Tag-Archive for » Coping with PTSD «

To those who are new here…

To those of you that are a little more new to the page and my website, I want to explain my views on life with PTSD and the way I run my page.

This page was created in order to find positive solutions and things that can help make life with PTSD just a little bit easier and to know that we all are not alone. It’s run on having respect for each other and supporting each other in a positive manner. It’s truly what I call a family. I do not have deep opinionated debates on here, because those things bring additional stress and are not the reason we are here together, and not what we need when trying to find positive aspects of life with PTSD.

I DO share things that are off topic. Why? Because there is still life even with PTSD being a huge part of it! If it takes me sharing positive things off topic to show that PTSD does not own my husband and I, to bring a smile or a chuckle to someone else, to show that you need to make sure you are doing things to take care of yourself and not only dwelling in what PTSD is and brings, then you can bet your bottom I’m going to share those off topic things.

All of those things are a part of life! Just because some off topic things are shared from time to time, it does not mean PTSD is any less severe or that I don’t take it seriously, those of you that know me also know I am extremely serious about PTSD and finding positive ways to live with or beside it, but at the same time remembering life itself.

I learned a long time ago that if you live your life based around only the negative, it’s going to be extremely difficult for things to change for the positive. PTSD does in fact bring many negative things to all of our lives, but what we do and how we handle or view things can make a huge difference. If I allowed only the negative that PTSD brings consume me, what good would I be to my husband or my family? I wouldn’t be. Negativity rolls over to others, and it’s not in a good way. Someone has to break the cycle so things have a chance to improve. This page and how I run it, how I still hold on to the positive through all of the negative helps many people, and my husband will vouch that it sure helps him!

Every day of our life is challenging. But you know what? We make the best of it and we see the sun set each evening and rise the next morning. We have found ways to still live, differently then normal or the way things were for us, but we still live life.

There are many who have not found that balance in their lives yet. Some lash out at others, put people down, try to discredit a person’s life when in reality they don’t know anything about that person… I won’t be harsh to them, I will offer them my hand of support in hopes I and all of us here can show them a path we did not have when things were extremely severe and off balance for us. It’s their choice if they want to try to find the positive, or stay in the negative. Craig and I chose to try to find some type of life through this roller coaster PTSD brings.

It takes time, learning, trial and errors, and working together but that balance can be found. Every day is different with more and more challenges, but Craig and I have found what works for us and as a family. We never stop trying, we never stop learning, and we believe in passing it on to others, so maybe something within all of it will help others also.

So, if you come to this page and you see recipes, cat or dog photos, wildlife or lakefront photos, or things off topic… it’s not because I lack respect or understanding of PTSD, it’s because I DO understand and respect it, and chose to find life along with it.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

A holiday note…

To ALL of my “family”,

Today here on the lakefront it is Christmas. Coffee in hand and getting this day going. 😉 I know with our family here on the page being world wide, not everyone celebrates today in the same way or for the same reasons. Whatever your beliefs may be, with respect, I hope you have a wonderful day filled with love and smiles.

I hope PTSD will give you some time to just enjoy whatever you choose to do today, even if it is only for a short time, embrace it. Use those coping skills, take those breaks when you need to, and do those motions to find the emotions. I know today is a very difficult one for many of you, but … You’ve got this 😉 because I believe in each and every single one of you!

Each day we learn together, share with each other, support each other, and with each day of this special family we have created here, we grow stronger together. I honestly believe, PTSD does not stand a chance. 😉 It won’t go away, but we, together, are giving it a new fight and we are making a positive difference.

Do not allow whatever stigma you may experience today swallow you, you are better then allowing that to happen. We will change stigma one person at a time. And if someone is carrying that stigma, send them to my website or my page 😉 we can teach them the truth and reality of PTSD and life with it together. Because YOU no longer stand alone! <3

You all mean the world to me (and Craig). Today I wish you peace of mind, some time for happiness and joy, and I send you much love and strength. We may not have the same blood running through our veins, but YOU are a huge part of our “family”! <3

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Understanding “Me Time” and what comes with it.

I want to touch on something that is very important, and I hate to say extremely common when you have PTSD in your life.

The following comment was made by a “family” member here on the page, and it is being spoken with every ounce of truth to what can happen to the one who does not have PTSD. I want to talk about it a little more in depth. This is for both the one with PTSD and those without it.

“Sometimes doing something for yourself is hard, due to the one with the ptsd accusing you of not wanting to be around them or makes you feel guilty somehow for doing something for you or spending money that “we don’t have” just for them to go spend it and is all good.” – From a “family” member

Understanding “Me Time” and what comes with it.

This is one of the hardest things for a spouse/caregiver of one with PTSD to find in the first place, but also something that is extremely important for their own well being, which does indeed roll over to the whole family. It goes back to, “In order to take care of someone else, you must first make sure you are taking care of yourself.”

When you do not take care of yourself, you will get overwhelmed, there is no getting around that. But with taking that “me time”, there is a lot that does or can come with it. This is when communication HAS to be in place… and the one with PTSD has to understand and accept that this time is very needed. It’s also the time when the spouse/partner needs to understand what and why PTSD responds the way it does.

It by no means is meant that your spouse/partner does not want to be around you! It means that they are doing something to take care of themselves, giving themselves a break so to speak, “In order to be able to better help YOU”.

If a spouse/partner does not take this time, there is a good chance they will start becoming stressed, not able to think straight in order to get things done, not be able to focus on the one with PTSD’s needs, communication can break down, arguments can start… and oh boy that includes them being snappy! It is also a horrible fact that they could start suffering from depression, as well as physical medical issues could start.

Life not only changes for the one with PTSD, it changes for the whole family. When a spouse/partner needs or tries to take some time to/for themselves, it is in everyone’s best interest to let them, without getting upset. (I will go over some things that can help later in this.)

It is very common for the one with PTSD to feel they are not wanted, that someone does not want to be around them, easy to accuse a spouse/partner of things that are not factual, and trust IS a huge issue that many with PTSD have issues with which just adds to it, etc etc etc. There are a lot of things that already come with suffering from PTSD, and then seeing someone want alone time is extremely difficult at times because all of those things, and reactions, and thoughts that PTSD places there, all come to the surface. A huge part is also the guilt you feel, that you are the reason for your partner needing this time, it tampers with self-esteem and self worth. And you know I don’t play sides here, it’s also a serious fact that the roles of these feelings can also reverse and the spouse feel the same things towards the one with PTSD.

This is one of those serious struggles for balance, you are trying to manage PTSD together but at the same time trying to find that place for yourself in order to do so. This takes lots and lots of communication!

Then there is money, as I always say it, “the root of all evil”. And oh is that so very true when you add PTSD to it. Many with PTSD have lost so much that when it comes to money they “seem” to want to hold onto it for themselves and for dear life! Money brings a “sense” of power or control, even though I know it’s not intended that way. It’s just a fact about it and human nature. I am not being harsh towards anyone here! Spouses/partners can be the same way. When you have suffered a great loss in life, and PTSD itself can make you feel that way, you start holding onto or grabbing anything you can and/or using it yourself. Again, this is where you have to find balance.

Then we have to include in here the guilt that comes with taking “me time”. That is a huge one! You finally made the step to do something for yourself, but OH NO, you feel guilty about it! That feeling is very real. I felt that way to start with. When you are taking care of someone, maybe have children also, have the house to clean, yard work to do, managing finances, maybe working… there’s just so much you feel you should be doing instead of thinking about yourself!

But here is the thing, if you do not take that time, where are you going to be come tomorrow, next week, or next month? Worn out and not functioning the way you need to, that’s exactly where you will end up. Over time, and learning to adjust to taking care of yourself, that guilt will fade. You just have to always keep in mind that your time for taking care of yourself is going to lead you to being able to handle and take care of everything and one that you need to. You have to learn to view it by the reason you are doing it, and not by what you are not doing. 

So, now that we have a better understanding of what both sides of the fence experience, what do we do about it? 

* TALK!

Communication is extremely important. And if you don’t have good communication skills in place already, here’s a good place to start.

A simple:

“I’m feeling not like myself today, so I’m going to take a walk. It’s nothing against you, I just need to clear my head.”

“I’m going to go outside for a little while, if you need me I’m just outside.”

By saying things such as these, you are doing several things. You are letting the other person know you are acknowledging they are there, that you are not leaving them you are just doing something by yourself, and if they need you, you are still within range.

I actually do this every single day! I take my me time working on my pond or just sitting by it watching the fish. Or lake down to the lake and do the mindfulness that I posted about earlier today, the here and now and letting everything else just go for a little while. I take Alex, my dog out. But when I do these things, I always let Craig know what I’m doing without directly saying I’m taking me time. If I want him to join me, then I ask him to. Communication, a huge key to all of this!

* Amount of time.

It does not take hours on end of being gone to take me time! You can take just 10 minutes at a time. Taking short more frequent breaks to yourself can help greatly. It keeps you on track but yet does not take so much time away that you start feeling guilty about what you could be doing during that time. It makes it to where you can still run the household but gives you your self balance also. It also gives each of you smaller breaks from each other, which is especially good if you are together all of the time.

If you are taking a longer amount of time away, see if there is a friend or someone your spouse would like to spend time with during that away time. Or something they would like to do. This keeps one from feeling the other is “off having fun” and you have nothing but time to dwell on the “what could be happening”, no place anyone wants to be in. Alternating me time with the other person spending time with someone can also help keep the guilt feelings down and easing the mind to if the other person is okay. It’s really important to make sure you socialize with others from time to time, it’s healthy for both of you… even though it is something that can be difficult.

* Do things together.

When you take the time to do things together, quality time, it makes it easier on both of you to take me time. Together, quality time, helps build trust and provide balance for the times that personal space is needed.

* Avoid guilt trips.

This is actually a really hard one. By doing some of the things I have already mentioned can help keep a balance so one does not feel left out or not thought of and helps avoid anyone feeling guilt or placing guilt onto another. Making someone feel guilty about taking time to take care of themselves can be extremely damaging, to both people as well as your relationship.

* Money.

Many times money is tight in the first place. If this is the case you have to find a balance and agree upon it! Another time when you just have to buckle down and communicate. Money can bring guilt, hurt feelings, and all sorts of things that can be mentally damaging as well as financially damaging. Make a budget. After everything is taken care of, if you have something left over then divide it or make a plan together for what that extra amount will go towards. Spending money is a a way of coping which can be very damaging. Buying things is a short term fix to a bad feeling, that “look what I bought” is going to wear off and then you will be right back where you were. Then, there is a good chance you will feel guilty later about what you spent.

When finances are tight, it can also bring guilt on yourself when you do buy something or spend money on yourself, even if it is something that is NEEDED. You have to be very careful with this and again, find a balance! Money can and does very easily cause relationship problems, and some very serious ones. Don’t allow money to be the cause of these things, find a balance, make a plan, and learn to stick to it. And just a word of advice, always have a plan in place for emergencies! Even if you just set a few dollars a month to the side for it. You never know when an emergency situations will arise, have a plan in place for it.

There are so many things you can do that do not take any money or very little, in order to have me time. Taking time to yourself does not mean you have to use money that may not be there, me time can be anything. And if you are one that changes what you like to do, or get bored easily and like moving on to something different, find things that do not include hefty budgets and expensive gadgets. There are many hobbies that can become extremely expensive, but there are also many that come with very little cost. Think wisely when it comes to these.

* Children.

Oh moms I am aiming this one mainly at you!  I am hearing so many moms say they can’t even use the bathroom without someone interrupting. Um, you have a serious problem going on there! Start setting rules! It is so easy to set a simple rule “If mom is in the bathroom you leave her alone unless it’s an emergency” and enforce it! YOU need your me time too! There ARE ways of having that even if you have small children.

Every parent out there, mom or dad, needs a break at times, even if it’s just a few minutes at a time. And if you don’t make time, you are going to find yourself so overwhelmed it is not funny! There are so many simple things you can put into place inside your home that can give you your time also… even with having small children. Do yourself and your children a favor and set rules or guidelines so you get your time too. And I will tell you right now, I know for a fact that if you teach children now, just simple things, it is going to make the years ahead of you SO much easier!

The bottom line…

The bottom line is, everyone needs me time every now and then. You have to learn to communicate, work together, do not take it personal, and find that important balance. It’s important for everyone, your family, and yourself. Find what works best for you and your situation.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story PTSD”

“ME” time…

“Me” Time

Sounds funny doesn’t it?? Many have asked me what I mean when I say “me time”. Some that understand the phrase ask how do I manage it without feeling guilty. Then, there are others that ask how to accomplish it or what do you do?

“Me time” is what I say when I am referring to self-help. It’s the time that one takes away from what is going on, way from stressful situations, away from others, to take time for themselves. It can actually be a form of coping. You are giving yourself time to focus, relax, be in the moment without any outside influences so you can regroup and have the energy, patience, and everything else that comes with taking care of someone else while taking care of yourself.

If you don’t take care of yourself, you are going to get overwhelmed and your energy is going to drain rather quickly. If that happens how are you going to be able to handle everything that comes your way? I have the answer, you won’t be able to!

I’m not saying you have to leave and take a trip away, unless that’s what you choose to do. I’m saying to make sure you take at least a little time for yourself each day. It doesn’t have to be hours on end, even 10 minutes can be a huge help.

I personally like getting outside. I have a pond that I work on and tinker with and all of my fish. I have Alex (my faithful dog) that I take out and walk, play with, or we work on his training. When my oldest is home I take extra time to just go and walk around stores by myself without being in a rush or worrying about home, just to be around other people and out of the house some.

They are all really simple things, but yet they do so much for me! They help me keep my own balance so I can take care of and do the things I need to. They keep me from getting overwhelmed and they are my way of relaxing and focusing on nothing but what I am doing that moment in time.

I’ll admit lol, the first time I paused my must do things to take me time it was because I saw I was reaching my own limit… or had reached it lol. This was back when Craig’s PTSD was totally out of control and the weight of the world was seriously on my shoulders, and I had no clue how to handle it. I was frustrated, snappy, and was starting to not be able to focus, and I sure was not acting like the true me. I forced myself out the door and away from everything going on at the time. I actually took 3 hours to get my hair done, something I just didn’t do. It was something not for everyone else, it was something for me.

Yep, you guessed it, I felt guilty! Worst feeling you could imagine… I felt like I was being selfish to take time away from my responsibilities and everything going on at that time in order to get my hair done. I felt guilty because I spent money which could have been used on something else other then myself. But you know what? After the guilt wore off some I realized how much I needed to make sure I was taking care of myself also. I felt good, when I looked in the mirror I saw the image of the person who use to be there, I didn’t feel or look worn down. I had energy back! All over 3 silly hours that I had never wanted to take for myself.

Craig noticed it, and so did everyone else. I wasn’t being snappy, my chin was held high again, and I could focus on what I needed to be doing. It made a huge difference!

Over time as Craig needed me more, I realized that even if I take 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there, to just walk outside or do something I enjoy doing, it gives the same self-help and good feeling… and sure helps me regroup to keep going.

Then there is my “OZ” time. Those of you that have been around the past few years know that meaning lol.  😉  OZ time is actually something I don’t feel I have as much of a need for anymore to be honest, well, the meaning of it has changed now I should say. When I use to get frustrated or was just at my wits end or noticed I needed my me time, I would actually tell everyone “I’m going to OZ”. That was my code phrase for leave me alone, let me cool down, let me have time to myself, it was the time I would throw on my bathing suit, grab a towel, plug in my earbuds and head outside to disappear into my own little world away from everything for a little while. It was during a time when I was still learning to cope with everything coming our way.

Now when I say OZ time, it’s a simple meaning of I’m going outside because I enjoy it and it’s good for me.  It’s actually a family joke now lol. I don’t allow things to build up to the point I won’t be able to handle them. I take small amounts of time and use the same coping skills Craig was taught. I know how to notice and prevent built up frustration or anything else that comes that is just not me. And it only takes a few minutes at a time.

Me time helps you keep balance. Balance within yourself which rolls over to balance within your life and your family. And it’s worth every second of it! But you have to MAKE time for yourself!

* If you have young children, hire a babysitter or ask a family member or friend to watch the kids for a little while. If the children are of age to play nicely by themselves, just step outside within ear range for a little while, anything to provide you with a little time to yourself.

* Start a hobby. Hobbies provide a way to focus on something other then everything else going on. Take a few minutes each day to work on it. A hobby doesn’t have to be expensive and you don’t have to complete it in one day. Work on it as you need or want to take me time.

* Call someone or meet/talk to a neighbor. Just talking on the phone to someone can be of huge help. You don’t have to talk about problems or what’s going on at that moment in time, talk about good things or something you have in common.

* Get outside! Everyone needs to do this one! Getting outside is healthy. Just taking in all of the sights of what is going on in the world around you can help.

* Slow down! Take time to enjoy things. When you get in a rush with everything you do, you are going to find it hard to avoid frustration or feeling overwhelmed.

* Take a lunch date with an old or new friend.

* Try something new. It could be trying new recipes, putting a puzzle together, anything! New things challenge your brain and can take your mind off of other things.

Everyone needs a little me time. Again, it helps you keep balance. Balance of things, family, emotions, the way you handle things, caring for someone else, offers a way to cope, and balance of yourself in the process. 😉

MAKE me time! There is no excuse large enough for not taking the time to take care of yourself. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Everyone needs to read and share this…

PLEASE read and “share” this…

I’m on my soapbox this morning. So pardon me while I’m there but this needs to be said. The worst thing to me is knowing that so many people wear blinders when it comes to hearing the term “PTSD”.

Yes, by all means doctor, medications, and therapy can be of great help to ones who suffer from PTSD… BUT, yep I put a but in there… but the real help is going to come from the public and people learning about PTSD! That is YOU!

We have proof right here in front of us that educating yourself about PTSD can save lives! In numbers we can and do make a difference.

It does not matter if you know someone who has PTSD or not! And I can almost bet you DO know someone rather you realize it or not, many suffer in silence due to the stigma and what others will say or think. People, that’s sad!!! Each day there are ones with PTSD taking their own lives, the numbers are extremely high. Why? Because the battle became too strong for them to handle alone! PTSD takes support, it takes learning, it takes educating others, it takes this WORLD laying it’s differences to the side to save mankind!

When you turn your back on a person that is suffering, you are turning your back on a human being, and many times that person is a mother, a father, someone’s brother or sister, your friend, your neighbor, that nice person you met at the grocery store that offered to help you load your car, that person who went out of their way to hold a door open for you, that person who you made eye contact with that politely nodded and kept on walking. PTSD wears many faces, a person with PTSD is no different then you or I, they have just experienced something traumatic when maybe you haven’t.

Taking the time to learn about PTSD rather you think you know someone with it or not can honestly save a another person’s life! It is never too late or early to learn. PTSD can affect anyone, and I dearly hope you never have to experience it, but in all honesty look at the numbers of how many people do. Look at how many take their own lives each day… ONLY the reported numbers in the United States, now that’s reported numbers, that does not include civilians, unreported cases, or world wide… 22/23 per day! That’s a lot of people and YOU can help prevent this!

It only takes a few seconds to hit a “share” button from any PTSD page or share a link to a website… I mean seriously, you do it for everything else in the social media, it only takes a few minutes to read an article on how YOU can help or learn the basics about PTSD, and it only takes one second to save another person’s life! That person you passed in the store or made eye contact with, they may be the one on that last breathe that sees no hope left, did you know that YOU may be the person that creates a setting for them to keep fighting? I’m very serious, I pull no punches and I play no games, you never know when it may be you to save that person, and many times you may not even know you did.

If you were or are the one who suffers from this unseen disability, wouldn’t you want someone to care enough about other human beings to help YOU? ABSOLUTELY!!! Take the blinders off!

Ones with PTSD have feelings, emotions, and can throw a good cook out just as the next person, they can be great fathers and mothers and friends. DO NOT let the fear of the unknown blind you to what is all around you, stigma is a horrible thing and comes from the fear of the unknown. It only takes a few minutes of your time to educate yourself and share that education with others. And again, if PTSD happens to you or a loved one, wouldn’t you want someone to do the same? YES!

A person suffering from PTSD is not a bad person, they are only a person who has to fight harder to have as normal of a life as possible. They are not weak minded, if fact they are what I call “the best of the best”. Why? Because they have made it through something that completely changed their life, they have witnessed things that you can not even imagine the horror, and they fight everyday of their life to make it to the next! That takes a strong person in my book! Much stronger then many.

The only things you hear in the media are the bad things. It’s extremely misleading. And those bad things that are being reported most likely are cases where that person did not receive or was not able to reach for proper help. If you want those bad stories and cases to go away, you want the fear of the unknown to vanish, then do something!

Many of these people are heroes and many wear different “uniforms”. They are military, civilian, doctors, nurses, police officers, paramedics, firefighters, teachers, fathers, mothers, K9 trainers/handlers, etc. and they may just be your neighbor.

It is not a battle anyone deserves to fight alone. With support, education, and just taking a few minutes of your time, YOU can make a huge difference in this world… you can save a life! Why are you delaying? Rather you know someone with PTSD or not, I ask you to please… and I will swallow my pride and beg you, please hit the “share” button on this. You might just save a life today!

Let’s make this go viral! Someone out there and someone you may know, deserves it!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Anger or Outbursts

Anger or Outbursts

Let’s be real! We ALL know these two things can come with PTSD. We also know that the person they come from does NOT mean to take them out on others! So let’s go over some things that can help when or if these times do come. Knowing things that can help ahead of time can change how things are handled during these times.

I have to add this in  I’m not a doctor of any sort, just a spouse who has experienced what comes with PTSD, so I can not give medical advice and if you have or are in an emergency situation please contact a professional NOW. The following are my opinions, what has worked for us or others.

Things to try:

* Retreat.

There is nothing wrong with going to a room away from everyone when you are angry or could be verbally or physically harmful to others. By retreating away from everyone, to a safe place for you… mind you, it helps keep conflict down, allows you time to cope and regroup your emotions without others “chattering” in the background. Once you calm down and are able to cope with the feelings you are experiencing, then you can return to being around your family/friends.

Now, partners/family/friends. If you see someone retreating DON’T follow them! Let them have their space to cope and calm down. If they are retreating from a situation they are doing what is in the best interest of everyone! Give them their space! The ONLY time you would have to intervene is if you know they are intending or showing signs of harm to themselves.

* Make some signs.

You might think this is silly, but it works! Make them ahead of time so you have them exactly when you need them! It could be for your personal space, for your front door when you don’t want visitors, anything! When you are angry, words are only going to sound hurtful and that silly little sign could mean a lot more.

Some examples:

“PLEASE give me my space right now. I love you and will be out once I am coping better”

“I just need my dog right now but I do love you and will be out shortly”

“I don’t want to take this out on you, please give me some space to cope for a little while”

“No visitors today, sorry. I/We will catch ya later. Thank you!”

“No visitors today, ONLY deliveries may knock/ring. I will see all others later. Thank you!”

Signs are wonderful to use! They allow you to voice yourself in times when you may not be able to nicely. And by following up your message with the positive note of you will see them later or come out once coping also gives others the piece of mind that you just need your coping time and it’s not personal against them. 

* Punching bag.

You think I’m kidding lol, I’m serious! If you know you have anger that gets out of control, especially on things or people, get a punching bag to hit away at instead of venting it on your loved ones or things you have worked so hard for. This allows you to vent but at the same time saves the heartache of what comes later if you vented anger on a loved one or things. Direct your anger to the bag and not other things or people. This can help you as you learn other coping skills that can help and you might just find out that one day that punching bag isn’t needed anymore. And if you don’t have one or are unable to get one, a pillow can work just as well.

* Stress Ball.

Those hand size therapy balls that are squeezable. When you feel anger escalating start using one. It may seem simple or as if something so small could not help, but you might be shocked at what it can do. And if you are one that throws things, until you learn to cope and not throw things, these little balls could save a lot of damage from being done. Throwing things at times is a form of venting anger so until you learn to control that anger, if you are going to throw something due to the anger reflex, throw something that won’t do any damage. BUT work on those coping skills so the throwing things can go away. 

* A pet.

Okay I’m going to be pretty serious on this one, you HAVE to have enough coping skills on this one so your beloved pet is not in danger of you harming it!!!

Pets are miracle workers! They love you unconditionally, they don’t talk back… well lol, not in human voice, and they would do anything for you. Pets also have proven to reduce blood pressure and are a help to many different responses of the human body.

You don’t have to have a well trained or specialized animal to use an animal for coping purposes.

BUT, you do have to be able to understand NOT to take your anger out on that animal. If you know you could be a harm to your pet do NOT take it in the room with you, wait until you calm some to bring it in. Here’s what you can do… once you stop pacing, which when angry most people do, sit down or lay down and wait for your pet to come to you. That animal will know when it’s safe to approach you, so don’t force it to come to you.

It’s body language gives you a neon sign to what you are feeling rather you can see it in yourself or not. If your anger level is still too high you can tell by the way that animal responds or does not respond to you. Focus on that animal and nothing else! Watch it, look at how it is acting. Really study it’s body language and think about it or even talk out loud about how it is acting or ask yourself why does it tuck it’s tail or why is it wagging it’s tail. Animals can tell you a lot if you focus on them, and they don’t have to say a word. You don’t want your pet to be scared of you, it loves you and you love it. Put all of your focus on it. Before you know it your focus on that pet will help reduce your anger and your pet will come closer and eventually to you where you can pet it. And you have done nothing but focus on that pet.

Then there are those animals that nudge or follow you when they sense you are upset. Again, DON’T take anger out on them!!! However, yet again, focus only on that animal, they are trying to tell you something! Let them calm you, focus on them but do not lay a hand on them or yell at them. Focus on how and why they are acting the way they are.

Once your pet comes to you, pet it. And keep petting it. Petting an animal will reduce stress and anger and again, reduce blood pressure. Animals can give a great form of teaching you to cope better with what you are feeling. And they don’t mind if you cry on them either.  After anger, many times the tears will come and I promise you a pet will not tell anyone if that happens. 

* Writing.

Okay, I’ll be honest, as good as it is to write and vent in that way, if you are extremely angry writing may not be where your focus is going to be and throwing that pen and paper might be a more factual response. With some, writing when angry helps, with others not. So that one is up to the individual. I can help to write your feelings and emotions down even after the fact though, or when you feel it building.

* Take a walk or do something.

Ladies are known for cleaning house in full gear when they are angry. Any type of physical movement that is not a harm to others can help release anger. Do something that is not destructive.

* Sleep.

This one is doctor approved by the way. If you are having a hard time coping with anger, go lay down away from everyone. You might be shocked at how you can actually fall asleep when angry. It’s the body’s way of saying “okay enough, time to rest”. This is one of the easiest ways to put anger at bay. And when you wake up, one you will be more rested, and two you can in a way start the day over. If sleeping is what it takes to cope, there is nothing wrong with doing it, and at any time of the day. Your anger might have actually stemmed from lack of sleep in the first place. 

* Listen.

If someone tells you you are acting “off” or off balance, listen to them! They are not being mean or attacking you, they are pointing something out before it escalates. They are giving you a warning so to speak that it’s time to use coping skills. Take note of what others say. And to others, SAY IT NICELY! Don’t say things rudely to where you are going to set their anger off!

* Professional help.

This one is a given.  Many times it takes an “outsider” to help you though things and how to better understand yourself and what you are going through. Don’t toss that to the side when it can help you learn how to manage symptoms.

* Coping skills.

Oh learn them and use them! They can help! Rather it’s music, a hobby, breathing exercises, exercise, meditation (which has MANY different forms you can use anywhere), anything that can help you keep balance in the way you feel or how you handle those feelings when they come. And this does not only go for the one with PTSD, spouses/partners YOU need to learn them too!!! When everyone in the family learns to cope and learns how to keep a balance it makes things A LOT easier!!

To say the least, as always, these are only a few things that can help. No matter what you do, learn what works for you and keep trying new things until you do find something that helps.

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

I Can vs Stuck… PTSD

I Can vs Stuck… PTSD

Stuck is a huge word used with PTSD. It is also something that can easily happen. You get to a point where you don’t know what else to do, you don’t know what to say, you don’t know how to improve, your energy is drained, depression might be playing a toll on you… you seemed trapped!

These are all VERY real feelings that come with PTSD. This is the point when many want to just give up. They get tired of the fight and battle that comes with each day. But I will tell you right now that being stuck and in that mind set is by no means where you need to stay. You are worth more then that!

It’s okay to experience the stuck feeling for a little while. It does give your mind and body time to rest. And rest is dearly needed when you fight such a battle each day. But then you have to focus again on the fight!

That fight includes things that many take for granted each day of their lives. Things one with PTSD has to pay extra attention to because they no longer seem to come naturally. The words “I can…”

I can fight this. I can win this. I can make it to tomorrow. I can be here for my family and loved ones. I can take a step forward and still be the best I can be.

“I can” will be easier said then done. It will take repeating it over and over until you find the strength to believe in yourself. Then it will take standing up from your chair and stepping forward. Those can be extremely difficult things to do when PTSD has a firm grip on you. BUT you CAN do it.

Don’t let the what you could do in the past weigh you down to sitting in that chair. Focus on the “I can” of what you can still do and what you will do in the future. And I’m not talking about being able to walk on the moon lol. I’m talking about being the best you can be.

You will stumble… everyone does, you will experience trials and errors along the way… they are what build this thing called life. But you CAN take that step forward and find new things, experience new things, and build a new life from here.

The past is not going to just go away. But a page in this book called life can turn to a new chapter. And you have the ability to turn that page and start that new chapter, rather you can see that right now or not.

Leaving a stuck position is not going to happen over night, it’s going to take work, but the outcome is so great beyond words. Pace yourself, small steps at a time… they are still steps forward no matter what the size of the step is. And acknowledge your accomplishments rather they are great or small. Keep in mind that every step forward might have two steps back, but that’s okay because after those backwards steps come another step forward. Focus on those forward steps and the positive things that come with them. A step in any direction is much better then being stuck! 

The words “I can” are extremely strong words in fighting PTSD. They come with strength, they come with will power, and they come with hope. All things that can help battle the feeling of being stuck… and battling this thing called PTSD! Use them!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Fireworks…

Has anyone noticed that many with PTSD are having additional symptoms or increased symptoms right now? Now, do you know why?

For those of you in the United States… What’s coming? Ah… the 4th of July! (There are certain anniversaries or such going on in other countries as well) Which means…

Fireworks…Crowds…Celebrations…Expectations! Oh fireworks!

Fireworks. 

Many ask why fireworks. Because they might resemble what someone, especially military/war related OR a natural disaster, went through.

Many that do understand believe it’s because of the sound they produced, which is very true however not the full truth to them. What about the vibration they give off, vibrations from them can also effect one. Then you have the light produced from them, it can be another PTSD trigger as well.

So the one with PTSD might be able to manage through the lights, vibrations, sound but you can’t figure out why fireworks are still a trigger to their PTSD. But are you still missing something? What about the smell? Ah… you might not have thought about that one, the smell. Many that have experienced military trauma relate the smell of fireworks to combat.

In a situation where natural disaster was at hand, it may be more of the sound, lights, and vibration over the smell sense that trigger a person.

You have to keep in mind ALL of the body’s senses when it comes to PTSD. PTSD can react to anything that can be sensed that reminds them of what happened to them.

At times, ones that are triggered by fireworks can find ways to cope through them, others may have a more difficult time doing so. It all depends on the person and their level of coping at that time.

So what can you do?

* Some will face what is going on. Actually sit, watch, and focus on fireworks to try to help keep themselves grounded to present time and place.

* Some will stay inside to avoid the smells fireworks produce. Or to avoid the light they produce, also by keeping the curtains shut to block the light.

* The vibrations are a slight bit more tricky. There’s no avoiding those. If vibrations are a trigger you have to focus to keep yourself grounded. Prepare yourself to what you know is actually taking place or going to take place. Helicopters are another thing that is a huge trigger to many due to vibrations.

* If the sound is a trigger, sometimes playing music or something you like such as watching a movie can help drown them out. Ear buds or headphones/headsets are wonderful in these cases.

* Using coping techniques/skills can help.

* Talk to someone through these times. Having someone to talk to and focus on can help, as well as help keep you grounded.

Whatever works for you, or try different things until you find what’s best for you in each situation, just make sure you do something. Flashbacks and triggers are no joke and sure not a fun experience so do or try things that can help get you through these times.

PTSD does start showing more symptoms when one is getting closer to days like the 4th of July. Recognize what there is a cause for additional symptoms and they are not something that are just coming out of the blue. With PTSD, there is always a “something” to cause the flashbacks or triggers. When you learn to recognize the causes or reasons, it makes it a little easier to handle and learn to cope best as possible when those things come. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

PTSD and Hypervigilance

PTSD and Hypervigilance

This can be a VERY difficult one! You are trying to keep up a normal schedule, doing things that PTSD does not want to let you do, trying to keep up with what others expect of you, all of the symptoms that come with it. It can become overwhelming in many cases and can send one into high speed.

Sometimes you have to slow down and make sure you notice what it is doing to you… or even those around you.

But first you have to understand what might be at hand…

You may be experiencing hypervigilance.

This is when you may experience an increase in scanning everything around you, an increased feeling of needing to look for threats, scanning of every person, place, sound, site, smell, even human behaviors… it’s an increase to the sensory sensitivity and includes behaviors forming for the purpose of detecting threats. It can lead to increased anxiety and that alone can wear you out and cause you to become tired or exhausted.

Hypervigilance can cause you to focus so much on possible threats that you lose connection to those around you and/or family members. It can cause you to over react to loud noises or even cause you to have difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep. It can cause you to avoid crowds or even making it out of your home.

Basically it puts you on high alert which leads to high speed.

Now the hard part. If you don’t learn to control or cope with this to a certain point, it could become dangerous if the right, or should I say wrong, situation presents itself.

As an example, Driving is a common time this can happen. I’m using this example because it is the one I hear about the most, but by all means not the only time it can be experienced. I’m not saying one that suffers from this can’t drive by any means, I’m just saying you have to use more caution then one that does not suffer from it. See, it causes you to watch everything and very well could sway your attention away from your actual driving, it could cause you to drive faster then you should be, or over react to things while driving. This could become dangerous to you, your passengers, as well as others on the road.

So using that example, what can you do to make the situation better?

* Pull off the road and take a few minutes to regroup so you can focus back on how you are driving.

* If you have a passenger that can also drive, consider allowing them to drive until you are in a better position to.

* Use your coping skills!

* Admit when you driving may be more then you can handle at that time. Again, it doesn’t mean you can’t drive, it just means right now at this moment maybe it’s not the best option.

* If you know when you start to leave you are in “overdrive”, don’t get behind the wheel to begin with. Allow help from someone else.

* Listen and do not dismiss others if they make comments they are not comfortable with your driving at that moment. Don’t get upset at them, they are trying to help and point out what you yourself might not be noticing, listen and work through it.

* Pace yourself. Don’t take on more then you can handle. And family members, YOU have to let them! Don’t overwhelm them with more then they can handle at that moment. Expectations can weigh huge with anything that comes with PTSD, be cautious and don’t push too hard to where it increases levels in PTSD symptoms beyond what they can cope with.

Noticing the signs that you are experiencing hypervigilance at that moment or what someone else nicely (and I mean do it nicely) is pointing out to you, it can help save you and others from unneeded tension, hurt feelings, or even a serious situation later.

I know we have a rule, if hypervigilance is up then you don’t get behind the wheel or you pull over and let someone else drive. And it can sure keep you out of getting a speeding ticket too.  It seems that in many cases when that feeling of alert or high threat goes up, that peddle gets pushed down more then it should be.  Avoiding this or learning to control/cope with this can help tremendously!

It does not make you any less of a person, it makes you a more responsible person when you handle a situation in the best interest of everyone… including yourself. So don’t take it harshly. It’s going to happen, it does come with PTSD, and it’s just another one of those things you have to learn to cope through the best you can.

There are many situations that hypervigilance can become a part of, again my example is just one example and it’s by no means limited to only that one.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Friends and Life with PTSD

Friends and Life with PTSD

I was asked a question and I will be completely honest, this is a very hard one for me to swallow. But you know me and I say it like it is, so here it goes…

“Do you and Craig have many friends?”

Let me start by saying, back before PTSD became a part of our lives we were known as the social butterflies. We had many friends, more then some people would have in a lifetime. We have never been ones to judge people and we accept people for who they are and had friends of many different walks of life.

We had many friends growing up. Craig was actually asked recently “How many friends could you confide in, true friendships of people you could trust before PTSD?” His truthful answer, “About 20 or so.” The response back to him, “That’s a lot.”

We were the ones having cookouts, parties, family gatherings, always going out, always traveling. We loved to rv or jump in our plane at any given time and just go. We never met a stranger, and anyone who knows what RVing is like knows that ones that RV are always meeting new people and making new friends at every stop. It was always our “camping” site that everyone would gather in, laugh, joke, and tell stories. Craig and I had literally traveled across country and back many times and made many friendships along the way.

Then life changed. This illness called PTSD showed up. That part of our lives that we grew up knowing, being the social butterflies, disappeared.

Boy this one is hard to write lol.

I can honestly say, there are 2 of Craig’s military brothers that have always stayed in touch. They don’t live here, so it’s not like they can just drop by, and one I have never actually met but have talked on the phone to and through fb. The other lives in another country and has for some time now, but he did stop to see us a couple of times before leaving the states, and still calls to check on us. Craig has one person that sends him messages almost daily, but in honest doesn’t understand PTSD.

We have had a few friends come in and go out of our lives since PTSD. Nothing on what you would consider a long term “normal” friendship basis.

We have some that keep up with us through social media, some will like what we post or make comments at times, but we don’t ever see them face to face, so again, not what you would consider a normal friendship.

And I can’t and won’t say it’s always because of them, there have been ones to mention coming by or getting together, there have been a few to ask us to meet them out somewhere for a drink or to go to the beach on occasion. But that’s not things PTSD really allows in our lives. You have bar settings or crowds, and those are just things that PTSD does not allow in our case.

My friends? For those of you that have stuck by me through social media, trust me I love ya for it greatly and for you being on here! But I don’t have any that I could say is a true “normal” friendship anymore. When times were really rough with PTSD my friends could not take the way I was being treated, and they put distance between them and I. No, I don’t blame them and I never will, I still value them even though the friendships have faded. But they could not understand PTSD and why I stayed. I was told by my best friend, “I love you dearly, but I can’t stand by and watch you two go through this.” It was an honest statement.

And this is by no means meant to make any of you that know us personally feel guilty! DON’T. Life is what it is and over time Craig and I have accepted it. So please don’t pick up the phone and call just because I’m being open and honest here with answering this lol. 

Over time we have noticed that the phone normally only rings when someone wants something… and that doesn’t settle well to be honest. I mean we would give the shirts off our backs to anyone who needed it, however a true meaning of friendship comes with much more then calling when you need or want something.

Then there’s the “our lives are too busy”, we hear that one a lot. People are so consumed with their own lives, which again is a fair statement, that they don’t have time for friendships with a family that battles PTSD… or it’s a nice way of avoiding one.

The word friendship becomes something with great meaning and a lot to it once PTSD steps into your life. Not everyone can handle what PTSD brings or can bring. Having true friendships is something that is extremely difficult. And for others to understand why you cancel plans, or can’t make it somewhere, or need a down day with no one around… that’s hard for one’s that don’t understand or don’t live with PTSD to comprehend. And eventually they do walk away because it’s not something many understand how to handle, and many times they take it personally when it’s by no means meant that way.

The “friends” that understand the most, that are there for us to chat with, there for us to vent to or talk about things and life. In all honesty, they are the ones that know the shoes we stand in… and are standing in themselves. And you want to know something, they are also the ones we have never actually met face to face.

PTSD changed our lives it changed what social interaction with others is like. We no longer know what a “normal” friendship is. People coming over is extremely few and far in between, us going out is really almost completely out of the question, gatherings are extremely stressful and difficult to accomplish… even with family, travelling has been out of the question for years now except when we have to pick up Craig’s children for visitation which is there and back in one day… way more then anyone should have to do.

But you won’t hear me complaining. Life changes when PTSD becomes a part of it, that’s something we have accepted and understand. And we sure don’t hold anything against anyone. Craig does hold great guilt towards himself for life not being what we expected or wanted it to be, because of PTSD. Every day he tells me I deserve better. But let me tell you something, no matter what has changed in our lives and how PTSD has drastically effected it… I would not ever want what we lost back, if it meant I would lose him.

PTSD or no PTSD, my husband IS my best friend. He’s my rock, he’s still the other half of every heart beat my heart takes and I wouldn’t change that for the world! Friends may come and friends may go, PTSD may bring a lot that is not always going to be viewed as fair. But through whatever PTSD and life with it brings, there is one thing that never changes, him and I living this life together!

Well, you asked lol, so there it is. It’s just another part of our story.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”