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Finding the “New You”

Finding the “New You”

The most difficult part of PTSD, whether you are the one living with PTSD or the one standing beside them, is life changed. Even though you are still you so to speak, there are different ways life is lived now, different things you have to do or maintain in order to live life with or beside PTSD, and your life becomes doing whatever you have to in order to manage the symptoms and everyday life… so life can still exist.

In all of it you may at some point find yourself saying, “Who am I?”
That is a VERY real and truthful question! It also really weighs on you mentally and physically when you are at that point.

I know Craig and I both have faced that question, and in reality we are both still working on it.  It’s not a secret that our lives completely changed when PTSD and other disabilities became a huge part of both of our lives. But, PTSD is a diagnosis not a definition of who EITHER of us are!

When you spend your entire life forming and developing who you are, building your character, building your career, discovering what you love and what brings joy to your life of what makes you, you, then in a matter of one (or more) trauma(s) life changed, everything changed… You in a way lose who you are. With that you become lost within yourself and life, so to speak. In reality, it’s also one of the many reasons people give up on themselves.

Many people will have limitations now. It does not matter if PTSD is on the milder side or to the extent of severe, PTSD still effects how you have to live your life, what you can do or cannot do, and a huge part of you and your energy does go towards managing the symptoms and trying to be the best you can be. In that, sooner or later that same question can come to light, “Who am I?” or even “What can I do now?” because things have changed.

The most difficult part in this… letting go of who you were and finding the new you now. I do not know of anyone that wants to let go of the good parts of their past. I mean reality here, those were good things and the things or who you are that you worked your tail off to create. But at times, there are parts of who you were in the past that no matter what you want, what you try to hold onto, no matter how hard you try, those things are going to be difficult if not impossible to hang onto.

When this happens it can cause so much discontent within yourself, how you view yourself, and even how you are in life now. You may start viewing yourself as a failure or fear you will fail at something new, feel that you let others or yourself down, and the guilt that comes with it… it can be unbearable! Those “what if’s” of PTSD are going to be front and center. When these things weigh in on you, the reality is they are going to hold you back from finding who you are or can be now, as well as what in reality you are capable of.

Taking that step forward, oh no it’s NOT going to be at all easy to do! Reality is, you may be starting from scratch! But I view it this way, if you could do that [whatever that was in the past], then can you even imagine what you can do now? It might be something completely different, it might contain parts of who you were or what you liked before, but you cannot dismiss whatever limitations are at hand now. It does not mean you cannot do anything! It means you just have to find your new you and what your life needs as a part of it, what you are good at, and what you enjoy now.

All fine and dandy right? NOT! How do you do that? Where do you even begin?

Think of it as an adventure. When you take an “adventure” you are going to have lots of trial and error, somethings are going to work out and many may not. You will discover things that you would have never dreamed you would have liked or enjoyed before, then other things you will be quick to discover “oh no way, that’s not for me or who I am”. You will come to roadblocks where you have to turn around and go a different direction. You may come to a mountain you have to scale and it’s a challenge. No matter what comes out of each thing or step you take, with an “adventure” you keep going, you face the challenges, and you keep looking and searching… it’s kind of in a way like a treasure hunt. But in this case the treasure you seek is MUCH greater in value than anything else in life, it’s the “New You”. You are creating and discovering who you are now.

Your “adventure” could include so many different things. We do have to stick to reality and that PTSD is a part of life, so your adventure can include simple things for the tough days, and more elaborate or challenging things for the days you know you have the energy for them. Pace yourself, there is not a rush, you want to find some sort of peace and joy in discovering your new you! You do not want to become overwhelmed, getting to that point will just cause you to become stuck.

So what are some examples?
(And we are talking about reality here, this goes for those with PTSD AS WELL AS the ones standing beside them)

– What kind of music do you like?

Sounds silly doesn’t it? It really is not! You would be shocked at how many people get into the habit of listening to what other people listen to and really do not know their own preference in music anymore. Flip through stations or online and listen to as many different types of music you can. Find which artist or band you like, and which type of music you like.

– Your appearance.

Here’s one that comes with a challenge! One of the largest life changing things that come with life with or beside PTSD is what you see when you look into a mirror. PTSD wears you out, you do not get as much or any good sleep, the negative changes in thoughts set in, you get use to being at home a lot, and the medications… oh the things they can cause, etc. All of those weigh on your self-esteem, and then it rolls over to your appearance. One of those vicious cycles form.

Look in that dreaded mirror. Make a list of things you want to change. Maybe you want a new hair style or color, maybe you want to shave more often, maybe you would like to lose some weight or tone up your body, maybe you notice you don’t wear makeup anymore, maybe it’s as something as simple as you use to wear jewelry and don’t wear it anymore. It could be anything!

Then take that list and use it to work from. When you work on your appearance, it does not matter if you are one that does not ever leave the house or not, you are doing it for YOU, what you see in that mirror, and how you feel about yourself.

– What do you like NOW?

Every single person needs something they enjoy in life! We also know that PTSD causes you to lose joy of things, so we have to work on finding something to fill that void. You may find with this one you have small parts of what you use to like that can play a part in this, or you might start from scratch.

Hobbies. They are the easiest way to find what you like. I will say though, through the trial and error stage of this, be cautious of the expense, some hobbies can become very pricey quickly! If it’s a hobby that does cost a lot but you want to try it, do some research to see how easy it will be to sell leftover materials if you discover it’s not the hobby for you.  If you can manage a class, look to see what local classes, small classes, or even private sessions are offered.

There’s another thing that is very important about finding a hobby you like… It MIGHT lead you to a new business or work that you can and want to do! And ENJOY doing!

– Getting out of the house.

A HUGE challenge for many with PTSD, and also those standing beside them. Home is your safe zone, your safety net, your place where you know you can retreat to. Which is awesome, but… it can become such a comfort zone that you do not challenge yourself to what is in reality outside those walls that you may enjoy or find you are able to go to.

If you know you cannot handle crowds, look up your local parks, nature trails, if you like animals check out local horse farms, rescues, or even shelters, etc. Many places offer private tours, need volunteers, or are places where there are not a lot of people around. Take a drive through the country. Nature can be good for PTSD, and you might find that special spot not far from home that you can visit. It also gives you exercise and outside time which is good for you. Sunshine, get it when you can. It’s a known fact that many with PTSD lack Vitamin D, something you need to help maintain your health. You can also get one of those extra “motions” in with this one (what we talked about yesterday), pack a picnic lunch or take a walk together… you might just make a special someone in your life very happy. Now that can be a two for one deal!

Some of the most relaxing, peaceful places for PTSD, are the ones that you find and are not well known by the public.  Take an adventure outing.

– Watch different types of movies.

Life with PTSD can cause you to lose your “character” so to speak. You may not realize or know now what makes you laugh, chuckle, or even smile. You may have those numb feelings that are hard to break through. You would be shocked at what good things you can discover about yourself from watching different types of movies. (Just be cautious of movies that contain triggers ) Then you can take those funny, smiles, or heartfelt things over to real life. Maybe you discover you like comedy and humor, maybe you find yourself sunk into a romance, maybe you find you have an interest in seeing if you can play an instrument, or you find you have a keen love or enjoyment for animals. It’s all about using a different way to find what you enjoy or may enjoy in real life. I would say stay clear of the fairy tale stories for this “finding the new you” purpose though, you want to head towards reality in life, not away from it lol. 

Okay, those are a few of many examples but you get my point.

Just because PTSD became a part of life, does not mean you do not exist anymore! Whether you are the one with PTSD or the one standing beside them, it’s important to find your “new you”, your individuality, and discover what you like, enjoy in life. And it sure makes life with or beside PTSD much easier! Your old you may be gone, or there may be little parts of it still remaining, either or, life did not end just because PTSD became a huge part of it… it just changed. And with that you changed too. 😉

“PTSD is a diagnosis, but not a definition of who you really are.”

YOU are still a human being, you ARE still important, and YOU can find your new you in this life with or beside PTSD…

Today’s challenge 😉 Start finding something, whether it’s great or tiny, that is a part of your “new you”.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

How do you refill your emotional cup when it needs it?

How do you refill your emotional cup when it needs it?

From my mailbox is a question that is one of the hardest things many people struggle with…

How do you get your emotional cup refilled when you are down and your partner doesn’t have the capacity to give you what you need but what you need can only come from him/her?” -Anonymous

To be fair here, this question could come from many different directions so I want to talk about different things that could be related to this, why, as well as things one can do or try…. from my and Craig’s personal experiences as well as what I have learned over the years of life with  #PTSD.

The empty cup feeling is very real, and can be real for not only the spouse/partner, but also for the one with PTSD.

Feeling of loss…

One of the most emotional draining things one may experience is the feeling of loss. Your life has changed, your partner has changed… in a sense, your relationship has changed, your roles in life may have changed, the way you handle or manage things has changed, maybe you lost a job, maybe someone you care deeply about lost their life… the list is endless.

You grieve… 

It’s only human nature to grieve when you experience any type of loss in your life. Grieving is how we process our feelings, what has happened, what has changed, and is needed to take steps forward. Many people do get stuck (a well known term for a spouse or one with PTSD) and you have to be cautious of this.

The facts are…

There are going to be losses in life of whatever extent, there will be grieving, and PTSD became or is a part of your life, no matter which side of the fence you are standing on. Which can bring an emotional and/or physical divide… which can BOTH weigh heavily on that emotional cup.

PTSD can bring so many symptoms… the lack of sleep due to nightmares, the flashbacks, the anxiety, the numbness, the triggers, whatever physical conditions or other mental conditions which may co-occur with PTSD, and list goes on. All of these things take a lot for the one with PTSD to battle and manage each day, and with that… their focus has to be on themselves quite often in order to manage those symptoms. Many times they feel lost within themselves or as Craig says it, “Sometimes I just don’t know who I am anymore.”

Add all of that together and how could that emotional divide not be there? BUT, it is something that can be worked on.  We will get to that in a minute.

When one is battling all of these things and trying to do their best, it can leave a spouse/partner feeling lonely or as if they cannot place anything else on their PTSD loved one’s shoulders by sharing what they themselves are going through or feeling. A spouse may be overwhelmed with everything life now holds, trying to learn everything, manage everything, and the changing roles do weigh in. The changes in relationship add a lot to it… you may feel like “I just want my husband/wife back!” You will experience all of that sooner or later.

That emotional cup empties. In reality, the one with PTSD most likely feels empty too. Yep, it’s one of those vicious cycles that can form.

The hardest lessons in life that have to be learned…

You cannot rely on another person to make you happy. 

That is a very difficult lesson when you were use to your relationship being a certain way, then PTSD stepped in and changed things, changed life. The emotional closeness may have changed, the physical closeness may have changed, and what use to seem like an easy relationship now has to be worked at to maintain.

But you know what? That’s okay! The more you work at it, the stronger your relationship can become. It can grow in ways that you never dreamed imaginable. It will be different, but that does not mean it has to be a bad relationship. It’s just changed.

This is where communication is important… you HAVE to talk AND really hear what each other is saying. And you know what, even with everything one with PTSD battles they can still be good listeners.  It is okay and important for BOTH people to share their feelings with each other. Each person owns their own feelings, they are your’s, and the other person does not have to feel guilty, or feel like they have to fix what another person feels. A simply “Hey, I know you are struggling with [symptom, feeling, etc] right now, but I really need to talk. Can you just listen and maybe help me or us come up with something to help with this.” And you agree to work on it if it’s needed or you simply listen.

“Motions lead to emotions”, my old reliable! Best thing Craig and I were ever told about! PTSD does bring numbness and emotional divide. It can cause it for either person, with what everyday life can bring. Spouses can experience that numb feeling just as one with PTSD does. Which can then weigh in a physical divide. Sometimes you just have to go through the physical steps. NO, this does not mean only sex! This could be anything, taking a walk together, making one on one time, going on a “date”, watching a movie together, find a hobby to do together, just talking about how each of you feel… anything!

When you put motions into action, they can spark those feelings over time. Don’t expect a miracle overnight, and PTSD is still there so things may still go back and forth. But this can help the emotions surface again. Emotions are not just going to mysteriously come back, you have to do something to get there. It’s like when you first start dating someone, it’s someone new, it’s exciting, you are learning about each other, this is no different! You are just now learning about each other since PTSD has changed things. That’s okay!

You cannot lose your “ME” to PTSD! 

If you do not work at it, it can happen to either one of you! This is where you learn what makes yourself happy! You learn what you like, what makes you smile, what makes you laugh, etc.

Sure PTSD is NOT fun and it’s changed life, but you can still find and hold onto your “me”. Me time and taking care of yourself are extremely important! As I always say it, “You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of or help another.” You have to find and learn how to maintain your own personal balance.

You can discover a new hobby, start taking walks or exercise, visit or call an old friend, go have lunch, window shopping, get outside and just enjoy the things you see around you, it could be anything that you enjoy! And for goodness sake, everyone needs to learn coping skills and techniques! They are life savers! All of those things do help fill that cup without having to rely on someone else to fill it for you. 

When you find your personal balance, you do not NEED the other person to build you up or be the reason you have self-esteem. You have done it for yourself… and that other person  they just became a nice addition with anything they can offer or add! You want your partner to be an addition to who you are as a person, not be who makes you, you. When you find your personal balance, you may be shocked at how it effects your partner in positive ways too!

Everyone will slide from time to time. Everyone may re-experience the feelings of loss or grieving stage. That’s normal and it is part of being a human being, PTSD or not. What you do to prevent yourself from becoming stuck, what you do to build yourself back up, can make a huge difference… as well as refill that emotional cup. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook

Motions lead to Emotions… the meaning behind this

I need to take a step backwards for a moment 😉

The other day I posted about “motions lead to emotions”. Many people took this as an intimacy or sex thing/saying, which it can be, but it’s MUCH more than that. Let me explain what it actually means.

Many times with PTSD, people develop numbness. This is VERY common and is a symptom of PTSD. When numbness comes it causes one to not feel love or closeness to anyone (avoidance can also join in with this), which can also cause one to believe they no longer love or care about someone they really care about. It can cause the spark to go out in relationships, emotionally as well as physically. It can cause you to lose interest in things you use to love to do, things like hobbies, sports or activities, being around friends or family. It brings an emotional divide between you and, in reality, living life. It brings kind of a “If I have no feelings then why bother doing it”.

It can cause one to feel very lonely or alone.

Not a place anyone should be. So in order to try to help take some of the PTSD numbness away or fight it, you go through the motions… of living life.

A “motion” can be anything that includes physical movement of the body or an action. It could be setting one on one time with your spouse/partner to talk. It could be a date night/time. It could be spending a certain time of day with your kids/grandchildren. It could be going outside the house. It could be a weekly trip to the store. It could be helping someone with a chore or doing one. It could be walking the dog. It could be working on a hobby etc that you use to like to do. It could be giving a person a hug or telling someone you love them. And yes, it can include intimacy, at whatever level. 

A motion can be anything that leads you from one physical place or action to another. Those “dance steps” in life.

The motion is something you tell yourself you are going to do AND you force yourself to do it, or at least try, whether you have the feeling to want to do it or not.

By going through the “motions” it can lead you to the “emotions”. In other words, taking the physical steps can, with practice, lead you to creating new or jump starting old emotions and feelings… unmask them.

You HAVE to practice! One time trying something may not be enough, most likely won’t be enough. When numbness takes over, it is going to take effort to get back what PTSD has caused to you or masked from you, but it is possible.

I can give a great example! Using my dearest Craig.  The boat. Craig use to LOVE going boating and was very active in water sports. Yep, he owns that one, he was REALLY good at water sports! I mean the man LOVED it and could not wait back then to get off work to hit the lake or ocean! PTSD numbness took that love away from him. He had absolutely no interest. He had become numb literally to everything in life, literally.

We took a chance on buying the boat, hoping to spark something, anything within him by bringing back or giving him something he use to love doing. (Now I’m NOT saying go out and buy a boat lol! That’s just one example here.) It took time, but it did! He was excited the day we got the boat… excitement, an emotion and feeling. But it took about 5-6 weeks to actually build up to taking it out. Then a goal had to be set to try to take it out once per week. Goals are very important! (We are also battling a level of agoraphobia that developed with all of the PTSD symptoms and depression). We used his “wanted to do things with his kids” over the summer to help push the motions. And he did it, it was NOT easy, but we managed to take the boat out once per week while all of the kids were here for half the summer.

Now that his PTSD anniversary time is approaching, it has been more difficult. All of the increased PTSD symptoms are already here. We have not been out on the lake since the kids left almost a month ago. So at times there will be back steps also, accept that fact and don’t allow it to stop you, you keep trying and practicing. The boat needed a new prop. Guess what arrived yesterday?  It’s another jump-start to working on pushing forward again.  But the boat over all has spark his feelings, his emotions… and let me tell you  when he’s enjoyed a day on the lake, even with all of the anxiety and other PTSD symptoms that come with it AND after it, I see my Craig that I know so well through the PTSD. It has helped with the numbness, it’s helped him break through it at least a little at a time.

Motions lead to Emotions“… it’s taking the actions and steps of living life, to help bring back the feelings and emotions of living again.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

PTSD… The Give and The Take

PTSD… The Give and The Take 

This is a little different then what I normally write but I felt there needed to be a clearer, more blunt, picture for those that do not understand what PTSD and living beside PTSD is like.

**This is by NO means meant to be disrespectful or hurtful in ANY way to anyone living with or beside PTSD!!! Just to make that point clear up front. Craig and I both are in the shoes ourselves. This is just simply to bring a real life view of PTSD to OTHERS that do not understand. If you are one that is living with PTSD, and some of the following applies to you or your loved one, NEVER give up because things CAN get better then what may be at hand right now!!! Craig and I have worked hard, and continue to, and we are proving things can change for the positive.  ***

Life changes when PTSD becomes a part of it. I’ve written MANY things about it, I educate others using our own life experiences and what has helped us get through the tough times, how to still live life, how to still be your own individual, a better couple, and family, and everything else that comes with it.

But what about the Take and Give? (Reversed on purpose)

What changed? 
In reality, many things have changed since PTSD became a part of life. What PTSD has “hidden” or “masked”… I don’t actually like the term “taken” away. But also what it gave to us.

The things that many that don’t live this life have a hard time grasping.

Real life with PTSD…

Every morning when my husband wakes he looks for me. Very rarely does he find me laying next to him in our bed, like normal couples would be, like it use to be for us. My arm is not there around him or his around me. There’s no waking up together and looking into each other’s eyes first thing in the morning, there’s no good morning kisses, no cuddling before our day starts. He never wakes with that handsome grin of his on his face like I use to see every morning.

I watch him as he opens his eyes and looks across the bed at my empty pillow. I see the look on his face when I’m not there beside him. A look of sadness, a look of despair, and the guilt.

Then he looks across the room to my chair, where he knows I will always be when he wakes. I smile and say, “Good morning.” His first words are normally, “I guess I ran you out of bed again?” My response is normally along the lines of, “You don’t need to ask, it’s really okay.” Then it leads to him saying, “I wish you could sleep. I wish these nightmares would go away. I feel so tired. I assume since you are sitting over there I had a rough night?“.

I take a deep breath, not wanting to answer that question again, like I have to every single morning. But he needs to hear the answer, it can’t just be left alone, PTSD won’t allow it to just be left alone. It does not matter how I word things to avoid or get past that question, it’s still there. He has to know what the night held.

The truth… 
PTSD was there and it brought the horrors of his trauma in the form of nightmares and terrors throughout the night, active nightmares. I cannot touch him, I cannot comfort him. I have to ground him (bring him back) to time, place, and who I am from a distance.

PTSD took away our mornings and the relationship closeness that comes with waking up together and being able to stay a full night in bed together.

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I did not say that. That never happened. I did not do that! You’re lying!” Those are things I have heard in the past, a real life fact that still exists even though we have learned now how to manage these things. Those things brought arguments, unsettled feelings towards each other, and things that no couple ever wants to experience, should not have to experience.

Those things caused friends to walk away. They caused work to become impossible, and clients to disappear. They cause family to become quiet, because they honestly don’t know what to say or do. Luckily we have strong family support rather they understand or not, many do not have that.

Memory, cognitive dysfunction, and dissociative symptoms are a very real part of our lives. It’s not that he just forgot or does not want to talk about something, it’s not that he is avoiding conversations or situations, or purposely picking a fight. It’s not that he does not want people around. It’s not that he does not want to work, because he would give anything to have those things back.

PTSD took away large parts of his memory, concentration, and focus. Things of his life every day that should be memories, do not make it to long term memory. They just slip away. PTSD stole or hid memories we lived and enjoyed together years ago, as well as what he lived for himself, and it continues to do so still to this very day. But that trauma that caused PTSD, for him it never goes away.

To see someone look at photos, and have no memory of special events, happy times, real life events. Then ask did that really take place?… That’s what PTSD can cause for many.

All of this leads to avoidance. One does not want to look or sound stupid, they don’t want people to view them as a liar when in reality they are not lying, they are telling things exactly as they recall or think happened. They don’t want people saying “You already told me that.”

PTSD causes life to become lonely. In many cases it takes away from a person the ability to share stories with your children or grandchildren, to be able to share the good times as well as the bad experiences. It can also take away the ability for one to rely solely upon themselves. Things that people have always been able to do. PTSD steals or hides a part of one’s life.

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I just can’t do that today.” a very real to life phrase. For several years I watched my husband sit in his chair, not being able to bring himself to exit the house or many days not even our bedroom. The longer there were delays in treatment (not our doings), the worst he became. Depression also at hand which is very common with PTSD. He had no interest in living life to it’s fullest, like he use to. He felt like a failure who had let every important person in his life down, as well as our country. He has survivor’s guilt, linked back to his trauma due to those that did not make it home. The strong man I knew so well since I was 16 years old, was sitting in a chair with no view of a future left for himself.

Suicidal thoughts are very real with PTSD. With all of the symptoms at hand, one loses sight of why they should live, they just want the pain from the horrors they experienced to stop. They start viewing there is only one way to make the pain go away.

I will never forget sitting next to the bathtub that he was sitting in, him wanting his life to end. Myself placing photos in front of him and talking to him for hours, telling him and giving him every reason he HAD to LIVE.

I feared things that I never thought imaginable for our lives, but they became real life very quickly. I feared one day I would walk in, and he would be gone from this earth. I am VERY thankful we made it through those times, but I am never blind to what PTSD can bring.

PTSD brings fear of dying, as well as living.

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My social butterfly. I watch him try his hardest to be the social butterfly he use to be, but that part of him is so deeply hidden within the symptoms of PTSD that we have not yet uncovered it. He tries, he will put that mask of a smile on his face and try to make it out that front door. He tries to be normal, he tries to be the person he use to be. PTSD has a way of “masking” the true person one is. Avoidance and triggers become a huge part of life when PTSD steps in. They prevent one from doing the things they use to find so easy to do.

It’s taken years of hard work and treatment for my husband to make it out that front door just one time per week, but we are there! A HUGE positive step! Once we are back home all of those PTSD symptoms he worked hard to keep in check while out, just flow back in. I watch the energy it takes for him to manage them, the space he needs after each trip outside, I see the reality of how hard one has to work to simply try to live some type of normal life. I see things that outsiders don’t and won’t see. I see not only the struggles but I also see the effort, the strength and will power to still live, and every small step that comes from it. I see things that most people take for granted being able to do, but yet to one with PTSD and their family are now huge steps in life and accomplishments.

We no longer have date nights, the crowds are unbearable. If we go out it is during off times and during the week when less people are out. Sit down dining out is only once or twice a year, if that. There are no more going to parties or large gatherings, things people enjoy doing. We use to throw some awesome parties, something we enjoyed being the social butterflies we were. Those are things we had the joy of experiencing in this lifetime, but only the future will prove if we will ever get back.

We have been back together for 11 years now, and have not seen one movie in a theater. Closed dark rooms full of strangers is not settling to PTSD. Of course I won’t complain at all on that one, look at the money we are saving lol. But seriously, it’s something that others experience with no hesitation, that has been deleted from our lives.

PTSD masks and takes away normal from one’s life.

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I watch across the room as my husband’s legs shake, how his hands trimmer, how he chews his nails until there is nothing left to chew. Things he never did before. I watch the worried look fall over his face. I watch him sit quietly like the world is sitting upon his shoulders. I listen when he speaks, many times I have to ask him to repeat himself because I cannot make sense of what he is trying to tell me. The words get jumbled up or they are slurred to where I cannot make them out. I watch how he tries to do things so quickly that he drops things or things are not done the way he use to do things. Then other times it’s like he is frozen in time.

Anxiety and the “what if’s” PTSD brings. The brain never slows down until it hits overload, then everything stops and one has a difficult time functioning. The brain majority of the time stays on high alert to everything and everyone.

One worries about making right decisions, doing things right, not letting others down. Everything becomes overwhelming and many times causes one to shut themselves away or pull away physically and emotionally from others.

PTSD causes one to honestly feel they need to protect themselves, even from loved ones.

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I could honestly go on forever with real life examples. But I hope these few bring a small view of what PTSD is like. Many people wonder why one will not just snap out of it, get over it, move on with their life. Those are very easy things to say, but very very difficult to accomplish. PTSD does not just go away. It comes from experiencing a real life trauma that was so bad that it just does not fade from the memory, it relives itself constantly. It does change a person. Many people wonder why the suicide rate is so extremely high for PTSD, I hope this gives you a sample of, an idea to why.

Unfortunately, not every person will survive PTSD even though we work hard to change that, not every family will stay together, not every marriage will survive. PTSD is not easy, it’s just a hard fact.

But, I’m by no means going to leave out the other part to this life!

PTSD may bring so many serious life changes to ones with it or living beside it, but there is more to it.

I have been writing publicly about PTSD for just over 3 years now, since I reached out in hopes to finding answers to the changes in my husband and this new journey in our lives. Living this life for 11 years now, knowing it was PTSD at hand for 6 years.

I have found that ones with PTSD are SURVIVORS! Their spouses/partners are SURVIVORS! They are the “best of the best” and some of the strongest, most caring people I have ever met in my lifetime. They are the ones that do fight every day to make it to the next, they are the ones that do not take the simple things in life for granted, and they appreciate life in a different way then others. Life means something, family means something, friends mean something… those things are not just words that fall off one’s tongue. They may have trouble with showing how they care through PTSD symptoms, but if one digs deep, it really is there.

Even through the numbness, frustration, anger, resentment, fears, and symptoms PTSD brings, when one works through all of those symptoms each day, and finds what works for them as well as their family, they may not find the person they use to be but I am seeing with my own eyes something greater! People who DO have a purpose in this world and life. People who DO care about others! People who are helping each other in ways that are just unreal and positively supportive! People who are valuable and have the knowledge to help others.

No, PTSD is not easy to live with or beside and it is constant work. Life does change, things in life change, but it does not mean life stops! Some things may come back, others won’t. None of us would wish PTSD upon anyone. BUT… I see a lot of good things happening too!

People who have PTSD do NOT deserve to be shunned by stigma, tossed to the side like trash, ignored by those who use to be close to them. They are still human beings and they can bring a meaning to life that others just have not had the life experiences to bring. Sometimes, they just need to be reminded that they DO matter and a positive support system is urgent!

If you are one that does not understand PTSD or what a person or family actually goes through each day, I hope you stop and take the time to learn. I hope you learn how you can be a positive support person in their life. If you don’t, it’s really not their loss, it’s going to be your’s. Please stop the stigma and take the time to learn.

Life has changed for us, we have lost a lot due to PTSD, our relationship is different then what other think a relationship should be, but this life is not all about bad things, there’s good with it too, it’s just different then many consider normal. 

I see the guilt on my husband’s face every morning when he sees his nightmares caused me to lose sleep. As much as I hate him feeling guilt, it does actually show in a different way he cares. We may not be able to have date nights like others, but he watches movies with me at home and we have one on one time, we re-learned how to communicate and have formed a very strong relationship… even through all of the symptoms. He is a VERY good father even though he cannot manage things other fathers may do. He is highly respected and loved by our children, and they all call him dad and are proud of him. He works hard to manage his symptoms so they do not effect others… that’s a man who cares even though it’s a different way of showing it. I could sit here and list things for days. My point is, yes PTSD changes one, yes things are different now and not called normal by others, but sometimes you have to look through the symptoms and the not so normal, to see what is actually there.

There is still life with PTSD.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

What keeps me going being the spouse of one with PTSD?

Many times I get asked what keeps me going and hanging in here, as a spouse of one with PTSD. 

I think besides the obvious… love which we all know is not enough to manage this life with PTSD, knowing how strong our relationship was and continues to grow just in a different sense now, our belief in each other and us as a couple, faith, planets aligning, or whatever higher power you might believe in… might all have a serious hand in this lol … PART of it is the fact I knew Craig before PTSD , depression, migraines, and everything else that became a huge part of our life. I remember how he was always laughing, how he smiled, his crazy sense of humor, his outstanding self-esteem, how he valued the individual I am… how we just loved living life together.

I have all of the memories of our life together before PTSD, places we have been, people we have met, experiences we shared, things we have been through and how we always came through everything we had faced, no matter what. There are many things gone from his memory now and other things are fragmented, but I hold them, and share them with him in positive ways.

For those of you that do not know our story yet, (long story very shortened) Craig and I met when I was 16 years old, that’s 25 years ago this year. We dated for almost 5 years and parted ways due to a young, immature, misunderstanding when he left for the military (military was a choice we made together by the way). We remained friends throughout the years, we married others and had children, those ended in divorce, then my phone rang one day and who was on the other end of the line lol… yep Craig. We married 11 years ago this June.

A doctor told us recently that if he/we had not chose to take orders back to a ship for him to move up in rank, PTSD from his first deployment may have stayed in it’s “box”. Sure it’s probably a fact, his symptoms were mild before going back to a ship and we had no clue what PTSD was at the time or that it was at hand, so there were no coping skills or help for it. We now know that being back on a ship was a huge trigger, but on the other hand there was no way of knowing that would happen. To me, PTSD would have found a way out of that box sooner or later anyway.

Life does change when PTSD becomes a part of it, it’s a fact. But I will never stop believing that a person still remains the person they always were, not dismissing by any means there is a real change, but PTSD and what happened to them, just masks their true being. You can still experience good days, still have relationships, families can still be a real thing. You cherish those good days, because those good days will help get you through the rough ones. You never lose sight of who a person truly is and why you chose them to be a part of your life. You work together, educate yourself, form good communication skills, you don’t fight each other… the battle is PTSD not the person beside you, and make sure you get extra help… and you don’t allow PTSD to win even though it will knock you down at times. You are much stronger than it is, and making it through the tough times proves it.

You know, I’ve always appreciated life. But once PTSD became a part of it I really learned a whole new appreciation of life. Don’t sweat the small stuff or drama life brings, laugh things off from time to time, learn from mistakes, and you keep taking that positive step forward. PTSD is very real, it’s going to throw a lot at you, but it does not mean you stop living, life has simply changed. You have to accept what PTSD is, that it is indeed a part of life now, and you can’t live believing life is a fairy tale story of perfect everything, so to speak. When you open your eyes and face reality of PTSD, you can find the positive ways to live life with PTSD.

Craig is back to looking at rv’s again, something that was a huge part of our life before, something that I believe can bring a positive change even though it is going to take some time to reach our goal. He’s been looking at old photos compared to new ones and sees the physical changes in himself caused by his disabilities, and wants to do things to help his physical health which in turn will also help his mental health (the heart thing really scared the crap out of him/us), maybe somehow someway we will find a part of him again that seems so masked by PTSD. Things do change, I face that reality, but I will never give up hope or trying. We, together, will continue to find positive ways to live this life with PTSD. 

So my answer… love, believing in us as a couple as well as individuals and who we really are, inner strength, not giving in to PTSD or giving up, facing reality and lots of self-education, finding things that work for us, using the positive instead of allowing the negative to consume us…

One foot in front of the other, one step at a time, and one day at a time, no expectations but keeping goals in mind… PTSD won’t win. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

One Phrase…

One phrase. There is one phrase that could very well send someone who suffers from an unseen disability such as PTSD over the edge, and I don’t mean just upset, or angry, I mean to the point of wanting to end their life. Yes, I’m being pretty blunt and straight to the point of the urgency on this one. So to all of you that don’t have PTSD or don’t understand it, even to those that say you do understand it but really don’t… Let’s have a little talk!

“There’s nothing wrong with you… see you are fine.”

This is a comment that is well known by those that suffer from PTSD, it’s also the one that cuts the deepest of many… especially if it came from a loved one, or family member, or close friend.

“Unseen disability”. That’s a disability that does not have a physical characteristic that is seen such as a missing leg or limp or scars that show. It’s something that is on the inside that can be more damaging to one then a physical impairment.

Just because you can’t see the disability does not mean it’s not real, does not mean it does not exist, it means you yourself do not understand what it is or what one who suffers from this goes through. And I have thousands of doctors of many different backgrounds that will back me on this one, along with thousands upon millions of people military or civilian!

People who suffer from PTSD have their good days and they have many bad days, and I can almost guarantee you, that you won’t see them on their bad days unless you live with them. Because people with PTSD want you to view them as you always have, they don’t want you judging them, they don’t want you to think they are crazy… and they are not crazy, ask any doctor that specializes in this! They suffer from something that is very real that causes them much pain that they work hard to live through every day of their lives.

The hardest, most belittling thing to a person with PTSD is taking that reach for help. PTSD hits what I call “the best of the best”, the ones that have stood tall and taken in everything life’s traumas has dished out to the point where they can’t take anymore. Their brain starts locking the traumas away, pieces of what has happened to them or what they have experienced. Reaching for help and accepting something is wrong is the hardest thing to do for this type of person who is known for their strength. I think the fact of the military related… now to be honest the numbers are not even close to correct if you add in civilian and unreported case… a suicide rate that is now up to 22 veterans and 1 military person per DAY! PER DAY! I was personally told of 3 cases this past week of suicides among our heroes. Three, that’s a large number to come to me, I’m only one little hole on the internet. Do you know how many that is, do you realize how many people are taking their own lives, and you wonder why?

Well let me tell you why. Because in their battle people have turned their backs to them, these people are trying to get the help they truly need and backs are being turned. And it’s not doctors that are turning their backs… it’s family members, friends, co-workers, and the general public.

Unless you suffer from PTSD, live with it, or are one that treats it, you probably are not going to truly understand it unless you take the time to educate yourself on it. Even then, true understanding is going to be difficult, but education will help.

When a person who suffers from PTSD does actually have a day they can make it out of their home, I can almost guarantee you it’s a good day. A day where they will mask PTSD with a smile, a day where they are not worn down from it and can physically function, a day where they just want to blend in and feel normal. People with PTSD do not like letting their PTSD show… it still comes with a stigma that haunts this world, a stigma because people have not taken the time to understand what it is… therefore are scared of it or refuse to believe it is real. “Stigma”, a fear of the unknown.

People are taking their own lives by their own hand because the battle became too much to handle. And I bet if I contacted the families of these very people and their friends, I bet a large percentage of them, not all of them, but a large percentage of them would say something like that phrase, “There was nothing wrong with him/her, I don’t know why they did this”. Well for that large percentage, right there is your answer.

My friends and family, PTSD is not going away. It is real. It’s a battle within. And if you were in their very shoes I guarantee you would want someone to understand or to help you! Anyone that says that can’t happen to me, let me tell you something, you are WRONG! PTSD can happen to anyone who has experienced a trauma that affected their life or even one that they love or are close to. It is not only military related! It can happen from a car accident, a natural disaster, a personal attack, rape, sexual trauma, a child or parent losing their life, someone’s death that was out of your control. It happens to doctors, nurses, police, paramedics, firefighters, and many more… it can form from any severe trauma that you encounter.

And your words could very well be the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. If you do not know or understand what someone is going through, especially if one has trusted in you that they have been diagnosed with PTSD, don’t ever say “There’s nothing wrong with you” to them! One, the damage you are doing to them by saying that is very seldom repairable. Two, you most likely just lost the trust that person had for you, when all they were doing is reaching out to you, and by saying those words you just turned your back on them! Three, this can also lead them to another battle which many times come with PTSD… Depression. Which leads their road to a much darker place.

A person with PTSD does still have a life. They can throw a great cook-out, they can laugh, they make great parents, they can be a great spouse, and to set the record straight… not everyone with PTSD is violent to others! I can’t emphasize that enough! They are not monsters and to be honest, many of them are the most caring and understanding people you will ever meet! They just have a harder time doing things then one who does not suffer from PTSD. They have to fight to survive, to battle PTSD to have the normal that comes so easy to one that does not have it, and they do it every day of their life.

PTSD is not something that is made up, my friends, it’s extremely real. Many of you, if not every single person that this might reach, probably knows someone who suffers, many times in silence, and you might not even know it. You might have that buddy or son or daughter that keeps cancelling things on you, have you ever stopped and asked why? Probably not, you probably just thought they were unreliable, blew you off, or made up an accuse not to go. You probably got frustrated with them or even angry, but did you ask the true reason why? I doubt it. And until you show that they can trust you, I mean show it, they most likely won’t share their deepest pains with you. Have respect for human beings, something that seems to be lost in this day and age. A simple “Hey, I’ve noticed you haven’t been getting out much, do you want to talk? This is not like you.” Show the concern and compassion, someone’s life might just count on it some day.

Reaching to get help for themselves is urgent with PTSD. There are many ways of learning to cope with it, medications that can help, and forms of therapy. Many times if it is treated early enough, the person can have a much more normal life then those that go untreated for years. When someone does make this step to saving themselves, don’t be the one to turn your back on them! Be there to support them, to help them move forward, but don’t EVER say “There’s nothing wrong with you”, you might find yourself as it being the last thing you were ever able to say to them.

Learn, educate others, there are many books out there worth reading so you can get the insight you need to what PTSD is and how it effects people, the internet is packed with information… it’s only a click away, and it might very well save a life of someone you love. Don’t blow it off until tomorrow, tomorrow might be too late. Learn now! And I’m not saying this because I am a spouse of someone who suffers from PTSD, I’m saying it because I see the truth of what is happening to people or by people every day.

If you choose to do nothing else, which I hope is not the case, please at least “share” this. The public needs to know the urgency of unseen disabilities and what they themselves can do to help someone else! Any human being can save a life, it’s only a click away.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Spouses-Story-PTSD/195448267154305

Self-help and Secondary PTSD…

There are so many new faces on here that I want to jump back to something I try to touch on quite often.

“Self-Help”

Self-help is something that is urgent for those living with someone who suffers from PTSD! PTSD can be very damaging to a person and/or family, so there are things you can do to keep yourself as well as your family balanced. Especially if you are one just starting to learn about it.

In the beginning I’m sure you are saying “I have no clue who I’m living with! This isn’t my spouse.” Well in a way you are right, but in a way you are wrong. Your spouse is still there, it’s just learning to cope and find the true them that is under the mask of PTSD.

PTSD can bring horrible things about. Verbal abuse… which is very common, sometimes physical abuse (which in this case you always have to make sure you are safe and seek professional help quickly!), they might throw things, anger can come out of nowhere, triggers which can be caused by a sight, a smell, something as simple to us as rain or wind, flashbacks… where to them they are actually reliving the event that took place, the nightmares… these can also cause them to be physically active in their sleep or talking/screaming out loud, anxiety, not wanting to be in crowds, some have difficulty with driving and staying focused, memory issues… and much more. Then as PTSD changes it’s what I call stage, they might cry a lot, feel depressed, and the worst complaint from spouses I hear is the lack of emotion, the numbness PTSD brings.

PTSD can be caused by many things trauma related… military, even multiple deployments, a car accident, a natural disaster, a rape or attack, a surgery or hospital stay, many things can be the cause all based around a trauma that was life threatening to yourself or even a loved or close one. Some people will develop it, some people won’t.

Secondary PTSD is very real, PTSD can effect others…

With all of this I’m sure you have said some time or another “I feel like I’m going crazy! How do I deal with this? I just want to run away! I’m so overwhelmed! I just want my husband/wife back!”

Guess what! There are ways of coping with all of this! I won’t lie, PTSD is not easy, life and fairy tale stories are not handed to you on a silver platter by any means, and you can’t just wave a magic wand and PTSD is gone… it’s not that easy and PTSD seems to be for life. BUT there is still life, there can still be family, there can still be a marriage in many cases. You have to find the coping skills, make sure treatment for the one suffering with PTSD is found, and work together instead of fighting with PTSD!

So, self-help…

1. BREATHE! Actually I’m being serious 😉 Breathing is a great way of coping. There are breathing skills you can learn which help when you feel your own anxiety starting or it’s one of those rough days. Learn and practice the same coping skills your loved one has been taught… and if they haven’t been taught, teach them! They help!

2. Take time for yourself. You don’t have time? You take care of your spouse and chase little ones around all day oh and to add in there work? Humm… let’s see, if you have time for all of that then you have 5, 10, or 15 minutes to break from that to take those few minutes for yourself. Taking just a few minutes out of the day to just focus on nothing, to just get outside by yourself, or do something you enjoy… will help! And if you don’t then I have a serious question for you…

If you don’t take time to take care of yourself, then how are you going to continue to function to take care of everything and everyone else?

I already know the answer, you won’t be able to! The weight of everything will be on your shoulders, you will find yourself becoming frustrated, short tempered, and sometimes even angry. You will start viewing life as it is not fair. And eventually secondary PTSD will grab a hold of you.

Take that time, it really is needed!

3. Start a hobby.

4. Exercise and make sure you eat right! Even if it is something as simple as walking around the yard. Anything will help. And there are going to be days where you don’t want to cook, that’s okay! When you do cook, make extra to freeze for another day. Do simple dinners such as salads where each person can add their own toppings and such. But make sure you eat! If you don’t, you won’t have the energy to make it through the day and stay strong.

5. Find a support group, talk to friends (if you have any left at this point… hard fact of PTSD is people seem to walk away when they don’t understand), go see a therapist yourself, anything that will help you to have someone to talk to. It’s not healthy keeping things bottled up inside, and when you do, that bottle is going to flow over sooner or later. (I do also have a closed support group on fb for loved ones of PTSD)

6. Take time to talk with your partner. Not argue, just talk. Communication is a huge key to maintaining balance in a relationship when PTSD is involved. When you know how each other is feeling or viewing things you can have a better understanding which leads to working on things and having a better relationship.

7. Do something that makes YOU feel better! Anything! I buy myself flowers once a month lol. I love the smell of them in the house, I smile when I walk through the room and see them, and I got them for myself… for me! You don’t have to wait to be given flowers, you also don’t have to dwell on it if someone else doesn’t get them for you, get them for yourself! I also have a goldfish pond, it gets me outside, it’s relaxing, and it’s a me thing. I am also a retired dog trainer, so I take time to work Alex, my dog, which I have also trained to work PTSD symptoms. Pets are know for reducing stress… let them!

8. Keep a schedule for yourself. Schedules are extremely hard with PTSD, but something simple like I will take a shower in the morning or before bed. When you have a full plate it’s easy to forget to do the simple things for yourself. Make sure you maintain those.

9. Take time with your children if you have them! PTSD will take up a lot of your time. You still have to maintain the balance of family. Even if it’s taking time to watch a tv show with them or do a craft, bake something. On bad days, just walking in the room with them every now and then to say hey I love you and just wanted to check in on you (if they are old enough that they don’t need supervision of course). Take time to talk with them. And educate them on their age level about PTSD… it’s helps them understand better what the parent with PTSD is going through and helps you maintain the parent child balance.

10. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!! Whatever or however is comfortable for you, but just make sure you do it!

To say the least this is a short list of the many things you can come up with to do for yourself. But do something! You have to take care of yourself, finding ways to cope is a huge part of that. Many spouses of PTSD do have secondary PTSD and in many cases it’s because they became overwhelmed before they even knew what was happening. Learn as much as you can as soon as you can, and know that each day is going to be different, each day is also a new day. Remember to smile! I know that’s a very hard thing to do, but you will be shocked how someone with PTSD will pick up on it and it might just make both of your day better. 😉 Hang in there and always know you are NEVER alone!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

 It's strange looking out my window, to see
flowers starting to bloom in my pond. The
weather here has been warm, then turning
cold, back and forth again for some time
now. Today, overcast, cold, and windy here
on the lake front. But yet as I step
outside I see these flowers blooming to my
great surprise. Some of their leaves are
damaged, brown and curling from the freeze.
Some are covered with sand from the wind
and dew that has ruffled them in the strong winds. Other leaves are
starting to grow, bright colored, healthy, and full of life. But through
it all they are still blooming vibrant flowers no matter what the
weather conditions have been.

It makes you stop and think, now doesn't it?
Doesn't it kind of resemble life with PTSD? If you really think about it.
One minute you are drowned by the weather, the heavy winds, the freezing
of the cold. Blasted by the sand of things life can bring to you. But out
of nowhere a bloom forms. Bright and beautiful, so full of life. The
brown weathered leaves of the rough days wither away as the new leaves of
life grow back. Then before you know it the cycle of life of PTSD starts
all over again. Good days then bad ones, then it starts all over again.

My friends, I know there are rough days... many of them. But always keep
in mind that after the bad days come those beautiful days full of foliage
and blooms in life. Keep you chin up, find that smile, look for the
good... it will come, and will come no matter how many times
the cycle of PTSD brings to you!

PTSD vs Survivors Guilt

I want to touch on something today that many forget about or don’t even consider when it comes to one with PTSD.

PTSD vs Survivors Guilt

This is a topic that I have found effects many with PTSD. It is very apparent in the many Veterans I have spoken to or been in contact with, but does not effect only them, it stretches to anyone that has survived an episode where someone else didn’t.

The questions and statements brought up range widely…
-Why am I alive?
-What could I have done differently that could have saved them?
-Why am I the one that came back and they didn’t?
-I should have saved them.

The list is endless. The fact is, if you are hearing any of these things from a PTSD loved one, most likely you are not only dealing with PTSD but there may very well be survivors guilt there as well.

This is probably one of the most difficult things to cope with. Many Veterans ( I speak from the Veterans side since that is what Craig is, but it does go for anyone.) I know have found that helping others or helping other Veterans is a good way to cope with this. To feel useful, to unwrap some of the burden they feel to at least speak of it, they might do it because their doctor wants them to, and the most sincere… they know it might just save the next life. It’s in reality a form of survival. There are many that do not yet understand what PTSD brings and I know first hand that these very Veterans who shared their stories with me, as well as their guilt of the losses they saw or in some cases caused in the line of duty, brought a new understanding to me that I am very grateful for. Without them opening up the way they have done, it would have been a very difficult road to me understanding my own husband.

It goes back to a story I shared a little while back. Every one of the Veterans thanked me for listening, told me how much it helps them to be able to talk, but in reality they all helped me too! They are the ones I am thankful for. See, if they indeed weren’t the ones to survive, where would the next generations learn from? I believe that there is a reason for everything, I don’t know all of the answers to why lol because we sure don’t wish anything bad on anyone, but there’s a reason.

The ones who suffer from survivors guilt I have found are very hard on themselves. Almost like they are punishing themselves for surviving. And I can’t see through the computer but I bet there are a lot of heads shaking yes right now. My friends, don’t punish yourself, there’s no reason to. Without you and what you can bring to the rest of us, this world would be very incomplete! I know things happened that haunt you and your dreams, but you have a life to live that will change those of the future. I also know that there is nothing I can say that will change the way you feel, but I can say I am still proud of you and proud you are here today. You bring the rest of us wisdom, understanding, compassion, and hope.

To those of you who have a loved one which show the signs of survivors guilt, it’s not something to turn your back on or brush off. It’s real, it comes from real events, real feelings, and you have to make sure you make an extra effort to try to understand the best you can with not experiencing what they have and be there for them with extra love and understanding when these feelings surface. This is the time they will need you the most and also the time they might somewhat pull away. Be cautious of this. They need their space but they also need you! Especially during these times!

~Bec

Comments from those who wrote in on this subject: (with permission given to share)

” Yes, I have not been able to enjoy a holiday or any special occasion without the guilt, thinking of those who never got the chance. I often think why did I make it!”

~John, PTSD Veteran

“Could not have said it better,Bec–you do have a way with words. I was one of three who survived an ambush, out of fourteen, and the only way I found to get over the guilt feelings was to go and contact the families of the fallen, and share what I could with them–the good times, character quirks, stories shared, etc. You know, just about every one of them invited me in, had me stay for dinner, or lunch, and seemed glad to hear about the final hours of their loved ones—it helped me—thanks for your understanding, and your sharing.”

~Larry, PTSD Veteran

The “ME”

I want to start with something personal, and what I think of as special today. As you can see lol, I do indeed post a lot of things that are not PTSD related…and as I always tell you, everything I post has a reason! And actually, they are ALL PTSD related!

Some of you might think “oh my,  Bec’s posting another crazy dog thing or what she baked today or oh there are the flower pics again.” 😉

Now, what am I REALLY posting???

See, when Craig’s PTSD got really bad and we did not understand what was going on, I grabbed on to everything I could to save him, and us, as well as our family. But there was one huge problem. In putting so much effort in all of it, I lost myself. I had already watched us lose all of the material objects we had worked so hard for. We lost our careers and businesses. And I grabbed a hold of what we had left and hung on for dear life, and that was our family!It took time for me to face that all of the material things and including our credit were gone. The two people who had our futures planned out to the last “T”, knew every step we had to make to keep our future and our family’s future rock solid financially, vanished!When all of that fell apart, well, so did I. I mean I was still a good wife and still a good mom, but I lost me!Everything that was “me” had just dissolved into thin air. My focus turned to holding on to whatever I could to keep our heads above water, so to speak. I found myself, which was always a loving, caring, happy and all smiles person, turn into a person who cried a lot, it was hard to find a smile, and with all of the outside stress coming at us I really didn’t know up from down anymore.Then the day came that I just couldn’t take it anymore. Something snapped as I stood looking in the mirror at myself. I said, “Who are you? You are NOT me, and I want me back!”  That day changed everything! My fight was back as I stood there looking at this person that I no longer knew. I was mentally and physically worn down, I looked at myself and my hair was a mess, no makeup on, my nails were all different lengths with chipped polish, my tan was completely gone. Then I walked through the house. My dogs were out of control, trained, but out of control from what they should of been. It seemed the only things in order were Craig’s care and my children.

I took a step back and really looked around. I sat for a long time and watched my dogs behaviors…sounds silly I know, but animal behavior was my specialty. When I saw that my own pack was acting the way they were, then noticed my alpha female was actually putting herself in between me and everything else, I knew there was a huge problem! That problem was me!

I made a change that day, and I won’t tell you it came easy, it was hard! I had to get structure back into my life, our lives. If I didn’t have me, then I knew eventually it would become worse and start really affecting the family, along with everything else.

Yep, I was stepping out of the box and looking back in. I then realized that Craig’s PTSD, not on purpose of course, had released some of my own demons of the past, things I had always been able to handle, but not anymore at that point. My stalker and home assault that happened to me at age 18 was weighing on me, the car accident at age 23 was causing issues, things I went through with my ex, and the over alerting to whatever could keep Craig in a good place was weighing on me. Anxiety, panic attacks, being paranoid, even some of my own nightmares…I faced it was all there and I knew that was NOT me!

I owned it. I went over everything I could see about myself, and about my past… from outside of the box. And I started making changes! What good would I be to anyone else if I didn’t find ME again?

It took time, and a hell of a lot of effort, but I did it. Craig noticed I stopped slapping his leg at every situation that would happen while we were in the car with him driving, the panic attacks stopped, the passing out spells when my anxiety was high stopped, the smiles came back, and everything else that went with it. If I see I’m having a moody day I tell everyone, up front, I don’t hide it… moods are normal for anyone. I watched my pack find some sort of order again, I was in control again in that area. And the list goes on, but you get my point.

I started setting goals. They might not happen on the exact day or exact time I had planned, but that’s okay, life’s not perfect for anyone. But they happen. I make that effort every day to work Alex, to get outside with him if the day allows for it, to put my love for training back to use. I bake with my kids, something my mom did with me and a tradition I like carrying on. I piddle with my pond, something that I enjoy doing and found it’s something my niece’s absolutely love when they come over, it’s our thing, “Aunt Becky” time. I started working on my flower gardens when the budget permits, I love my fresh cut flowers. I take time to read and study. All things that are “me”. 🙂

See, I post off the wall things because LIFE is important! And when you battle PTSD, no matter which side of the fence you stand on with it, it’s easy for life to become just a word or even for it to feel non-existent. I share with you the things I do because in reality all of it relates to PTSD in some way, I remind you there is still LIFE!

How many of you started baking or cooking again? How many of you said “oh I wonder if I can get my dog to do what Alex did? How many of you took time from your day to watch a movie with your loved one? How many of you stepped out to see where a garden could be made or redo one? How many walked out the front door to go get something from the store? If you are honest with yourself, I bet it’s a high number of you.

I found a way to find myself again, and every day I share that part of me with you. It helps others realize there is still a normal out there, there is still life, but sometimes it takes seeing it through someone else’s eyes. Your “me” is important, emotionally and physically important. Hang on to it! 😉

You ALL are awesome people! I don’t know what I would do without this huge family here. YOU are important! 🙂

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Comments from those who wrote in on this subject: (with permission given to share)

” Becca, your description of you and your feelings along the way have so closely mirrored me and mine and I am the one with the PTSD. Though we all differ in what event(s) precipitated the development of our PTSD, it is clear that there are so many typical issues that we struggle with each and every hour of the day…the difference is in our skills with which we cope and move forward. For me, somedays it is a struggle from the moment I open my eyes in the morning and other days, thanks to God’s grace, the weight lifts a bit off my soul and I can breathe! I know that the life I cherished is frozen in time and I have to build a new life and try every day to find joy and excitement amidst the sorrow of such a loss. I pray every day that I will not lose anymore people in my life (family) who cannot deal with what has happened to me and I ask a special prayer for them, that their hearts may be healed of the fear they have and the pain they will feel from the self-isolation. I am thankful for the knowledge and inspiration that I gain from you and those who follow your journey, it encourages me and assures me that I am not alone and can overcome the heavy weight on my soul, for me it is a godsend because those who love and care about me are clueless not because they don’t care but because they have no way to relate to what I am going through, and really I thank God for that. This is a difficult journey, I don’t wish on anyone and I have to forgive them for not knowing how to help or how to deal with their own feelings. I am thankful for you and all who follow you, it makes a difference in my struggle to learn, to cope, to take the steps to move forward- one step at a time, one hour-at-a-time somedays. Until then, I am grateful for the love and support I do receive from those close to me, even though it is emotionally protected in many ways. This experience is difficult for those who love us also, they often experience such change that they too are shell-shocked by it all and feel like they don’t know what to do. This I know doesn’t mean they don’t love us, it just means that they too are temporarily lost in it and we just have to find out how to heal ourselves, so that we can reach out to one another. It is a process, albeit a long process…but I know one I won’t be going through alone. I am grateful for all of you!”

~Shelle

“Wow! Such wonderful posts from everyone. Thanks Rebecca for once again giving all of us “food for thought.” I too had lost myself after many years in an extremely unhappy marriage. I have suffered from depression and the loss of my brother and father..I am finding the happy me again!!! I went to treatment and quit drinking, I can think clearly again!! And I have met someone that makes my heart go “pitter patter!” I’m takin it one day at a time and enjoying the ride again. Not to say everything is perfect all the time but I’m learning and growing and for that I’m very thankful!!!”

~Wendy