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“I was a strong person… Before PTSD”

“I was a strong person… Before PTSD”

That is a comment I hear so often, from so many people. I want to tell you all something, that’s PTSD talking to you! It’s what PTSD does. It likes bringing in those negative changes in thoughts and feelings of yourself. A part of PTSD, a symptom, that every single person with PTSD experiences.

But here’s my personal view of things…

PTSD happens to “the best of the best”, the strong ones who have taken everything life has handed them, the traumas that no one should ever have had to experience, and keep on going. The brain just starts saying, “HEY YOU! Slow down, stop, I’m full and I can’t take anymore. Focus on me!”. It goes into a sort of protection mode, and the symptoms are added into it, to you and everyday life.

PTSD does NOT make a strong person weak, it does not mean you are any less of a person than you used to be, it just simply changes life. The road switches paths, the battle changed.

Yes, life has changed since PTSD became a part of it, changes in drastic ways for many. Yes, your focus and the way you do things is different than before. Yes, PTSD is a beast to battle. BUT… YOU are doing it!

To me, seeing firsthand what PTSD does each day and hearing from so many that battle the beast themselves, you are by no means weak or not a strong person anymore. YOU ARE STRONGER!

To battle PTSD every day, to learn how to manage and cope, to teach and learn with others, to at times force a day to be good, to smile when you really don’t want to, to push yourself as far as you can, and make it to the next day… THAT takes a very strong person. You have NOT lost who you were, you have not lost your strength, the battle just changed from what used to be in everyday life.

You know, life is going to change no matter what we do, that’s life and what it brings, there’s no stopping changes. Traumas are difficult to handle no matter what the trauma was experienced, and PTSD just adds a curve ball to the game of life. Don’t ever give up on yourself, don’t ever lose sight of who you really are and what you can do in life… even with PTSD being a part of it.

Always remember… 

“PTSD is a diagnosis, it is not a definition of who you are”

One step forward, two steps back… the PTSD dance, what life now includes… but at least we are still dancing. 😉 You can do this and discover a new normal!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Nope 😉 no way we were getting through Thanksgiving day without me getting a smile and a kissy pic out of Craig! And of course his favorite place… in the kitchen lol.  We made it to my parents for a few hours to eat and to see the family. YES! Mission accomplished. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to manage life with PTSD

How to manage life with PTSD

WOW, that sounds like something pretty serious. Well, it is! Life with PTSD and Safety Protocol comes in a lot of forms, it’s NOT just for physical things that could happen… it can be used when an episode happens, to prevent something from happening, to help keep a home running smoothly, balance in a family, etc. It’s a simple set of rules that you make for you and/or your family to follow. Rules come with life, so why not use some when it comes to life with PTSD as part of it. 

It does not matter if your home and your family is running smoothly at this time or not, safety protocol as I call it is urgent to have in place no matter what. It’s a combination of things that help physically, mentally, with daily routines, etc and help your entire household.

I have an extremely long list of things that work or have worked for us over the years. So this will be SOME examples and broken down into sections so you can scroll to which ones fit you and your family… even though you might want to read all of this. 

My note: I am NOT a doctor or in any medical field! If you have an emergency please contact your doctor or local help line. This is only information regarding what we have used to help or know of and not intended to replace medical or emergency attention.

* If you live by yourself and have PTSD.

That may sound odd that you have to use “rules” if it is only you living in your house, but it’s really not that silly.  You never know when you may have a quest or someone new entire your life. So having things in place for when that happens is a good thing and something set in place that can prevent issues from happening in the future or when you are around others. So to those of you that live alone, please take the time to read the rest of this… you never know when it may come in handy. 

* Adults.

Okay, so there are no kids in the house, just the adults. It’s important for the two of you to have things set into place as well. It can help keep arguments down, reduce stress, and help you continue to have a strong relationship.

– Make a plan. Things may have changed when PTSD came into your life, roles of who handles what may change. It does not matter who does what as long as things get done so life runs smoothly. PTSD tampers with the man/woman roles many were raised with or use to, and when that happens it can bring much stress, arguments, guilt, and so on. DON’T get into this mindset! And if you are already there, you might need to do a little re-looking over your situation and try something different. You are there to help each other! Work together and figure out which roles you will do now that PTSD is a part of your life.

– Take breaks. If things are getting heated, agree to disagree and come back to it later if it’s something that HAS to be discussed. Arguing is not going to help anyone and is just going to make things worse and cause hurt feelings to come for both of you. Take a break, actually say “I need a few minutes to cope so we can talk and not argue”. Sounds silly but it can work.  Step to another room and when BOTH are calm then start again.

– Talk and Pause. Again raised voices and emotions do not get you anywhere. If you start raising your voice, PAUSE. Breathe. Then try again without the raised voice. And this goes for BOTH of you! Partners of one with PTSD can get just as loud or vocal as the one with PTSD. When either of you yell or yell back, you are doing the same damage to yourself, them, and your relationship as the other is doing if they are using a raised voice. Pausing during conversations is okay to do. When voices are raised that is when a lot of hurtful things are going to come from your mouth, and many of those things are not meant in the first place and will lead both of you to tears later. Talk and Pause, it helps prevent that.

– Retreat. If you are having an episode there is nothing wrong with retreating to another room away from each other for a little while. This gives you the chance to cope with what you are feeling and calm down. AND if your partner retreats to do this, no matter which one of you is doing it, DON’T follow them (unless there is a chance of self harm). Allow them the space to regroup then come back to you.

– Set Guidelines/Rules. Do this ahead of time, do it right now! It’s a simple “if this happens then we will handle it like this”. Sit down together and come up with what you can do, actually write them out if need be until you both get use to them. This can include when flashbacks happen, with nightmares, with anger, memory issues, anxiety, etc. and partner stress also. This is for BOTH of you!

Example: If you have a flashback then I will stay out of your reach, but will talk to you calmly to help ground you to present time, place, and I will say my name and who I am. I will stay until the flashback passes.

– Reassurance. This is nothing to just assume! EACH of you need to hear the verbal reassurance that you are there for each other and will make it through this. You need to hear I love you and I’m here for you. PTSD can cause some VERY mixed feelings even when your heart knows you love someone or they love you. Don’t assume even if they know, say something.

* Parents/Grandparents

Oh boy! Not only do you have to make sure things are in place for you and your partner, but you have children in your life too! There are more things you have to consider and more things you have to keep an eye on.

– First, the above “adults” applies to you also! Those things can help keep things from effecting children as much. Little ears and eyes are always there, and making sure children do not get exposed to some of the things PTSD can bring is urgent for their well being and development. You can not shelter them, but you can do things to teach them and have things in place for adults as well as children for times that something may or does happen.

– Teach. Children can learn at ANY age! My two started learning at ages 8 and 3 years old (they are the two that live with us). You do not have to tell them what happened or details, and please don’t… children are very visual and will form pictures of what you are telling them in their minds, and if you tell them some details without telling everything about what happened they will form their own images of everything else which can actually be worse then what actually happened. So telling them details of what happened that caused PTSD can cause a lot of mental damage to them, especially at young ages.

Example: It’s better in my opinion to say things such as “Dad had something bad happen to him that caused him to have PTSD, but don’t worry we are doing things and working as a family and with the doctors to help dad.” (of course change “dad” to which ever name it needs to be)

By saying something along this line, you are letting them know “dad” has a reason for what he says, acts like, or goes through ( a help if or when a child may copy actions or behaviors that are “owned” by PTSD and not the child), but at the same time letting them know they don’t have to worry because there is help to get dad better or the best he can be.

As children grow older, they will ask questions and be curious. Teaching about PTSD on their age and learning levels is the key I have found. Don’t try to teach them everything at once or beyond their level or age, of learning or understanding. Don’t overwhelm them 

– Coping skills. Children can learn coping skills at any age! And you don’t have to tell them it’s a coping skill, you just simply teach them as you would anything else in life.

Example: My daughter for several years now has done this… She writes her feelings or anything that is bothering her on paper then balls it up and throws it away.

To her, this is her way of getting her feelings out (by writing them), she talks to me when it’s something she can’t figure out or needs to talk about (normally paper in hand), then she throws the paper away… that is her way of releasing the feelings or what’s bothering her. She lets go when the paper is thrown away. In reality, she is coping without realizing that is exactly what she is doing. 

The sooner children of any age learn to cope, rather they realize it is coping or not, the better they can handle things in the present as well as their future adult life.

– Rules. It is actually easier for children to learn rules that can apply to PTSD then adults. Why? Because they are still learning and not yet set in their ways.  There are many things you can use to help children and your home function smoothly.

Adult space. Have a room where children are not allowed unless invited in. This gives BOTH parents breathing and coping space when it’s needed.

Play rules. Don’t jump from behind things or around corners. Don’t jump on someone’s back without them knowing. You get my point 

You can teach them that if a parent is upset or angry to go to another room until they calm down. AND as the parent, when you do calm down, go to them, hug them, and let them know you are okay. That sometimes adults get angry and it’s not because of something they did. By doing this you have given the child an option of knowing they can leave the room and away from whatever is happening if the adult hasn’t. You are reassuring them you care about them. And you are explaining that sometimes things happen in life but it’s not their fault. That’s a lot coming from one small act you taught them they can use if need be.

Discipline. DON’T discipline if you are mad! When you do, you are reinforcing your angry behavior is okay (and a child may copy it), you could cause the child to fear you, and most likely you are not going to discipline with a clear mind or in the correct way. Sometimes it’s good for BOTH of you to take a “timeout” to be able to handle the situation correctly.

– Helping Out. Oh the chores word  It is good that children learn to do things that will carry on to adulthood. It helps keep a balance in the house without one person becoming overwhelmed with doing everything. And it also, rather they know it or not lol, helps them be an active part of the family. LET children help. It gives them one on one time with either parent which is important. If you are doing something, just simply ask them if they can help you. It raises their self-esteem, teaches them, and helps them know life still has a normal even with PTSD being a part of it.

Some people make chore charts. I personally found this was more work and stress on me then it was worth, but it does work for many. I just ask or nicely tell, when I would like the kids to do something or help with something. It keeps the personal interaction with the child, gives them the feeling of being needed, and less stress to me. And they respond so much easier then if they think they are being ordered to do something or have a set schedule of this must be done on this day.  AND it works GREAT for teenagers!!!

– One on one time. URGENT! Children of any age think and view things differently. They are each their own person, with their own personality. You can’t treat each of them exactly the same way. Taking one on one time, even just a few minutes per day, forms a communication between you, gives you input to what they are experiencing, feeling, or areas they may need help with. Gives them the time to bond even with PTSD as part of your lives. And is urgent for their development. A lot of things can be stopped before they get too far, if you just take a little one on one time with each child.

– Adult talking to children. Watch this one! There are many cases where a parent will talk about the other parent to or in front of the kids… of any age. I promise you… sooner or later this will backfire on YOU. DON’T put you or your children in this position. If you need to vent, vent to another adult. Children will make their own opinions about each parent no matter what you say or tell them, don’t let your negative words or bad mouthing about the other parent result in you being the one judged by your own child. Parenting 101, PTSD or not. 

This can also lead to children worrying about each parent and cause harm to the child’s well being and development, which can roll over to their adulthood life.

* To everyone.

Get help! Rather you choose a doctor, therapist, couple or marriage counseling, church counseling, support groups, etc. Get some type of help and a support system. Learn coping skills and use them! And try… try different things, form your own safety protocol and things you can do to make life run a little smoother with having PTSD in it. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Not everything is going to work for everyone, so try different things and put effort into it when you do try. It can make ALL of the difference in the world, to your life and your family’s lives.

Again, I could write you a novel on this one, but these are just a few things that might help. Please take time to educate yourself about PTSD and the symptoms that come with it. Knowledge gives you the upper hand to learning to live life with or beside PTSD.

Love to all of you! <3

~Bec
A Spouses Story PTSD

A PTSD Dad…

A PTSD Dad

Being a dad may be a lot different now then it use to be. But this thing called PTSD that haunts your nights and disrupts your days, never takes away from a child that speaks the words “my Dad”.

Dad is a strong word with a strong meaning behind it. Some children may say the word pops, and some still say daddy or papa. It doesn’t matter which is used, when it comes from the mouth of a child, with love, meaning, and pride, it still boils down to “my Dad”.

Any man can be a father, but a special man to a child’s heart and through their eyes know him as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad may feel guilty, because they can’t spend as much time with a child or go places another father might be able to or as often. But a child sees through eyes of innocence, they do not judge you on the amount of time PTSD may take away from them, they do not count the minutes on a clock, they know the quality of the time you give, and they speak those words “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad may have different schedules or act in different ways then other fathers, but a child still recognizes love through the illness that haunts you, and they still view you as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad teaches something special, and he needs not say a word to teach it. He teaches a child not to judge others, he teaches a child to see through a person’s disabilities or illnesses, and teaches a child that no disability can prevent a man from being a man known as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad shows a child that life is special and the value in every day that comes. He shows a child that you don’t take life for granted, that you cherish it and you do your best through it. That child in turn knows him as “my Dad”.

A child does not know the word stigma. That is something that is taught or not taught to a child. A PTSD dad shows a child that stigma is just a word and he shows them life past a simple word when others may not see it. He teaches them the truth. That child, that child is a child that can change the world. That child will say the world will change because of “my Dad”.

To the Dads out there that battle PTSD each day of your life. You have a special gift, rather you see it or not. Many of you may view yourself as letting your children down, many may view that your life is not worth what you put others through because of your disability, many may view that you are not worthy at all. If you view yourself that way, before you judge yourself so harshly, you might want to really listen to your child. PTSD may seem to take a lot away from you, but don’t allow it to take away those words “my Dad”. Your child or children love you, honor you, and they by all means look up to you. Why? Because you ARE their DAD! That is something special. 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all of the PTSD Dads! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Friends and Life with PTSD

Friends and Life with PTSD

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

“Do you and Craig have many friends?”

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

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

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

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

Boy this one is hard to write lol.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

“How do you cope so well?”

“How do you cope so well?”

I was asked this same question several times yesterday, and have been asked it many times in the past so I want to answer it for all of you.

I’m going to take a guess that saying “I just do it” is not a good answer lol.  Okay, here it goes…

I think there are several reasons at hand. Probably the largest is I’m hard headed and refuse to let PTSD win or completely take over our lives. 

Let me give you a little background, maybe it will help make sense. I was raised in a loving home with a mom who taught (for 30 years) what we view as special children. Children that had been through traumas in their lives and many of their lives and families were shattered. Children with emotional battles. So, in short, I was raised seeing and helping out with these children. I saw what each of them had been through, not first hand but through the child’s eyes and the way they viewed things.

I watched my mom never give up on any of “her” children as she called them. I watched those kids improve, find hope, and find meaning in their lives because of the extra time and patience my mom gave to them. Those kids stole our hearts. To see a child that deserved so much more in life, they didn’t ask for what they went through, they didn’t ask for what life dealt them, and I watched my mom give something wonderful back to each of them.

It was never easy for her. To be honest, many of the cases involved were extreme and it did roll over to the way the children treated others. My mom taught them. No matter what they threw at her, and sometimes that was literally, she kept teaching, loving them, and helping them see what they could be in life.

So I would have to say a huge part of who I am, was taught to me by my mom as she and my dad raised me. Dad, I can’t leave him out, yep I am by all means a daddy’s girl lol. My dad is a Veteran, was long before I came along lol. A strong man, one that is quiet but when he speaks people listen. He taught me how to live life and have meaning in life. He’s one that no matter what a situation is you can go to him, and he would give his shirt off his back to anyone that needed it. But don’t ever mess with his family lol or you will answer to him. 

So I believe a huge part of me goes back to my roots. You know, I say all of the time children will be the future, they will be the ones to take the stigma away from PTSD so teach them and give them the tools to do so. Well, as I sit and think about the question asked, I guess in reality I’m one of those “children” myself. I was raised with not knowing stigma, I was raised to find answers when you don’t have one, to educate yourself, and to help others in the process.

How do I cope so well, I guess I was taught to.

When I saw the changes in Craig, I didn’t give up, I didn’t give in, and I looked for answers to what was happening to him. Knowledge is power. The more I learn the better I have been able to cope and understand what we are going through. And when you can do that, then it leads you to finding solutions and different ways of doing things to help in different situations.

I don’t and won’t give up life just because my husband suffers from PTSD. This is our life and even though PTSD is a huge part of it, it can’t have it. Sure, PTSD can weigh me down at times, it will do that to anyone, but when I see it doing that I start looking for those solutions around it and what it brings. I try new things, come up with things that may help and if they don’t then I try something else.  Finding things that help Craig rolls over to helping the whole family also.

The other thing that helps me cope is making sure I take care of myself. I take “me” time. I get outside some every single day. The little things in life can mean the most, that’s something to never forget or let go of. In order to take care of someone else, you must first know how to take care of yourself. A golden rule. 

A big part of coping with what PTSD brings is stepping outside of the box. You have to look at the big picture to what not only yourself, but the person with PTSD also goes through. Take consideration for them as well but at the same time consideration for yourself. Finding a balance is huge and wow can it make a difference.

Everyone knows PTSD is a serious roller coaster, there’s no getting around that. You take it one day at a time and don’t worry about expectations. The only expectation to have is we WILL live through this and we WILL see tomorrow. The rest will fall into place as long as you do everything you can to make situations the best they can be and take time to learn.

In order to cope with something, anything, you must first understand it. Once you have knowledge of it, then you can find solutions to situations as they come. And we all know with PTSD you never know what the next thing will be lol. Don’t fear it, don’t let PTSD weigh you down or get to you, and at times it will… face it! Pick yourself back up, wipe the dirt from your knees, and move forward. 😉

I’m just another person, I’m no different then each and every single one of you. Craig and I have the same struggles that each of you do every day of our lives. I use the tools of knowledge, and trial and error, to make each day the best it can be. I never give up, and I won’t let him give up! <3

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

PTSD vs Guilt…

PTSD vs Guilt

That is a very strong word and it carries a ton of weight with it. Guilt can come from many different reasons. But what are some of the reasons that can be related to PTSD?

You know, PTSD is hard enough for one to cope with and the struggles from day to day can be difficult, then there is guilt mixed with it.

Now, I’m not only talking about survivor’s guilt, which many with PTSD do have. That is a beast within itself already. Surviving when someone else didn’t, feeling as if you should have been the one that didn’t make it… it’s a huge weight to carry and you have to work hard to make it through those feelings every day. And to those of you that experience it, and yes my husband is one of them so I do understand what it causes. Don’t give up on yourself! I truly believe there is a reason you are here, rather it is a known reason or not to you right now.

Other common reasons guilt my develop:

* Not being able to work.

This is a tough one for many! You have a person who has worked their entire life, worked hard to succeed in what their line of work was, then they faced a disability that took it all away. They now feel like they have let themselves and others down by not being able to provide as they use to be able to do.

This was a very difficult one in our home. I had to find a way for this to be viewed differently and voice a different way of viewing it to easy that guilt. Craig is a disabled Veteran due to his military career, even though he can no longer work, he does receive financial benefits that he EARNED. To me, that IS indeed providing! 

* Feeling like a burden.

This is very common. A person always took care of themselves as well as others, and now is in a position that those things are not so easy, or not as easy as they use to be. That can weigh on a person.

But let me tell you something, even if you are viewing yourself as a burden to others, you are NOT a burden to that person who loves you. You are in their life for a reason, try to remember that.

* I can’t do the things I use to do.

The old me and who I am now. An extremely hard one to grasp. The I use to do this or that and now it’s hard to even leave the house.

You are still you! Things have just changed, change is a part of life rather we like it or not. On your good days, do what you can and try not to worry about the things you can’t. I know that is way easier said then done, but try to make the best of the now. Find new things to do. You might be shocked at what you can indeed do.

* Not spending a lot of time with children.

This is the hardest one on any parent. Soccer games, school events, crowded places, lots of noise and rowdiness of children. That can be overwhelming to PTSD. You start feeling like if you don’t go or attend everything then you are letting your children down.

I’ve got news for you on this one! No matter what amount of time you spend with children, no matter what you attend or don’t attend, quality is the key. As long as when you are able to you spend quality time with a child that is the largest thing that matters. They just want you to love them and be there for them, it does not mean you have to go everywhere. Children can be the most understanding and forgiving people in this world, so don’t let something that they can overlook and get past continue to weigh on you.

* Date Night.

I personally hate this term lol! You hear it all of the time especially from your friends in the social media. It can weigh on you that you don’t go out like everyone else does, you can feel guilt because it’s something you can’t offer your loved one or not on a regular basis. You feel as if you are keeping them from the rest of the world.

There is something you can do or try.  Even if you are one that your PTSD does not allow you to go out or not much, try some of these…

– Go out during off hours. It does not have to be a Friday night during dinner time outing to be a date night! Go out for lunch or during the week when things aren’t so busy. It is still going to mean just as much!

– Make special dinner plans, a movie, etc at home. There is nothing wrong with having a date night at home! Turn it into something special for the two of you, do something you two don’t normally do, oh jeez and for the ladies add that sissy romance in there lol. Even through numb feelings PTSD can cause, the motions to show you do care can still be used. 

* Not being able to participate in special events/holidays.

Just do what you can and take breaks when you need to! Holidays are overwhelming! Many time just showing face can be enough or making a call to let someone know that you would love to be there but it’s just not a good day. People are either going to take time to understand or they aren’t! Don’t let them weigh on you! You do what you can at your pace and do what is best for your situation.

– Take breaks to leave crowds when you need to.
– Show face even if you can’t stay… IF you are able to make it somewhere.
– Let people know that it does matter to you, even if you can’t make it.
– Do something on another day. A holiday does not always have to be celebrated on that day, anyone that has experienced military life knows this one well! You celebrate when you can.

* Spouses!

Don’t play the guilt trip!!! You will cause a lot of damage if you do. Work with the one with PTSD and find ways to cope and handle things. A guilt trip is just going to bring anger, frustration, the guilt, and your loved one falling into a really dark place. And sure won’t bring them any closer to you! DON’T do this to them!!!

There are MANY things that can bring guilt. Guilt can eat you alive if you allow it to, don’t let it. In many of the situations there are ways around allowing it to happen or take control of you. Don’t just give up. Guilt is a very real feeling and it’s not at all easy to overcome, it will take time and a lot of hard work, but do what you can! By trying to get past some of the guilt, you might just find new things in life you enjoy or can do. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Happy 2nd Birthday!!!

After spending many years fighting this battle called PTSD, just Craig and I, I felt the loneliest I have ever felt in my lifetime. After a few years of learning about PTSD in the beginning and doing what I could to better understand it, I refused to believe we were alone. Just over two years ago I started the FaceBook page trying to find others like Craig and I out there, There had to be others that were going through the same things we were, and ones that had already experienced it.

I decided that if I could help just one person, just one person out there have more knowledge then I had in the beginning, if just one family could be saved, if just one person realized they were not alone, if just one person learned it’s okay to reach for help, then the effort for me to try was more then worth it. I think in a way it was also my reach for help into the unknown, my little hole on the internet as I call it. If we were going through this, someone else had to be too.

I found out really fast that we were by no means alone! There are many of us.

Two years ago today I sat here in my desk chair, looking at this page, and realized just how many this page had touched in such a short time. I sat here and realized that I could do more! My mission was not going to stop here. When Craig woke up on this day 2 years ago, I told him “A Spouse’s Story PTSD” and every single person it touched was worth it, they ARE worth it. I had purchased the website domain that day, a Birthday gift to myself and hopefully a gift of life and understanding to others.

Today, I want to thank all of you for becoming a part of this “family”! We have had so many friendships form here, we have kept each other’s backs, we have picked ones up when they reach the down side, we have shared silly things that life brings, we have laughed together as well as cried together… THIS my friends is what the word FAMILY is all about! And I am proud and honored that you are a part of it!

It’s not about numbers to me, it’s about heart, helping, and understanding… reaching out to a hand that needs to be held onto and not letting go. However, that number of 30 people two years ago has now reached approximately 70,000 people and growing! No, none of us are alone anymore! Thank you for helping me spread the word and awareness about life with PTSD, that has touched so many lives, you ALL ARE “The Best of the Best”!

Today on the calendar it says I was born 40 years ago today, but you know what? Two years ago today was a very real birthday. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

HAPPY 2nd Birthday “A Spouse’s Story PTSD”!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

Getting past the grieving of PTSD…

I’m seeing a huge problem that needs to be addressed and quickly.

This is something very urgent to talk about, and something that goes much deeper then the “why me” or “this isn’t fair” that PTSD causes a loved one and/or family say or think.

Just to note up front, this is directed mostly to the loved ones of PTSD, even though ones with PTSD need to know it too. I am saying this from the heart and with full heart and hope each of you will take the time to read this, listen to what I have to say and really hear what I am saying. This is in no way meant to be negative, not directed at any one person, and only meant to help. But you need to hear this. To also say this up front, you may “share” this to any and all pages you feel it could be helpful on.

Oh boy lol… you know it’s serious with all of that at the beginning!

I am being serious! Families and relationships are falling apart. I am watching it happen. Why? I can talk until I am literally blue in the face, but nothing I, or anyone else says is going to help until YOU make the decision to do something.

Everyone deserves to cry, everyone deserves to say “why me” or “this isn’t fair”, everyone deserves to vent and express how they are feeling. It’s all a step in processing that you now live life, that somewhere, has PTSD in it. It’s a form of grieving, it’s part of the process, and it’s healthy.

However, the unhealthy part comes in when you stop there. I am seeing so many get stuck in the grieving, also known as the spouse/family member’s “poor me PTSD pity party”, and not move forward.

I know first hand what PTSD does. I know what crying is. I know what stress and anxiety are. I know what losing everything you spent your life working for is like. I know what issues PTSD can and does bring to a relationship are like. I know what juggling priorities are like. I know what being a caregiver and mom at the same time are like. I know what trauma is like. And I sure know what stepping up to the plate when need be is like. I doubt you can bring anything to me that I have not already heard about or experienced myself when it comes to PTSD.

I could tell you stories that are true life that would cause serious chills down your spine and then some.

But, I also made a choice. I chose to stop dwelling in the grief of what we went through, and the parts we continue to go through, and I do something about it. I vent when I need to then I move forward to find a solution to whatever is needed. I listen to others and learn from them. You have to put a plan into action, a physical plan of what you need to do or what needs to be done in general. You are never going to move forward or things get better when you get stuck in the “PTSD pity party”… it will drag you down and damage you as well as those around you and sure cause your PTSD loved one damage too!

I am seeing and hearing many say “but I called so and so and no one will help”. Yes, absolutely reaching out for help by making phone calls is needed. There are many doctors and organizations out there that are a huge help and much needed by many. However, many are thinking that is all they can do. This is by no means true!

The huge issue I am seeing is loved ones of one with PTSD stopping at phone calls, or somewhere in that general area of help.

I ask you, “But what are YOU doing?”
There is more to help then only calling people and wanting someone else to “fix” everything. This is where it goes much deeper then what many see at the surface of trying to find help.

Making phone calls to everyone and searching for what I call “quick fixes” do not get to the root of things in many cases. You by all means need to make those calls, so this is by no means setting that to the side, but let’s go deeper.

What things are YOU doing inside your own home, with or for your PTSD loved one, with your spouse, with your family, and with yourself? When Craig’s symptoms started, I didn’t have access to or know about all of the numbers to call, I didn’t have help from the many organizations or caseworkers there are now. I literally was doing it ALL on my own.

I had to vent, cry, scream. I too said why me and this isn’t fair. I asked who this person was I was married to. Then I pulled myself together and had to make a plan to get myself and my family through what now had “happened” to us. I was bound to finding my husband I know so well. I was bound to make things the best I could. You HAVE to, or it’s going to be very difficult to survive what PTSD can bring.

Things YOU can do to help:

* Accept PTSD.
This is the first and hardest step for anyone! You have to honestly accept the fact that PTSD is now involved. You have to accept that life has changed, roles may change, and the way you do things and/or ways you act will or have changed. Truly accepting that PTSD is now a part of your life will be the largest step in life you will ever make from here forward.

* Contact a therapist for yourself and children.
Having proper help from a doctor can be extremely important! They know how to get to the root of problems and give advice on things you can do and ways to cope. And DO what they suggest! Don’t just brush it off as “that won’t work”.

* Make family time.
Take one on one time with each child even if it’s just to talk. Children will open up in a huge way if they have the chance to, make time for them! Each child may feel differently, so one on one time is important so you as the parent can know how each child is feeling or viewing things and you can talk about their feelings and educate them on their age level of learning. There is no such thing as starting too young on learning.

*Make “me” time.
You have to! You do not have a choice in this or your world will become overwhelming to the point you can’t handle it and your relationship and/or family will start falling apart. Even if it is just a few minutes by yourself away from everyone, every minute counts. Do something you enjoy, walk outside, go to a store by yourself, whatever it takes to get a break in there for “me” time.

* Money/Finances.
This is a huge one and brings a lot of conflict with PTSD. If you are in a situation where money is being spent and the bills are being affected by it or food put on the table, it’s time to step up to that hard plate! Many with PTSD do have issues with now handling money. If this is the case with you or your PTSD loved one, be responsible! Allow the one who is capable of handling the finances do them, or do them together. Make a budget or form a spending plan and follow it. There is nothing worse then facing no roof over your head or no food to feed your children because no one stepped up to the plate to handle things when needed. I know this brings conflict, but it’s better then the guilt one or both will face if something isn’t done and now!

* Listen, hear, and DO.
When someone opens up and tells you what they have been through and what helped them in their same or similar situation, at least make an effort to try it! Don’t use excuses! “But this and but that” can not exist when life includes PTSD. You have to DO!

* Swallow your pride.
Oh it does not matter which side of the fence you are standing on with PTSD, pride has to be swallowed at times. Hard fact to PTSD and life. You will have to reach a hand out to someone, you will have to ask for help and support, you will have to listen to others, and you will have to do things yourself to help you and your family.

* Safety Protocol.
Rather your home includes physical abuse or not, safety protocol is urgent in every home! It can also help prevent emotional abuse from happening, especially for children. It’s a simple thing of making and following guidelines, rules to things which do or can come with PTSD… and making sure they are followed! This is a whole topic of discussion within itself and you can refer to my journal page of my website for need to know now ideas concerning this.

For example:
-A PTSD spouse is yelling. Calmly say I understand you are frustrated and angry right now, but I need to step to the other room while you get a grip on your feelings. I am right in the other room if you need me. By doing this you are removing yourself from emotional abuse, you are allowing them to realize it is a time to control anger but at the same time letting them know you are not disowning them and are there for them.

– Children. Teach rules just as you would anything else you teach them. Such as don’t run up behind mom/dad and jump on their back. “You wouldn’t want them to do this to you, it might upset you, so let’s not do it to him/her.

-If dad/mom is yelling. Go to your room or to another room away from them. “Everyone gets upset or mad at times and dad/mom’s PTSD can cause this to happen more often. When this happens it’s okay to go to another room away from it until they get calmed down.” This takes the child away from the verbal situation, allows the PTSD parent a signal that it’s more then the child can handle, gives the parent time to use coping skills to control their actions/words. Once calmed down, it is always good to talk to the child and let them know the anger is not because of them or their fault. This helps keep children for feeling that they are to blame. And if you are the one yelling, take it away from the children. Retreat yourself, go to your room, use your coping skills, this is something that can help your children and/or spouse/family member.

*Comfort Zone.
This does not exist now, not until you do something to make changes! So you are a stay-at-home mom/dad, you work a full time job, you have other medical issues, you have others you care for, you’re so stressed, your husband/wife is cheating on you, you have no money, etc etc etc. Okay, so what!!! I know those things are very real but I won’t except that excuse, any of them! Does that upset you? Make you mad? Do you think you are going through something someone else isn’t or hasn’t? Do you want to say “what about me”? GOOD! Now what are YOU going to do about it? You need to be mad at the situation right now, and use that anger and frustration to DO something! Put it to work for you and your family and get out of the “PTSD pitty party”. Accept when people push you to get out of the grieving stage and into the mad stage, that’s the stage that will push you forward to proving you can do something and change your situation for yourself and your family! And DON’T take your anger out on the one with PTSD!

Your comfort zone changed the moment PTSD stepped into it, adapt! Make changes to get a comfort zone back that helps all of you! To make your life better. To survive as a family! You are being given all of the tools to help, now use them and make a difference!

The list of things that YOU can do yourself to help you, your loved one, and your family is huge. There is no excuse large enough to set what you can do in your own home aside. But you have to DO it! Yes, it’s now on your shoulders, it will take a lot to get through the changes and out of your comfort zone of the way things were or have always been, but you CAN do it! Get off your but (incorrectly spelled on purpose) and start doing. Make a plan and follow through on it. You can reach for the much needed outside help by all means, and highly recommended, but what you do inside your own home will be one of the greatest things to help you move forward and to a better place for all of you.

And smile 🙂 it can get better then what you are going through right now! Craig, myself, and our family are living proof of that! 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Tadpoles and Fish… What does that have to do with it?

 

Tadpoles and Fish? Some of you might be scratching your heads saying “What is this lady talking about?”

It’s a simple answer but with a whole lot of meaning behind it. 😉 It’s about life.

When you live life everyday with or beside PTSD, it can weigh you down. The sleepless nights, the anxiety, not feeling safe to leave the house, and everything that comes with PTSD. You have to focus so much on what you are going through and trying to be the best you can be through all of this, as well as making sure you make it to the next day, that sometimes you forget the simple things in life that are much needed. “Actually living life itself.”

As always 😉 when I post something you can bet that there is some type of meaning behind it rather you think it’s PTSD related, on topic, or not. 😉

I like to remind you that there IS still life with PTSD. And at times that means taking the focus, what seems to be off of PTSD, and placing it on life itself. It’s all actually still connected, just may not seem that way at the moment.

With PTSD you “make” ways to still live life. You find things, or sometimes they find you lol, that you can still enjoy. Things that bring a sense of peace to you. Things that even if it’s just for a moment, your focus slips from what happened to you and finds something that is you.

Just because life and the way you now live it, or survive, has changed, does not mean to give up on life. It means change and adapt with life. There are still many things that are good, even with PTSD, find them or let them find you. It will make this roller coaster ride we all know so well so much easier.

Today, take the time to find life. Even if it is something like stepping outside, giving someone a hug, or focusing on something you enjoy or use to enjoy. I can almost bet it will be worth it!

Don’t forget about life through all of this. You are worth more then that! “Live life.” Strong words when it comes to PTSD. Don’t forget to experience them. 😉

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”