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Caregiver/Family Guide… In other words, my “tool box”

Caregiver/Family Guide… In other words, my “tool box” 

Over the past few weeks of Craig’s PTSD showing us it’s for sure “that” time of year (PTSD anniversary), I have had many come to me concerned about how I am doing through this… and Thank You for caring!

I admit, this has been one of the roughest anniversaries we have experienced at this point. BUT, I have been and am honestly doing A-Okay.  I’m not at all stressed, I’m not walking on eggshells, my anxiety is not up,and I’ve just tackled PTSD as it comes at us step by step. NO problem.

Over the years I have learned and filled my toolbox with so many valuable tools that help not only Craig, but me! My toolbox is how I can avoid all of those negative things that as a spouse and caregiver I use to experience, what many experience. I know how and what I have to do to keep my personal balance through what life holds and PTSD and Depression throw our way.

There are MANY things that caregivers, spouses, and family members can do for themselves. You know I’m going to say it…

“You have to make sure you are taking care of yourself in order to help or take care of others.”

Too many are forgetting to use their “tool box”! I will preach this until it sinks in, but only you can take that step for yourself…you HAVE to make and take the time to take care of yourself. And if you don’t, well you might as well pull a seat up right next to PTSD and Depression because you are going to start experiencing some of the same symptoms as your loved one, or other symptoms of your own that are not positive to or for anyone… if you are not already there!

Many people get so stuck in their routine, the overwhelming things/symptoms that come, walking on eggshells, the hustle and bustle of every day, that they forget OR set to the side and ignore themselves, what they personally need.

When this happens YOU are not going to maintain a healthy balance, mentally or physically. YOU are going to be the one that has snappy tone with others… become angry or frustrated, you are the one that will become overwhelmed, you are the one that will experience anxiety or even depression, you are the one that will honestly feel like you are falling apart! When this happens and you don’t do something to manage it and keep a self-balance, the rest of your world is going to join you or fall apart around you. It’s not a pleasant experience.

So, I am going to open up and share a few things from my toolbox with you. These are things I maintain, not things only used when life gets rough. By these things becoming a part of my everyday life, they help keep a consistent self balance.

1. MAKE and TAKE time for yourself!

By doing this you are better able to maintain your own self-balance mentally and physically. When you do this it gives you what you need to make it from today to tomorrow and still have life within it. This helps YOU and it helps your FAMILY!

Start a hobby, go window shopping, have lunch with a friend, something, anything that you enjoy doing and that gives you time to maintain yourself.

2. Coping Skills!

We talk here about coping skills all of the time. There is a VERY important reason for that, coping skills help you when the most challenging times come, they help you prepare for them and they help you manage through them, they help you keep your personal balance. There are MANY, MANY different forms and techniques of coping…

LEARN them, PRACTICE them, and USE them!

By practicing coping skills daily, when the time comes you need them they are already mastered and can be used correctly with no hesitation. If you have children, teach them coping skills too! You don’t have to directly tell them that’s what they are unless they are old enough to have that conversation, but by teaching children how to cope with what they experience in the life of a child, it helps them maintain their balance, and they can learn from a young age. 

3. Get Outside!

Many caregivers and/or family members are inside a lot, way more than normal. When disabilities are at hand it does become challenging to get outside for a healthy amount of time. You HAVE to! If you don’t you are cutting yourself off from the world, you are cutting yourself off from maintaining a healthy environment, and you could cause it to happen to others in your home as well.

4. Respite Care!

Make sure you have someone that can provide back-up care. This allows you to do the things you need to do. It allows you to take a break (even though we love and choose to be the one to take care of another, you still need breaks!). It allows you to have some time to make sure you are taking care of yourself and maintaining a healthy self-balance. It is a part of helping prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.

There are MANY places that can help with providing back-up care!
Family members, friends, neighbors… If those are not available, there are professional companies, if you can not afford those then check with local churches, organizations, VFW’s can provide info if not some back-up care time themselves. There are many things available, use the phone or do the leg work and find them! You NEED back-up and help, do NOT dismiss that fact!

5. Eat!

Many times caregivers are so busy taking care of everyone else that when it comes to themselves, they simply just do not eat, do not eat right, or are too tired to eat. This is NOT healthy! Your body is like a car, it needs fuel in order to function, food is the body’s fuel. Make sure you have the fuel your body needs or you will find yourself on empty!

Keep prepared veggies, fruits, healthy snack bars, etc on hand. These are quick and easy snacks for the whole family throughout each day. Keep a schedule for meals. If you are tired when it comes to meal time, take a few minutes to just sit, relax, use those coping skills so you feel like eating. And make sure you are drinking enough fluids throughout the day! Staying hydrated helps keep you healthy!

6. Exercise!

It does not matter what type of exercise you do, do something! Don’t think you have time for it? Well try this So your partner likes watching movies (a common one for those with PTSD), do yoga or floor exercises while you are watching the movie! Now that’s a two for one. There are a lot of two for ones that can happen… Walk or play outside with the dog or kids, take a walk with your partner, you BOTH get exercise. While cleaning house put on your favorite music and sing/dance that broom away! Anything physical can be exercise, and you can make it fun at the same time. You don’t need expensive gym memberships or equipment to exercise.

7. Write, Journal, Talk!

It’s NOT healthy to keep things bottled up inside! Come on let’s face the facts, not everyday is going to be butterflies and flowers. You NEED an outlet! Even if you write it out then shred it (what my 14 year old actual does at times), get it out! Talk to someone you can trust or a therapist! Even a conversation with a stranger in a grocery line, no matter what the topic is, can make a world of difference!

8. Talk/Communicate with children/grand-children

There is one thing many dismiss. If you are a parent or grandparent, if you notice children not doing well, YOU are not going to do well! It’s a fact about being a parent! Take the time to just talk with the children in your life! This not only helps them, it teaches them how to communicate, it helps you know when something is wrong or not quite right, or bothering them, and you can get to the root of things quickly before something becomes a large issue. It makes them feel important and let’s them know that you care! Many times, caregivers are so overwhelmed with their daily caregiver rolls and helping another person, that the kids are just there, so to speak. There HAS to be a balance!

I have seen it go the other way in many families also, many times sadly. The non-disability spouse pays more attention to the kids then the one with disabilities. It’s like a protection of sorts, and it can be harmful to the family structure! Some end up with children resenting the parent with disabilities, some end up resenting the parent that was “protecting” them, some couples end up with marriages/relationships on the rocks or failing, because all of the attention is on the kids. There HAS to be a balance so the entire family as well as your relationship maintains a healthy balance!

9. Which leads to One on One Time!

Everyone needs one on one time! Children need it from both parents/grandparents and relationships need it! Family time is important but don’t forget that one on one time is equally important! You know I’m going to say it… It helps maintain a healthy balance!

10. Unplug!

There is NOTHING wrong with stepping away from that computer, video game, or putting that phone down! You have to live real life even though those things help you stay connected to others. Spending too much time sitting in front of a screen is NOT healthy and it takes you away from the real world you need to be living in. It can also become an addiction to where important things in your life take a side seat, folks, that’s not good!

This is a rule I live by! Even though I blog and LOVE communicating with everyone, even though I am in the process of writing a book, even though I enjoy my new phone, I still make sure I step away from them each day. As a caregiver, I can’t stay on them constantly. When Craig and I are talking, or I am talking with my kids, you won’t find a phone in my hand or my attention focused on my computer, etc. My attention is solely on them. I am a wife, a caregiver, a mom… those things come first. It helps maintain a balance, as well as respect, it’s important to you as well as those around you. It also teaches children that it’s okay to step away from those things, in this technology world we live in, many kids stay stuck to a screen and are missing what there actually is in real life out there.

No number needed on this one… Respect Yourself!

Have respect for yourself. You are not a superhero, you are a human being and every human being has their limits. Don’t push yourself too far, don’t expect yourself to be perfect all of the time, allow yourself down days to re-group, allow yourself to be you! Don’t lose yourself in taking care of someone else. Sure things have changed, what you can do or not do has changed, your roles have changed, but that does not mean you have to lose who you are in all of it. YOU are important too! Don’t lose sight and respect for yourself… it helps keep a healthy balance.

Being a caregiver or a family member that helps out another, is a big job, it can and will weigh you down if you do not do the things you need to. YOU can find and maintain a balance that not only is healthy for you, but also healthy for all of those around you. Don’t forget to make the time, take the time, and most of all… Don’t ever forget to use your toolbox.

The best feeling in the world when life contains PTSD or other disabilities, is knowing when the tough and rough times come, I do have a personal balance, am prepared, and can handle anything that comes my way, I am A-Okay! 

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Facebook page

What are things you can do to help prevent becoming overwhelmed?

What are things you can do to help prevent becoming overwhelmed?

The fact is, when PTSD and/or other disabilities enter your life, whether you are the one with PTSD or the spouse/partner, life changes. Which leads to you changing how you do or handle other things.

I use to be one that cleaned the entire house on Mondays. Did all of my paperwork on Tuesdays. All the laundry on Fridays… etc, you get the point.  Each day had something assigned to it. But when all of the new normal stages of this life stepped in I found that it was not always possible to stick to the schedule I had always done before. I found myself becoming overwhelmed or not having enough energy to complete everything in one day, like I use to do.

What does that lead to? Things that needed to be done not getting done! Everything started piling up. As that pile grew, it at times became overwhelming and just not possible to complete. The larger that to-do list became, the harder it was to complete it and even look at or think about. So things had to change. 

* To-do lists

These are awesome to have, however can cause you to feel overwhelmed, exactly what we are trying to avoid! I found that if you are one that really needs a to-do list, breaking it down into sections helps greatly!

You can break it down into lists of must do priority, then everything else by the amount of time you believe it will take… Important must do, Quick list, Time consuming, and Full day projects. Then each day pick things to do by the amount of energy you have and time available, around appointments, must do schedules, and how PTSD or other disabilities are that day.

* MAKE and TAKE a day off!

How often do you see a job that works a person 24/7? It’s not healthy! No matter what you do, whether you work, are a caregiver, a stay-at-home parent/grandparent, etc, you NEED a day off.

By making a day that you can place everything to the side for that day, it helps you keep your balance, have focus and energy, and helps you from becoming overwhelmed. It’s healthy and in everyone’s best interest, especially for yourself. Taking one day a week to just be, relax, do something you enjoy… can make a huge difference in positive ways!

* Mix each day up

This is what I have personally found works best for me. At the beginning of each day, I choose which chores/things I need to do each day based on the energy I have. I make time to go outside, “me time”. I have my must-do things. I choose something I enjoy and want to do or work on. Etc.

I have found by doing this, it helps me maintain a healthy balance. I get a little bit of everything accomplished but do not become overwhelmed. And, that is with taking care of Craig full time… it IS doable!

* Ask for Help 

There is nothing wrong with asking others for help! No one person can do everything by themselves without feeling overwhelmed or worn out. You would also be surprised at how asking someone else to help you can bring a positive self-esteem to another person at the same time.  Now that is a 2 for 1 deal!

If you have children around, let them help! Not only does this help you out, it teaches them as well. It also helps build their own self-esteem and creates a bond between people! Things that are very important for children when PTSD is a part of their lives as well.

* Accept when things are not perfect

I have noticed over the years of this life including PTSD and from those that I communicate with, it’s very easy for a person (normally the spouse/partner) to try to make everything perfect. In reality, OCD type symptoms may form due to this. Life is not perfect, and it’s very easy for you to overwhelm yourself with trying to make or keep everything perfect. Give yourself a break! It does not mean just let everything go, it simply means to accept that no one is going to do or be perfect all of the time.

* Preparing Meals- What can be one of the largest challenges.

You HAVE to eat!!! Preparing meals can become tricky to accomplish if you are so overwhelmed each day with the things you are trying to accomplish. By the time dinner comes, you are worn out, “spoons” are all used up, and then you face that dreaded question, “Oh my, what are we going to have for dinner?”

A huge help…LEFTOVERS!
When I cook, I make sure I cook enough for leftovers and/or enough to freeze for another time! Of course I’m not one that seems to be able to cook for only one meal anyway lol.  By cooking larger amounts when you do cook, you have the option of getting a day off tomorrow from cooking, and/or the option of freezing prepared meals to have on the busier days or days there is just no energy to cook.

Freezing prepared meals is a favorite around here. They are also handy when there are picky eaters or different likes of foods in the house. Each person can choose the meal they want and you know they are still getting a healthy, home cooked meal.

Crock-pot meals are also good! The recipes that are available now are endless, and you start it then can move on to whatever you have to do during the day and know you will have dinner ready when it’s time for it.

Another option if you are not one that cooks or need that break from cooking, are fresh or frozen prepared meals or easy fix meals. The frozen ones may not be quite as healthy as a fresh or home cooked meal, but you have to eat and there are many out there that are really good and a balanced diet. We use these as well and I catch them when they are on sale, honestly you can not cook for the price of these at times. So these can help if you are on a tight budget also. Most grocery stores also offer hot cooked meals that are also another option.

Another thing you can do is toss in a take-out night. These are handy when you were planning on cooking and it just did not seem to happen.  That last minute decision for take-out can save the day! Just be cautious to the cost, it can become quite expensive if you do this too much. I actually budget in a few nights of take-out each month from my grocery budget. Come on! Who doesn’t like pizza night! 

* Coping Skills

Oh you knew this one would be in here.  Coping skills can help everyone! Craig uses them, I use them, even our children have been taught and use them. They help bring a balance and can keep you from becoming overwhelmed!

* Positive support

A must have for everyone! Do not try to go through this life alone. Talking to someone you trust can really help you! Whether it’s a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a professional, talk to someone! At times even talking to a complete stranger or someone that understands PTSD can bring a positive type of support. Keeping everything bottled up inside can be extremely damaging and cause you to become overwhelmed. It’s healthy to just let things out at times!

So these are a few things that I/we have found help prevent us from becoming overwhelmed. Find what works best for you, the key is find and do something! Being overwhelmed is one of the worse feelings you can experience, it can easily cause you to become stuck… NOT a good place to be, and it can really play negatively on your health as well as your relationships with others. Find ways and things that bring you balance. 


A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

Let’s talk about PTSD and Anger…

Let’s talk about PTSD and Anger…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Situations/ One on One:

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


What became the golden line for us in the past…

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

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


Outside Negative Influences:

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some things we have used for these situations:

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

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


“We need to be heading home”

Quick out without anything else needing to be said.


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

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


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

It’s called EMAIL! 

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


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

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

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

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Arguing and PTSD

Arguing and PTSD

Arguing, this is a topic I get many, many questions about. I also get asked how much Craig and I personally argue. So let’s talk about this…

First thing I want to say… If you are experiencing this, it CAN change! Don’t give up on a relationship because you feel the arguing will never stop!

It takes time to figure out what will or will not work, just like with anything else that comes with life with PTSD. I am not a doctor of any sort, and can only give my personal opinions and experiences on this based on what we have been through and what helped us.

Back at the beginning of us trying to figure out what was going on with Craig, we fought! He was not acting like the person I knew, picking fights, saying mean, hurtful things, just pure mean with an I don’t care attitude. And I was fighting back, I am a very strong and level headed southern lady who knows how to stand on my own two feet, and I was not going to stand for this attitude coming at me. I fought back trying to make him see the changes in himself. I mean the arguments were just heartbreaking, hurtful, and so damaging beyond words… which was totally out of character for us and our relationship.

There did come a time right around the time we were told he has PTSD, that I was struggling. I was worn out, I was tired of the picking and arguing, my anxiety level was so high I was passing out and having panic attacks, this strong southern lady had met her match and I so badly wanted to walk away at times, but just could not! I knew Craig and I knew this was not the true him, that’s when I started learning and looking for anything and everything that could help me understand and help us. I knew I had to be the one to make that step and move past the stuck arguing position and find a solution. Arguing with him sure was not working, it just brought a larger fight.

It goes back to what I always say, stop, listen, and really hear what is being said. When I started listening to his words, feeling where this anger was coming from, it in a way gave me a direction for finding answers, and with answers came things to help.

See, to me, my opinion, PTSD causes them to “look for the fight”. PTSD causes anger, frustration, numbness, they don’t sleep well, they experience flashbacks, and all of the other symptoms that come with it along with the fact that their life has changed. When all of those symptoms are being experienced it can cause them to just be angry, and many times not understand why. Craig actually now calls it “floating anger”, it’s anger that is always there, underneath the surface, just waiting to come out. Which leads to them lashing out at others, normally towards those they are closest to.

Once I realized this is exactly what was happening, I had the tools to make a change and break this arguing cycle. Again, I was the one who had to, because Craig could not, there was no real balance within himself for him to. Now lol, I won’t say it was easy, it took time, patience, listening, not taking things personally but recognizing it was PTSD causing this, and then holding my ground in a gentle caring way, not visible headstrong way. This new approach for me was all we really had left to try to break the cycle, and I added in coping skills to my side of it. 

I stopped fighting and arguing “with PTSD”. And I am sure I literally bit my tongue at times, but I stood solid I was not going to feed his anger and frustration. I sat and I listened. Sooner or later he would yell, “Well aren’t you going to say something?” And I would softly reply, “I love you and care about what you are going through, so I am just listening.” Craig has never been one to purposely lay his hands on another person, so I assumed that would not be an issue, which I was right. His anger when I started this did get worse, he would hit objects or throw things. He would yell at me “Get away from the door so I can leave.” Fight or flight was coming into play. I would calmly say “leaving won’t fix this and I will sit here so we can talk.”, but he never touched me.

***Just to note, if you are in a situation where a person will lay their hands on another, DO NOT do this! Safety first.***

Craig would eventually max out on the anger, then the “I am so sorry, I did not mean that” stepped in, then we could talk. Not to sound funny or disrespectful here, but it was kind of like breaking a horse. It’s still psychology. They fight until they wear out then you can ride them and teach them, you just have to hold on tight until you get to that point of settling down and learning. That’s in a way what I was doing to PTSD. No human can yell forever, there will be a break in it sooner or later. And that is exactly what happened, the break came and there was my Craig again, and we calmly talked.

I was holding the reins, but WE were learning together how to “break” PTSD. 

Then coping skills came into it. The next time he lashed out, I sat on the bathroom floor and used the breathing exercises the doctors had taught him. I mean hey, if they will work for him then they should work for me too. He yelled “What are you doing?” I calmly said breathing exercises. He asked why and I told him. He stomped off to another room mad. But you know what? It was not long before I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye and HE was using them! 

Nothing happened overnight, it did take some time. The more he saw how I had changed the way I was handling things, the more changes started showing in him. He started using different coping skills to keep the anger from coming out on others. Things like the breathing, listening to music, sitting quietly and doing different meditation techniques, and even laying down and trying to sleep if the anger is beyond everything else.

His PTSD and symptoms are just as bad as they were when we were arguing all of the time, but what we do to manage them changed.

He still has times of lashing out verbally, but he and I can quickly get it under control again. He has issues still with getting frustrated with people outside our family, and I help him through those times. But us arguing? I honestly can not tell you the last time we had an argument, we talk and communicate now, we don’t argue.

We understand that we will not always agree on everything, no human will in reality. We understand that at times one of us will have to give in and other times it will go the other direction. We lay facts on the table and both accept looking at the facts to decide together what the best outcome or solution is. We remind each other when coping is needed, if it’s not noticed as being needed. We don’t take it personally when one of us points out something to the other… such as “you seem anger”, “you really need a break”, “you seem off balance today”, etc. All of those things provide a platform for us to work together now, helping each other, and arguing just isn’t a part of it anymore.

So, don’t think arguing is a permanent part of life with PTSD. It does not have to be. It does take work, but it is a part of PTSD that can change so to speak. It’s all in how you handle it, manage it, what you actually put into place and use, and finding what helps you get past the arguing. Each person might need a different approach on what works for you, look for it and find what works for you.

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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? 😉

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

“I don’t want to go to bed!”

“I don’t want to go to bed!”

Many have probably said that very thing, or heard it. It is very common with PTSD! Or one will just avoid going to bed all together. I have heard everything from “I don’t want to go to bed.” to “Oh, I just like watching you sleep.“, and many other things in between.

This can cause spouses/partners to become frustrated, feel like they are not wanted or not good enough, distance is put between two people, etc. Many things that are taken personally, when in reality should not be!

But what is the real reason for it?

Nightmares and/or night terrors! A simple answer, but it comes with SO much behind it. For anyone that experiences nightmares or terrors on a regular basis, making it into bed at night is tough, it’s a hard chore to be honest. All of the thoughts come rushing in as the sun sets and that bedtime approaches. “Will the nightmares come tonight?“, “I’m tired of seeing those images over and over again, they haunt me.“, “Will I swing on my loved one in my sleep?“, “Will I scream out and cause others to panic or become scared of me?”, “Will I know where I am when I wake from them?“, “Will I keep my loved one awake? I feel so guilty they don’t get much sleep.“. Will I, will I, will I… what if!

PTSD nightmares bring intense, real life images of their trauma experienced right back to them, night after night in many cases. Others may experience more nightmares around anniversary dates of their trauma or when high expectations arise and anxiety increases.

Many delay going to bed as long as possible. Others will avoid going to bed all together. Nightmares bring avoidance, and all of those what if’s.

We know that everyone needs sleep! Even if it is not solid restful sleep, sleep is still needed in order to be able to function mentally as well as physically. Lack of sleep can cause symptoms to increase, cause one to be frustrated or grumpy during the day… moody, and many other things. Sleep is urgent!

So what can you do?

There are many things you can try that may help. TRY being that key word there.

  •  Pay attention to what you eat or drink when bedtime is approaching. Don’t eat or drink things that are known for keeping you awake.


  •  Limit the content… what you watch or read before bedtime. You don’t want to set yourself up for increased anxiety right before bed. The things you watch or read before bed can set the pace for what your night will be like. Be cautious of those things.


  •  Intense conversations. This is a huge one! Majority of people with PTSD already have increased anxiety about going to bed and it causes their mind to focus on serious subjects. Many times intense conversation about important subjects towards bedtime can set you up for increased nightmares.


  •  Coping skills. I am telling you, coping skills can help! Breathing exercises, different forms of meditation such as mindfulness and body relaxation techniques can be of great help in settling the mind and body before bedtime. Try them and practice them! Coping skills take practice and one time of trying them will not cut it.


  •  Soothing music or sounds. These things and allowing yourself to just experience the soothing sounds you are hearing can help ease the mind and thoughts. I like the sound of water or certain types of music personally. There are also different types of sound machines that can be of great help.


  •  Mind set. If you focus on the what if or “I know I won’t sleep tonight” or “I know I will have nightmares.“, what are the chances you will get sleep? Very slim if any. Change your focus to “Hey! I AM going to get some sleep tonight.” or “You know what, it’s just a nightmare and I am still going to get some sleep.” Changing your view of going to bed can help. It’s like you playing a trick on your own brain.  It can work at times. It does not mean you won’t still have a nightmare, but it does mean you might get more sleep then you normally do.

As always, there is an endless list of things you can try! What you are basically doing is taking your thoughts away from the what if’s that can come, and things that can cause sleep issues, and teaching yourself to focus on the positive things that can help and allow you to get at least some sleep. And when you do have a rough night, don’t view it as a failure! Catch a nap during the day and say “Okay, I had another one of those nights but I will try again tonight.”  It might just work. 😉

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!


  • 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.

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Promises made…

I have had several things come to me about “promises to change”, not changing, then one with PTSD saying they are sorry. So wanted to address this to bring a little more understanding…

This is VERY common with PTSD! They feel bad, sorry for something they did or did not do, the way they acted, for the things they said, etc. They are being very honest when they say they will change, they honestly and truly want to. But see, there is one issue here, they have PTSD! Changes by ALL means can happen, Craig’s managed it, but it’s a constant effort every day to keep things better. It’s not going to happen over night, it is continuous work and does not come naturally like it would to one without PTSD. We say we are going to do something, then we do it, one with PTSD, many times, does not have that easy option.

PTSD is a mental disorder, the brain is effected, in many cases the memory is effected, then add in all of the other symptoms, and those play a huge role in promises made and if they are able to be kept or not. When PTSD has an episode and symptoms arise, their brain focuses on what happened to them, how to survive that moment, not on promises they made or changes they said they would do. They can’t help that. It takes a lot of coping skills, reminders in a nice way, positive communication, and working daily to manage PTSD in order for changes to happen, and even then there are going to be times that they backslide and have to start over or try something different in order to manage and cope.

It’s by no means excusing whatever has happened, but you have to have an understanding to why, so you are not taking everything so personally. With PTSD being a part of life, if everything is taken personally when something is not perfect or the way you believe life should be, there’s going to be a lot of pain, anger, resentment, and heartache involved which will cause you to start acting or speaking the same way PTSD spoke or acted towards you. You will have a very difficult time moving forward and finding solutions or things to help if that happens. It’s a vicious cycle that has to be broken.

There will be a lot of trial and error trying to find what works best for you and your partner, but there are things that can help!

My favorite with Craig having severe memory issues are notes. I have him write notes to himself and sign them. This is how he came to understand he has memory issues, think about it, if there are memory issues how are they going to know? They aren’t, they honestly don’t remember. This especially happens when anxiety is at high levels. The notes are how he can remind himself (with my help) during bad spells that he can indeed trust me and what I say, it’s how he can be reminded of words or actions that he himself wants to work on improving… and the list goes on. I take the notes and literally lock them away. When a time/episode arises and a note is the last resort to helping a situation, then I pull the one that fits out and nicely ask him to read it. There’s no arguing, no fighting, and I don’t take what has happened personally. I put my strength into helping him through whatever the episode is at hand. Those letters are his words, his writing, and his signature… which means it’s a way for him to recognize something he noticed in himself before and might be something to realize is indeed happening at that moment. (Just NEVER misuse letters or use them to or for a personal advantage or they won’t work for long.)

We also have a saying, “I will work on that”. This normally comes at the end of a conversation, communication! When this is said it means an issue or problem is being heard, no promises are made so there’s no hurt from a broken promise later. It’s a simple acknowledgement of what has happened, been discussed, and saying effort will be put into working to make changes or learn to cope better. The hardest part of this one is you have to accept one is going to try and there is no set outcome or resolution at that moment. You also need to understand that many times they are going to need your help, patience, and understanding in order for them to work on things. You can’t throw in their face “you said this or that”, your hurt and anger can not out weigh helping them or encouraging them to try and learn new ways to cope. Guilt can be deadly, you do not want to allow it the chance to come into play.

Those are just a few simple examples of how we manage and have learned to cope with things. That old saying “promises are made to be broken”, well add PTSD to the mix and that saying becomes very real life. We no longer make promises, we agree to find solutions or ways to cope that work without all of the emotional pain promises can bring. Then there are not expectations on him and no broken promises towards me, or vise-versa. We work together and communicate, true communication and listen to each other no matter how serious or hurtful something might sound or feel, we are honest with each other, then we work together to resolve whatever is at hand. It works!

Life has PTSD as part of it now. Things have changed and normal is a different normal now, so with that you have to think outside of the box on how to make things better and work through things. Once you learn how to, it becomes a new normal to life and makes things so much easier. Trial and error, there will be a lot of it, but it’s worth trying. 😉

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Alcohol and PTSD

Alcohol and PTSD

I am getting quite a few messages about alcohol so let’s talk about this a little further and maybe you all can give some input to things you have done to help heal from what alcohol can cause and/or how you personally manage it.

Note: Have to throw my blurb in here… I am not a doctor or in any medical field, I’m just a spouse and the information I bring is from our personal experiences, from what I have learned from others, and/or my research.

Okay, majority of us here are adults, and that nice cold drink is something that is liked occasionally. And to say this upfront, I am not going to judge anyone if they drink, again we are for the most part adults here.

But what happens when alcohol starts to or has taken over your life?

Alcoholism is very real. And when it comes to PTSD also being in the mix, it can cause a lot of damage to one personally and/or to the family, friends, your job, etc. It becomes a way to cope with symptoms, and can actually cause PTSD symptoms to increase or become out of control. Anyone who has ever drank, knows that you act different when you drink! You might get funny, do things that are just not the true you, do things that may be embarrassing, some get very mean or abusive, and you might think it lets you cope with things… each person responds differently. Some people will limit their drinking but drink to “take the edge off”, some others form a “drunk stupor” state, but yet others can become verbally or physically violent.

Alcohol can become one of those quick legal fixes for right then and now with PTSD. But you know where I’m going with this. That quick fix is not going to help much long term and the alcohol intake in all honesty will start weighing heavily on you, your physical body, as well as what it can do to those around you.

With all of the things that can come from alcohol, do you know what one of the largest is? It causes one to avoid real coping skills. It brings extra avoidance, when PTSD already comes with avoidance. When that drink wears off, symptoms are right back to where they were before you took that drink, which causes you to want another. It becomes that vicious circle.

It’s by no means my place to tell anyone not to drink, and I won’t! But there are things you can do to make sure alcohol does not take over your life or ruin it.

I am hearing of many cases where alcohol seems to bring out the anger and frustration of PTSD. My friends, this is not good! I am hearing spouse’s say they are against a block wall of wanting to be there for the one they love but at the same time the results of the alcohol and PTSD mixture is causing them to fear not only for their loved one, but for themselves, and some fear for their children/grandchildren. It’s gone beyond a social drink and turned into fear for their lives or having to make life changing choices they do not want to have to make. When it comes to this, is that second or third drink really worth it? I know each and every one of you have love in your hearts, I know no one wants to hurt those around them, I also know what PTSD does and causes all around. Isn’t it time to take a look at the big picture?

PTSD already gives you enough to manage through each day, and life with PTSD can honestly be there even though it is different from what people view as a normal life. Don’t give up on yourself or those who care about you. There are so many different ways to learn how to cope with symptoms now, there are ways for families to be families, and there are ways to live without adding extra damage to your life with over use of alcohol. I know it’s not easy to step away from or limit that bottle, I have seen people go through it, but we are here to re-learn how to live life with PTSD.

Things to think about:

* Recognizing and facing what alcohol may be doing to you and your loved ones is a good starting point.

* Listen to others. 

If drinking is effecting them also, they will say something, take their words to heart.

* Get Help! 

There are so many professionals and things available for alcohol and PTSD these days, look to see what is available in your local area.

* Learn coping skills!!! 

I can not say this one enough! I have personally seen how much coping skills can help! When you learn and use coping skills on a regular basis, that urge and need for that drink can lessen. Many do start realizing that extra drink is not needed to mask PTSD symptoms.

* Step away from the bottle or set limits… and follow them!

You know, PTSD brings a lot already, but there are so many things that can help! Life is precious, each and every single one of you are very important. If you are one that turns to alcohol as a form of coping, please do something for yourself to help, you ARE important! And I know no one means to harm another person verbally or physically, please do not allow alcohol mixed with PTSD lead you down that path.

Please do not allow alcohol to make matters and life worse for you and/or your family!

With much strength for you, heart, and love…

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Video Games

PTSD and Video Games

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

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

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

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

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

Tips for video games:

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Spouse’s Story PTSD