what if’s are still here, but the hard parts are now over. His doctor said something that I felt was extremely important. He was told that no matter what the outcome is, he has to choose a final decision, will he accept the outcome or will he continue to pursue it if it’s not the outcome he feels is fair? He has to define what fair is to him and decide where acceptance is for himself so this can finally be over and stops weighing on him.

It’s not a failure if you define where your personal acceptance is. That’s a huge thought! It makes sense. It can also help you change those negative thoughts of yourself that do come.

There are certain things or situations in your life that do come, some things just cannot be avoided because avoidance at times can haunt you. There are things that you have to decide how far you will, can or can not push, set a goal, and there is no right or wrong to that goal as long as you define and set in your mind that this is where acceptance within myself lies. Then you make a plan and make sure that every aspect that is in the best interest of your health and limits is in place, as well as anyone who can be a positive help to you.

The past month has contained many what if’s here, but one step at a time we together are getting through them, and we reached for help to do it.

What if’s can become so damaging, they will weigh on you. But we have learned that it is possible to take control or at least the best possible, of many situations. Choosing what things need to be faced and what may not need to be if not of great importance, setting those goals, defining where acceptance is for you personally, and then when you reach it allowing that to be it, you reached your personal goal… it can take some of those what if’s away or allow them to be done so they do not keep returning, an outcome that you define is your acceptable point. It can lead to taking those steps, small or big, forward.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

Category: Avoidance/Numbing, Uncategorized  Tags: , , , ,  Comments off

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

PTSD and relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Facebook page

No Visitors… WHAT?

No Visitors… WHAT?

Something that is common at times with  #PTSD. You just don’t want to hear that knock on the door or the doorbell ringing. I am known around here (and get laughed at a lot, lol) for my silly signs I post on our front door.

But you know what… Laugh away  because if it’s a rough PTSD day that silly sign can help! Especially with door to door sales people, etc. I have made signs for deliveries only, no visitors, catch ya later, etc. with all sorts of sayings. Oh, yes the pizza delivery guy got a kick out of it the first time he saw one. But you know what? He learned about PTSD that day 

I view it this way…

If someone ignores the sign or asks me why it’s there, that is a door that just opened for educating others! Especially those that ignore it, I LOVE those! Even though Craig does not.  I will listen to whatever they have to say or sales pitch then I say, “Okay, I listened to your pitch now I would like you to listen to mine…”.

Then I hand them a PTSD awareness card for my website and this page, and tell them all about PTSD. You know what… it works! I have never had anyone walk away when I do that. The signs become respected on our door AND if there is not a sign on the door, some people will stop and just ask how we are doing when they are in the area.

It’s amazing how you can have a quiet day when needed but can also take a bite out of stigma and educate others at the same time. 

So… the sign for the day  We are expecting a visitor today so this is what today’s sign at the top of the posting. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook page

PTSD loved ones pulling away…

PTSD loved ones Pulling Away…

I am getting MANY messages about PTSD loved one’s pulling away from those who care about them the most. I’m seeing MANY souses/partners struggling with this. I’m seeing MANY with PTSD really feeling like they are alone right now, feeling numb to everything, OR feeling as if others just cannot understand what they are experiencing.

“This is ALL normal with PTSD”.

Not that that helps besides letting you know you are NOT alone!

I have been writing a lot lately about increases in PTSD symptoms, I have been doing extra things to try to spread more awareness and let others know we are here for them too… all with very good reasons. It’s a rough patch for many right now, that’s what I am hearing from SO many people, we go through it too, we all do at times. I don’t want to sound like a broken record here, haha, but I do want to get it across that there are a lot of people having some very serious struggles right now, and what you do or don’t do each and every day can make a difference. Even if it’s something as simple as just letting one know you are there for them.

I’m also hearing from spouses/partners things such as “Bec, I’m just not you! I’m lost!” No, you aren’t me, you never will be me, BUT “you are you” and you can find that same place within yourself that I found within myself. I did not get, and we did not get where we are now overnight. It took a lot of time, a lot of learning, and a hell of a lot of trial and big time errors. Just because you have not yet learned every tip and trick in the book yet, and in reality that “book” will be endless, does not mean you won’t! As well as create your own along the way. There is not a quick fix answer, and when you find what works or helps in each situation that comes up it’s still going to take time to get somewhat of the results you are aiming for.

Right now, for this moment, this is what I want you to do…

I want you to stop, take a deep breath, look in the mirror, and remember to believe in yourself! Just because you, right now at this moment feel worn out, worn down, emotionally drained, and feel like you are just lost and rushing to find the answers… does not mean that is a place you will always be!

Slow down. You HAVE to! You have to start with YOU! PTSD has it’s own path it takes, but I will tell you right now one is also going to follow your path when their symptoms become overwhelming for them. As a spouse/partner, caregiver, or family member… If you are not taking care of yourself it’s going to be very difficult to take care of or help someone else. Self care is something that you cannot put off, it’s something that you HAVE to MAKE the time to do… and DO it! It’s what is best for you, and it’s what is best for your PTSD loved one!

When one with PTSD sees their loved one struggling, in all reality they are going to struggle more than what they already have at hand. They view it as they are pulling you down with them, that it’s their fault, they are to blame, and the guilt and hurt that brings them can become unbearable. PTSD and life with it is not suppose to be a finger pointing game, life is suppose to be something that you work together through. Right now there are a lot of people with PTSD that are pointing their fingers at themselves, this has to stop. There are a lot of fingers being pointed from or at the spouse/partner, this has to stop. This life was not meant to be against each other, it’s meant to be lived together!

I have already been down every path imaginable as a spouse of one with PTSD. I can tell you with every ounce of love I have to offer, that me taking care of me is the largest thing I can do for my husband. I see Craig’s slight grin when I come back in from working on my pond. I see how he watches me when I do my little house projects. I see how he stares at me when I change my crazy nail polish or he makes a sarcastic comment. All of those small things that seem so small make a huge difference to one with PTSD. When they see you living and pushing forward, taking care of yourself, you are actually showing them how and the reasons why THEY need to live. You change their path when you change their view of themselves and how they view they are or are not effecting you. You cannot forget the reality of the negative changes in thoughts/moods that PTSD brings to one. You take a weight and stress off of their shoulders simply by taking care of yourself.

I know PTSD is tough! I know you have to be one tough cookie to manage this different type of life, you also have to be a caring person. It is different, it’s not those made up fairy tale stories where everything is suppose to be perfect.

“Perfect” is in the eyes of the beholder and what you choose to view perfect as. 

I have people every day tell me how they don’t know how I live this life. How they don’t know how I deal with the symptoms (notice I said symptoms and NOT my husband, wording is everything). How there’s no way they could do it or can’t do it any longer. It’s all in what you make out of it and how you choose to view it and work together. That’s really the bottom line to it.

We have been at this for so long now, that this is our normal. I accepted that PTSD is a part of our lives a long time ago. But that does not mean life is bad! It’s not, it’s just different than what others view as normal. And I would not trade my husband for the world. Even with PTSD he’s still Craig. I might not get to see the true him as much as I used to, I might miss that masked part of him at times, but that’s okay, I will take what I can get and love him just the same either way. He’s still my Craig, he’s just simply masked by this thing called PTSD. As I always say, “PTSD is a diagnosis not a definition of who a person is.”, either of you!

It’s very easy to get so caught up in what PTSD brings, that you forget the important things.

I am hearing from so many of you right now about your PTSD loved one pulling away or how communication has changed. When PTSD symptoms go up, these things are VERY normal! Craig does it. We can be sitting in the same exact room but he is miles away. When that happens, I know it’s just PTSD. It in reality has nothing to do with me at all. It’s him focusing on himself, coping with what he is feeling, trying to manage the symptoms so they do not get taken out on anyone else. This is all normal! You have to give them the personal space and time to work on themselves at times, and not take it personal through this process. You cannot push one with PTSD to be who you want them to be or be who they used to be, PTSD is still there. You have to be supportive, you have to care, you have to learn, but that space is also a part of it… those things will help.

I know you will worry, I know you will want to constantly talk to them, keep communicating, be there with them, etc. Those are normal human reactions and wants, especially when you know a loved one is having a difficult time. But there’s an old saying that really fits well here, “Too much of a good thing, can be bad”.  You have to respect their space when they get quiet. (As long as they are NOT suicidal, that is. That’s a different ball game!) They are not purposely pushing you away, they are not purposely ignoring you. Most likely they are handling PTSD the way they best know how. And in a way, they view it as “protecting” you at the same time from what PTSD is known to bring. Just as you have to work on yourself, they have to be able to work on themselves too.

They will talk and communicate when they are ready to. Don’t push, you have to find a healthy balance. When you push there’s a good chance you are going to hear or see PTSD’s side of things.  And that can land you and your feelings in a very hard place. Many times what they are going through has nothing to do with you at all… that’s really something to think about and learn to accept.

To those of you with PTSD,

There’s no way I could write this and not say something to you. Just like there are things a spouse/partner needs to keep in mind and do, there’s things for you as well.  The largest thing you can do, remember there is someone that cares about you and wants to help. If it’s your pull away quiet time, let them know that’s what you are going through. It can be kept simple and short. They really do worry about you, they really are there for you, sometimes it takes a lot to allow a person to step into your world that you experience, I know that. But letting them in even if it’s just a little can really help both of you.

You do not have to journey this path and life with PTSD alone, even though alone is a very real feeling. Don’t cut your partner short of what they can be, they are probably much stronger than you might think and that extra strength they have can sure help in some way. They are not going to learn everything overnight, give them a chance to learn, and understand there will be a lot of errors in there as well. If they are trying, work on accepting “they are trying”. No, they will never completely understand, but if you let them try they can sure get pretty close on understanding the now. 

If they reach out to you (which hopefully isn’t TOO much too often), just let them know “I have to focus on me right now and managing my PTSD. It’s nothing to do with you or against you.”, something short, something simple, just simply to let them know your focus does have to be on yourself at the moment and so they know you are “okay” so to speak. Silence when two people are in the same location or not, can cause the brain to think all sorts of bad things. Don’t allow that to happen, it causes way more problems than what it’s worth. A simple text can help or a few simple words. When you can, talk to them if they do not understand how space is something that is needed at times. Send them here, we will explain it if you have difficulties finding the right words.  It happens! And that’s okay! Whatever it takes for them to start learning. 

Those numb feelings, don’t forget the “motions lead to emotions”. Numbness is VERY real with PTSD, but it can be worked on. 

———————————————–

This is a life which includes PTSD. Things are going to be different and it’s important for people to be on the same page and learn the most they can. It’s important to know that just because one person may be doing better than another at any given time, does not mean they are a better person then you are, it just means maybe they have traveled further down a path than you have at this point or are simply at a different point. There’s this thing we call the PTSD dance, one step forward two steps back, it happens to all of us. The important thing, we are dancing.  😉

A lot of the things I am hearing are simply based around expectations or taking things personally. Take that deep breath, make sure you are taking care of yourself. And try not to worry so much, you are just learning a different way of life that may be a little scary to start with until you learn more and find that new normal. 

You’ve got this! Give yourself and your loved one a chance! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

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

Lonely, Alone, and PTSD

Lonely, Alone, and PTSD

That’s a very strong and real word when you mix it with PTSD. It’s something I know for a fact Craig has felt/feels, and it’s something I know myself as a spouse have felt/feel. It’s a strong, harsh feeling, and one that is very real life. It’s also one of the reasons we are here and bring our story to others. We know alone, we know the feeling of no one understanding or being there for us, we have been through that and vowed that others do indeed need to know they are not alone, no matter how real life that feeling is.

No one deserves to feel this. But that does not change the fact that the feeling is there and extremely real.

I had someone say once, “How can either of you feel lonely? That doesn’t make sense.” I can honestly see how one who does not suffer from or beside PTSD can think that way. It’s an honest question and statement. However it goes much deeper then that.

Many people have a difficult time accepting PTSD or understanding it. Just another fact of life.

When one suffers from PTSD, there are just so many real life changes that come to their life. The way they respond to things, the way they view things, their feelings, coping with the PTSD symptoms themselves, then adding to it the stigma and lack of understanding or belief from others. Friendships change, relationships change, to put it bluntly, life changes. Wow, those things within themselves are a lot! That feeling of “I’m doing this by myself. No one understands or gets it.” 

Then there is that overwhelming feeling of facts, “I have someone right here, with me, but yet I still feel alone.” Ouch, that one cuts deep and is a very real statement.

You can be in the same place, even the same room with another person but yet that alone feeling is still there. It’s a hard fact of what comes with PTSD and does effect those around them, it’s part of PTSD that does indeed effect everyone. PTSD comes with symptoms of avoidance, social anxiety, loss of interest, detachment of others, and numbness. With those things as part of PTSD symptoms, how could one not feel alone? Makes sense, doesn’t it.

It is normal for one with PTSD to feel alone. Even with the truth or facts of who is around them that feeling is not one that just goes away. They feel isolated within themselves. Like no matter how much they reach out for others, they just can’t seem to grab hold.

There’s a phrase that we that live with one with PTSD or those who suffer from it use a lot…

“Tie a knot in the end of the rope and hold on tight.” 

That’s a very real phrase, it comes with a lot of meaning behind it. It symbolizes don’t give up, hang on to life and don’t let go, you are strong enough to make it through this, and you are not alone because there is indeed someone standing at the other end and hanging on for dear life of that rope, your rope. It symbolizes that we know you have the real feelings of alone, it’s real that you feel that distance between you and others, but yet it’s a reminder that even with that distance (the rope) there is still someone there. It’s a phrase of understanding and great meaning.

It is also very real for a spouse to feel alone. They are watching and standing by their PTSD partner every day. They see their partner’s struggles, they feel the pain, they see how PTSD has changed them as well as their life, they feel the distance PTSD causes, the distance PTSD puts between two people that truly love each other. That’s not easy and it does indeed cause one to feel alone, even when they are sitting right beside them. Then you add the outside world and reactions to it. The spouse feels the distance of others just as much as the one who suffers from PTSD. It makes sense, they are the one battling this fight of PTSD with them, for them, and by all means beside them.

PTSD does roll over to a partner and even at times a family. Is it the fault of the one with PTSD? ABSOLUTELY NOT! It is about what happened to them. Then the tricky part comes in. Guilt. The one with PTSD is not blind, they do see how their medical effects others, they see how life has changed, and it weighs heavily on them in a form of guilt… which in return leads to further distance and the alone feeling. Another vicious circle as they pull further away to “protect” the one(s) they love and care about.

So what do you do? If someone has an honest, truthful answer to that one we will all be interested in hearing it lol. The truth that I personally know is you keep trying, you keep working together and communicating, you keep seeking treatment and answers, you keep using coping skills, and you make life the best you can in the process. And old reliable that I mention often, “Motions lead to emotions”, it can help!

Lonely is not a good feeling, and I can honestly say I have never spoken to or met anyone that has PTSD in their life that has not experienced feeling lonely. It’s a truthful fact of PTSD, what comes with PTSD, and how it effects one and others. But it does not mean it’s the end of life, not the end of relationships, not the end of the world and feeling of love, it just means life changed when PTSD became a part of it.

Tie a huge knot in the end of that rope and don’t EVER let go! Hold on tight, no matter which end of the rope is in your hands. You are worth the fight, you are worth the battle, and you are worth more then you can imagine. PTSD may make us feel very alone but the fact is, none of us are alone and together we WILL make it through this! Don’t let PTSD win. I again stick to my saying… “Best of the Best”, that’s you.  😉 Lonely is a hard place and feeling, but you are stronger than it is.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Website

Avoidance? Oh that couldn’t be it… but is it?

Avoidance? Oh that couldn’t be it… but is it?

It’s Monday lol! Coffee in hand, okay second cup 😉 and thinking about getting this day started. I have this to do and that to do, and don’t forget that other thing. Oh yes… it’s the sit and “think about it”. Does that sound familiar?

PTSD brings many things, and that sure can be one of them. You think about everything before you do it, you over think at times about what good or bad could come from it if you do it, you wonder how it will effect you, will it set off a trigger, will it effect someone else, what if I fail, what if it doesn’t turn out like it is suppose to, then comes the maybe I shouldn’t do it.

Avoidance. A huge part of PTSD that is extremely difficult to get past. So many questions, so many possibilities of the outcome. Many times things get over analyzed or basing our decision on one episode! To the point we think we are better off by avoiding things.

It might be going out, going to an event, saying something, acting a certain way, or even being intimate with someone… In reality it can happen with anything!

Then there is the old standby. Remember that Popeye cartoon? Wimpy would always say, “I’d gladly pay you next Tuesday for a hamburger today”? Isn’t that kind of what PTSD does to you? You will put off something that really needs to be done today. Then you might have trouble when that day comes and the quote comes back into play again.

Avoidance. It can sure play a toll on you. Then what happens? You feel bad, or you feel like you let someone down, you feel like you are not worthy, it plays on your self esteem of not being able to accomplish things, etc. Now you are in even a worse frame of mind about yourself, that’s not good!

Sometimes, you just have to take that step. Try. You might be surprised what you can actually accomplish. There is something that works really well that a doctor told us once. Take a sheet of paper. Write down what it is, rather it’s a fear, something you want to do, etc. Then make 2 rows. In one row write what would be positive or accomplished…the facts of the situation. In the second row write the negative or the facts that could lead to a negative outcome… the facts. Everything is based on the facts. For example, “I don’t want to go on a cruise because the ship will sink.” Okay, that might very well be true, but what are the odds? Take the facts and numbers of how many incidents have in reality happened and weigh them against the unlikeliness of it happening. Odds are, you are more apt to have a good time and enjoy your trip then the likeliness of the ship sinking. You can use this method for viewing the reality on paper which can lead you past the fear to try. No, I’m not saying the fear will just disappear, we know it doesn’t, but it gives you a factually based guideline to help you do something that you would normally avoid.

Avoidance is going to be there, it’s all a part of PTSD and what you have been through and I’m by no means saying it’s not. However, sometimes in some situations looking at the facts can help you get through the avoiding feelings and help you get a little piece of life back that you thought or feel is gone. You might just find out that you are stronger then a lot of those avoiding feelings. Again, it won’t happen every time, so don’t view yourself as a failure if something doesn’t work out, but trying will make you stronger and help you find new boundaries to your limits of avoidance… as well as the limits you thought were there that you can step past, even if it’s just a small step.

Try! You might just impress yourself! 😉

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”