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Happy Thanksgiving… no matter where you are!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today (and always) I am thankful for so many things in my life…

I want to say Thank You to all of our brothers and sisters in the military that are not home today with their families for Thanksgiving. I thank you for the job that you do and for how giving you are of yourself and the sacrifices you make for all of us… you are in our thoughts today and always. I wish you a safe Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for my husband. Even with PTSD I could never imagine my life without him. Craig you are my love, my soul-mate, my best friend… and still the other half of every heartbeat my heart takes! I am thankful we fight this war of PTSD together by each others sides and not against each other. I am thankful that our relationship has grown to something greater then one could even dream of or imagine during this battle… PTSD does not stand a chance against us! I love you babe <3

I am thankful for our children. We have 4 of the most kind hearted, understanding, happy and loving kids, and they carry no stigma towards anyone, and do carry on educating others with pride… how could we ever ask for more. I am a very proud mom/step-mom of all of them. I am thankful for the unique personalities each of them have and for the strong souls within them. They are our daily reminder that life and family with PTSD can in deed exist as we hear them laugh, tell jokes, and pick on each other about their taste in music lol. 😉 Children grow up too fast, enjoy every second of it! I love you kiddos! 

I am thankful for our families. Craig and I both have strong families that are always there for us and with us. Some may still not quite grasp PTSD and our life with it, but that has not changed that they are family and family sticks together. I am thankful our parents raised us with loving hearts and strong upbringings which help us today as we ourselves grow stronger.

I am thankful for each and every single one of YOU! <3 I stand strong that we are a “Family”! Each of you are special and very dear to my heart. I am thankful that we all have the chance to learn together, lean on each other, help each other, and friendships form that have a bond that many people never have a chance to experience in their lifetime. We stand strong together against PTSD and finding a positive type of new life even through the roller coaster it brings. I am proud of each of you and the strength you have. I am Thankful to be able to call you our “family”!

I am thankful for the strength and love I have been given within me to understand, learn, help others through our personal experiences, and to stand back up and stay positive when PTSD tries to knock me down. And that I can pass along education to others about PTSD, other unseen disabilities, and life itself… in a positive light. And lol 🙂 I am thankful you can tolerate my lame humor and southern slang! 😉 Humor is a wonderful coping skill!

I wish each of you a very special Happy Thanksgiving today, no matter where you are, because I am thankful for YOU! Please know that you are loved and cherished. I hope your day brings a smile and even a chuckle. Please be safe if you are on the roads today or as you travel. Stay strong  <3

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD (and immediate family members) vs Family Members

PTSD (and immediate family) vs Family members

The bottom line is that “vs” should NOT even exist!

To say this up front, every family structure may be different, and this is in no way meant to be negative towards family members, it is simply to help those families that are having struggles right now have a little better understanding.

This is so hard when it comes to PTSD. There is no other way to say it! You are going to have some people who accept PTSD whether they understand it or not and are positive in your life. You are going to have ones who will fight with you forever that PTSD is not real or there’s nothing wrong with you or your loved one. You are going to have those that try to rip families apart or feel your relationship is not fair to one or the other of you. Then there are going to be ones that over time do learn that PTSD is a real disorder/injury and eventually take the time to try to understand. There are many different shoes being worn when it comes to a family as a whole.

This will be one of the toughest outside influences that comes with PTSD. Family is suppose to be there for each other, be there for support, and be there just to simply have someone to talk to. And some ARE, but that is not always going to happen in life, and especially not when any type of mental illness/disorder comes into your lives. There is too much stigma still and the fact that many family members do not want to accept that it happened to their family or feel that one should still be living a “normal” life.

We personally have a mixed combination in our family. We have some that get it… the best they can without living with it, we have ones that really don’t understand but are still supportive, and we have those that just think it’s not real and treat us like we should be living what they view as “normal” lives. So I personally know all sides to this family struggle.

Even with all that I share with the world, the personal stories I tell to help others, and the changes in our lives that are first hand seen by others, there are still those that are refusing to accept it happened to us. It’s just a part of life.

Over the years it’s come down to I will teach what I can to those who want to learn or want to know about PTSD. The ones that truly care about being a part of our lives still. I don’t push it on anyone, it’s their choice to ask questions or bring up conversation, and once that door is open you can bet I’m going to talk about it. If something comes up in conversation then I will speak in total honesty. I will debate if need be with the facts, sometimes it takes that to get one to understand the best possible without being in our shoes or at least to help them accept PTSD, but I will not stress myself or my husband out over it, that’s a battle that’s just not needed for anyone.

The ones that cause more grief than happiness, who would rather battle about it or how our lives are now than appreciate the fact that we are in their lives, well, we keep them at arms length. Outside influences can be a huge struggle and cause a ton of conflict, and that is not something a PTSD family needs. Your battle with PTSD is hard enough without adding someone’s negative beliefs or behaviors to it. I by no means want to throw any family structure away, why would I? I love ALL of my family, but when it causes more conflict than good, sometimes that arms length and not having them so close is the only way to survive how they are responding to the fact that PTSD has become a part of your life or that our life is now different.

At times you may have to put a small distance in between you and someone else. It can save everyone from it ending up in no contact at all. It can save families from falling apart and support of some sort from being lost. When you place that small distance, if they care, they are going to ask you what is wrong or why haven’t they heard from you. And if they do, that’s when facts are laid on the table and you tell them the simple “It’s difficult when you can’t accept us/me for what has happened to us/me and the fact that our lives have changed”. No arguing, no frustration, just a simple statement from the heart. One of two things are going to happen… The distance will come back into play or they will stop and think about what is laid before them.

Family IS really needed, especially when it comes to PTSD being a part of life. But you have to find ways of understanding and working through or around the conflict that can come as well, whether it’s due to PTSD or just simply the conflicts that can come with a family. When PTSD is a part of everyday life, there’s just no energy or room for drama, gossip, family feuds, the you need to do this or that, and the he said she said mentality. Families with PTSD need some sort of peace in their lives. The battle needs to be together against PTSD, not with each other or one being thrown into other family conflicts that in reality has nothing to do with them or should not be there to begin with.

I can honestly say to those who do not suffer from PTSD, if you do not find some type of understanding on neutral grounds with the one who has PTSD and those living with that person, you stand a huge chance of that person/those people walking completely away from you and out of your life. It’s just a fact that comes with all of it.

PTSD is a huge battle that takes a lot of energy to make it from one day to the next. It takes a lot of energy to work through it and learn to live life with it in a relationship as well as the immediate family unit. Outside negativity is not something that is needed. Each situation is going to be handled on a case by case basis, and to what that person can or can not handle depending on where they stand at the moment with their PTSD or as the one standing beside them.

If you are a family member that does not live with or understand what your loved one with PTSD and/or their immediate family members experience, please take caution with your words, your battles, and your actions. We don’t need anyone living with PTSD losing their family support.

One with PTSD and their immediate family members are going to do what is best for themselves in order to cope with PTSD and to keep stress levels down, THEY HAVE TO. It’s a part of how one with PTSD and their immediate family members survive and find ways to live with PTSD being a part of life. Please do not bring extra stress to them, if you do it might just be you that loses something important in your life… THEM! That is NOT what ANYONE needs or wants!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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Right and Wrong forms of Support

Right and Wrong forms of Support

I mentioned this the other day in one of my postings, and last night it really hit home and weighed on me. So I wanted to go ahead and talk about this.

People who do not live with someone who has PTSD or Depressive disorder (or other unseen disabilities), in many cases… seem to really not understand what “correct” support is! This can be so frustrating, can anger you, can send you in a deeper depression, can cause the greatest guilt you have ever witnessed.

Ones that don’t take the time to “get it”… understand the disorder/illness at hand, offer support in a way they would offer to anyone else. So I’m not dismissing that they might have good intentions, many times they won’t see that what they are doing is actually causing more damage. I’m saying there is a right and wrong way when it comes to an unseen disability.

So let me give you an example and maybe this will help…

A person calls and says they need your help with something, let’s say yard work just for the sake of an example. It goes something like this…

Person calling:
“Oh there is just so much we have to do and the yard really needs to be mowed and trimmed up. Oh and those hedges, they have gotten so tall and we just can’t get everything done by our self. I have this, this, and this I need to be doing instead. Well, you have time on your hands, I need you to come over and do this for me.”

Okay, no big deal right? The one with PTSD loves helping other people out! Especially if it’s family or friends. But let’s take a deeper look into what was said from the view of the one with PTSD or their spouse.

Person with PTSD:
“Hey they want me to do this, this and this. I have to do it. I will have to watch what time of day because of my medications and the heat. I am so tired because I didn’t get any sleep or little sleep over the past, well forever. After a rough night I fell back asleep, I missed getting up to do that before the heat, now it’s too late. I can’t manage to get this done around my own house but I have to put that to the side and go do this for them because they expect me to. I have no energy. They keep bugging me so I need to get this done. I have no energy. I can’t let them down. I have to do this. I rarely leave the house but I have to do this. Oh look at my own yard, I can’t even manage to get it done myself. But I have to do this for them…….” Then lays down a sleeps the rest of the day.

I know in that last part I said the same things more then once, I did that on purpose because that is exactly what happens.

What just happened? By all means the one with PTSD WANTS to do this for someone else. But at the same time the anxiety built up. The expectations grew and were out of control, the thought of not being able to accomplish things of your own but yet being told to help someone else made them feel bad. Guilt set in on it’s highest level. In this example medications and heat were an issue which narrow the time frame of expectations, causing even more anxiety and guilt. The fact that there is lack of sleep involved therefore lack of energy, which means after this thing asked is done, this person will probably crash and not be able to do much if anything for a few days. The repeat of being told what needs to be done is a huge guilt trip.

I’m sure the person asking for this favor has every good intention. So I will give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are trying to push the person to get out of the house, maybe they are trying to get them to be active, maybe they think this will be “good” for them to be included in helping out… or maybe they just don’t get it and are treating this person like there is nothing wrong with them?

Things like this can be handled in a much better way. I just showed you what approaching a situation as in this example can do to someone with an unseen disability. Now let me show you a very simple, easier way to approach the same example…

Proper support:
“Hey we are going to be working on the yard today which has become overwhelming to us, if you are up for helping you are more then welcome to come over. If not that’s okay too, we understand.” And don’t say it again!

Do you see the huge difference? Wording things to where what you want to say is said, but also in a way that does not place expectations, guilt, or even harassing manner, I can almost promise you will work much better… and for both people!

Work, another example…

Wrong support:
“You are the best at the job you were doing. Don’t give up, go get another job doing that. There’s nothing wrong with you and you can still do the same thing. Why are you just letting your career go? You are letting yourself and us down, go get another job. We know you can still do this, you were so good at it.”

Person with PTSD:
“I let them down. I’m not good at anything anymore. I was the best and everyone knows that, now I’m nothing! I failed. That was my life dreams and now I’m nothing. I’m worthless. I can’t do what I did before. I’m damaged goods. I should be doing my dream job right now and living life to it’s fullest as I expected to, but I can’t. Look at all of my education wasted! All those awards mean nothing, I failed my family and myself!….”

OUCH! The person that was trying to be supportive, or just not accepting the unseen disability, could have just honestly pushed the one with PTSD into ending their life! You think that is a strong statement? Well let me tell you, it’s a pretty honest and serious one! To the one without PTSD, they view it as pushing the person in a positive way that they can indeed still do what they are good at, that they should not give up. However, look what their view of positive turned into. Not so good when an unseen disability is involved.

Correct support:
“I know you have to figure out what you can or can not do with your disabilities, but I just want you to notice and remember how many accomplishments you have made in your life. Just because you may not do what you expected you would be doing, does not mean you won’t find something else you are wonderful at also. Life comes with changes, and this is just one of them. And look, you get to find something new you will enjoy just as much.”

See the difference? Wrong support and/or wording can throw someone with PTSD into a huge downward spiral. To the point that they honestly want to end their life. It does not mean you have to pamper them or treat them differently, it means you choose your words wisely and remember that a disability is indeed there. There are many ways to word things to keep things positive, and to avoid making them feel guilty or unworthy… or even make them feel as if they are a burden and everyone would be better off without them. Think about what you say before speaking!

These are only two examples of many, but I hope you care enough to get my point. Your words can honestly be the difference between someone wanting to live and move forward, or sadly… want to end their life.

PTSD and other disabilities are very real. Rather you are one that believes they are or not, you really need to take a good look at what the facts are. And right now the fact is 22 veterans and 1 active duty member are taking their own lives each day, that’s higher then war itself… and that’s only reported cases in the United States and not including civilian or world wide. If those numbers don’t scream PTSD is real, then I honestly don’t know what does!

It only takes a minute to think about “how” what you do or say to someone will effect them. It only takes a little bit of time for you learn the difference between correct and wrong support. Things have changed when PTSD becomes a part of your life or your family’s life. And with that change everyone needs to learn how to be supportive in a way that will actually help not hinder your loved one.

PLEASE take the time! Take the time to CARE!

~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

Father’s Day… My Dad.

Oh and just a friendly reminder to those that celebrate it… this Sunday is Father’s Day! 

I know there are many that view it has a card company holiday but hey, it’s also kind of nice to have a day where you say an extra “I love you Dad”.

I was raised in a family where I don’t think my mom missed any holidays lol. And she decorates the house for every one of them. LOL. Always happy and celebrating life I guess you could look at it as, so all holidays were welcomed and looked forward to… that or she just loves all of the redecorating… just kidding hehe. 

My Dad.

Oh I’m a daddy’s girl by every breathe of the words! My dad has no sons but let me tell you, it didn’t make a difference to him. He taught us girls just as he would have taught a son.

He taught me that words have strength, so use them wisely. Words carry strength, passion, meaning, and really shows who a person is on the inside. He has always been a man of few words spoken, but when he speaks, everyone listens.

He taught me to care about other people and lending a hand is always the proper thing to do when one needs help. And he never expected anything in return. The smile on a person’s face was always enough. Kindness to others.

He taught me to use and develop my skills. My love for training dogs originated from his teachings and became a love of my own. We never had a dog that was misbehaved, out of control, or unsocialized and they were always a part of the family but yet each had some purpose of being with us. Right down to the day he said “Bec, this pup is your’s” which meant it was my turn, he knew I was ready, he knew I carried the same passion he did, and he had confidence in me that I could handle the task. I watched him as I was growing up take time with “his” dogs every single day after he returned from a long hot day of physical work. There was never a day he put the animals off because he was tired. He always took time for what he had/has in his life.

He also taught me that you can’t always hold on to everything in life and sometimes it’s okay to let go of something… I watched and helped him when he would take in a dog someone dumped out (which I don’t think mom was always happy about us bringing home strays lol but excepted it, she’s an animal lover too.), nursed it back to health, worked with it, and then placed it in a home that was meant for that dog. That was a hard lesson for me, I wanted to keep all of them lol, greed for personal gain was not something that was right to do or feel… he taught me well and helped me learn that with every animal saved and rehomed, there is always another one that needed our help. He was a rescuer as we know it in the dog world today, but back then there was no title to it. It was an act of love and kindness to a living creature. Develop love and right doings from the heart.

He taught me to provide for myself and how to live off of the land. My dad is one that hunts and does fish, but not for a trophy wall mount, it’s only to provide food to his family, no more no less. The physical but disciplined skills of survival were taught to me.

He taught me patience and to never give up. In many situations it takes time to reach a goal, you have to take the time needed and never give up on what you believe in.

He taught me to take care of myself and also how to protect myself and my family. Something any good father will teach a child.

He taught me love for my country. He is a Veteran, again with very few spoken words of the time he served.

He taught me that each person is their own individual, and taught me the path to be who I am today.

Even a man of very few words can teach an education that is priceless. He taught me respect, about life, how to live it, how to nurture it, and how to survive it.

I am very thankful for my Dad!
“I love ya Dad!”

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

Military vs PTSD

I want to talk to all of you that are in the military this morning. PLEASE bare with everything I have to say here and know I have the deepest respect for each and every one of you that put your life on the line for all of us rather it’s now, the past, or in the future. I also know that some of you might not like hearing some of what I may say here, but please read this in it’s entirety and know I’m not going to sugarcoat things and as always I am going to say it like it is. So just keep in mind I do have total respect for you as well as the job you do.  With as many emails that I get, I HAVE to and need to address this.

Military vs PTSD

I have to say military personnel, our proud brothers and sisters in uniform, are the ones in the most difficult position there is when it comes to PTSD.

See, one who chooses to be in the military, chose it as life, a life style, an honor. Very few walk away from it on their own after their first enlistment. Many do see it as a lifetime. Some have served for years, and many since they were in their teens. I know there is no greater position then serving your country. I know this firsthand because my husband was one of those who did. He was a lifer… at least that was his intentions, and he did not want to leave the military!

WE chose together for him to join the military, so I was by no means a wife that was not on board with it, I backed him 110%. Even though our paths separated for awhile through life, to say the least we got back together… and I couldn’t imagine life any other way.

I saw changes in him when we got back together, I knew what he had been through and accepted it. What we now know as PTSD was what he was silently battling with minor symptoms at the time from what happened to him. But one day that changed. PTSD honestly brought him to his knees, the man that I knew, many knew, as the best of the best, strong willed and stronger then many, and by all means a great leader to others had been effected by this unseen disability that we did not understand at the time.

His greatest concern was not himself, it was his military job. He was concerned that if he asked for help or told anyone what he was experiencing, it would end his career. We found ways to handle what he was experiencing, but it honestly was not enough. I started watching him get further and further away, I watched him change into a person I no longer knew, and PTSD did bring him to his knees.

He fought me on getting help. We never fought so this was really tough on us. But I knew professional help was needed. One day he stopped fighting it and me, and reached out for help. I will say right up front, help was not generously offered. It was a battle of it’s own, but we did not give up.

His memory issues were what stood out the most at the time. The picking fights for no reason, doing things totally out of his character, and eventually the issues rolled over to his work.

One day I had to break through to him. He wanted to give up when doors were being slammed in his face, things at work were becoming worse, and things at home sure were not normal. But I knew not to give up.

I had to sit and talk to him one day. It was not an easy conversation. He did not want to cause any more waves and chance losing is career, his love of the military and country. But he had to face the facts at hand.

“You love the military and you don’t want to let your country or family down. But what happens when what you are going through costs someone else their life? You care about your brothers and sisters, they are our family. But with the way you are right now, you could cause them harm or cost them their life if you don’t continue to try to get help for yourself.” Hardest words I ever had to say to him, but very much the truth and facts on the table.

Months of doctors followed, people thinking he was just wanting out, command not being understanding at all. Yes, I can say we were going through hell and the words PTSD were never even mentioned… not until later. They took him from his ship and put him at a desk job eventually. I really think a part of him died when that happened followed by us watching his crew deploy and he was not allowed to go with them. His loyalty to this country came first, and now it couldn’t. That cut deep. It cut deep for me too as I watched what it did to him.

Eventually he did lose his career. And don’t let me lose you here, keep reading please. After the military the battle became harder, adapting to civilian life is not easy so I will not tell you it is. His PTSD became worse no one was treating him for it, oh and the VA is who said PTSD chronic to us, he was discharged with conversion disorder because they said it was the only thing that fit, PTSD was never even considered to our knowledge.

If we knew then what we know now. A phrase that I’m sure will haunt both of us for life, but we won’t let that weigh us down. My military family, you have a chance we didn’t! I know it’s not easy and I know what it does to you to ask for help and then have to push to get it, I also know that many are afraid of losing their career and military life, for many of you it is all you know. I do understand because I see it through my own husband’s eyes.

But I also know and he does too, that if he had reached out for help sooner things might be different today. When you start treating PTSD soon enough, your chances of keeping your career become much higher. I am watching ones with PTSD make it to retirement! Your job might change, I can’t say for fact it won’t, but you can still serve your country. What you do for yourself now could change your outcome. If PTSD is there, it’s not going to go away and the longer you avoid it the worse it will become, there’s no getting around that one.

There are so many things now that can help. There is so much information, therapy, coping skills, etc that can help you now.

The fact is, and don’t get mad at me here  when you signed on the dotted line and joined the military, you knew there are wounds from war, you knew that one day the day may come that you served and could no longer move on to the next battle, it’s part of the job. You knew that the day would come sooner or later and you would have to join the civilian population again. But none of us expected it could happen by an unseen injury. Life does not stop at the end of a military career, rather you make it through retirement or not. Your love for your country, brothers and sisters does not stop. And it sure doesn’t have to stop at PTSD.

Those who do lose their careers to PTSD, your military job has not ended, so to speak. The page has just turned and you are needed to continue a battle, just of a different sort. Your battle you now or will face is continuing to help your brothers and sisters in uniform that face the PTSD battle. Your country still needs you and greater then ever! Wounds of war, you now stand in front of another brother or sister and guide their way through the wounds of war so they can live through the battle they now face.

PTSD is no joke, it’s taking more lives then war is. PTSD is not just going away, but it’s a battle that can be fought and won on a different type of battle field. Life is going to change, it’s just a fact of life, but you CAN survive it. Get the help you need, learn everything you can so you have the weapons for the battle, and you will find you have a huge following asking you to help guide their way, not just a battle but through life. Military will end one day for you, there is no getting around that fact rather it’s now or later, but the help you can offer those in uniform will never end, they need YOU! You still have a mission, prepare yourself for it.

I speak from the facts. I watch my husband’s eyes light up as they did when he was active duty, in a good way, every time I receive an email saying “what you wrote or said saved my life”. My “family”, we are living proof the mission is not over, it’s just changed. Don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on those that are going to come behind you. Fight for the help you need now, it can and will make a difference for your future and the future of others.

My greatest respect to each of you that wear your uniform proudly and those that wore it in the past and will in the future. You are all Heroes… and that is a career that will never end.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

“What NOT to say to a Caregiver/Spouse of one with PTSD”

“What NOT to say to a Caregiver/Spouse of one with PTSD”

A few weeks ago we went over things not to say to ones with PTSD. Now here is a twist, what about the one who cares for them? People do not realize in many cases what a spouse/caregiver of one with PTSD go through from day to day. And just as with the one who suffers from PTSD, there are also things NOT to say to the spouse/caregiver.

* “It must be nice to be able to stay at home.” 

We went over this one yesterday for those that may not have seen it. This is one of the worst things you could say or even “do” to a spouse! Their “choice” when it comes to PTSD is not the comfort of staying at home, it’s a choice normally between life and death of their loved one. Many of the spouses/caregivers are the reason that person is still able to make it from day to day. PTSD needs support and many times someone to help full time. To see more detailed information on this phrase please check out the posting on this phrase. You might be shocked with what comes with it!

* “You need to leave him/her!”

Those are pretty much fighting words, or words that could push the person you are saying them to away from you. When a spouse/caregiver confides in you things that they go through, they are turning to you as someone they trust and for support. If you do not live with the person who has PTSD, you really are not in the position to be telling a spouse what to do regarding their relationship. By saying these words you are not helping! Yes, by all means life with PTSD is different, and to many outsiders it can seem scary, however there can still be life and family with PTSD. Don’t cut someone who is seeking support off at the knee caps by telling them to just give up and walk away. In fact, it may very well be you they walk away from!

* “You need to get a job.”

Many times when PTSD is involved, it’s just not possible for a spouse to work. They are already in a position that IS a full time job! Caring for their loved one! It is more then a go to and come home from a 40 hour week, it is a job that is 24/7! By saying this to them, all you are doing is adding more stress to their situation, damaging their self-esteem, and not supporting the fact of the sacrifices they are actually making for their loved one.

* “Are you going to live off the government your whole life?”

Ouch! Sounds like you don’t know how the system works very well. The truth is, many families do not qualify for state or govt aid/assistance. And in reality, especially if the one with PTSD is still in the benefits process (which can take years mind you), they are actually between the criteria to qualify, a little too much but not enough to live on. Even ones who are getting some sort of assistance sure don’t get it because they want to, it’s because they have no other options! Especially if they have children to think about along with their disabled spouse! It’s actually very humiliating in many cases because these are people who have worked their entire lives, and many have lost everything due to a disability that is out of their control. It takes swallowing a lot of pride to ask for help. And if they are ones that are not on govt assistance but get medical benefits, those are earned benefits, not a hand out! I can guarantee you they would rather be working then having to cope with the disability before them.

* “Your husband/wife is faking.”

Let me tell you something up front. Anyone who fakes PTSD does have a mental problem and needs to be seriously put away somewhere. PTSD is no joke, and most likely, you as an outsider to the household will only see one with PTSD on a good day. You are not seeing what PTSD actually brings to one, you are seeing the fake smile on their face of trying to be normal, or fit in, or do something for their spouse/children that is actually very much out of PTSD’s comfort zone. How about giving some credit that they are able to actually be around others when they can? That takes a lot and once they get back home you can pretty much bet they are going to be drained and not be able to do anything else the rest of the day. Telling someone their spouse is faking PTSD is like sucker punching them in the face… now would you do that to someone you care about? Nope, you sure wouldn’t, so stay away from those words.

* “I can take better care of him/her then you can.”

PTSD bring a lot of stress already, and many things that if you one that speaks these words you probably don’t really understand PTSD. Parents, we all love you, but you are normally the ones guilty of saying this phrase. Your son/daughter’s spouse is the one that truly knows them the best. I know you raised your child, however I also know the spouse is the one that has been there since PTSD, the one your son/daughter trusts or they wouldn’t have them in their life. PTSD causes a huge lack in trust, so if your son/daughter trusts their spouse, then it might be wise for you to trust your child’s judgement and decision on this one. You need to be supportive of their spouse. PTSD brings a lot on the family and that spouse needs your support, not a lashing and conflict from you. Work together! If you want to be helpful to your son/daughter, give the spouse a break to do the shopping, or attend a school event, or time to handle finances, ask to have the kids for a weekend or over night. Your child and their spouse need you… BOTH of them do! The best thing you can do for your child, is not to try to take over, which is a parental instinct, but to just let them know you are there to help both of them!

* “You are why he/she is acting this way”

Actually, unless it’s an oddball of a case, they are NOT why the one with PTSD is acting this way, they are not the reason for the changes. PTSD is! The spouse just happens to be the one there when PTSD came to life or became worse in some cases. It does not mean the spouse is the one to blame. Everyone likes to have a reason for changes in a person, and pointing the finger at the person the one with PTSD is closest to is the easiest thing to do, it’s what makes sense, right? Well, you are wrong! PTSD is the reason and the cause, the trauma the person experienced, nothing more. The best thing you can do for one with PTSD is to stop pointing fingers and start providing support, again, to BOTH of them. The fastest way to tear a whole family apart is to blame the spouse. The one with PTSD is not going to go for that very well, and most likely they will pull away from you for doing so. They trust their spouse, you need to trust their opinion in this and stop the finger pointing. PTSD causes so many changes, but it all links back to the trauma, not the person that’s closest to them.

* “You sleep too much.” or “Your not a child, why are you napping?”

This one gets old to hear. If you take the time to educate yourself on what PTSD is and it’s symptoms, you will find that it only makes sense to take naps. One with PTSD has nightmares/terrors, when these occur the spouse is not going to get much if any sleep, just a fact to it. I even heard things like “sleep in another room”. Well that’s an awesome idea, however why would I want to sleep in a room away from my husband and what happens when he comes up from his nightmares/terrors and no one is there to ground him from them? What happens when he is disoriented from his surroundings and I’m again not there to ground him? With PTSD, we take sleep when we can get it. Many times that is with napping during the day. We need sleep, it’s the only way we can continue to function not only for taking care of others, but also a way to take care of ourselves. There is no such thing as too much sleep when a person is up most nights. Our sleep hours are different then those that sleep all night then can be awake all day, we don’t get that option. So, no we are not a child, we are one who takes care of someone else. It’s the same thing as if a parent is up with a sick child all night, you can bet you are going to be exhausted the following day. With PTSD it’s the same thing, except our nights equal many nights, some even every night.

* “I’m upset because you keep cancelling our plans. If you don’t want to go just say so!”

Actually it has nothing to do with not wanting to go somewhere or not wanting to join in. Fact is we would LOVE to! But the other fact to it is PTSD. PTSD comes with anxiety of gathering, crowds, anxiety over something bad might happen, or feeling of being unsafe, and many more things. It also comes with not being able to keep very good schedules. You never know when PTSD might flair up causing you not to be able to attend something. Many times if one who cares for one with PTSD can attend something, it’s a last minute thing “oh I can make it”. You have to have patience with one that has PTSD therefore you also have to have patience with the one who takes care of them. Wouldn’t it be much nicer to say something like “I really hate that you can’t make it, we would love for you to come, but we understand.” How about “I understand, how about we do that some other time when he/she is having a better day”. By saying “you don’t want to…” just adds a negative stress to someone when it’s not needed, it can also cause great damage to them wanting to be around you if you won’t take the time to understand their situation.

* “Just leave him/her at home and you go.”

This is something that is not always possible! Yes, there are ones who can leave their spouse for a certain amount of time, but there are also one’s that can not. Many times in order for the spouse to go out, they have to arrange for someone else to be there with the one with PTSD. And that is not as easy as it sounds! They have to have someone that understands PTSD and how to care for that person, which includes knowing how to handle them if a trigger happens, knowing how to ground them from a flashback, know when they need to take their medications, and a long list of things. Not just anyone is willing to say “hey I’ll run right over so you can go do something” lol… it doesn’t happen! Caring for someone else does not allow for the freedom so to speak that many others have. And when we can go somewhere, you can bet your money we will!

* “Wow you are snappy today, what’s your problem?”

Well, consideration is needed on this one. To start with, there’s the chance without thinking you said one of the phrases mentioned in this and that’s where the attitude towards you is coming form. The other things that it could be is maybe it’s been a stressful day, maybe they didn’t get much if any sleep last night, maybe there has been extra weight added to their shoulders. In stead of pointing out in a negative way how snappy they are at you, try saying something along the lines of “You aren’t acting your joyful self today, do you want to talk?” Or maybe “You seemed stressed, is there anything I can help with?” Or maybe “hey I can stick around for a little while and hang out, why don’t you go catch a nap and I ‘ll hold down the fort for you.” WOW! Now don’t those make more sense? If someone is being snappy there’s probably a good reason for it, find the reason and see if there is any way you can help out, it might just be lending an ear to listen.

* “You have to do this”

AVOID this!!! Don’t be pushy or demanding to one that has PTSD or the one who cares for one with PTSD, if you are, you are most likely going to hit a huge roadblock! This person already has enough to handle in everyday life, then their regular things such as children, housework, cooking… that when you demand something, it is very doubtful you are going to get what you are wanting or wanting them to do. And don’t keep harassing them, especially about events that are coming up! This is just going to effect the one with PTSD which in return will roll to the spouse/caregiver. Things like “we hope you will be able to attend” is a nice reminder but never state “you have to be there” or “we are counting on you to be there” or “you will be there no matter what”. Those are pretty much shutdown words to PTSD and a spouse caring for them.

* ” He/She is fine, he/she doesn’t need all of those medications, look at him/her, he’s/she’s fine.”

Well, let me let you in on something. That person with PTSD is acting better because of those meds! If they were to drop or you push them to stop taking their meds, you can almost bet they are going to have a huge setback! The meds are one thing that makes them seem “normal” to you. No, the meds are not a cure, but they can help with the symptoms of PTSD. In many cases of PTSD, without the meds you have a case of completely out of control PTSD, and just trust me on this one, you don’t want to see that part of it! Medications can bring a sense of balance to one with PTSD, which helps them find a state to which they can learn to cope. Sure eventually some of the medications might no longer be needed, and when that time comes leave it up to the doctor along with the one with PTSD to decide together! Doctors keep track of what helps, what doesn’t help, and how one is responding, leave being a doctor to the doctor on this one. Don’t tell a spouse medications are not needed, they are the one who knows what the person was like without those medications and I can bet you because of that will make sure the one with PTSD gets the help they need.

* “You should be thankful he/she made it home alive!” ~Shanny C.

Well, see here is the issue with that, yes by all means we are thankful, however to that person with PTSD they don’t view it that way which leads to many issues (survivor’s guilt) that can arise when they have guilt of making it home when someone else didn’t. This leads to suicidal tendencies or actions. Things change life with PTSD, we are thankful for them still being with us by all means however it is a constant battle every day to keep them here.

* “God doesn’t give you more then you can handle.” ~Shanny C.

I have been guilty of saying this myself, to myself… followed by “I know you won’t give me more then I can handle, but how much more do you really think I can take?” A person caring for one with PTSD does not want to hear this, many times they are at there own brink and have to regroup to keep going. It takes a lot of strength to care for one with PTSD and it all depends on you, not God, to what you do with it. This is just not something that is positive to say to someone in a caregiver role.

* “You are too controlling” ~Amanda L.

“I have to be. If I didn’t manage the finances, the doctor apts, the household, parenting boundaries, etc…. it wouldn’t happen.” ~Amanda L.

The fact is, with PTSD it is not as much as being controlled as it is to making sure things get done. Many with PTSD have a very difficult time with decision making, and many times things if not everything is left on the spouse to decide. One with PTSD may feel they might make the wrong decision, might feel their anger will get in the way (like with disciplining children), they may also have memory issues which prevent them from being able to recall what has or has not taken place. This leaves things up to the spouse to make sure everything is taken care of and life moves forward as smoothly as possible.

*  “You can’t be mad at him. He can’t control his actions” ~Amanda L.

He can’t control PTSD. It may explain his behavior but it doesn’t excuse it. He still has to be held accountable so that he knows what the boundaries are. ~ Amanda L.

This is very much true. One can’t control PTSD, however they can learn to control what they do and do not do. It does take time however to get to this point of learning. A spouse is still human and has human feelings and responses. You can not expect them to never get upset or mad, it’s not going to happen. When these things do happen, it takes many coping skills to address the issues at hand and for both of them to move forward to a better place and understanding.

* “You’re his trigger. You just need to separate for awhile.” ~Amanda L.

I’m a person. I can’t be his trigger. Maybe there’s something I’m doing or something coming from his end that he feels vulnerable enough with me to let out…. but we can’t figure that out and move forward with treatment if he’s not here! ~Amanda L.

A trigger is something linked to the actual trauma that took place. If the spouse was not a part of that trauma or caused the trauma, then there is no way of the spouse being a trigger. This goes back to the blame game, people feel the need to blame someone actually when they don’t have answers. The blame is actually the trauma itself which caused PTSD to develop. Separating is only really needed in physical abuse cases, where the one with PTSD is physically harming the spouse. Amanda is right on with the fact that if the PTSD person is not there, then it makes it extremely difficult to face what is before you and move forward with getting help and learning to cope, and for both of you. It is really something that needs to be handled together. On the norm, when one with PTSD leaves, there is a huge break in communication which makes it harder to work through things. It also causes the one with PTSD to have the feelings which PTSD can bring, that the other person is better off without them which in many cases is not true.

 

To say the least, there are many more statements I could add to this list, but this will give you a good start to learning about and why these things should not be said to a spouse/caregiver. A spouse/caregiver has taken the time to really put their heart, time, and energy to help the one they care about. Don’t disregard that fact. There is a lot that comes with the “job” that many do not think about. Take time to learn, understand the best you can without being in their shoes, and be supportive of them! They are there because they want to be. PTSD is tough and not something everyone can handle, so when someone does, be supportive of them! They sure don’t need extra negative comments added to their life, think before you speak please.

Take time to educate yourself and be supportive to anyone that is there for one with PTSD. That person is greatly needed!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

PTSD vs The ones that don’t accept it…

PTSD vs The ones that don’t accept it…

Oh boy! Here’s a tough one. With PTSD it is urgent for you to have support, especially from family members!

This is the toughest thing in the world, war would be easier then trying to get a family member to accept that you have a mental illness that is very real. I already see heads nodding yes don’t I!

Parents especially have a hard time accepting PTSD. They remember working so hard to raise you, made sure you had everything you needed growing up, see you as that perfect person with so many possibilities in life, have in their minds expectations of you, etc. They remember all of the good times and how you were as a child. How motivated you were as a young adult heading into an adult world with so much potential ahead of you.

Then something happened and the world crashed! A mental illness? No, not my child! There must be another reason. Oh you don’t have that, you just need a different job with less stress or that you like more, oh it’s your spouse she/he is not good for you, oh you are on all of those meds that make you this way, your doctor is wrong, and the ultimate… there’s nothing wrong with you maybe you need to be closer to home and I can get you back into the right self-esteem frame of mind, someone is the cause of making you feel this way.

These are all things that parents/family members might say when they can’t accept what has “happened” to you! OUCH! That hurts deep!

There are many things you can try in these cases. Some will listen and hear you, others will stay closed minded or take time to open up. It’s difficult for a parent to comprehend when they don’t live with you, don’t see the rough times, then turn the blame else where when they do see a change in you or you become distant from the family because it brings on more stress.

Many times in these cases it’s the spouse that goes to bat for you. A spouse will get overwhelmed with lack of support or a family member saying the things they have said. The one with PTSD will not always speak up because it’s hard to know how your family is viewing, not accepting, or acting towards what you are going through. And that guilt of letting a parent down! That’s the worst ever and the more they talk and don’t accept it as being real, the heavier that guilt becomes. That’s tough! And adds to what you are already struggling with every day. Many of you start putting distance between you and these family members. Some times you have to, but the reality is you could use their support!

So what can you do? First, accept that some will never accept it, they will never understand because they don’t see what PTSD does. But that doesn’t mean not to try! Over time many others will get curious and start to learn. No parent wants their child to stop talking to them or become distant.

* Have a family sit down. Explain this is real, this is not something that some doctor just made up and it is real life to what you go through and battle every day. Tell them what PTSD is, what you go through that it causes. That PTSD is not a light switch that you can turn off and on, it is not controlled by you and sure not something you can snap out of. Let them know you care what they think and how they feel, and you need them as support, not someone that is against them. So for them to be able to understand and be supportive they have to want to learn.

* Show them medical documentation. Sometimes it helps when a person can see it in writing. It helps make it real.

* Let them know that this is not something your spouse has caused. Your spouse supports you and helps you make it to the next day. Well, unless your spouse is the one you are having to have the sit down with. Parents need to know that they can’t play the blame game. A trauma caused PTSD not your spouse or children. When parents have a hard time accepting something, it’s very easy for them to blame who you are closest to. Don’t let this happen! It causes more hardship, conflict, and even family feuds! No one with PTSD needs any of this!

* Medications. You have to explain that medications are in many cases needed. They are NOT to dope you up or make you feel like a zombie, they are as I say “band aides” that help you control the symptoms so you can learn to cope with what PTSD causes. Over time the medications can be adjusted and many can be reduced or you can come off of them… but only by what the doctor says, cold turkey off of meds can send you into a very dark place! Many parents/family members will say “You are fine get off of those meds” Well, the fact is you “seem” fine to them 1. Because they probably won’t see you on a bad day. 2. Because OF the medications. Trust me, no one wants to see what one is like when they do not have medications and/or professional help. PTSD can cause a person to act in ways or say things that is just not the true them. The medications can help with sleep, nightmares/terrors, anxiety, and a lot of other symptoms PTSD brings. No one likes having to take medications, but in many cases they are needed. During your sit down the fact is, if you didn’t have this outside help you would most likely get angry, throw something, punch a chair, etc. But the fact you can and are sitting there is due to the fact you got help for yourself. A parent might say “you’re not violent”, well PTSD brings a lot of anger and frustration, the fact is anyone can be violent, it’s all in what you do to help yourself control it. So, yes, medications are many times needed. They are not a cure all, but sure can help with the symptoms.

* If you have a supportive spouse, it is urgent that your family understands that your spouse can be a lifeline for communication between you and your family members. Your spouse needs the family as much as you do and a family that turns everything against a spouse is going to have serious problems. When you are having a down day or a day that you don’t want to talk or see people, the family can still stay in touch with the spouse. It’s not that the spouse calls all of the shots or controls you, it’s that your spouse supports you and wants you to be the best you can be with PTSD. A family being supportive of your spouse will be very important for everyone in the family.

* Have the family research PTSD. The internet is a wonderful tool to use and there are so many resources about PTSD out there. Use this page and the website. Eventually parents will become curious rather you know about it or not. Give them the tools they need to learn. A family can still function with PTSD, it’s just different as with any other illness or disability. You have to learn!

* Have family members read other people’s stories! When a person sees it’s not just you or your situation, it helps it become real life to them. These people who do tell their stories, me included, don’t do it for attention or fame, actually they are putting themselves out there to the world of stigma, they do it because they know what rock bottom is and want to help prevent others from going through the same things if they can be avoided. Knowing information before something major happens or having someplace to turn to when something happens gives a new support system… that is urgent and can very well be the difference between life or death.

* The fact is suicide numbers are through the roof with PTSD! There are reported 22 veterans/military per day in the United States alone that take their own lives. And those numbers only incorporate the states that participate in reporting the numbers, which is in the low 20s right now. That does not include civilians or unreported cases or PTSD cases hidden due to stigma. It CAN happen to anyone, family support is urgent in order for those numbers to not continue increasing! Anyone that says “Well that won’t happen to my child or my family” is being blind! PTSD is VERY real and I don’t know a parent or family member out there that would bet a person’s life on if they are right or wrong about it existing.

Parents and family members, open your eyes! If your family member comes to you and says they have been diagnosed with PTSD, take it seriously! That’s an extremely hard step for someone to take coming to you with something like this. Don’t brush them off until tomorrow… if you do, you might just be the one that doesn’t get another tomorrow with them. I say that with every seriousness of my heart. Your family member needs you. I know you might not understand PTSD, but you can learn, you can be supportive in a positive way, you can be that mom or dad or family member you were when they were younger. Don’t shut them out and don’t turn your back to them or take it as a joke. It’s truly nothing to joke about! Your child/family member’s life might just depend on you and how you respond to them.

As always, feel free to “share” this if you feel it could be helpful to you, your family, or someone you care about.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”