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Wording, Communication, and Understanding there can be different views: PTSD

PTSD and walking on eggshells communication

Wording, Communication, and Understanding there can be different views…

ARE very serious things when it comes to PTSD!

There are TWO sides to this!

From a spouse/partner’s side of things…
Many know it as “walking on eggshells”, or as I worded it  stepping on a bee no matter how carefully you tip-toed. Where you feel like you have to be careful with every word you speak, even topic you bring up or talk about. You may feel like nothing you say is right, or you may fear talking about certain things or sharing your feelings, which you feel may trigger PTSD.

From the PTSD side of things…
Views may just simply be different, one may have a difficult time explaining things or wording things the way they are meant. You may feel misunderstood, or like no matter what you say you are always viewed as wrong. You also cannot leave out whatever symptoms are at hand at that moment and what they may be causing.

Bottom line no matter what feelings or views are at hand, this brings stress as well as can bring a wall blocking communication! NOT a good thing for EITHER person, or you together!

It’s just a fact of life that no one, no matter how close you are, will agree on everything all of the time. No one will have the same feelings or views all of the time. No one will understand another person all of the time. When you look at the basics of what are already facts about life, life with PTSD is not really much different. It just comes with needing more communication as well as understanding, and taking into consideration each other!

So what are things that can help?

* Do not jump to conclusions!

This is one of the most important things to keep in mind! When you take two sides and bring them together, then add PTSD symptoms to it AND maybe anxiety or that tip-toeing on the other side of it, it can be a recipe for disaster if you jump to conclusions. It can also bring on that “fight” side of things.

* STOP and take time to listen!

It is very easy to spit words out quickly, especially if you have a set opinion on something or set in the way you are viewing things, or are feeling on edge about something. Then add in what each of you are feeling at that moment. Take a deep breath and hear each other out. Do not interrupt each other! When you stop and really hear each other it’s easier to notice when there is a misunderstanding, a break in communication, or simply you have a difference of opinions. No one will be right or wrong every time, and at times you are just not going to agree on things. But taking the time to listen to each other CAN help greatly!

* Reword things!

Accept if things need to be reworded! This is one that is extremely difficult for many. Once something is said you cannot take it back… IF you stay stuck in that mindset there is a good chance you are going to experience a lot of conflict. When symptoms are high, hurt feelings, difference of opinions, etc. Many things may be said that are not actually meant the way they came out. You have to allow space because errors are going to happen and they need room to be corrected.

Other times once you listen and really hear what each other has to say, your view or opinion may change. It is important to allow change to take place so you can work through things.

Misunderstandings DO take place! One, either person, may not understand exactly what you are trying to say or take what you said the wrong way.

There is NOTHING wrong with saying, “I do not think you understood what I was trying to say.” or “I think you took that differently than I was meaning”, “Let me reword it so we can better understand each other.” Then the other person, let them reword it! This has been an ultimate help for Craig and I personally!

Allowing each other to clarify or reword things can also help build trust! Because you are working together to make sure you understand each other clearly. Trust is VERY important.

* Do not dismiss another person’s view.

It is really easy to get into a mindset that your view is the right view, unfortunately it goes back to no one is perfect all of the time. Just because one has PTSD does NOT mean they are wrong all of the time! Many times they may be seeing something that is in reality taking place that their partner may not be seeing. This happens a lot when a spouse/partner is walking on eggshells, having a rough day, or not coping well themselves. It goes back to listening to each other, and remembering that neither person will be right or wrong all of the time. Work together!

* Ask questions!!!

This could save so many conflicts or hurt feelings from happening! If one says something and it really seems odd for them to say that or view something in that way, ask them to explain what they mean. BEFORE jumping to conclusions or taking something personally!!! That is another one Craig and I use. Many times it goes back to something just came out wrong or maybe they are viewing things differently at that moment and it’s something that you need to simply talk about.

Maybe one is just having a rough day, maybe they view something you have not, maybe there was a misunderstanding, maybe it just came out wrong OR not a full thought. There are many things that could be cleared up by just asking questions or asking why they view it that way.

* Accept that you will not always agree.

It is just a part of life, no one will agree 100% of the time! Accepting when you just simply have a difference of opinion or view on something is okay! Craig and I have phrases that we came up with for these times that really help…

“I/We will work on that”
“Can we come back to this later? I’m not dismissing it but just cannot focus on that topic right now.”
“Can we address this later when my anxiety is lower? I want us to talk about it, but right now is not a good time to.”

Those little phrases not only shows that you care what the other person is saying, it also helps the other person understand if a symptom may be causing a conflict or one to not be able to focus, which is very common for either side of the conversation. If it’s something that there will not be a result to right now, you just simply agree whatever it is will be worked on, then you work on it.

* Do not be afraid to share your feelings!

Both sides can be guilty of not sharing how they feel! It is okay to share your feelings, what you are going through, what your day was like, etc. You own them, they are your’s. For the other person, sometimes just someone listening is a help. You do not own what another person feels, you do not have to feel guilty about it or feel as if you are a burden or to blame… easier said then done I know.

A good example of this is when a spouse/partner feels lonely. Do not kid yourself, this is life with PTSD and everyone will experience it sooner or later, in reality from either side of the fence. But for example purposes we will use the spouse.

How is your partner going to know how you are feeling, that you feel lonely, if you do not say something? They won’t and nothing will change! It does not mean the one with PTSD is at fault for anything! Maybe the spouse feels lonely because symptoms have been high, or one has had to focus on themselves more so symptoms do not roll over to others. Maybe the two of you have not been talking enough. Maybe one just did not realize how things were effecting the spouse or was not viewing it the same way… thought everything was okay. The point is, blaming or taking blame does not get you anywhere! Neither does remaining silent. By talking about it, the door opens to work on changes, so those feelings decrease and things can get better.

No matter what it is about, sharing how you feel or what you are going through helps the two of you understand each other better, helps you work on things together when need be, and opens that door to communicating.

So these are just a few of many things that you can try. EITHER person can experience all of these things, the feelings, the emotions, taking things personally, jumping to conclusions, misunderstanding the other person, etc etc etc. Take and make the time to talk and really hear what BOTH of you are saying.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook page

There is a difference between “Caring For” vs “Controlling”

There is a difference between “Caring For” vs “Controlling”.

This is a topic that gets brought to me quite often, normally from the ones who have PTSD and/or other disabilities. At times I do hear from spouses/partners on this topic as well… “He/She thinks I’m a control freak! He/She does not see what I see!

So let’s talk about it a little more…

I must be honest, you know me… “facts on the table”. The first thing I have to ask a spouse/partner is, “Well, are you?“. Then I ask, “Can you give me examples of why he/she thinks you are a control freak?” It’s not being nasty or discrediting how they are or what they do, it’s simply giving them a stop sign to stop and really think, and viewing what is happening to find out if they have actually slipped into the control seat which they may not even realize, OR are they doing what MUST be done? It’s that taking a good look in the mirror I talk about often. You have to look for the “why” to get to the root of how one is feeling, what’s causing it, and in order to find a solution. 

Before I go any further, let me define the terms “enabler and enabling” in the sense I am using here. These terms can be used in a positive or negative way. I am speaking of the negative way in this posting. An enabler (or enabling) is when one tries to control a dependent person or in the reference of PTSD we are talking about, controls what one with a disability CAN actually do for themselves. One may treat a dependent person as if they are a child. Avoiding problems/conversations to prevent conflict is common, and one may keep their feelings to themselves to try to maintain peace which can cause one to think that avoiding a conflict can solve a problem. An enabler may feel superior over another person and at times take over that person’s responsibilities (when that person can in reality do something on their own).

This will be one of the toughest areas to find a healthy balance to! It is very easy for a spouse/partner to become controlling when PTSD or other disabilities are at hand and sends your world into a tailspin. You HAVE to make sure this does NOT happen and you do not slide into the control seat! When or if you do, you can actually become an enabler instead of one who is trying to do their best to “help” your PTSD loved one.

With everything that PTSD and other disabilities do in reality bring, which may also include physical disabilities for many, you have to define what care or help is absolutely needed and what one can do on their own. If they can do something for themselves, you HAVE to let them! It keeps you from becoming an enabler over a carer.  It’s also healthy for them, as well as their own self-esteem, to be able to do things for themselves.

I can give a GREAT example to this!

Craig has cognitive dysfunction and memory issues. It is one of the largest challenges we BOTH face with his disabilities, and can be a real safety issue in certain situations. But we have learned to manage them over time and have found solutions TOGETHER. Craig has been known to wander. By that I mean leave and then not know where he has been and had issues finding his way home. Some things he remembers, or for any given amount of time, and some things he does not recall at all. Short and long term memory, and his brain functions differently.

You can just imagine my reaction when this first happened with wandering! It scared the mess out of me (really scared him also) which sent me straight into a control mode “to protect him”. It did not take long for me to realize I was not protecting him at all (unless it was a real safety concern at hand)! I was at times enabling him! I fell into that control seat and felt like to care for him I had to be right next to him at all times. I saw what him wandering did and caused for both of us. Well, I’m sure you can take a wild guess how well that went over lol! It didn’t!

It was causing him to become frustrated, on top of already being frustrated with not remembering things, and it was causing me to become WAY off balanced. My actions were not me at all. The sticking right beside each other all of the time was not us at all. We were sent into that tailspin.

So I stepped back and took a good look in that mirror. This was obviously not working, neither one of us was getting any alone personal time/space, but there were very real and possibly safety issues at hand. WE had to come up with a balance and a solution that was healthy for BOTH of us, and so I would not keep him from things he could actually do for himself. It took us a lot of trial and error, as well as re-learning what he can or cannot honestly do on his own with his disabilities.

An example of one of many solutions we came up with was our property. We loved, I mean loved not having a fence here on the lakefront. But by not having a fence it placed me in the position of having to constantly be right there so we did not have a repeat of the wandering, getting lost, or a safety issue. So we put up a fence, all gates have locks in them which remain locked unless we are using them right then and there, then they are locked again.

It allowed Craig to be able to go out the back door into the yard without me being right beside him. It also allowed me the piece of mind that he’s okay out there and can have time to himself. Sure I’m guilty of looking out the windows from time to time to check on him, mainly to make sure he is not getting overheated because he is heat sensitive now. But I don’t have to go out there with him unless he asks me to or if I need to take him water. We also agreed that he will wear a medical ID bracelet, so if for some chance he does get past all of our safety precautions we have in place, there is still a precaution in place that is always on him.

One fence and a little brainstorming helped change enabling back into caring for. It makes him happy and brought balance back to both of us… and our relationship. 

Even with all sorts of disabilities at hand, you can find ways for a person to still be able to do things without being controlled or them feeling as if they are being treated as a child. You just have to work together, be honest with each other about what one can or cannot do for themselves, and find solutions or things that work for both of you.

Of course there’s the flip side to this. That other side of the fence that I will not leave out. 

It is very real with PTSD and other disabilities that one may not notice or recognize areas where they really do need help. Reality is, PTSD comes with a long list of symptoms which does include times where one may not recognize their actions or that they are having difficulties with certain things, and could use some assistance.

These are not the times to “man up” so to speak (male or female). This is the time that communication and talking about things HAS to come into play. One with PTSD may not like what a loved one tells them, they may not want to believe something is real or may not recognize it is real, that’s very common. With some things, acceptance really has to be a part of things so you can work on finding things to help instead of hinder. And this is by no means, meaning that one person is always right or wrong! It simply means communication needs to take place so you can work through things and get to the bottom of what is taking place, how both people are viewing things, so you can find solutions or figure out what “caring for” steps do need to be put into place IF needed.

Listen to your loved one and their concerns so the two of you can talk about the concerns and find a way to work through them, and find solutions that are in the best and healthiest interest of everyone.

These conversations and facing things can be frustrating. Don’t forget your coping skills and remember it’s okay to say “I need to take a break for a few minutes, then we can come back to this.” But total avoidance of a concern has to stay at bay on this one. Communication IS needed so you can take steps forward and figure out what’s in your best interest, especially if it also includes not only health related, but safety concerns.

It’s the same thing for those with disabilities as it is with the spouses/partners, “Have you taken a good look at yourself? And, what is causing them to have this concern or act this way?

You locate the “why” then you work on finding the solutions, what will help, or be the best options. And these solutions, so to speak, CAN change as symptoms change! It is okay to readdress things as needed!

Every single person IS their own individual, and has a right to that. No one needs to be in a position of controlling another human being, and no one needs to be in the position of being or feeling controlled. Those things do not bring any healthy balance to either person, or a relationship! 😉

You have to work together, communicate, face facts, and find a healthy balance. Many people do require another person to help take care of them now that disabilities are a part of life, but that does not mean another person has to, in all cases, do everything for them. There are huge differences between “caring for” and “controlling”, make sure you understand them. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook page

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Website

Words are everything…

Words are everything…

There is one thing that I learned a long time ago with PTSD, and the reality is, in life itself… your wording is and means everything!

I’ve spoken to a few people recently and those conversations really made me realize I needed to share this, and this REALLY comes from the heart.

PTSD can bring a lot of things with it. At times it can bring out some of the most nastiest sounding and hurtful things one has ever heard or felt, but NOT only from the one with PTSD, but from a loved one as well.

PTSD is going to try you, both of you, all of you! It will try to push every button you have. It will look for that fight when symptoms are increased… fight or flight is very real with PTSD. It at times will cause or try to cause emotional pain. It is a human reaction that comes out when a person is hurting emotionally, any person.

NO ONE purposely does this!!! PTSD and responses to it are what does this. Emotions are what causes this.

There is no long write-up on this one  No long in depth conversation like I am known for. This is simple.

If you do not ever learn anything else from this page/me (which I hope will NEVER be the case! There’s a lot to learn and share!) I want you to really think about and learn this…

This is real life. With it, we are never promised tomorrow, we are not even promised another hour or minute. When this life brings those harsh words, misunderstanding, emotional hurt, and struggles… find ways to correct it! We know words and feelings cannot always be avoided, we know at times they come out wrong or in harshness. We know this life can get thrown into chaos at times and then it comes again. NO MATTER what happens, who it is to or from… step back, take a deep breath, and work through it TOGETHER!

Live each day as if there may not be another. That is one thing in this life that you own, it is your’s, and nothing or no one can take that away from you! Learning to live as such will rarely leave any regrets for later.

Today, take a moment no matter how good or bad things are right now… and share a smile, share a hug, share an “I’m sorry” or “We will be okay”.

Words can be and mean everything, please make sure you find the positive ones in there too. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

PTSD and High Stress… an example and options to handle it

I mentioned last night on my page that we had a couple of high stressful days around here. I also posted yesterday morning about PTSD and outside negative influences, there was a reason for that… It was a gentle reminder. 😉

The past couple of days I watched Craig struggle with increased PTSD symptoms. Stress does play a huge toll on one with PTSD no matter what level of coping they have accomplished. Honestly, I think just about, if not every symptom showed it’s mask of PTSD over the past couple of days. Times like that are when you use every single tool you have gathered in your “toolbox”, and you keep using them as you need them.

I heard that snappy tone, frustration… Which was responded to calmly with, “Please remember that it was not me that caused this, breathe, we will work through this together.” A simple, calm sentence spoken that carried a reminder, gave focus, directed to coping skills, and showed support and help to find a solution.

I heard the words of anger… Which were responded to calmly with, “You are better then this situation. I know this situation is not right and it is not fair, but we will find a solution. Relax, slow down, breathe“, which lead to taking a nap and breaking from the anger cycle/buildup.

I heard “How do I handle this situation? This is unreal!”… Which was responded to calmly with, “Try [this]. Not too many words, short sentences, and then take one sentence/issue at a time before going to the next. This will get worked out.” Which allowed the thought process to not become too overwhelmed through the triggered symptoms, again allowed focus without cognitive/memory weighing in too harshly, and reassurance that a solution would be found and this stress will end. Help was asked for.

I heard “I don’t understand?”… Which was responded to calmly with, “Talk to me and let’s talk through this together, I will help, and we will find a solution. Let’s ask one question at a time since there is not good communication in this situation.” Which allowed the frustration and confusion of the situation to be talked out and different points of view be given, support, and again the result will lead to a solution so this stress ends. Solution options were given and passed along.

I heard slurring of words… Which was responded to calmly with, “Enough for now, step away, this amount of stress is causing you and your brain to shut down. A solution is now offered, basically in place, and there is nothing more you can do until tomorrow.” Symptoms and what they were causing were pointed out and we stepped away from the situation for the day.

I heard increased nightmares… Which were responded to calmly from a distance with, “You are dreaming, it’s just a nightmare, you are at home and I am here with you. You are okay.” Then once awake, “Yesterday’s stress has just played a toll on you and PTSD, this will be okay.” The why and reassurance.

Day two.

I heard increased frustration and anxiety… Which has responded to calmly with, “If we do not hear something by [time], then we will make contact. Until then I will make arrangements and phone calls, then let’s watch a movie and try to focus on something else.” Which set a time frame to follow without it remaining an unknown amount of time waiting, other things were handled during this for a just in case situation so a plan was in place to help relieve symptoms (the what if’s), and focus was taken off of the situation some by adding in a different focus, a movie.

I heard increased anxiety of time frame is up and we have heard nothing… Which was handled calmly with, “Okay, let’s make contact and see if the unknown info has been found. If not, then let’s offer [this] as the final solution to this.” Which ended anxiety and other increased symptoms of waiting, the unknown, and a solution was offered.

The outcome… the solution was accepted, plan in place, this two days of stress and increased symptoms can now work on decreasing.

I heard, “You know I trusted you through this. I wanted to go off with anger. This was way too much for me to handle, too much stress on me. I listened to you.” Yes, and we made it through it and managed PTSD together.

This was a very short version of what our two days were like. My point of telling this, rather you are the one with PTSD, the one beside them, or the other person a situation involves… Stress, especially something that is not normal stress, can play a huge roll in how it effects PTSD. Symptoms can increase rather quickly, which in reality can lead a stressful situation to an even worse situation.

How you handle every situation, your wording, and anything and everything involved with the situation, can make a huge difference to how one is effected and how the symptoms respond. Even people who have PTSD managed okay, can backslide during high stress, cognitive dysfunction and memory can become severe, and if that takes place with no understanding or help, it’s going to be difficult to come to a solution without PTSD taking control. Everyone involved in a situation needs to do their part so a solution can be found instead of it leading to increased PTSD symptoms or even outbursts.

Keeping things simple without a lot of extra “noise” (extra wording), which is how PTSD in many cases will translate what it can’t process through, can greatly help in high stress situations.

When I say that everyone really needs to learn about PTSD, what it is, and things that could help another person, I really do mean that for very good reasons. Those things help everyone! Not only the one with PTSD.

What you choose to do or say, how you choose to handle every step of every situation, how you choose to keep PTSD in mind or not… will make all of the difference in the world, good or bad, to a situation. Just something to think about.

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Long Distance Relationships and PTSD

Long Distance Relationships and PTSD

Okay, my mailbox is lighting up with messages asking questions about long distance relationships! And I’m going to need some input on this one. 

Questions coming to me are:

“How do I handle my PTSD partner being long distance? I don’t know when or when not to contact him/her and I worry so much about how they are doing.”

“My partner and I are in a long distance relationship and everything will be going fine, then 2-3 weeks of me not hearing anything or being able to get in touch with him/her. What do I do?”

“Our long distance relationship was doing great, but now out of nowhere my partner said he/she no longer loves me. Is this PTSD or are they serious? I don’t know how to handle this. Will this pass? I want to wait, but not sure if I should wait or move on.”

“Our marriage has been okay even with PTSD, but my husband/wife was transferred with work and now our marriage is falling apart. I don’t know what to do to fix this.”

Okay, those are a few things that have come to me, edited to include either male or female in order to help others. I am seeing there are huge relationship issues coming with long distance relationships when PTSD is a part of it. I would have to say the first question is, “Are these things normal as far as the personality of this person?” Some people may not be able to answer that question, especially if it’s a newer relationship. If it’s not related to personality, then PTSD MIGHT have it’s hand in these problems that are starting.

Mine and Craig’s relationship actually started with a long distance relationship, when I was 16 years old. We met, went on one date, then he left the next morning for 3 months to Australia. Probably why I did not have issues when he was gone with the ship during his military time. So we actually grew our relationship and got to know each other through phone calls and letters during his time away, BUT that was before #PTSD!

Once PTSD was a part of it, yes I’ll admit it made things a little more challenging, especially since at that time we did not know it was PTSD at hand.

Anyway, many long distance relationships, based on what has come to me, seem to adapt the “Out of sight, out of mind” saying. Which obviously is not a good thing.

Communicate! Talk and come up with an agreement that you BOTH can follow. There are times that one with PTSD does not want to talk to anyone, and it’s nothing personal. They are battling their symptoms, trying to adjust to changes, actually missing their partner which can cause PTSD symptoms to present numb, distant reactions or even emotionless responses. Other times they pull away, in a way to protect one or protect themselves from feeling as if they are a burden. This is when that “you deserve better then me” comes into play. There could be many reasons connected to it.

The other thing I hear a lot about is, “Now that we are physically apart from each other, he/she has had a relationship with someone else. But, says they still love me and wants to be with me.” The other side of this is a new relationship started and they no longer want their original relationship, no matter how long of a relationship they have had or close the two were when physically not distant.

NOT saying cheating of any sort is acceptable, but this does seem to come into play quite often. It seems to come from PTSD causing one to feel alone mentally, physically alone, and at times one is trying to find some sort of “normal” (IF cheating is not a part of their personality to begin with) and a not so good way of coping mind you. Another thing I have seen linked to this is when the non-PTSD partner “nags” or complains a lot, or does not except one’s PTSD and/or what life with PTSD is really like. I do hear a lot about nagging being the relationship breaker. It pushes the one with PTSD away. They of sorts, go into survival mode and some do not realize they are even doing that.

Another thing I have heard linked to long distant relationship issues are the constant phone calls, text messages, or emails… From what has come to me from both sides of the fence, these can push one with PTSD away, even though in reality, in many cases this happens because the non-PTSD partner is worried about them! You have to find a balance that is good for BOTH of you if this is happening! Many times the one with PTSD will just stop replying or answering if the number of messages are overwhelming them. This is not a good situation for them OR the worried partner. Many times this causes one to feel they are being treated like a child or being harassed and it gives off a false since of what the non-PTSD partner is actually doing and why. TALK! Come up with a plan that will help BOTH of you.

There is something that my parents actually agreed to, and it is something that Craig and I agreed to when we got back together. If there is EVER a time that either of us decide this relationship is not for us, and I mean really decide and know it’s just not going to work no matter what (not based on a PTSD knee jerk reaction or out of anger words), then we tell each other. Be honest. If a relationship has no chances of making it, be honest about it. And you part your ways without harshness towards one another. I think this agreement has honestly helped and even made our relationship grow and become stronger. No matter what PTSD brings, unless this agreement is brought up then there is nothing to take personally and we always know where each other stands in our hearts.

Whatever the cause for the issues, in my honest opinion you have to find the “why” to it, so you can work on finding a solution.

This is just a small amount of my input based on what I have had come to me. All input is welcomed on this topic!

** I will say though, let’s keep this peaceful and productive! NO “beating up” those that have caused hurt to you. We are trying to find positive things that can HELP long distance relationships have better chances of growing in good ways.**

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

From others:

“My best advice is to avoid that situation and if your in that situation make it a goal to move closer.Long distance relationship’s are going to be non traditional. There is going to be a new set of rules( for lack of a better term) ” -Beth

“Having had a long distance relationship with me being the PTSD partner in the deal….all I can say, is the person you are seeing must determine their boundaries in the relationship and then abide by them. I think the partner needs to decide what constitutes, “All they can handle, and it’s time to call it quits”. Sometimes that is not a chosen option, and the partner chooses to stay till the end….however that may unfold. Patience and tolerance of the disease is essential….informing yourself of the nature of the disease is most helpful, and lowering your expectations of the relationship is essential. Just remember, this relationship is probably not going to unfold in a manner you are accustomed to in your past. Long distance means you have the obstacles of time and distance also factoring in the equation. PTSD relationships are difficult, whether long distance or inhome….but they ARE doable! All I can say, is know your limitations. Not all persons can or will handle a relationship of this kind….you just need to know where you stand with the challenges PTSD behavior manifests, and whether you can deal with the behavior from a long distance perspective! My wife knows I can be challenging, and she has been able to put up with me for 17 years….that’s pretty magical!” -Steven

The long distance thing is very difficult. My husband is stationed in KY and I’m in Texas. When we see each other everything is great. But when he goes back to KY he seems to retreat. He says he doesn’t feel married. He gets very depressed and lonely, and starts drinking and taking everything out on me. He calls me very ugly names and says he wants a divorce. Then the next morning when he’s sober he says I’m his whole world and he doesn’t mean any of that. I on the other hand, feel very married. I’m counting on the days for him to get out (this October) so we can finally live together. It scares me though some times that when he says those things …. maybe deep down he means them. Maybe he has decided he doesn’t want to be married and he just doesn’t want to tell the truth about it for fear of hurting me. Fills my days with anxiety and sadness.” -Tania

Let me add this—If the relationship you are in began before the occurrence of PTSD, and now you are looking at a long distance problem, your afflicted partner may feel He/She is not the person they were when you got together. They feel they have let you down. If they have met someone else, who understands their problems as they are now, it becomes easier to let go of the past relationship….kind of “I’m not living up to what I promised, and life will be happier for you without me.” They still love you, and desperately wish that they could still be that person you first met…it’s just not possible. Hope that helps, Bec.” -Larry

 

 

 

Traumas in life… PTSD or Not

I want to talk about something from a different angle… 

Many people have experienced a trauma in their lifetime, rather they have developed PTSD or not. Craig and I had a very odd thing happen a couple of nights ago and it really made me start thinking. There are some topics that we have never discussed on here and this mishap that happened made me realize that this is something that everyone really needs to think about… and talk about. 

Craig was actually picking on me in what he thought was a funny way of waking me up, and he was using humor to help with anxiety. He honestly meant no harm in it, and had no idea what was going to happen by what he did. We had been watching a show late that night, and I fell asleep. Well, sometimes those with PTSD just want someone awake with them. Rather it’s comfort just knowing someone is awake with them, they need to talk, or they just don’t want to feel alone at that moment… and I’m sure many other reasons. So he woke me up.

Something he picked up during his career, and I guess it was a way of waking people in a joking manner (no harm intended) when they would not wake up, was by pinching their nose shut for a few seconds. Yep, it works, brings one right out of sleep quickly and it did just that to me… and I DON’T recommend doing it! 

See, Craig’s focus was on whatever he was feeling and therefore wanting me awake. But in focusing on what he was feeling, he was not focusing on the big picture… and probably could not in all honesty. To state this up front, I’m not upset with him at all and we did have a talk about this after the fact, so everything is okay.

But… what about that big picture?

In his focus, what was Craig not picturing? Why was this such a huge deal to me? It never crossed Craig’s mind in his focus that I had a trauma in my past. (I’m not upset with him by the way, but felt this example could help others) Many of you know my story somewhat, ***trigger warning to those that have been assaulted, you might want to skip to the next paragraph now*** I had a stalker for several months that tormented me daily, this person left evidence that this person had been there, even became friends with my dog I had at that time (and the main reason my dogs are never outside by themselves or left alone) but I never saw this person until I was attacked by that person inside my home, and I was left unconscious, and they left out the front door in the middle of the day like no big deal. (Yes, this person was caught eventually)

I was stalked and attacked. Now picture me in a deep sleep and someone pinching my nose closed, even though it was meant to be harmless. NOT a good combination and it took me right back to that attack and me fighting the person off, for a very brief moment.

I have handled what I went through extremely well. I do have anxiety during certain episodes/situations, am a little more cautious then the normal person, but I have coped with what happened well. But that one small harmless act with my nose, did effect me, for a brief moment I panicked.

My point in sharing this is… So many that live with a person who has PTSD focus on the PTSD and the other person’s symptoms. At times they do not talk about their own traumas… their own triggers or what could be possible triggers. On the other hand, the ones with PTSD have to focus so much on themselves, that sometimes what another person went through is in a way blocked from their thoughts, during their own coping and/or what they are experiencing at that moment.

I had no clue that waking me in such a manner would cause me to react the way I did. It was not something Craig would have thought about, he’s never had an issue waking me before. No real fault from either of us, but something we learned. Craig and I were dating at the time of what I went through, we have talked about it a lot, but I have never talked about what could possibly be my own triggers besides the obvious. Craig knows I’ve coped with the trauma well, I do not have PTSD from it, but I do have some triggers. It was just a mishap the other night that neither of us would have ever thought about.

Communication and thinking before acting. Take time to talk to each other. Even if a person does not have PTSD, if they have experienced a trauma don’t dismiss the facts… neither of you or yourself. Listen and talk to each other so you have an idea of things that could be or become triggers… for either person.

Rather you have PTSD or not, if you have experienced a trauma, talk about it so mishaps like we experienced the other night can be avoided.

It really is a two way street when any trauma has been experienced, by either person. Don’t dismiss that fact. Talk and make sure you are hearing each other, and talk about possible triggers and/or what you know effects you… so you are on the same page.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

“I am human too”

I want to talk about something that is very real, extremely important, and a topic that gets brought to me literally every day. It’s one that sooner or later, every single one of us will experience, and most likely already have.

I do want to start by saying, I am not a doctor or in any medical field, I am just a spouse of one with PTSD… that has been there. This is in NO way meaning to be disrespectful towards either the one with PTSD or their spouse/partner, and there is no finger pointing or blame being placed on either party. It’s simply the facts of life with PTSD… facts on the table, and I hope everyone will take the time to read this entirely and understand this is coming from the heart, with great understanding as well as meaning, and is a topic that there just simply needs to be more understanding to, from both sides of the fence.

“I am human too.”

There are going to be times in this life with PTSD when things become unbalanced. Everyone will experience it sooner or later. Even the most educated, patient, understanding people on this earth can and will experience this from time to time. There are going to be times when treatment might need adjusting or there is actually more going on then you know about at the moment. There are going to be times when coping skills might just simply not be enough or used enough. There are going to be times when your plate is so full, your mind overwhelmed, that the slightest thing or a combination of serious things will cause your world to lose balance, even if just for a short time. There are going to be times that the strongest, most level headed people are going to stumble. My “family”, it’s a part of real life with PTSD, as well as other mental and/or physical disabilities.

When one person becomes unbalanced, it will roll over to the other person. Either person can wear either set of shoes on that one. When there is an unbalance, it has to be corrected. To correct it there has to be communication, and both people have to work together.

It is very common for the one with PTSD to, at times, keep things bottled up within themselves. In reality, how could they not? They know what PTSD feels like, they see what it can do to those around them, and many times they just don’t want it to effect others so they wrap their arms around their full plate and do not share what is on it, so to speak. The spouse can do the same thing.

But, there becomes a huge problem with this. As much as you think you are protecting your loved one, there is no way to hide that you are holding a heavy, full plate. And that full plate turns into increased symptoms, as well as at times viewing things differently then what they may really, in fact, be like. It can cause finger pointing, arguments, hurt feelings, lashing out at others, feelings of no one really cares or understands, and it will cause one to feel alone and at times you may feel like the world is against you. It’s a part of PTSD and very real life.

When a person experiences any of these things there are several things that can also happen.

First, it is going to cause a break in communication. If one is not sharing what they are thinking or experiencing, the other person is only going to see the symptoms, reactions, changes in how one acts… but they are not going to know or understand how to help, what to say, or what the true issue is if they have not been told… then eventually, things are going to be taken personally. Taking things personally can be very damaging to any sort of relationship. And sometimes just a simple, “I need you to just listen” can be all that is needed.

Secondly, whatever is going on causing the unbalance is going to cause, like I said, the other person to become unbalanced or at least off centered sooner or later. When nothing seems to be helping and that person is grasping at straws of what to do, what needs to happen, or just not understanding why there are changes or increased symptoms… that person is going to start acting differently as well. Many times this person is the spouse/partner.

When a spouse/partner becomes off balance, starts acting almost cold, snappy in tone, sarcastic, angry or even as if they are mad at the world… or you, whatever the reaction may be, it is not that these actions are what or how they mean to act, it’s also not always right, it’s that these actions or even words are a human response to a unbalanced situation. It’s not that they are purposely acting this or that way, it’s their defense to the situation. It’s really no different then one with PTSD reacts. Again, not that it is right, it’s just what happens at times.

Then we have that vicious circle. It causes PTSD symptoms or the way one with PTSD responds or acts, to become worse. It drives an extra wedge in-between two people.

The difficult fact is, many times the one with PTSD does not realize how they are responding to their full plate, which rolls over to them not understanding why their spouse/partner is acting/responding the way they are.

With this, there is a great issue that arises. When the one with PTSD is experiencing a rough time, that full plate, they need and many times expect a spouse/partner to be balanced, “perfect” is a commonly used word. When that balance is not there, it many times is taken as “You are always mad at me.”, or “I can’t do anything right.”, “You are never happy with me.”, etc etc etc., the one with PTSD is taking the spouse’s actions personally.

As a spouse/partner, it is just a hard cold fact that we are the ones relied on to keep a balance. We are the support person, we are the one who keeps things managed, many cases the caregiver, we are the ones who are there when no one else may be, we are the ones that are suppose to keep a level head and take everything PTSD brings into our lives and our partner’s life into consideration without holding grudges or resentment, and everything else that comes with it. And honestly, we would not be with our PTSD partner if we did not accept them and want to be with them, period.

But, we are human too. 

Spouses have feelings, emotions, they at times NEED to cry, at times they will become snappy or sarcastic, at times they have that urge to yell or lash back, they can get frustrated, at times they will take things out on people or things that are totally innocent in this, and at times they will not use the right or enough coping skills. Really, they are no different then the one with PTSD, only difference is they are in the other pair of shoes. Spouses are human beings, and there is not a human on this planet that is perfect or that will handle everything the right way all of the time. Even the most strongest, level-headed, rational spouse, can and will stumble at times. They are only human.

When this happens, it’s really no different then everything we learn about regarding how to handle PTSD and how to respond or help the one with it, it’s just the spouse’s turn to need the support and that listening ear. Many times, if the one with PTSD will stop and focus on what a spouse is going through or how they are acting, and don’t take it personal, no different then what we teach the spouses, and really think the words “they are simply human too and this is their human reaction to the situation“, it can help the situation very quickly.

At times it does need to be taken into consideration that the one with PTSD does have a full plate, especially when their symptoms are at high levels, and they may not be able to stop and focus on someone else. These are the times that in some cases a simple, calm talk may be what is needed. A spouse saying and reminding/explaining, “I am human too. I have emotions and feelings just like you or anyone else. I am human and will experience things as well. And I would like to talk to you about how I am feeling, what is weighing on me and causing this, so I can get my balance back and we can work on things together to get our balance back.

This is real life and there are not any super heroes that can handle everything. The roles will reverse from time to time, this is when it is so important for good communication skills to be in place and used, it’s when you help each other through whatever the feelings are or situation at hand, and understand that sometimes when either person is keeping things bottled up… it can become damaging instead of protecting, as well as come out as personal to other people. It’s when you talk CALMLY and truly hear what BOTH of you are saying as well as feeling. Then you take the steps needed to get your balance back instead of taking everything personally. Many times when this cycle of unbalance starts, it’s just two people who’s emotions and situations are playing off of each other, talk and figure out the “why” so you both can move forward and find that balance again.

The fact is with the above example, you can flip that whole thing to either person. Either person can experience either pair of shoes, you BOTH are human and things are going to happen, emotions and feelings are going to be experienced… it’s part of being human. But the only thing that will stop this vicious circle is to recognize when it is happening, then do something.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

A special note from Lisa…

“Every morning after I get my 3 oldest off to school I get my coffee and read your morning post before my 2 little ones wake up, and every morning I feel like you are talking directly to me. I have to agree that once I started learning more about my husband PTSD we have much better communication and it is so much easier to understand why he does the things he does or says the things he says. Our relationship is so much better than it has been in a long time because of communication and sharing our feelings. Thank you!” ~Lisa

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

“This is how I feel…”

“This is how I feel…”

That is one of the hardest things for a person to say, no matter who you are or the shoes you are standing in. It is a huge part of life and can make even a larger impact on life… and especially when it comes to PTSD being a part of that life.

Speaking that sentence is extremely difficult for many! Your mind plays through all of the things that could happen or be spoken as a response to it. All of the what if questions scream through your mind… What if they don’t like what I say?, What if they tell me I’m crazy or it’s all in my head?, What if they don’t like me or don’t want to be around me anymore?, What if they feel I am pushing them away by telling them? What if they walk away? What if this causes a fight?… What if, what if, what if…

Many feel it’s best to “just leave it alone.”
But there is a huge flaw in this thinking, What if you don’t say it?

Many with PTSD keep things… feelings, emotions, thoughts… locked up inside. So scared of how what you say or how you honestly feel, will effect another person. Or it is said in a “PTSD voice” and some things are actually not the way you really mean them or feel. It happens! On the flip side, many partners/spouses, even friends, also do the same thing, worrying that it could set PTSD symptoms into a tailspin… anger, frustration, avoidance, etc. There is a huge bottom line to this, on either side of the fence, it leads to a break in communication.

This is real life, there are going to be things said that one may not like to hear, there are going to be things to hit emotional levels, and there are going to be many things that one may feel are better off not being said to prevent hurt feelings… or an argument.

When someone asks me, “How do you and Craig have such a good relationship with battling the medical issues at hand?” It’s really a short sweet answer. We are honest with each other about how we feel and what we think.

We each own our feelings. It does not mean the other should feel bad, take it personally, feel like a failure or the cause/reason of the feeling. It simply means we share what we think, how we feel, our individual views… we are honest and each own our personal feelings.

When we talk, we each go into ALL conversations with an open mind, we accept “this is how he/she feels”… in other words we allow each other to own their feelings, thoughts, and/or emotions. We don’t argue… that just didn’t work too well and caused more damage and hurt feelings then good.  If a person feels a certain way, in reality how can you argue about it? You can’t! “It’s their feeling, not yours to own.” We can not be on the defense, when one gets on the defense it is an instant break in communication and you might as well stop right there because you can almost bet you won’t get anywhere but hurt. You have to keep that open mind so you hear and listen to what the other person is saying to you.

When you stop and listen, really hear what is being shared with you, you are opening a huge lifeline of communication which leads to problem solving, finding solutions, working on a plan together to make changes or to take more positive steps forward. And most of all, understanding the other person’s feelings and being on the same page.

This is one of the largest areas of mistakes when PTSD is a part of your life. People don’t use the steps needed in order to form the good communication skills, which are a MUST have. PTSD is no joke, with all of the symptoms, especially anxiety and memory issues included, those things can throw communication and listening right out the window… if you let it. Good relationships, or even friendships, when PTSD is a part of life takes a lot more and it is by no means handed to you on a silver platter. It takes practice, patience, and a lot of talking AND listening.

You might not like what you are hearing. It’s going to happen! But what are you both going to do about it? Together!

One of the most common examples:

– Spouse/Partner Statement:I hate that you don’t spend more time with me.

A wiser statement/wording: I really miss our time together, can you talk with me about what you are feeling or what is causing this? So I don’t or am not taking it personally. If it is me, can we talk about why?

Good Response: I am sorry I and my symptoms caused you to feel that way. What do you feel we could do to make changes that we both can manage?

OR: I am hearing and listening to what you are feeling, right now I feel [symptoms/feelings] which is causing me to put distance between us (many times this is not even realized until something is said to them!). It was not personal towards you. Let’s work on this…

OR: I did take something personal you did or said, can I explain so we can work through this?

And in that, you BOTH have to keep in mind PTSD symptoms AND work to finding a balance that helps BOTH of you. PTSD is not a crutch and it’s sure not an excuse, it’s a REAL part of life… don’t dismiss it. Listen to each other! The statement and response is communicating the issue is not being dismissed, the why is being given, which lead to communication and working on a balance TOGETHER. Wording can be everything.

Sometimes with a feeling one is having, there’s not going to be a response. They are just simply sharing with you how they feel. It may not have anything to do with you at all, and again, don’t take everything personally. It’s just sharing, venting, talking, really so both of you are on the same page of why or why one may be acting the way they are. It’s communication and it helps keep conflicts or false thinking down. Again, that could be either person. It goes back to letting them own their feeling and you not dismissing them, but listening.

Both of you agreeing to work on things or find a solution so you BOTH can cope better or together, helps you manage your feelings. Mine and Craig’s golden saying when there is just no solution right then or if a conversation just does not seem to have that final “this is what we will do“, is “We or I will work on that“. Then you work on it! Even if no resolution is at hand right then, you are addressing the feeling or issue, you are letting it known it has been heard, and you are agreeing to work on it.

Again, PTSD is very real, life with it is very real, but what you do and how you choose to communicate can make a huge difference. And that, will make a huge difference in relationships and/or friendships.

A person is not going to know or know how to respond, cope, or manage feelings, symptoms, emotions, and/or situations, if they don’t know what is going on or how you are feeling. Be honest about your feelings, own them, and let them help you form good communication skills. Listen and actually hear when someone shares with you. Drop the finger pointing and defenses and work together to find what is best for BOTH of you!

Team work 😉 it’s how Craig and I manage life with PTSD being a huge part of it, no matter what it throws our way.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Trust

PTSD and Trust 

Trust. One of the largest, heaviest weight carrying words, feelings, there could be in life. Now imagine it being combined with PTSD, and even the trauma that occurred itself!

There are so many different directions that trust issues can be at hand. I hear a lot about trust issues from both sides of the fence of PTSD, so we know it is a real word that can cause serious issues in life with PTSD… But why?

Do you recall my story about Craig’s memory issues and how he would not recall things? It was leading to arguments (NOT like us) and him having great frustration and anger come from it. So I had to find a way around the situation to make things better for us, and for him to understand he was not remembering things? I asked him, “Do you trust me? I mean 110% honest trust me?“, once things had settled down. And he replied with yes. I had him write a note to himself and sign it, then I locked it away so I could use it in only absolute must need situations when nothing else worked to get through to him. That letter to himself had the words “I can trust Bec, she will not misguide me. Listen to her, I can trust her…” within it.

I realized that when memory was behind an issue, his PTSD defenses and fight were escalating. To him, what he remembered or how he thought something happened, were right. But reality was memory was causing his views to be skewed from real situations. I found something that worked for us, a way to open up communication, a way to get his symptoms to decrease, a way to remind him he can trust me.

My point of this example is you have to learn and understand the why in order to find positive things that can help. I had his trust to work with in our case, but you know what? He doubted that trust when it came to memory problems and PTSD symptoms, he was in survival, fight mode. A simple thing as a letter helped us get past that so we could work on positive things to help him.

But what about other things?

PTSD can bring the need of caution to everything, even to the point of one becoming paranoid. Those things cause trust to become an issue as well. One can start questioning what or who they can trust, are they sure they can trust that person, re-questioning themselves over and over. When this is at hand, it can cause one to doubt being able to trust anyone, even and especially those closest to them. They almost become vulnerable to the what if’s PTSD can cause.

The way others respond or react to them, even fight back against them during these times, can cause the situation to become even worse. I discovered a long time ago, if you fight PTSD symptoms instead of finding positive solutions or things to help, you are going to get one hell of a fight back… which will not help anyone! They will start trusting themselves and no one else, they might second guess everything at those heightened times, and withdraw from everyone, then the avoidance comes into it.

Avoidance can cause hurt feelings, anger, resentment, mindsets where if the what and why were understood, and a situation handled differently, would decrease. We all know avoidance is a huge part of PTSD as it is rather it’s people, places, or things. When trust issues are added to that, it’s only common sense that avoidance will become greater. Not something anyone wants or means to happen, but it’s a defense and survival tool of PTSD.

What about the trauma itself? We talk so much about how to get through the here and now of PTSD symptoms, but when it comes to trust, you can not set aside the trauma one experienced. There are MANY traumas that result in trust issues!

Examples:

  • A car accident where one was severely injured, or a life of another was lost, when that person was not the one driving. This can result of them not trusting others to drive. Their mindset can become “If I drive that will not happen again.” Or the opposite, they were the one driving when something severe happened and now no longer trust themselves to drive, it’s still a trust issue rather towards someone else or towards themselves.

 

  • An assault and/or rape. Rather it was an assault from a man or woman, the trust in the sex of the attacker, male or female, can greatly become an issue. The person who experienced the trauma at hand can carry no trust in others that are the same sex as the attacker.

 

  • Military, Police, Work related trauma, etc. What about a trauma that occurred because of a mistake or a situation that was a must do order from your commanding officer or leader/boss? Trust can weigh heavily when it comes to trusting a new leader or even co-workers. What about when someone was suppose to “have your back”, but something occurred and they were not or could not be there? What about a life lost situation where it was not your fault, but you were blamed by others? All of these things are real life situations that can cause trust issues.

 

  • A trauma from a medical procedure. It does happen, a surgery or other procedure gone wrong, did not turn out the way it was suppose to. Or a procedure or health issue that was so overwhelming that PTSD formed (common in cancer and stroke patients). It can cause one to lose trust in doctors or medical staff.

Those are just a few real life traumas that many people do not think about when it comes to trust and PTSD. Those can play a huge role in trusting or not trusting others throughout one’s lifetime. The trauma related to why PTSD formed and trust issues created at that time can weigh heavy on views, actions, and words in the future. All of these things have to be considered when trust becomes an issue so you can find positive ways to cope with it, as well as find ways to step forward.

You knew that word was going to come, cope. I speak highly about coping skills, why? Because they can work for you AND those around you! We use them daily and you know what, they make life with PTSD so much easier to manage.

You can do the old reliable, write things out on paper. What caused you not to trust a person that a conflict is with right now at this moment? Has that person honestly done something to you? Or is PTSD causing the conflict with it’s what if’s and symptoms? As I always say it, facts on the table. Many cases you might find it’s PTSD symptoms taking control of a situation causing you, or the other person, to not trust someone that in reality you can trust! It happens.

Life is going to contain people and things where some can be trusted, then others honestly can not be. You have to find ways, trial and error also, to sort things out through PTSD symptoms and the situation at hand. Being able to learn to face why you or someone else has a trust issue is extremely important, that why will help you find positive ways to get through it and possibly past it with the person there with you now. The past can weigh heavily on one, either person, when it comes to trust. Finding ways to view the here and now, the why or what, with facts on the table, can help you manage through and cope through what the past has caused relate to current situations. Like with PTSD itself, there’s probably not going to be a cure, but it can help you manage and find positive ways through tough situations.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD