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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

Fresh Guacamole

 

 

Homemade Guacamole

~By my daughter

2 ripe Avocados

1/2 teaspoon cracked Sea Salt

Dash cracked Black Pepper

1 tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice

1/4 Onion minced

1/2 Tomato chopped- remove pulp and seeds

Other spices can be added to your taste if you like spicy. Blend all ingredients together and serve with chips.

My daughter told me, “Hey mom, while you are at the store would you pick up 2 avocados for me? I want to make guacamole.” I looked at her and said, “Um, okay. Need anything else?” She said no. So I picked up what she wanted and to the kitchen she went. All fresh ingredients, no packets or anything like that.

I fess, I have never really liked guacamole very much, honestly. But when she was done she said, “Here mom you have to try it.” Okay lol, guess I have to, I thought to myself. 😉

You know what? It’s REALLY good!  She did a good job and her and I added it to the family recipe book. 

This pic is a little plate she made for Craig.  He likes it lol! 🙂

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

 

 

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Let me tell you a short story… Children and their Friends

Let me tell you a short story…

Yesterday my son called as he was getting ready to leave work. He asked, “Mom, is dad okay with me bringing a friend to the house? We are going bowling but I need to change first.” This is something we have always done here, if someone new is coming to the house there is a call ahead of time so Craig is aware someone is coming over.

I told him sure, dad’s been in the bedroom most of the day but said it was okay. So a little while later my son and his friend got here. I went out and met the friend, sat in the living room for quite awhile, all of the kids and I talking. Well, this friend is actually joining the Navy, and is a dog lover, so we had a lot to talk about in general.

We were talking about dogs and how I use to train. Alex came out to say his hellos then went back into the bedroom with Craig. We got on the subject of everything I have taught Alex to do that helps us. Then I backed up, said “Oh my husband is a disabled Veteran with PTSD“. Know what she said to me? “I know Brandt told me and I am on your PTSD page. I follow your postings.

WOW! That about knocked my socks off, lol. It made me feel really good actually and we had an awesome conversation! My son’s friends care enough about him and others, that they are actually learning about PTSD from this page! 

It really goes back to what I have always said, “Children who are educated correctly will be what changes the stigma.”

So, just a shout out to those of you here that know my son, you have just been adopted! 🙂 Glad you are here with us!  Mom

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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A new little rosemary bush… brought way more then just rosemary

So I slipped away for a little “me time” this morning, actually haha grocery shopping and just walking through the store looking at everything… but it was still me time. 

I decided this month instead of my self-help buy myself flowers,which I do once a month, I would buy a new rosemary bush! My other one did not survive the winter sadly. And I can’t allow our little family tradition of rosemary for dad to be interrupted.  😉

So, when I got back home my step-daughter asked me why I bought a rosemary plant. I explained that the old one died and I had to get a new one… she does not live with us full time so when she is here she is still learning.  I explained what her step-sister does for dad and why. (For those of you that do not know the story, you can find it here.)

You know what a small conversation about this new plant brought?

Craig’s daughter learning about breathing exercises (coping skills) and how this new little plant can be a big part in it and all of the good things it can help with. We even did them together so I could show her how to do them correctly. She was SO excited and said this was “really cool“. I explained to her that anyone can use breathing exercises and how it can help you calm down when you feel nervous, anxious, worried… you know 😉 when you experience anxiety.

We talked about how the oils and fragrance of the plant has a relaxing effect (by the way, if you can’t be around rosemary, lavender is my other favorite). How you can just brush your hand across the leaves or pinch them off and place them in a little bowel then rub them in your hands when you feel you need extra help to relax. We talked about how the oils transfer to your hands then you just hold your hands up to your face as you breathe. We talked about how combining the rosemary scent with the breathing exercises helps you relax more.

She loved this! She thought this was something she could do to help her when she fidgets and just can’t seem to slow down. She said she has a rosemary bush at home but thought it was only good for cooking. That now she knows another way to use it.

The catch to all of this?

She was just taught something that she can use throughout her lifetime, but did not realize this is a “coping skill”… she viewed it as something fun and new that she learned. 😉

Children can learn about PTSD and things that can help at any age level. Teach them on their age appropriate level and make the learning fun! And look at what one little rosemary bush just taught a child. 🙂 You know what else? How much do you want to bet she teaches this to someone else? 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Parents and Grandparents…

This is really not on the PTSD topic, but is something that weighed on my heart over the weekend so I wanted to share it with all of you… Parents and Grandparents

I have to say I was truly floored over the weekend.

My daughter’s party was awesome! ALL of her friends had great manners and well behaved young ladies. They had a blast being here and I enjoyed having them all! However, I was shocked at some of the parents! One of the girls lives not far from us, just over a mile away… now mind you these are 13-14 year old girls! She was walking to our house for the party, could not find the house and called us several times. I finally told her to get permission and I would pick her up. That happened, I picked her up and brought her here for the party.

BUT, the shocker came in after the party. This girl and one other stayed after the party. Until almost 9pm. No big deal to me, the girls were having a blast. At 8:30pm I asked the girls what time were their parents coming to get them. The one that walked said she has to WALK home and be home by 9pm. The other said she did not know because she has not been able to get in touch with the person who was suppose to be picking her up, so her dad would pick her up if need be.

WHAT is wrong with parents these days???

Now we live in an okay area, you actually have to have a background check done to live in our neighborhood, however, the area of the girl that was suppose to walk home at 9pm is outside our area, and does have several sexual predators listed near her home. And she was suppose to walk at night!?! NOT on this mom’s watch! I drove her home. The other girl, her dad did finally come at 9 after she could not get a hold of anyone. Now mind you, the party actually ended at 4pm.

Of 7 girls, only ONE parent actually came to the door to meet us and come inside the house!

Then, my daughter’s new phone… I mentioned a few quick basic rules/reminders before she dove into using it. Her friends were floored that she had phone rules. They said, “wow our parents have never told us those things”. And they even asked me questions. But every single one of them had phones, with data plans, but no rules to the phones, social media, games, internet, nothing. And to watch them listen so closely to what I said, and then say wow that makes sense, and ask questions. Makes you stop and wonder.

I heard, “Your mom is awesome“, “I love talking to your mom!” And even about Craig, “Your dad is really awesome and nice“. Even with Craig’s anxiety and PTSD being up, he still went in and out of the bedroom to help and be a part of the party. The compliments were great, but it also makes you wonder what they are not getting or missing at home.

I admit lol, I might be a little over protecting or a cautious parent to a certain point, in some people’s eyes. How can I not be with the real life fact I myself was stalked and attacked inside my own home years ago as a young adult. I was young (18), carefree, and thought nothing in the world could hurt me lol. That was NOT a real life view… I was wrong! Mine had nothing to do with my parents. I could not change the fact of the stalker/attacker being who he was or his actions, but it was a case that happened that I myself could have taken a little more caution and it MIGHT have helped prevent what happened.

So, I AM cautious about what my children do and who they communicate with, and I do teach them. But you know what? Being a little over protecting or cautious to what is real life situations IS a good thing! And it will sure help keep some of these children safe or at least a little wiser and cautious to what they do!

I think after the weekend my daughter really got a good look at how much she is loved (not that she didn’t already know that, but she got a different view of it) and that the rules we put into place are for good reasons.

Parents, PLEASE take caution with your children. This day and age is not like it was when we were kids! It does not mean children need to fear real life, it means they simply need to be educated on it. Never assume they know what to be cautious of, teach them. There are more and more children missing these days, in the news as being hurt, etc etc. I know not every case can be prevented, but some basic life skills including those of technology, which we did not have those tight/close connections of technology as kids, could help in many cases. PLEASE teach your children and be a wise parent!

I cannot tell others how to be a parent, but this is some food for thought.

Thank you! <3

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Children and PTSD…

In my research this morning I came across a great article on “PsychCentral” regarding children with PTSD. A study has been done on the benefits of therapy helping children at a younger age and medications not being needed.

This bring up a whole new subject, and that I would love to see a study done on and the results. What about children with PTSD parents? Ones who may have developed or might develop secondary PTSD?

If therapy for children has indeed been beneficial for those who have PTSD, I would have to guess that the children in homes with PTSD might benefit from therapy just as much, which would reduce the effects of PTSD later in life, help them adjust to situations better, and live a happy and productive life.

There are however many children that do adjust well in a home with a PTSD parent. I’m happy and thankful to say our home is one of those. I believe educating children on their age level about PTSD has been of great help. It helps a child understand why a parent might act the way they do, why they are emotionally distant at times or even need to be in a different room, and helps a child not take things personally as if they themselves have done something to cause a parent to be these ways.

Children learn very quickly. I would believe therapy and education about PTSD at a young age would be very beneficial to them as well as therapy if it is needed or the parent feels it could be of help.

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

 

From a child’s point of view. “Owning” something and Communication

I have a few different things really weighing on my heart this morning. So I think I need to touch on them individually since they are so very different. You know how I love to write. Well, over the years both of my children have found the love for it also. My son is writing his own book, which he works on as he has that want to. And my daughter, well actually Craig’s daughter also, they do things a little differently. We taught them to write, to express themselves, their feelings.

Well my daughter has done something very unique with it. She writes when she gets frustrated or if something is on her mind, but not in a journal or such. She just writes. When she is done she reads it, then crumbles it up and throws it away. It is her way of talking, venting, and letting it go. She told me last night that when she crumbles it up and throws it away it makes any bad feelings go away with it. Over the weekend there was an adult that did not understand this thing she does or why, and they took her writing she had been doing and read it. Okay, she was fine with them reading it, she also understood their concerns, but she also explained to me something else. “They are always telling me to ‘own it’, they say I never own anything. How am I suppose to ‘own’ something if they don’t let me? And how am I suppose to ‘own’ something that I didn’t do or is not mine to ‘own’? If I don’t ‘own’ what they say I should then I’m told I’m lieing!”

Oh boy! Yep, there was a long talk last night here. Now I know she is strong headed like I am and if she thinks she’s in the right she will stand up for herself and not back down. She said “mom, how am I suppose to ‘own’ something that I didn’t do when an adult is telling me I did it. I didn’t do it!” Well, I know myself that sometimes she won’t own something that she should, not all the time, but sometimes. So I explained to her my “stepping out of the box” theory.
“You have this invisible box. Pretend that everyone involved in whatever the situation is is standing in that box, including yourself. Now leave yourself in that box, but step outside of the box and look back at everyone including yourself and what you and each person were doing or saying. This is looking at the big picture of what happened, and can make you see your own actions as well. But you have to leave your bad feelings with the you that you left in the box so you can view things clearly.”
I went on to tell her that sometimes, not all of the time, but sometimes, you are going to see the mistakes you made, and this is when you realize you were the one that was wrong, and also when you have to ‘own’ whatever it was. That no one is perfect, people learn and grow from their mistakes but to do that you do have to ‘own’ what is yours. Then on the other hand if it’s truly something someone else did or how they were acting and there needs to be a resolution to it, you have to tell them and talk to them about it. Again emphasizing that no one is perfect.
“But what if the other person won’t ‘own’ it and I still get blamed?” Then you have to decide how it will effect you and the situation. At this point you spoke your mind, they know where you stand, and sometimes people won’t step out of their box themselves and you have to accept that they are unwilling to do that, and let it go, just like when you crumble up that paper and throw it away. Sometimes the fight is not worth it and it might be something that in a week or year might not really be important anyway. If it’s something important, then you stand your ground and what you know is right. ‘Owning’ what is rightfully your’s to own over time will change the way others view things when you say “it’s not mine to own.” Oh she got it! 😉

“But mom, I’m still mad.” And I explained to her what a child psychologist explained to her a couple of years ago. Sometimes you have to except the way an adult is, sometimes they won’t change or only try to change for a brief time, and you have to except that that might be a fact and might happen sometimes.

“But mom!”, she said. “So what are you so mad about?”, I asked. “They kept my writing! So I couldn’t throw it away!” Oh dear. I think today I need to make a call and see if I can get someone to fix that one. 😉

This adult and I did talk last night so I already knew the situations at hand, and I knew what needed to be owned and what didn’t and by whom. But I didn’t know this part lol. This part is fixable though. 😉

I did emphasize that if there is something that needs to be worked on and something that can’t be written and just thrown away, to always remember to talk to me or an adult about it, or the person it involves. Oh she was very clear on that one, I got the “oh mom I always talk to you, you don’t have to worry about that!” And I told her, that even includes if it is about me, no one is perfect and even though I’m mom, I make mistakes too. The only way anything can be attempted to be fixed is if you talk about it, communication! 😉

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

How children think… :)

This is what my daughter left in the fridge this morning for Craig before she went to school. It had a note on it that said “For Dad”. Now if that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will 😉

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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