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“How do you handle PTSD symptoms when they increase?

I was asked a question regarding increased PTSD symptoms…

“How do you handle PTSD symptoms when they increase? Do you just ignore them or leave, or what do you do as the spouse?”

To start with, each person with PTSD will not always respond the same way as another person may, and each situation may be managed differently depending on the situation as well as the level of symptoms at hand. As well as depending on what you both have already learned and how you work together.

Over the years of helping manage PTSD, I have learned a lot about PTSD and what comes with it, real life experiences, and do have the ability to “read” Craig very well. He teases me and says I know him better than he knows himself. He does not have to say a word for me to recognize which symptom(s) is/are weighing in at each moment. This is not a superpower of any sorts, it just takes paying attention, listening, and learning what the signs or cues are to PTSD symptoms, then you can learn to recognize them when they start, and learn what helps to manage them.

Time and experience, trial and error, are to a spouse’s advantage. I can tell when he is angry, frustrated, feeling guilty, something is weighing on him, I know the signs of flashbacks starting even nightmares, I can tell when depression is getting it’s grip on him, I can see when he needs space or needs someone close to him, I can tell when he is okay with company coming over or not, I can tell when it’s going to be a good day or a rough one, I know his triggers, I know when those PTSD negative thoughts come, etc. None of these things are learned overnight, it takes time to learn how to recognize them as well as how to manage them when they come.

For us personally, I do not walk away from him when symptoms are increased, and I do not leave. I am with him all of the time (I am his caregiver) and if I am not here my respite care person is here with him. I might step to another room briefly then return, or come in and out of the room he is in. I might sit in the same room quietly and do my own thing… normally writing and leave him alone, that is common if I can tell he just wants to be left alone. I will talk with him, help him with coping skills, or whatever is needed. I’ve learned a balance so I can help him but at the same time not smother him. But walking away, even to another room, I do not do unless I know he is able to manage the symptoms with coping skills on his own.

If symptoms are really high, sorry, no way will I leave him alone, period. Suicidal thoughts/tendencies are a very real part of PTSD and I will not chance them stepping in and him having to manage them on his own because no one is there with him. I take high increases in symptoms very seriously. Even those who would never have thought of harming themselves before, can have those thoughts once PTSD is a part of life.

As far as ignoring symptoms, well I guess my view on that is I don’t really ignore them, I just know when not to take them personally, and know when to respond or not respond to them. Craig and I do have good communication skills and I can address when I see symptoms starting or increasing, which many times he does not recognize on his own or he will try to remain quiet and keep them bottled up inside… which is not good and can lead to an outburst or symptoms increasing more later. So by addressing what I am seeing (in a helpful nice way) it helps him know that coping skills are needed or just opens the door for him to talk about what he is feeling. At times I will do coping skills with him.

I have different little sayings we use as cues…

“I’m seeing PTSD/depression has a grip on you today…”
“You seem angry right now, is there anything you want to talk about?”
“It’s a frustration type of day, let’s just take it easy today.”
“Why don’t you take a nap, it might help you feel better…” (naps are a coping skill he uses for anger or frustration when other methods don’t work, especially after a rough night of little sleep)

Things like that, where it’s not pointing fingers, not accusing, or me getting upset, but pointing out what I am seeing and offering help or to talk if he wants to. It’s like giving a loving nudge without being demanding or controlling. Sometimes I will get that PTSD roll of the eyes and know to back off, other times he opens up. Either way a cue was there, and whether he seems to like it or not, I can tell he takes note of it and it helps. Again, I just do not take PTSD’s roll of the eyes, that look, or even a snappy reply personally. I already know a symptom is at hand, so there’s no reason to take it personally.

Another thing that is important to me in that, is by addressing things, it’s also of sorts, off my chest. I’ve said in a nice way what I have noticed, he knows I’m here and recognize when he’s struggling, and I don’t walk on eggshells around PTSD symptoms anymore. So it really can be beneficial to both people when you get to the point of that type of communication. Again, it takes time!

Building your knowledge of PTSD and it’s symptoms, learning to communicate and work together, knowing when to back up or pull them closer are all a huge help, and a lot of trial and error. Just understand, and I am purposely repeating myself here, it does NOT happen overnight! Life changed when PTSD became a part of it, it takes time to re-learn how to manage things now, so you can find a healthy balance for both of you as well as you as a couple.

And if Craig and I can do it, so can you! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Dear PTSD (Anniversary Month)

PTSD

Dear PTSD (Anniversary Month),

I might as well go ahead and say hello to you, it’s no secret you are here. You have made it very known that you had no intentions of skipping your visit to us this year. I’ve seen your little tactics, all of your messages have been received. So please do not think they went unnoticed, your visit is not a surprise to me.

I know you love your games you play, messing with the mind. You love to cause a chaos, you try to cause it every time.

I know you love to dance at night, your type of party through one’s dreams. You bring so much restlessness and oh how you love to hear one’s screams. Then you carry your party on through to daylight, when one is tired and needs peaceful sleep. Pushing them on to follow you, you never let them be.

I know how you love to create an environment that’s completely out of control. As you play back the traumatic visions, that weigh heavily on one’s soul. You do not allow them to rest, they are not allowed any peace. You play those same visions repeatedly, to see if you can get them to break.

I know how you love to shelter one from everyone, and everything they love so dear, just causing more confusion, heartache, and despair. Your eyes get large with excitement, as you watch a loved one’s reach, as they try to pull one back from you to weaken your grip of strength.

I know you do not like to slow down, high speed is your desire. You love to feel the adrenaline pumping, pumping hard through one’s veins. Their mind in such a fury it can cause them to lose control. You love watching the anxiety, frustration, and even anger it can bring. You like to keep them on high alert and fear what your next step may be.

I know you love pushing one to the point they feel like they cannot take anymore. You love that type-rope between life and death, and watching them struggle for balance. You bring a challenge all year long but this is your favorite month, when you can push one to their furthest point, to see if this will be the year they take your plunge.

But there is something that you missed in your party you like to bring. The one with PTSD is not going to fall, not quietly upon their knees. They are not going to give in to you, or to the chaos that you bring. There are thousands standing with us, that help each other every day. We all stand together, to make sure everyone survives you, and makes it to another day! You may bring your little party, but we have one of our own. We share our tools to battle you, and we NEVER stand alone!

You PTSD, do not own us, you just simply brought changes to our lives! You may think you hold such power but each day we are chipping that away, one symptom at a time!

So bring your little party, your chaos and discontent. We know how to handle you and will NEVER willingly give in. We will carry each other through you and to see another day. We are teaching each other how to live again, by keeping you at bay.

Never standing alone against you,
Me

For more information and to learn about #PTSD and how to live life with it, please visit us at…
A Spouse’s Story PTSD on FaceBook

PTSD loved ones pulling away…

PTSD loved ones Pulling Away…

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

“This is ALL normal with PTSD”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To those of you with PTSD,

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

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

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

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

———————————————–

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

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

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

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

Increased PTSD and Depression Symptoms… Month of August

I am seeing A LOT, as in MANY, spouses/partners and family members being caught off guard right now.

I’m seeing and hearing of and from MANY with PTSD that are having a very difficult time right now.

DO NOT GIVE UP!

This is the time of year that many with PTSD may have symptoms that seem like they came out of nowhere. They may have increased symptoms from what is normally experienced. They may have seemed to being doing so much better but seemingly “all of a sudden” have taken a turn for the worse. Those with depression are also showing increased symptoms.

We are half way through the month of August… and September comes next. September is an anniversary month for MANY people around the world. It’s an anniversary month for military, civilians, law enforcement, paramedics/emt’s, doctors, nurses, 911 dispatchers, and many, many others… and maybe it’s the anniversary month for you or your loved one. The news and things going on around the world right now are also adding to it! Many are experiencing symptoms that are worse than normal for an anniversary time, it’s because of how many extra triggers are present right now.

This is the time of year that spouses/partners and family members have to give it everything they’ve got! PTSD symptoms are already on the rise. This is NORMAL! This is when spouses/partners and family members open their toolbox, and you get to using those tools!

I am hearing a lot of people say…

“He/She is so angry”
“He/She was doing so good but is now doing worse then before”
“He/She won’t call me back”
“He/She doesn’t want to be around me”
“He/She is being so nasty”
“He/She could care less about my feelings”
“He/She won’t do anything with me”
“He/She just sits around and does nothing”
“He/She is like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”
“He/She keeps cancelling our plans”
“He/She said they want us to separate/divorce!”

Those are just a few comments of many, unfortunately.

If these or any of these are what one may be saying right now, and you feel like you have been caught off guard, there’s a simple answer to what this is. It’s PTSD… and a good chance an anniversary time approaching.

All of those things are cues! Please don’t down talk the one with PTSD, don’t get angry or upset at them. They did NOT ask for PTSD! It’s what happened to them!!! These are the times they need you the most. These are the times they need a POSITIVE support system. These are the times you have to remember that this life is not what others would call normal, it’s a life where you HAVE to accept, and I mean truly accept, that PTSD is a real part of life. They NEED you in order to get through the rough times (Even if they won’t say it or admit it!), and there are things YOU can do to help!

* Have Patience!

When you know symptoms are up, you have to have patience. Take a deep breath yourself and remember that the rough times will pass and that person you know so well is still there, PTSD is just masking the true them right now.

* Use what you have learned!

We talk all year long on learning what PTSD is, what the symptoms are, and finding what works for each person or how to respond to them. THIS is the time to use those things! DO NOT forget your toolbox!

* Personal Space

If they pull away, keep in mind it’s not because they don’t love or care about you! It’s because they DO care about you and majority of the time do not like others seeing what one may be going through during the rough times. PTSD does bring real life avoidance.

Do not take personal space as something personal against you, it’s just something that at times is needed in order for one to cope with themselves, their feelings, and their symptoms.

* Take care of yourself!

During high PTSD symptom times a spouse/partner or family member HAS to make sure they are taking care of themselves! You must do this ALL of the time but when symptoms increase you need to pay close attention that you do not slide on your own self care.

* Do not rely on someone else to make you happy.

This is the toughest, most difficult task for many spouses/partners. Sure everyone wants to be happy in and with their relationship, that’s a given to being with that person. But, you cannot rely on another human being to fulfill your entire cup of happiness! You need to do things that make you happy about and with yourself! Start a hobby, do something for yourself, take care of yourself, whatever it takes for you to find happiness within yourself.

Those with PTSD will NOT be able to fill your happy cup every single day. Please do not have those unreal expectations of them. They do need time to work on themselves, they are going to have rough days or time frames, and their own battle they fight each day. This is NOT them being selfish or self centered!!! It’s them trying to be the best they can be… and in reality, probably for YOU!

Enjoy the good days when you have them, and use them to bring you strength on the not so good days.

* Nasty comments or Comments out of their normal

It happens! PTSD causes anger, frustration, numbness, and more. Including the feeling that one may no longer be in love with someone, which may just simply be what PTSD is causing one to think. It comes from the numbness.

(If you are one with PTSD and experiencing that, refer to the “motions lead to emotions” I have spoken about, which can help. It was the best advice we were ever given! Thank you Dr. Dixit.)

Allow time for the symptoms to get back to a normal level before making harsh, life changing decisions. And PLEASE avoid ultimatums! Many times PTSD will see ultimatums as a challenge OR may be taken as a spouse/partner just does not care enough to stay. That may lead to trust issues. PLEASE avoid these if possible.

My personal question I always keep in mind, that has always helped and always right thus far… “Is this something he would say before PTSD or when symptoms are low?” If the answer is no, then you can pretty much guess PTSD and it’s symptoms were behind the comment, not the true person they are or the way they really feel.

* Communication

It really is your golden key. Even when PTSD symptoms are high, you can calmly find ways to communicate. Sometimes you may have to re-word things several times but that is okay! Sometimes you may have to wait to talk about something, that is okay! Sometimes you may have to limit what needs to be discussed, that’s okay too! Just keep in mind that when symptoms are high, too much talking can be like static noise. Focus is going to be more difficult for the one with PTSD, so do not over talk or add in a lot of unnecessary filling to conversations. Keep in mind the symptoms that are at hand.

For many with PTSD this is the time of year they may be trying to survive. Work with them, not against them through the rough times. So both of you can get back to living, over surviving.

DO NOT give up on yourself. You are better and stronger then PTSD is! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

Now that’s some type of self-help therapy now!

WELL!

I’ve heard, “Craig really needs something that he use to love that he can get back, that will help him get out of the house more.” I’ve heard “We only have a couple more years before our teenagers are out doing their own things.” I’ve heard “I want us to be able to enjoy things we use to do as teens, with the kids before it’s not cool to hang with mom and dad anymore.” And I’ve heard… “I feel guilty that you and the kids are so bound to the house because of me.

The guys (Craig and my son) did some online shopping the past few weeks and… Mysteriously this just happens to be sitting beside our house! Seems some people around here decided on an early “Mother’s Day gift”. LOL!!!

Now you all know why Craig took me for the drive around the big lake the other day looking for quiet/not crowded areas. 

I was told my gift is we are going to start taking small steps of getting out of the house more and taking a part of our lives back! The second part of that statement was “with this“. LOL.

Some days you just give in and let them have their way, especially if it could help them!!! I think an RV will be on hold for the time being while smaller steps are being taken. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

A GOOD day…

I have to share something that happened here yesterday…

My parents called and told me they were coming over, if it was okay. My wonderful, loving aunt who I just admire recently moved and had a picnic table that she would no longer be using and thought we would like to have it, so my parents brought it back with them from their visit with her.

So while I was waiting for them to come over I was doing my pond maintenance, then getting the back yard ready to mow.

But do you have any idea what I saw while I was out there? CRAIG!!!

I know that may sound odd to some people, but many of you will get what I am saying.  I looked up and Craig was standing outside watching me!

I was so happy and excited to see him out of the house. I said, “Wow hey there! Oh this is so nice you coming out here with me!” You would have thought Santa Clause just came with how excited I was lol!

But, that wasn’t all! Once my parents got here and the picnic table was in the backyard, under my beautiful oak tree by the way  we all sat at the table talking for a little while, Craig stood near the table didn’t sit down but joined in to the conversation! My dad was cracking jokes about when I was a kid and yes, making my turn beet red lol. We talked about family stuff, you know, the good things. Craig stayed out there and joined in the conversation and I swear I even heard him chuckle and saw him smile when my dad was teasing me!  🙂

For those of you that may not understand my excitement… THAT was a good day! See, Craig use to be one that you could not get inside the house… he loved being outside. Since PTSD etc. became severe he is basically considered agoraphobic. He rarely goes outside and if he does it’s for short amounts of time, normally only for must do things, like leaving the house for doctor appointments, an occasional quick trip to the store with me or must do thing, and his daily check the mail.

Every day I nicely ask him if he would like to walk out back with me, and I get a “no not now”. So for him to come out back without anyone saying anything to him about doing so is HUGE! Then he stayed outside for oh maybe a half an hour or so! HUGE! It absolutely made my day!! 🙂

So this morning I want to start with a serious “Way to go Craig! I am SO SO SO proud of you!! Love ya babe!

Wow, I’m still excited! Yesterday was for sure a GOOD day here on the lakefront! I HAD to share! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Are you “stuck”?

Are you “stuck”?

Stuck is a very difficult place to be! It is very common and extremely real for one with PTSD, depression, anxiety, or as a family member to find themselves in this place.

It feels like your feet are stuck in concrete, you want to move but you can’t… you struggle, you fight it, you sit there, and you hate it! It’s like the world is spinning around you at high speed and you are in a trance of watching it, but can’t move. Time is passing you by, things are not being accomplished, age is creeping up on you, then all of those thoughts pour in.

Look at what I have missed. Look at what did not happen. Look what I did not do. Look at how I’m aging. Look at how things have changed. But yet I sit here stuck, feeling as if I am unable to move, unable to change things, unable to find motivation, unable to find the energy to fight this horrible feeling. I seem to be paralyzed by “stuck”. Then the thoughts flow in, “Life is passing me by.”

That stuck comes from many reasons. Maybe you are worn out mentally and/or physically. Maybe it’s lack of sleep. Maybe it’s a lack of direction due to all of the changes. Maybe it’s the what if’s. Maybe it’s the lack of confidence or feeling you may not do something right, feeling like you may fail, feeling that you are not good enough, feeling you are overwhelmed with too many things to do, feeling others would be better off without you being a part in something, feeling that something is just missing?

Something missing? Yes, a balance. When stuck comes it strips you of self balance, self worth, self confidence, and the ability to move forward. It paralyzes you.

I do not know of any person with PTSD, or their partner, that has not been in this place! It happens! And if you have not experienced it yet, sadly you will at some point in time. It’s that hands thrown in the air screaming “What do I do? Why do I feel this way? Why can’t I move? I don’t want to do anything!“. That’s called being stuck.

There is only one major thing I have personally found to change this. Mind set, and anyone can do it. You tell yourself, “Okay, I know I am tired, I know I have no motivation, I know there’s a chance I may not complete something, I know that I am overwhelmed, but I also know I HAVE to stand up. I have to put one foot in front of the other and take baby steps. I have to walk to another room, I have to walk outside, I have to pick something up with my hands, I have to touch something, I have to do something, anything!” You have to re-learn how to live. Baby steps, and they can be tiny! You force yourself to physically and mentally move no matter how large or tiny the steps may be, you are accomplishing something that will lead to greater steps.

When medical and/or life changes weigh you down, and your feet feel the hardness of the concrete forming around them, you are the only one who can break the concrete! Others can hold onto your hands and help balance or guide you, but you have to make the choice and take those baby steps to put your feet back on land, and step out of that concrete.

It will NOT be easy!!! There is a lot of weight there causing you to be unbalanced. You are going to stumble at times. You are going to fall at times. But the more baby steps you force yourself to take, the less stuck you are going to feel. It takes time, but you CAN do it!

Some of you may be shaking your head, thinking no way, thinking I have lost my mind right now by saying this!  I promise you I haven’t. 😉

So, what are baby steps? They might be…

I put my glass in the dishwasher. I walked through the house. I went to the mailbox. I waved to a neighbor. I took a shower. I put on fresh clothing. I made a sandwich. I talked to my children/grand-children today. I looked outside, standing at the window. I hung a new photo. I took the dog out. I went to a doctor’s appointment or the grocery store. I raked a small pile of leaves. I called a family member or friend. Today I forced myself to laugh, or forced myself to smile. 😉

It does not matter how large or small those steps are, those are steps! You are stronger then the what if’s or what should be’s… you take those tiny steps.

I mentioned “re-learning”. That is basically what you are doing. When you become stuck it is like starting over from square one, which is okay! Do not think or try to do everything in one day, don’t overwhelm yourself. Which, becoming overwhelmed, trying to do too much at one time, is one of the largest reasons to one becoming stuck.

Set a goal… “Today I am going to…“. One thing if need be, one thing is okay! That one thing today may lead to two things tomorrow or next week. Don’t make a to-do list or goal list that is long. Looking at many things at one time will overwhelm you! Set reasonable goals/to-do’s. By setting reasonable goals you are more likely to be able to achieve them, then when tomorrow comes you can start rebuilding from there. You now have the mindset of “Hey, I did this yesterday, today I am going to do this…“. You are taking small steps to rebuilding yourself from that stuck position, you are not overwhelming yourself, you are taking small steps to accomplish becoming unstuck!

There are going to be times that you find yourself back in the stuck position. It’s going to happen, it’s a part of this life and being human, it’s a part of life with disabilities or as a caregiver to another! When that time comes, you start over and you try again… one small step at a time. And don’t ever forget, there is no such thing as “failing” as long as you try! 😉 You will accomplish something, and anything IS an accomplishment!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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Survivor’s Guilt… Let me tell you a story

Over time you learn how to spot things or what will effect one. It becomes second nature really. Today I want to talk about something with total respect and a heavy heart. I hope this brings some understanding to those who have not learned yet or are new to this life.

Let me tell you a story…

Last night Craig and I watched a show series in the bedroom, and I fell asleep during it… on purpose! I knew Craig would keep watching, that he would stay there with me or in the room, I also knew that I would need some sleep before the night time came… the nightmares.

How did I know this beforehand? Because today, to many, is a holiday. Holidays can bring a lot of different things to many people who have PTSD…

Yesterday was a day of Craig talking about “that” deployment, where his trauma took place. He tried to recall details of that time and names of those he served with. He told me stories of how he met some of the crew he was stationed/deployed with. He came across, or found really, the cruise book online from that time. He scanned through every photo trying to recognize people, he talked to me about places he saw, as well as the good and bad experiences. He got frustrated and upset over pieces he could not remember. At times he would somewhat smile and tell a funny story. I could see every emotion as it came to him, I could see how he would stop at certain photos. I heard him say, “They must have left them out, I don’t see them”. I knew who he was looking for.

And when he reached the last page, he saw the “In Memory Of” page and photos of his friends that did not make it home. He spoke out to me, “There they are!”. I sat with him and listened as he flipped through every page, and when he reached that special page I watched as he touched the screen, how he said each of their names out loud. Then he told me about each of his buddies, the things they use to do, what their personalities were like, how he looked up to them and valued their friendships, how the one friend of the three was the reason he wanted to learn how to fly… become a pilot, and did. I saw the sadness on his face, the loss he was experiencing.

So I just sat and listened, watched, talked and asked appropriate questions when they fit in. I shared with him this experience of remembrance with respect.

See, many who have PTSD also experience survivor’s guilt. Craig is one of those. When holidays approach, you can see it. You can see the changes and increases in symptoms. You can watch them withdraw from those around them. You can see a sort of sadness come over them. You might hear them speak of the families or look for them quietly of those lost, just to see how they are now.

Some people will talk about those who died, others will not or just not yet… have respect to whichever they are comfortable with. Survivor’s guilt is no joke, it’s very real. It can cause some of the darkest days and there needs to be caution with this. If your loved one experiences this, please don’t push them or have too high of expectations of them during these times. They need your support and just someone to be there.

If they can’t manage to do the things planned or what you want of them, don’t hold it against them, don’t take it out on them, don’t talk bad about them… the “You ruined my day”, don’t argue about it, and pep talks are not always the right action. Sometimes they need to experience these feelings so they can move forward, and remember they are important and that it’s important they are here. Just be thankful you have them, that they are alive.

Being understanding of their loss instead of negative helps them more then anything. As well as it can help them before and on the holiday, which can lead to a better day at times. Allow them to grieve if they need to, allow them to talk if they want to, and be there for them through these times.

Yesterday was special. Craig has talked to me many times about his trauma and the loss of his friends, but yesterday, he shared his grieving, loss, and even the chuckles of good memories with me on a much deeper level. We took a part of the day to reflect and give him the one on one time for him to just talk, communicate, and express himself, his emotions, and his memories.

Survivor’s guilt is much like PTSD, one does not just snap out of it or get over it, they re-experience it. It hangs with them, and what you do, the words you use or don’t use, can make a huge difference. When these times come or you see one struggling, use kindness, understanding, compassion, so you can help them through it and move forward in positive ways. Sometimes just being there to listen is all you need to do.

Sometimes there is something I speak to Craig, it seems to help him through the tough days, helps him refocus of sorts, and I speak it from the heart with kindness and understanding. So if you are one struggling today, I want to share this with you. It won’t make those feelings go away, and I respect that and your loss, but maybe it will help you through the day with a slight ease or different point of view to what you are experiencing that is so real… 

Every person who survived, survived for a reason. I don’t know why it was you instead of them, my view is there is a mission of sorts that you have not completed yet. Something that you can bring to others that holds great value and meaning, and I truly believe that. I do not have answers to why so many important, special people were lost. But as I have told Craig before, during some of our in depth talks, those that were lost would be proud of you, they would want you to live your life and keep moving forward, they would want you to do it for yourself, your family, as well as for them. The friendships were special, that brotherly bond was strong, it will always be a part of you and who you are… and they would only wish the best to and for you. Their memory you have brings you strength. I know the loss is great and it weighs on the heart and mind heavily, there’s no getting past that feeling, those emotions, and experiences of something so very real. But I also know that they believed in you and would not want to see you struggle, just as if they had been the ones to survive you would not want to see them struggling. So be kind to yourself, allow yourself to experience those thoughts, feelings, and emotions, grieve when you need to… but at the same time, don’t let it slip from your mind to live, they would want you to. 

From the heart with love, understanding, and compassion… I hope each of you find good in today.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAY “A Spouse’s Story PTSD”!…

HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAYA Spouse’s Story PTSD“!

Three years ago today something very special happened, the birth of this page! Which has grown into a wonderful family, support system, and friendships have formed… even those who have not met each other from around the world!

Each day we meet here for coffee, or tea 😉 and we share parts of our lives with each other, the good, the bad, and just life itself. All with the same reasons… having others to talk to that understand, learning as well as teaching others, and just simply knowing that we are not alone in this world of #PTSD.

I am so thankful for every single one of you that are here with us. As good as I am with words, words can not be placed on the powerful strength this page has become. I never dreamed when I started this page, that it would grow into something so meaningful, and beautiful. Each of you are a part of that, each of you we consider as our “family“.

We all know that life with PTSD is not the easiest thing in the world, and can be a true roller coaster ride at times, but when people come together like everyone has here… PTSD just does not stand a chance! 😉 It’s not going away but we all sure have a huge support system to help each other understand and find things that can help. We have of support system of many hearts and many intelligent minds, and we work together to make life the best it can be. You ALL are awesome!!!

With every comment or email I receive, telling me how the words written helped one personally, helped a relationship or family, or saved a life that thought there was no other option but to give up… I see how important this family is here, I feel it, and I can not express how grateful I am to and for each of you. As much as you say my words help you, you need to know that you help me/us as well! It does go both ways! 

So before I get sappy here lol 😉

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to THIS FAMILY!

If you know someone who is struggling, or needs an extra support system, another place to learn or to bring a little more understanding about PTSD and life with or beside it. Please invite them to join us here. NO ONE deserves to feel like they are alone!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

 

Happy birthday and thank you for all the knowledge that you give us.” -Amy

Thank you Bec, for all you do for us” -Dede

Happy 3rd birthday! This page has been a God send!!” -Lynda

Wow! I didn’t realize you were barely an infant when I joined. What a blessing you and this group have been in my journey of trying to understand PTSD and why things are the way they are! God bless you, A Spouse’s Story PTSD, Becky, Craig and family.” -Carole

Thank you, everybody…especially to Bec…you help me understand me better…” -Joe

Thank you for EVERYTHING!! You have taught me so much about PTSD. 10 years ago my husband was diagnosed with chronic and severe ptsd…I didn’t know what that meant. What do I do? We have been married for almost 30 years, and I didn’t want to lose him. You have been my savior, my support, my everything. Thank you, keep up the good work.” -Laurel

Thanks so much! Very helpful and encouraging!” -Dakota

Thank you, I appreciate what you are doing.” -Bob

 

 

The weekend and PTSD…

It’s Friday! The jump for joy it’s the weekend to so many people. But do you know what it is to someone with PTSD?

It’s a rise in anxiety because it brings an increase in crowds of people. There are more noises, music, sirens, neighbors having parties, commotion all around. It’s a time that they become on highest alert and leaving the house is not something they look forward to having to do. So many to not venture out during the weekend.

It’s the time that being indoors seem to be the safest. Away from the possible triggers that could come. It’s the time they have to focus on their coping skills the most. They may very well isolate themselves from the outside world.

Many people with PTSD that do get out and about will not stick to the normal schedule. They will dine out during off hours, rather it’s earlier or later then normal dinner hours. They will do shopping during the week when stores are less crowded. They will avoid gatherings and large events. And if you see them at one, thank them for coming… that took a lot to do!

Many people don’t realize how life changes when PTSD becomes a part of it. It does not mean there is not some type of life, it just means it is altered. Changed to ways that makes it easier to cope without being completely overwhelmed.

Expectations. Something I talk about a lot. When you have been around PTSD you learn very quickly that expectations can be very difficult. And when you expect something from one who suffers you increase the amount of pier pressure on them which could be a total backfire. It weighs on them, they worry if they will be able to do what it is that is expected of them, worry they will let you down, anxiety goes up, and it can send them into a whirlwind of emotions. If this happens you can almost bet they are going to shut down.

If you are making plans always know they can be changed or the person might not be able to attend. This is especially important through holidays and special events! “We would love to have you if you are up for it”, but never be demanding of one being somewhere. This takes the pressure off and there is a higher chance of them being able to make it.

Always keep in mind how PTSD effects a person, and work around it 😉 Anything is possible if it’s handled the right way!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”