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Anger and Frustration… they are PTSD symptoms.

Anger and Frustration… they are PTSD symptoms.

I asked Craig a long time ago to explain to me what the anger feels like to him. It’s something that is really hard to explain to others but I think Craig found a way to explain what anger and frustration with PTSD are like, that is the best explanation I have ever heard…

“It’s like the anger and frustration are just sitting right there, under the surface, at all times, just waiting to come up for air” -Craig

Anger is another one of the hardest things for others to understand. A person can be, or “seem” in reality, okay then what seems like out of nowhere… there’s the anger exploding out of the water for air.

The reality is the anger was there all along. The one with PTSD was just being able to manage it or keep it at bay… was able to cope with it. For many with PTSD, the battle with controlling and managing the anger and frustration is a constant fight within themselves, for others it may come and go as it builds then decreases some.

When anger surfaces, it most likely seems directed at a person or an object. This is NOT something that is purposely done. It’s not a contious thought of “I’m mad, I’m going to throw this glass against the wall”, for example. Most likely that glass just happened to be what was there when anger could not be managed any longer. The outburst, release of anger, is a reaction to the symptom.

Anger can be triggered. A trigger is something… a place, smell, touch, sound, vibration, ANYTHING that pertains to any of the body’s senses that brings back the thoughts of and relates to the person’s trauma. Even the weather can be a trigger if it relates to the way it was at the time of the trauma. Anger can surface right away when a trigger presents itself, or it can build then come to the surface with an outburst.

Anger is a real symptom of PTSD. It’s going to come sooner or later, and each person may experience it in different ways.

So what can be done when it does? MANY THINGS!

The FIRST thing always, make sure safety protocol of some type is in place. For the one with PTSD as well as others. No one wants anyone to get hurt!!! But the reality is, it can happen.

Anger that comes with PTSD is not the same, so to speak, as a person who is an abuser, even though if nothing is done that is exactly what one may become until they get help. Abuse unfortunately is very real and it can be in the form of physical or mental abuse. Anger with PTSD CAN be managed so abuse does not happen, or stops happening!

Learn and use coping skills! I will preach this one to you because I have seen with my own eyes how well coping skills and techniques CAN work if you practice and use them on a regular basis.

Craig himself use to have outbursts of anger. He would never touch another person (thank you survivor’s guilt and the true person he has always been!) But he could sure throw things or hit things, and he could sure throw some nasty tones and words. Anger has never gone away for him, it’s still right there just waiting to come to the surface, but he learned what works for him and how to manage it.

Yesterday was an anger day for him. I as his spouse have learned the signs of when anger surfaces, and I have learned how to respond or NOT respond. We both have to do our part when anger symptoms come.

I could tell by his body language, his quietness then when he spoke the tone that was obvious he was fighting to control. I watched the frustration throughout the day, how he would sit in a chair, then lay on the bed, then go out to the boat and tinker on it, then repeat. How unsettled he was, like his skin was just crawling and he could not get comfortable. I saw that PTSD glare when he did not want to do something, like eat. Simple things that are a part of daily routines. I heard him complain about having to take medications. Patience was not something the day consisted of for him. Those are all cues that anger is trying to break the surface.

It was a day that his personal space was needed and the only conversations were ones he started. I sat here and worked on writing, did my stuff around the house, spent one on one time with my daughter, and just gave him space. I could see what he was battling, I could see him working hard to cope with what was obvious he was feeling. So I just kept things calm around the house all day, and did not push any expectations onto him. With him working so hard to cope, coping is where his focus needed to be. Late last night he finally said to me, “I have been so angry all day.” I simply responded, “I know. I love you.” Then he replied, “I love you too.” Then he opened up and talked about how he was feeling. And I listened.

And we made it through the day without any outbursts or negative words.

It took us a long time to understand what works for us. It does take time to figure out what works best for each person. With Craig it’s taking a nap if all else fails. But he does pretty good these days with using coping skills and preoccupying himself with something that keeps him busy. He also avoids other people when anger comes, it’s just a precaution so harsh words do not surface that he will regret later, avoidance… another very real PTSD symptom that can also work to your advantage at times.

For me as the spouse, seeing the signs that anger is surfacing and knowing his limits during those times have been the keys. Giving him his personal space to cope, even if we are sitting in the same room. Avoiding deep or heavy topic conversations that could give PTSD the debate or fight it wants, is a huge help. Not pushing for expectations during those times, helps. Not over talking to the point is causes him to be overwhelmed with static noise, as I call it. I just simply allow him to focus on himself.

We do have code words/phrases of sorts also, for times he does not recognize his symptoms are increasing. It does not take much, just a simple, “I can see you are struggling today with [symptom]”. No deep conversation, no pointing out everything he’s done or doing. Just a simple bringing his attention to a symptom I notice. That’s worked well for us.

These things have made life with PTSD SO much easier. When he’s ready to talk, he will. Just like last night, he opened conversation with telling me his struggles of the day. And I don’t take those types of days personal. I use them to do things for me, things I like to do, things he would not normally do with me. It gives a balance and keeps him from feeling like he needs to be doing something else. It leaves his focus on coping, as well as opens myself for a little me time and self care.

It does take time, lots of trial and errors, a ton of patience, but anger is something that can be managed. Don’t expect it to go away, but work on managing it and learning ways to cope through the symptoms. You just have to find what works best for you and your loved ones. Don’t give up on yourself or your loved one, even if things are really rough right now… it can change and get better then where things may be at this moment.

Now, take a deep breath, yesterday is behind us and today is a new day. Try something new. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

Increase in Anger and Frustration…

Increase in Anger and Frustration…

My question to everyone a couple of days ago on my FaceBook page was:

“I’ve noticed a pattern, so wanted to reach out further on this one…

Be HONEST! 😉
How many of you are battling anger and/or frustration right now? 

NOT only those with PTSD, everyone!”

I received an overwhelming amount of responses, both publicly as well as privately, which did back what I have been seeing over the past week or so. MANY suffering from increased anger or frustration. BUT, more came to light then only those two things! Which is exactly what I was looking for, the why. There is also a higher level of feelings of loss, guilt, hopelessness, and even resentment which seems to be a huge root to many having increased (from the normal level of) anger or frustration issues right now.

Part of my theory was we just had Valentine’s Day and that day seems to be the day of the year people reflect on what use to be, how people use to be, expectations, and compare those things to life now. Something that can play on a mindset in a very large way. However, I did have another opinion brought to me that also fit into this, we have all settled down from New Years, the resolutions… what has or has not been accomplished, the year moving forward. BUT, many are not yet seeing the positive changes they were hoping to see or experience for this new year.

Another large part that surfaced was situation of circumstances. Rather it’s treatment, lack of treatment, job related, lack of support system, and the big one, other people not understanding unseen disabilities.

All of these things are VERY real and seem to be a big picture view of why there are above normal levels of anger and frustration. All leading back to those very real base feeling of loss, guilt, hopelessness, and/or resentment forming.

Loss.

This could be a wide range of things causing this feeling of loss. The largest thing seems to be loss of who a person was or who you were, or the life that you had. This is VERY common with PTSD. It’s what I refer to as part of the mourning stage. Even people who have had PTSD as a part of their lives for years seem to be refacing the mourning stage. It can and does happen in many cases. Just like one with PTSD can re-experience symptoms over and over, mourning is no different, one can experience it again.

I am no different then the rest of you. 😉 I had a touch of this the other day. On my FaceBook page I shared that song I had heard, I took all of you on a small trip down memory lane with photos from our past. BUT, what else did I do? I turned those negative feelings of loss around. I focused on a plan for the future and how even though PTSD has done to our lives what it has, and it’s still here hasn’t gone away or decreased, I don’t allow myself to stay stuck in the mourning of a loss. I do face and remember what the past was like, I allow myself to experience those real feelings, but I also find ways to look at the positive the future can bring. Finding the positive helps you move forward as well as helps keep you from being stuck.

The other things I heard a lot about were loss of job or difficult time with or getting treatment. Even though these two things are separate situations, both of them can change for a more positive outlook. The key here is DON’T give up!

If it’s regarding a job, keep looking, that right job that is perfect for you will come along. I know it might not be in a timely manner that you need, and it sure does not help financially when that money is needed to live on, or you have to take a job you don’t really care for or a place where others just don’t get it, but don’t give up! There is something out there that is perfect for you, it might be in a totally different line of work then you are use to! You might discover something you like more and is better suited for you. Keep your eyes and mind open to different things. No matter what, don’t give up on trying.

Medical treatment. Another thing you just can not give up on! I know how rough it can be when you don’t feel you or your loved one is receiving correct treatment, or even none at all! Push for it, with every ounce of energy you have. If you are not getting it and you want it, you demand it… for lack of better words. If you feel you could be getting better treatment, then change doctors! Ha, we have done this before. 😉 You know what? It made a huge difference in a positive way! Don’t settle when it comes to treatment. It’s part of your lifeline and making sure you get to the best point you can possibly get to. Don’t accept anything less then what you know you need and is best for you!

Resentment.

This is one that spouses seem to have the most difficult time with. In many cases it starts with the loss, the mourning, as well as taking things personal, then it turns to frustration or even anger. Many times towards the one with PTSD. This can lead to your life, both of you, becoming unbalanced and things being taken out on each other. Take a deep breath and look at the big picture at hand. There is not a single person out there who asked for PTSD or any other medical condition. I know life with PTSD can become frustrating, and that frustration will, if you do not get a grip on it, roll over to including anger, them towards the one with PTSD and/or the rest of the people around you.

Resentment can form because of the changes in life, the weight of many more things being placed on your shoulders, again the loss of the life that was. Then the vicious cycle begins of PTSD symptoms going on defense and fighting back. STOP, take a good look in the mirror and face what this is doing to you and what is causing it. Remember that this is no one’s fault that life changed, stop pointing fingers or placing blame and remember you are in this life together, live it together, learn and use coping skills, get professional help if need be, and find the positive ways to get past the resentment so you both can work forward from this point. Things can get better then they may be right now! I know this for a fact based on how far we have come in our own lives. PTSD is not going away, but the things you do, the way you start viewing things in positive ways, and communicating and working together can make the symptoms and life so much more manageable. DO something.

Guilt.

This can come in so many different forms and for different reasons! Rather you have PTSD or not, guilt can play into this life big time. It can form from what PTSD has caused and to others, to guilt of taking time to yourself in order to cope, to everything in between! Guilt causes one to pull away from others and/or society itself, it can be damaging to relationships or family, it can cause people to stop taking care of themselves. No matter what the case may be at hand, work on things that can help you control this very real and extreme feeling.

If, for example, you are one with PTSD and you feel guilt because PTSD symptoms causes you to not spend enough time with your children/grand-children. I’m using this example because it is one of the many I hear of most often. This could go for spending time with your spouse or partner as well. Try taking more often short periods of time with them. Time is about quality, not quantity. Especially with PTSD involved. Overwhelming yourself with long periods of time may very well in many cases lead to a few days of not wanting to be around anyone, just a fact that comes with PTSD. Try short periods of time, and more often, and build from it! Focus on the quality of that time, one on one attention, finding things in common or new things that you like and enjoy together. This is one of those small step, stepping stones of getting guilt under manageable control, at least for short time frames and using that quality time to have something good to focus on when guilt tries to step back in. 😉 I’ve seen it work, try it! If you are the other person, give them the chance to do this! Do NOT play guilt trips on a person who is trying!!!! You are only hurting yourself and your family if you do.

Guilt also comes from either person when “me time” is involved. You HAVE to make and take me time, time to yourself, in order to be there for others as well as to make sure you are taking care of yourself! Life with PTSD does bring a lot with it, it’s just a hard fact. You have to take care of yourself in order to keep a balance in this life as well as within yourself… which leads to being able to cope with all of those other negative feelings or situations when they come.

Hopelessness.

This is HUGE and again, very real. Rather you are the one with PTSD or not, you can experience this feeling. Those golden words… DON’T give up! Kind of like that old saying on gravity, what goes up must come down, very true but if it went up once then who’s to say it won’t again? 😉 PTSD is very well known for being a roller coaster ride. It’s the term that fits best. But even through the worst times that can come, that ride can shift to a different gear and things can get better. You have to learn to embrace the good and use those times to battle the not so good times. The good times or better times can give you strength! Use it to your advantage and don’t get stuck in the negative when it comes, use the positive to get through things.

There are many situations that will test you as much and far as they possibly can, beyond belief that it’s even occurring. During these times you have to use every single thing that you have learned about PTSD, use them to your advantage to find the good. Try different things, do different things that can help or to learn what helps, make sure you communicate, use those coping skills and a support system.

If you are one feeling hopeless because you do not feel you are getting “better”, ask yourself, “How far HAVE I come to this point?” Use what you have already experienced to your advantage to build on and from! If you are not sitting at rock bottom, and I mean the bottom of rock bottom right now at this point for the very first time, then you have something there to build from, use it!

And, if you are one at that first rock bottom, hang on tight because there are MANY things and people that can help pull you out of that spot and back to a more balanced ground!!! Ones with experience, knowledge, and all sorts of things that can help you! DO NOT lose hope! Even when it seems that there is no hope left (again, a VERY real feeling) or you are in a state where you do not see it or feel it, it is there, it’s just masked by what PTSD causes. Learn the “tools” and reach to the people who can help.

Anger and/or frustration…. two very real things that come with life containing PTSD. Many feel these things on a daily basis, “floating anger right under the surface just waiting for the opportunity to come up” is the way Craig describes it. Even at times when there feels like there is no reason behind the feelings, if you look deep enough, to the roots, there is a good chance you will find the cause… the WHY. Like I always state, and truly believe, when you see/feel the what then you can look for the why to it, that why will help you find and use things that help. PTSD is not just going away, we all know that, but learning and understanding the why to things/symptoms when they happen can sure help you take that step forward, even if it’s a small step. 😉

As always, these are just a few examples of what I am sure are many, but after so much input from all of you, which I GREATLY appreciate! I found a few very common roots to the high levels of anger and frustration many people are experiencing right now. Use those roots of the why to find ways to cope, manage, communicate, and move forward. And remember, no matter how low you may feel right now at this moment… YOU are awesome! Don’t allow PTSD, or life beside it, mask that. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD vs Taking things Personally…

One of largest battles for a loved one of PTSD is to NOT take things personally! I hear this a lot, used to battle it a lot myself, and it’s become a #1 rule.

PTSD brings out some nasty comments. It’s always good to keep in mind when this happens that it’s the PTSD talking, not your partner!

One with PTSD seems to take things out on the one they love the most, are the closest to, most comfortable with, and most of all the one they trust. You learn over time what is PTSD by how they respond to things, how they are acting, etc. By learning the signs, it helps you know the difference between what is PTSD talking and what is the true them.

When PTSD gets to a point of being harsh, listen. Just listen. And sometimes it helps if you remind them that you know this is PTSD speaking to you this way because you know they would not do this, it’s not the true them. I know it does not excuse what is being said or how it is being said, but you always have to keep in mind that PTSD is there and sometimes the venting is needed. For BOTH of you, find a way to communicate so you can keep the harshness at bay. No one intends to hurt each other, so find a way to avoid it.

To the ones with PTSD, be honest when you are feeling the anger coming. Tell your partner you are feeling angry, frustrated, or that you really need to vent. This keeps the arguments down and allows the door to open to helping each other through the rough times. Communication is a huge key in battling PTSD, use it! Work together! It takes time for both of you to learn this and how to approach a subject, but you can do it.

Things like this can be of help:

“I notice your PTSD has a grip on you today, is there anything I can do to help?”

By saying this, you are accepting that you see PTSD is causing the issue. You are pointing it out in a nice way when maybe your partner is unaware of how they are acting. And it opens the door for communication which can avoid an outbreak later. The one with PTSD can do the same thing in reverse, accept and tell when you know you are having a PTSD battle that day. A heads up to a partner on this can help things go more smoothly. Sometimes it’s the partner that might be acting off key, accept that you are not perfect and built up frustration, anger, feeling alone, etc can cause you to act in a negative manner as well… it does happen!

“You seem to be having a rough day, why don’t you just take it easy today.”

Wow! Huge statement there isn’t it? PTSD wears you out! Accept that some days your partner needs to just rest. Never expect too much. Anything that needs to be put off today can always be rescheduled for another day. It is important to give that down time when it is needed. No expectations. The doctors have actually told my husband that if taking a nap or going back to bed is the best way for him to cope, then do it. Start the day over when you get up. You just have to always keep in mind not to let depression keep you down too much of the time though, but breaks in the day are okay. Even take this time to watch a movie, or just talk if you are okay with doing this at this time. 😉 If not, take that nap and start over. Even take a nap with your partner… sometimes we all could use the extra sleep. 😉 It’s better then taking anger and frustration out on the one you love.

Keeping in mind that a lot of anger and frustration comes from PTSD and knowing not to take these things personal is urgent. They are going through a great amount of battle within themselves, and taking everything personally… even when and especially when it is directed at you, can make matters so much worse. Focus, use the coping skills, and make sure you take care of yourself during these times. PTSD can bring you down, but you can find ways to pick yourself up and continue being there for your partner, especially through the rough times when they need you most.

Communicate with each other! Don’t take things personal… remember PTSD is there! I can’t state that enough!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

PTSD and Memory…

~Journal March 19, 2011~

I must say, besides depression, memory issues must be one of the hardest things to handle with PTSD. You as the spouse/other know in your head things that happen, the way things happen, the time, place, conversation, or even acts that have happened or are happening. PTSD limits this to the person who has it. It is what we call “hit or miss” to what is remembered and is not. On some days the person might recall 90% of their day, on other days 10% if they are lucky! WOW, amazing numbers huh?

This is what leads to communication problems between people and relationships, problems at work, or even doing something that is simple to everyone else like going to the store.

PTSD can cause…you know what, Craig said I can use him directly as an example on here, which I am really trying hard not to, however this is one of his difficult tasks so I will here….

With Craig, again every case may be a little different, on almost a regular basis I have to remind him to do the things that we find simple such as brushing his teeth, taking a shower, picking up tools he left out, or the biggy… TAKE YOUR MEDS! PTSD really does effect everyday life, and not just for that person but for the people around that person as well. PTSD makes Craig feel like he is a burden on basically everyone. He is a VERY strong man with an “A” personality that has never taken well to others having to remind him of things. So this has been a huge adjustment for him. How’s he taking it? Day by day :). That’s what you have to do with this illness. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it doesn’t mean you have to be alone in life, it doesn’t mean no one will love you! It means you have to have help which you might not have needed before.

As a spouse/other you have to stay strong. You have to hold your chin up and remember to smile. You have to make sure you stay on top of everything to keep your loved one functioning and not let them stay, as the doctors refer to it as “stuck”. Oh yes, that’s a nasty stage for another note.

When Craig forgets things you can “read” it on his face. It’s become almost my second nature to even know exactly what it is he is looking for lol. Laugh sometimes, it helps you both through it ;). If I’m not sure why he is frustrated or seems lost…signs of the memory issue, I directly ask him, “Did you lose something?”, “Can I help you find something?”, or other things I have found a way of saying to where he doesn’t feel like he can’t do anything for himself…you sure don’t want them feeling that way. 😉 When I can tell what it is, like for example he’s going outside, I know he always wears his hat and sunglasses. If they aren’t on the hooks that we have put in place for those items, I will walk around and see if I can locate them if I don’t already know where they are. Then I will say in passing, “oh by the way I saw your glasses and hat” in such and such location. He replies as “oh thanks babe” and he goes about his way outside.

Conversations. OH a HUGE one. We have tried the making notes, carrying note pads, recorders, emailing reminders, etc. Basically everything you can research and try to do to help. Then we, in our situation, find those things only work if he remembers he is using them or if he remembers any of it at all. So the memory is an everyday event, for lack of better words. To the spouse/other it is also a constant repeating yourself…you don’t really know what part they will contain in memory and what part they won’t. This can be a little frustrating to Craig then I have to simply remind him that I don’t know which part he recalls and which part he might not. This is done in a calm fashion so he doesn’t get irritated and can understand why I repeated myself. So in all reality, I repeat myself close to equal what Craig may repeat from his memory not functioning correctly…funny in a weird way I would say. Do not ever expect your PTSD loved one to remember everything you tell them, they normally won’t. Now, with Craig, his PTSD is military related, so he seems to recall most everything from before the “event” that happened to him. This is awesome, and probably one of the main reasons we are still together. People that didn’t know the “true him” before PTSD really have a hard time understanding the change in him. People that meet him now, well we tell them up front PTSD and educate them on it so they understand they can still be friends with Craig, just be prepared for him to tell you that ol’ ship story one or two times extra lol. Laugh or you will cry!…YES, throughout my writings on this subject you will see lol, rofl, hehe, haha, and many more. It’s not that I don’t respect what is happening, it’s that I respect that the person with PTSD IS still a person and sometimes if you lighten the subject with a smile it will make a lot of things easier.

So lack of knowing a conversation existed, to a person with PTSD leads to what?

Arguments, Frustration, Spouse frustration, Confussion, etc.

This is when you as a spouse/other have to keep a grip, which is hard to do at times. You have to re-explain what you talked about, then get your loved one to realize that this conversation actually took place. This can be a little heated on the PTSD part. As a spouse you sit there, only say what needs to be said, if you talk too much trying to explain yourself it might just cause further frustration. I find myself sitting in front of the door with keys in my pocket until the frustration lowers. Sit there long enough and it usually does. Then you can talk. AGAIN, no doctor here, but it works for us. Bedrooms or master bathrooms are great places away from everyone for these discussions ;).

See, there are a lot of different things that come with PTSD and this note on memory could be a mile long. Everything from conversations, to leaving things on that should be turned off, to forgetting directions,forgetting where you parked your car in a parking lot, again the list goes on.

I will continue to add to this note I’m sure when I think of things or other things happen. It’s been 8 years now that I have been living with Craig…and unknown to us at the beginning he was been battling PTSD…so there is a lot to write.  Everything makes sense now though, now it’s living through it and keeping that chin up 😉 PTSD is NOT the end of the world as one may feel. There is still life with it, it’s just taking the time as with anything else in life and learning how to live with it…rather it’s you or your loved one that has it 😉

WELCOME!

I want to start this journal of mine by saying “Welcome” to everyone! My name is Rebecca also called “Becky or Bec” by my family and friends. This is my little part of the world where I can share what life is like living beside PTSD chronic, Depressive Disorder (formally diagnosed as Conversion Disorder), and other disabilities. I’m not a doctor or in any medical field, I’m “just” a spouse 😉 . No one ever expects life to turn out certain ways, especially when mental illnesses become a part of it, but my family is living proof that even with these illnesses involved life does NOT end. It takes learning, coping skills, educating, and adjusting …but life DOES still exist 😉

My husband served proudly for this country of red, white, and blue …and asked for nothing in return. The result…he suffers from these illnesses which effect his everyday life. You know what, he would do it all again for each and every one of us! I stand proud of him and always will. Together we chose to no longer remain in the shadows and silent. Instead, we do share our life story in hopes it will help another individual or family make it through another day and to even be able to carry a smile with it 🙂 NO ONE deserves to stand alone!

See, PTSD and other mental illnesses do not pick a nation, skin color, adult or child, they are not only military related, and do not choose an age. My belief is it does happen to what I call “the best of the best”, the strong ones. I have found that in the world of PTSD you will find the most understanding, compassionate, and caring people that would give you the shirt off their own back if they could. I find it sad that these very people are the ones judged and carrying the stigma that goes with mental illnesses/disorders. They didn’t ask for this to happen, just as a person fighting cancer or one whom has lost a leg did not ask for it, it just happens.

YOU being here and reading this is a huge step no matter where you stand on the subject. You might be the one suffering from it, the spouse/partner, the parent, the child, the relative, the friend, the one that is just curious, or even the one that does not believe it exists. Fact is, you are here and that means something to the world. TOGETHER each and every one of us CAN make it through life living with or beside PTSD… 🙂

I Welcome you to my story, our story… “A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”,

~Bec