Tag-Archive for » memory «

PTSD and Memory causing issues.

PTSD and Memory causing issues.

How do you get someone to recognize they have problems? His memory is really poor… he refuses to accept anything and always blames me. It is so frustrating and hard on the family.” -Anonymous

I have many people asking me questions regarding these things, but I’m going to talk a little more about this than only from the memory issue aspect, I want to also explain the “why” and “what happens” just simply to provide more information. I do have to say I am not a doctor or in any medical field, and my knowledge is based on our experiences and what I have personally learned. IF you have a crisis please contact your doctor or call a crisis hotline.

(This is going to be long, save it to your social media wall, come back to it on my page if you cannot read it all at once, or bookmark it on my blog aka “my journal” page of my website.  I have broken it down into smaller paragraphs for easier reading as well. There is a lot to this topic.)

That first step to recognizing there is in reality a problem, is going to be the most difficult step to take. Especially when memory issues are involved. “Refuses to accept anything and always blames me.” that quote is a reality, that DOES in many cases happen until one does start recognizing AND/OR accepting there is something that is just not right.

At times, it will still happen even after acceptance is there, simply because memory is still at hand. Craig and I went through this also, and memory issues AND cognitive dysfunction are a part of everyday life for us. We have just over 10 years of experience and a lot of trial and error, and finding solutions for this one. So this is a part of everyday life for both of us. 

So let’s talk about this…

The first question at hand is, “Has PTSD, TBI, Depression, Dissociative Symptoms, or another medical condition been diagnosed?” If it has, that right there can help! You have a diagnosis, it’s in writing/print by a doctor and if you don’t have a printed copy of it, get one! This can help when memory issues step into life. I’ll explain why a little later in this. 

Next, taking the step to learn everything you can about what comes with that diagnosis is a must. This can help bring understanding as well as steps for one to start accepting (and that can be either person or family member) there is something causing the changes in a person. Acceptance of a diagnoses AND acceptance that that diagnosis is REALLY, TRULY, a part of life now is always the first step that HAS to take place, then learning about the diagnosis and what comes with it.

Memory issues are VERY real to many that have PTSD! They can scare a person very quickly when a loved one is saying, “That’s not what happened, that’s not what was said, that’s not what I/you did” etc. When this takes place, what is real to one person may not seem real to the one with PTSD, then anxiety increases. PTSD is most likely going to bring on “fight or flight”. It can become a vicious PTSD symptom circle. One symptom is going to set off another symptom and in reality, that memory issue where this “seemed” to have started is going to become worse.

So what are things that can cause memory issues? Just saying memory issues can come with PTSD is NOT enough, you have to learn the “why”? I have found over my years of learning and living beside one with PTSD and Depression, you have to learn about the “why” in order to take steps to finding a solution or things that can help.

Let me start with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), if you or your loved one has a TBI the reality is there may very well be memory issues with the brain injury, the brain has sustained an injury which can effect the memory process and how the brain functions. Many who have PTSD may also have a TBI, depending on their trauma. So I did want to mention that up front in case there are both TBI and PTSD diagnosed.

PTSD comes with anxiety. This is one of the largest reasons behind memory issues with PTSD. When anxiety increases, lack of being able to focus and/or concentrate decreases. The higher anxiety becomes, the worse this can get. So in these cases, it’s not a true “memory loss” as many people believe, it’s that the things or conversations taking place are not able to be focused on in order for the brain to process things to memory.

Focus may be on that car that is passing, that person on the side of the road, that noise being heard but not seeing where it’s coming from, a TV being too loud, a child playing in the background, maybe they are working on something and their focus is staying on that one task so they can complete it (very common)… loss of focus or concentration can come from anything when PTSD is in high alert mode and/or increased anxiety, as well as how many things are happening at one time!

Anxiety can increase with really any other PTSD symptom that steps into play at any given time. This is the main reason why no two people seem to have the exact same level of memory issues. It will depend on the level of each person’s symptoms, how they cope or don’t cope with their symptoms (At this time!), how many “what if’s” come to mind in different situations, as well as any other medical conditions which may also be present.

I state “other medical conditions” because the fact is, there may also be something else occurring and if so it cannot be dismissed. BUT not everyone with PTSD will have other things, leave that to your doctor to figure out! Focus on what you know is at hand.

Like with Craig, he has cognitive dysfunction along with PTSD and Depression. His “case” is considered and worded as “complex or complicated” due to the combination of medical conditions at hand.

We were recently explained (and he said I can share this) that the way his brain works is similar to that of one with Alzheimer (I was relating it to dementia type symptoms, but was told it’s more along the lines of relating to Alzheimer symptoms which did make sense once it was explained, even though he does not have Alzheimer.). It’s like having two power lines or circuit wires/cables in the brain, but they do not touch or cross enough for him to relate one thing belongs with another, they parallel each other instead of working together for the brain to function correctly. He has not only short term memory effected, but has also “lost” blocks of long term memory… but when speaking to him you would rarely notice something is wrong with him unless you are around him a lot, then it becomes very noticeable.

Some things that are a daily part of life, in OUR case, just to give you examples include… He loses track in conversations, may change subject in middle of conversation. Forgets things even important to him things. Becomes overwhelmed with making decisions or planning things and carrying out the steps… example is when asked what he wants to eat, his response normally is “I’m not hunger” when in reality you can hear his stomach making sounds and it’s time to eat, or “Whatever”. He does not connect he needs to eat and won’t eat if not “guided” to. Same with drinking fluids. Has trouble finding his way around even in places he is use to, has been known to wander and get lost (and that one is scary). Has trouble remembering people’s names (YES, even with me, the kids, and the animals! You will notice we use the nickname “babe” a lot  that’s his fallback when my name slips his mind, not just a cute nickname  and to ease what it makes him feel like when it happens, we both use the term now.) Has issues with short and long term memory, some things stick or for take a guess how long, others don’t and has blocks of long term memory of things one would normally remember that seem to be completely gone. Anyway, the list is extremely long. BUT we have learned to still live life with these things at hand. They are a different type of normal to us now.

This combined with PTSD and Depression symptoms causes memory issues. So there is more to it in his case, and the reason so many things that can or do work for others, have not been (as) successful with/for him… but we continue working on them.  My point of sharing this is every person is going to be different depending on what combinations of medical conditions are at hand. Some people may have milder issues, some may have more severe.

So… we have some examples of the “why”. Now, how do we get one to realize there is a problem? And what can we do to manage through the memory issues, for whatever the reason(s) they are there?

* First thing to do… 

DO NOT give up on yourself or your PTSD loved one! If Craig and I can learn a new way to live life with these symptoms being at hand, so can YOU!

* Trial and Error 

These are going to be a real part of life! If one thing does not seem to work, you move on to trying something else. Craig and I have not reached the point we have by sitting back and doing nothing.  If something does not work, take a deep breath and focus on “okay, next time I will try [this].” Have patience! You are not going to learn everything overnight, and not everything is going to work on the first try. Also keep in mind that just because something may not have or have worked before does not mean that won’t change! Re-trying things is a huge part of life with PTSD. Errors are going to happen! Have patience with each other and view it as at least one is trying.

* Proof

I found the key for myself to getting through that memory is an issue was by having Craig write a letter to himself AND signing it when symptoms were low. Then I locked that letter away and only brought it out for him to read when nothing else was working during memory issue times. The letter was based around trust, his trust for me and that I won’t lie to him, he wrote to himself to listen to me that I will not mislead him. DO NOT, if you do this, misuse this or you will be tampering with trust and greater issues than memory will be at hand!

It took a lot of trial and error for him to realize memory issues were at hand! It became apparent at work back then… he can’t work now, that something was wrong with him. Mistakes at work that he would have never done before became real life.

I used bank statements, receipts, letters to himself. Other people pointed things out to him (Caution on this one, too many people at one time can trigger flight easily! In our case other people on their own just talked to him about things they noticed. It was NOT a group type intervention or conversation!) Anything to help him see something with him had changed and he was not remembering things. Unfortunately, rock bottom for him came which really brought him to accepting something was wrong. Trust me on this one, NO ONE wants to reach or see a loved one reach rock bottom! If a loved one is trying to talk to you about what they are seeing, PLEASE listen to them!!!!!

Here’s where that printed diagnosis comes in, at times one may have to read that to realize that memory may be at hand. Learn what symptoms really do come with that diagnosis! These things are important. By having the knowledge you can find what helps. But you have to face the facts and have the “facts on the table” in order to take steps forward. Now you see where my saying “facts on the table” came from that I use so often. 

* Communication!

It is HARD to communicate when memory issues step in. Sit down together, breathe, and have patience! Allow each person to say their view of things, uninterrupted. Write them out on paper if need be as you go through them so you can come back and work on each point together. You HAVE to start communicating somewhere! Accept that your views are NOT going to be the same, how could they if memory issues are a part of things? They won’t be. You have to work to find that middle ground so you can start working through things together instead of against each other.

NO ONE wants to face they may not be remembering things! FACT! To that person, they aren’t! One has to come to terms with this may be a part of whatever problems are taking place. It’s not the time for either person to point fingers or allow anger to step in between you. If PTSD is at hand, BOTH of you have to ask, “What else is coming with this?”, so you can work through things together and not against each other. Listen and really hear what each person is saying. There is nothing wrong with NICELY giving each other examples, so you can find a level of understanding. And I will state right now, I don’t take sides. A spouse/partner is not going to be right 100% of the time. There may just be a simple mis-communication at hand at times or difference in views/opinions. TALK!

* Once memory issues are found/recognized to be at hand.

There are MANY things you can do to manage life through these! MANY! Talk to your doctor, ask what things can be tried to help manage PTSD symptoms, learning coping skills and how to manage symptoms is a great start to helping with memory issues or at least reducing them.

Find things to help in daily schedules and life. Reminders, notes (with their name on them! Or they may think they are someone else’s), alarms, calendars, apps, special hooks or baskets for that person’s things… the list is endless! For more ideas on things to help, refer to “my journal” page on my website. I have written many in depth articles on memory and things to help, that we have personally found useful.

Go to my blog (where you are right now)…

A Spouse’s Story PTSD blog 

In the top right corner use the magnifying glass icon which is the search button and type in “memory” or whatever you are looking for. My journal page is always here to use as a reference and all of my writings are on there. 

I hope this helps bring a little more direction and understanding. This is a huge topic and a serious one, it can bring a lot of frustration and a lot of problems between people. There is no way I can write out all of my knowledge on this here in one posting without writing a complete book.  If what is here helps, pass it on to others or a loved one, anything to help! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook page

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Website

Category: Memory Issues, Uncategorized  Tags: , , , ,  Comments off

Do you have a “care manual”?

I have been working on updating my “care manual” and it got me to thinking, I’m not sure it’s something I have ever written about in depth. But NEED to!

With being a caregiver, I have a small book that has a monthly calendar, daily notes calendar, notes area, a “daytimer” basically that I keep track of everything in regarding Craig’s health. my own, and schedules. It’s the easiest way to remember more then what the brain has room to hold at times. It also is helpful when someone else may come to help out. It helps life stay organized lol! 

I am curious to see how many others have one of these as well? Or is it anything you ever even thought of doing? BE HONEST! 

I thought I would share what mine contains AND why…

* Monthly Calendar

A given must have. The quick view of everything. It contains doctor appointments, respite dates, my respite care person’s schedule, special events, birthdays, anniversaries, school/child schedules, symptoms… yep I track migraines and symptoms when they are high, etc etc etc. Each color coded of course 

* Note section per day

This is where I document anything pertaining to health: changes, increases, decreases, new symptoms, how meds are or are not working, changes in meds, migraines, sleep patterns, nightmares, anything that will be of importance to remember or report to the doctors.

* Emergency Contacts

A list in order of people to contact in case of emergency AND/OR back up help is needed. Phone numbers and addresses, including any other contact information and how each person is related.

* Medication List AND Instructions

This may seem like a given, just read the bottle, right? WRONG! As one that manages or helps manage medications you learn so much more than only what the bottle or medication info. tells. To start, you know what meds are taken. Many people do lock meds up and a person coming in to help take care of someone may not know what meds are taken or need to be given. You learn how far apart each medication should be or what is to be taken together. You learn which meds need to be taken at what times. You learn how your loved one responds to meds, if food or fluids are needed with each or not. You learn how your loved one reacts to meds, like blood pressure meds and not getting up too quickly after taking them, or waking up after taking them. You learn what non-prescription meds can or cannot be taken with prescriptions. What meds cannot be taken at all and are not to be given. ETC ETC ETC

* Daily Schedule

From wake time to the moment their head lays back down on their pillow at bedtime, and throughout the night. Anything that is a part of the daily schedule so they can maintain some type of normal to their daily routine while/if someone else is helping out. This is VERY important when PTSD is a part of life!!!

* Daily Care Instructions

This is the HUGE one! If you were not able to be there to take care of or help your loved one, would someone else know what to do? It is very easy for a spouse/caregiver to get so use to everyday life helping another person, that it may slip your mind to what would happen if someone else had to step in for you.

Have you sat down and really written out step by step instructions for someone else to have if you cannot be there or during times that you may be sick or need extra help? From a point of view that a person coming knows nothing about what your loved one needs or experiences each day.

This can include:

– Each symptom and how to manage that symptom. The “what to do or how to handle” each symptom if it comes. Anxiety, Flashbacks, Triggers, Nightmares, Dissociative symptoms, Migraines, Memory, Anger, Frustration, “Fight or Flight”, etc etc etc… AND any physical conditions and detailed instructions.

How to ground a person is VERY important to include… a tip for this one, a speaker phone and a familiar voice on speed dial  If your loved one is not use to the person stepping in to help it can be very helpful to have that voice they are use to just a quick phone call away. Just make sure that person does understand what needs to be said to ground a loved one.

– Coping skills and medications which can be used, when to or not to use them.

– TV, Movies, Music, or News. Which are okay or not okay during different symptoms.

– Anything one may need help or assistance with doing.

– A list of things your loved one likes to do! VERY important! Hobbies, reading, card games, board games, walks, exercise, social media, anything they like to do.

– A list of “Don’t do” things or things that could trigger or increase symptoms.

– Habits. Leg shaking, nail biting, checking locks on doors and windows, pacing… Anything that would allow another person to understand that this is something that is normal for your loved one, so they don’t over react, say something out of line, etc. and so they have instructions on how to manage these or just let them be.

– Food and snacks. Likes and dislikes. When someone different comes in, so do their own likes and dislikes. You want to make sure your loved one maintains correct eating habits and having a list will be handy to help with this.

Okay, I could add examples forever. 😉 You get my point. Basically it needs to be documented in writing every step of a day and any/all information that could be helpful for if or when another person comes in to help out. Life does take those twists and turns at times and it’s always best to be prepared ahead of time for them. 

~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.

———————————–

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.

——————————

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.

————————————

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.

—————————————-

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.

————————————–

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

I was asked what it is like with cognitive dysfunction being a huge part of our lives…

I was asked what it is like with cognitive dysfunction being a huge part of our lives. So let me explain…

A prime example was yesterday. Craig looked at me yesterday and asked, “So what project are you working on next?” I sat there for a second and realized what type of day it was going to be, not that that is a bad thing but it told me what was in front of us. It was one of the more severe cognitive days. To Craig, it was just an honest question.

See, last week we talked in depth, over multiple days about my next project. We talked about what I wanted with this project, what he wanted, threw around different ideas of likes and dislikes, how to move things around, where to put things, etc. It’s a rather easy project, it’s come time to repaint our master bedroom and I want to build my bay window bed for those rough nights when I can’t sleep in bed with him. I am also doing some extra Spring cleaning before starting this project. 

I’ve spent the past week preparing for it, a little each day. But to Craig, it did not “stick”. This is something that has been a part of our lives for years now, we are use to it and know how to manage it. The cognitive problems which lead to repeating things, not understanding that something has taken place, or something was said, the confusion, frustration that comes with it, etc.

Don’t worry, I’m not by any means throwing Craig to the wolves here lol! Craig likes for me to write about things we go through, with total honesty. He says it helps him. So, I’m just bringing an understanding about how life is different for us, as well as many others.

I do want to state up front, I am using the term “cognitive” because right now as of recently, doctors are honestly not sure what to call what Craig experiences and cannot answer what term fits best. He has multiple diagnoses along with PTSD… which they are now looking into an additional one (possible TBI), overlapping symptoms, and I have basically been told to stop using the term “memory” which is what doctors have always used as well, until they are able to sort out exactly what ALL he is and has been going through the past 10 years. “Cognitive dysfunction” is a term that has been used since day one no matter what other terms have been additionally used, so for now we will stick to that. 

Carrying on, These things are a part of both of our everyday lives, but there are days that are worse then others, really just like any other symptoms or medical condition. Yesterday just happened to be one of those days.

I have been asked, “How do you handle this as the spouse?” and “What is this like for the two of you?

I think the simple answer is, I handle these days with extreme patience. Back at the beginning though, patience was not something that was understood as needed. It was the quick comments of, “You already said that“, “I don’t understand why we are discussing this again“, “We already talked about this“, “That never happened” or “Why did you do that?“, “You said you would do… but did not.“, “Why did you go here when you said you were going there to take care of…“, etc. It was pretty frustrating, not only for myself, but for both of us!

I guess the best way to describe days like yesterday, which was based around conversations and what I have already accomplished around the house, is they are like deja vu to me. Like the day is replaying itself, which in a sense it is. I know we have already gone through this (whatever it may be based around), or something similar, but outcomes are not always the same. The fact is, this is life, this is what it is, and we go with it and make the best of each day. I don’t know if you would call it an advantage or disadvantage really (the repeating things). At times it is easier the second or third time around because I kind of know what’s coming, or what his thoughts were last time, especially with conversations so know how to respond or better yet, how not to respond.  But yet on the other hand lol it’s coming again and I know it will be a day of listening and having the same conversations again, having great patience, and understanding/empathy of what he is going through, which is understandable. It took time for me to understand what he goes through in order to know how to respond or what I needed to do, how to handle what he experiences. I’ll be honest, at times it’s still frustrating, but it’s something I understand and accept so I can also let go of frustration easily if it comes.

But to Craig he does not comprehend that something has already taken place, to him it’s new I guess you could say. I think the toughest part for him is knowing me so well or seeing how other people react to him. There are times that he picks up on my pause to answer… looking for the right words or me already knowing it’s best to not reply, my/others facial expressions or lack of really, me sitting too quiet while I listen again, in general my/other’s body language. See, just because he has cognitive problems does not mean he is any less intelligent. When he picks up on something it’s an instant “We already talked about this, haven’t we?” or “That already happened, didn’t it?“. He can many times put those pieces together. Then he gets frustrated, irritated, with himself and tries to recall things. That leads to a lot of negative thoughts towards himself which are not good for him… the “Wow did that make me feel stupid“, “They really looked at me like I am crazy“, etc. He can’t help or control his cognitive function, he tries though. I’ll give him a big “good job” on that one, he always tries with everything.

We have a lot of days where we will sit and just talk. Where he will ask me to tell him about a photo, an event, etc. or if I mention something and he has that blank look on his face I will just go ahead, second nature, and tell the story to him or what went on based around whatever my comment or his was. I learned to read his body language too, so I can tell when there is a blank space there and it needs something to fill the gap. We learned to talk and communicate, which has made it more manageable for both of us. I don’t view it as we have settled into a routine, I view it as we always try new things and use what works best.

Craig and I really work as a team. We have had doctors state in writing “His wife IS the other half of his memory” (oops there’s that word). We have had doctors state “He can’t make it without your help.”. We have heard all sorts of things, honest statements of facts. But even so, there are many that frown on this, they feel it causes him to rely on me too much. Fact is, they just don’t understand, at least not yet, how we do things, our rules we have for each other, and that we do what we have to in order for Craig, as well as we as a family, to function. This view and lack of understanding from others is probably one of our toughest battles.

I watched Craig fall into the deepest hole there is when cognitive dysfunction, PTSD, etc. became a part his life. It took time to pull him out of it, and honestly it still pays a huge toll on him daily. But we learned how to manage it together, basically what he could/can not honestly manage alone. We have ones that don’t understand that Craig goes through different things now, that if he is going to spend time with you without me or someone from our home around that understands how to manage things when they come, there are things you need to know, there are ways of doing or not doing things… unless you want to trigger him, which trust me no one wants. There is an overlap in symptoms which does cause life to be handled differently at times, and those things cannot be dismissed.

We have been told in the past that we are co-dependent on each other. There have been ones concerned that it was unhealthy. Which is not the complete truth, which was proven, but we still went through the accusations of what comes with this type of disability being at hand. I can function and manage life on my own, independently. Craig could/can no longer do that. I’m not saying that to sound mean or like I don’t care, it’s just a fact and what comes with this type of disability. We will never lose hope that things can get better for him, he and we will always try, but on the other hand we are not blind to the facts either, it has been 10 years. There is a different type of bond that does form, how could there not be? But co-dependent, no that’s not a fitting term in our case.

Bottom line is, cognitive dysfunction, no matter what the reason for it is, it’s tough. There are a lot of things that come with it. I will tell you that and Craig will tell you that, it’s just a fact. But, there are so many things and ways of learning how to live with it, learning how to manage things differently, and continuing to live and work towards positive things. I still love Craig the same, I still view him the same ways as I did before his disabilities. You never lose hope, you never stop trying, and you remember to still live. Life is just simply different then what others view as normal or what life use to be like for us.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

What about PTSD and Cognitive Function?

What about PTSD and Cognitive Function?

I read an article the other day while I was waiting for Craig to finish with his appointment. Then I ran across it again. It really made me stop and think. It was a study done by the University of Texas in Dallas (Source: Association for Psychological Science). It was actually on the aging brain and memory/cognitive functioning, even though it was done with an age group of 60-90 years old, it caught my attention. Okay lol, anything associated with memory catches my attention since that’s one of Craig’s medical issues.

The study was based on using photography, then other things that exercise the brain… word puzzles or classical music, less demanding things. Then things such as photography, quilting, or both. Things that use a higher demand of engagement learning a new skill, used long term memory and other higher level of cognitive functioning.

Anyway, the outcome was basically that doing things that use more cognitive processing, learning and engaging in something new, provided more stimulation mentally as well as socially which lead to improvements of memory, over the activities that were done at home. In a comfort zone.

So, you know this got me to thinking. 😉 It sounds rather simple and common sense to the outcome of the study, BUT what about those who suffer from PTSD?

We know that memory and cognitive functions can be difficult with PTSD for many. So would something like the activities used in this study also benefit those with mental illness/disorders? I’m not a doctor to say the least, but I would believe so.

With the combination of learning a new skill, something you find that you enjoy, getting out of your comfort zone in order to do that activity in some cases, and having to learn the new steps or procedures to it (such as the quilting or photography examples), I would think it could help!

It increases the brains activity and like with photography, gives you something new to experience with each click. I know for example, when Craig and I had to attend the wedding recently he stayed behind the camera taking pictures. He could move around as needed, his focus was on what he was taking a photo of through the lens, and even though he still had high anxiety, he was able to manage being at the wedding for majority of the time. It made it a little easier for him to attend the wedding.

There are so many different things that can help with memory and cognitive function… meditation, reading, music, what you eat or drink, word puzzles, walking, exercising, even sex. The list I am sure is endless. I will add in here, watching TV is one of the things that has been found to decrease brain function, just to note that. 😉

But maybe tossing a few more challenging things into the mix can help with more PTSD symptoms, not only memory and cognitive function in general, but other symptoms as well. As I always say, make sure you exercise your brain. 😉

Just something to think about. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Category: Memory Issues, Uncategorized  Tags: , ,  Comments off

“PTSD vs Memory”

PTSD vs Memory

What? Memory? No, it can’t be!

Well guess what? It is so! Again, I’m not a doctor of any sort and can not give medical advice, my postings are that of personal experiences, what I have been told, or info from others.

Memory is one of the largest problems Craig suffers from. The main reason he was discharged from the military and before we knew it was PTSD he was fighting.

This is where a lot of your problems can stem from. The “why did you hide or take my stuff?”, “I didn’t do that!”, “I never said that”, “You are crazy! That never happened!”, “You never told me about that!”, “Why would you accuse me of that? I didn’t do or say that!” How about trouble at work, at home, with friends, with family or the community?

Oh boy! You get my point. Fact is, memory is a huge part of PTSD! It can also be linked to dissociative symptoms which can come with PTSD.

How do you battle something that someone doesn’t remember or does not think exists?

This is a very tricky one indeed! Back when Craig’s medical issues started he thought I was crazy. He started arguments with me…something that we never did. This was my first sign that something deeper and darker was going on with him. One day when he came home from the ship we had a conversation, a pretty important one. I could tell he was a little frustrated, I went inside to check on dinner then came back out. Thinking that gave him a chance to cool off for a minute. When I went back out to him I said, “So, what do you think?” He looked at me like I was crazy! “Bec, what are you talking about?” I remember that day like it was yesterday, the day that it all started clicking to me. I relied back to him, “The conversation we just had.” Know what his response was? “What conversation?”.

About 10 minutes I had been away from him, in that 10 minutes he had forgotten we had even talked. I stood there speechless. A simple “never mind”, and I went back inside. I watched Craig from the window as I thought about all of this. It made sense! It made sense to why he was arguing, why he wasn’t doing things he said he would do, why I was having to find things for him, why he kept me on the phone while he drove to work…asking me to look up traffic for him and tell him the best way to work, all of it now made sense! He even started getting in trouble at work, something that was by no means him! One time he was given a direct order, he to this day never remembered it being given. He left work without following it. Wrote up for not following an order and fought that he had never been given it.

Truth is, to him he never was given it, he didn’t remember it! Over time one thing lead to another. I went to his command and told them there was something wrong with him. Their reply to me? You want him out of the military. Actually not at all! I wanted help for him! It took a mess up at a team training ( a team training that he himself use to teach and he was an expert at!), something that could have cost lives if it had been real life, for his command to get in my face and yell at me “What’s wrong with your husband?” Well, exactly what we had been trying to tell them. I went to the Chaplin for help. We all sat in a room together and they had to hear me out. That’s when the military started looking for answers to what was wrong with him. We were first told it was West Nile, which was in his bloodstream. Then we were told it lasted too long to be from the West Nile, it was Conversion Disorder (which he was discharged with). Then the VA finally said oh no it’s PTSD and Depressive Disorder. Then everything started making sense!

I told that part of our story to show you the seriousness of all of this. Memory issues ARE real with PTSD, and the person may not even know they have this issue.

It’s what I call “hit or miss”. You might remember one thing then not remember another, or maybe only part of something. I was told that Craig’s short term memory was not converting to long term memory. Only about 40% of it was being converted. Later I was told by a doctor that the brain is locking up parts of his memory and not letting them out, but the memories “might” still be there, just hidden away. Like electrical cables that are not connected so you don’t get the electrical current unless the wires touch. As time has gone by it has been noticed that his long term memory has been effected also. Things that there are no way he would forget, he does not remember.

The docs have told us all sorts of things to try. From making notes, setting alarms, sending yourself emails, doing puzzles to exercise the brain, games, etc. We have tried it all! Everything his doctors have told us to do. So far nothing has worked long term, not that it might not work for someone else, but Craig’s is so far advanced that I was told this is a life long problem. The important thing is to keep working or challenging the brain, giving it exercise so to speak, so the brain will continue to try to function. I do believe that if someone had helped him sooner it may have never gotten to this point. But we still do not give up!

So, now that you know this part of our story, and no matter which side of this you are on, I have something very important to say. This is when you HAVE to relearn to trust those close to you, you have to have communication, and there has to be a lot of understanding and balance.

I was at my wits end. I was told I was crazy, that I was lying even about the stupidest things that were simple. Well, you know me lol, I’m not one to quit. One day I placed a piece of paper and a pen in front of Craig. Again he looked at me like I was crazy. I said to him, “Do you trust me? 100% do you trust me?. He said, ” Of course I do. You are the one person in this world I know for a fact I can trust”. Guess what I said next? “Then if you do, and you know in your heart without a doubt you do, then write it down”. He thought I was crazy, but he wrote it. Then I said now sign it. Man I should have taken a picture of his face lol! But he signed it. And I said thank you and walked away.

I took that note he wrote and I locked it away. Did not mention it again. The next time something happened, and I could tell it was going to lead to an argument, I did not say a word. I walked to where I had the note locked up, pulled it out, and walked over to him. That PTSD rage was all I could see in his eyes. I knew where this was heading. He tried to pick up the argument with me where it had left off when I walked away. I looked at him and said, “Do you trust me?” Of course the angry PTSD said a bunch of nasty things in return. I calmly asked him again, “Do you trust me?” I got this time “you are lying! How could you say these things to me! I never did that!…” I calmly told him I love you…and I need you to read this. And I handed him the note.

He paused as he read it. Then he looked at me and asked me how I got that, who wrote it, this is a trick. I just looked at him. Is that your handwriting? He said yes. Is that your signature? He again said yes. It’s not a trick or a lie at all, you wrote that to yourself for times just like we are having right now. I would not lie to you, I need you to listen to me and understand that you are not remembering things right now. He stood there, looking at that note for a few silent minutes. Then started crying.

I told him there is no need to cry, you just did not know.

When you are dealing with the memory, or lack of, it’s tricky. I had set out to find a way around it, to where Craig and I could avoid what PTSD throws at us. Now don’t get me wrong lol, no one is perfect and you can’t just use this idea I came up with for every outbreak. If you as the one without PTSD is actually wrong, you have to fess up to it! None of us are perfect and at times we are going to be wrong. It can ONLY be used when the memory is truly the issue…if you misuse it you will lose that trust then you will end up in a worse place then you already are!

I’ll be honest, Craig and I now can joke when I put paper and pen in front of him now. He laughs at me and says you are really going to make me do that aren’t ya? Nope, you have to choose to. I have a whole note pad of notes now lol!

Then you have memory with objects or things. One with PTSD may swear you hid it, put it someplace where they didn’t know about, etc. For this, I put up special hooks just for Craig’s use, next to his desk. This is where hats, keys, sunglasses, and such go. If I see him laying stuff down somewhere else I just simply ask him if he could put them on his hooks to help me keep the house picked up. And if he forgets that’s where he’s heading then I simply repeat myself until they get there. Sometimes he will say, “You already told me that.” And a simple reply of ”I’m sorry, I didn’t know if you remembered or not.” seems to work at keeping the frustration down.

I also have a place for his wallet and things that he can’t hang up. His desk is for his stuff only. Whatever it takes for him to have his space and help through the frustration the memory issues bring.

Then there are the times that something is misplaced. When you can’t find something, it gets frustrating in the first place. Then try being the one with PTSD trying to find it! Not a good thing. I always challenge Craig’s brain, try to let him do as much for himself as he can. But when the frustration really starts and I see there is no way he is going to remember, I simply say, “Let me help you look for that”. Or if I know where it is I’ll say something like, “I think I saw it in such and such room.” Of course if all of that fails then we send a dog to find it for both of us.  But not everyone has that option. Also, take a break from looking. Sit, breathe, relax, and sometimes you might think of where it is, sometimes you won’t. But that break gives you the break from the frustration.

Memory and safety is a huge deal. Something many don’t think about. This is where you as the spouse/partner does have to pay attention. Did they leave the gas grill on? Was the stove turned off? Was the refrigerator left open? How long can one be left watching young children? If they take a walk are they able to find their way back home? Things that the person without PTSD may not think about. But are and can be very real. And you don’t have to point out what you have had to do behind them…my goodness they battle self esteem enough without adding that to it! We actually found the fridge being left open was a biggie. So when we had to get a new one, we got one that has an alarm on it to let us know it was left open. Think outside the box, there are many things available that can help battle memory problems.

I will say on the safety things, BEFORE we knew Craig was having the memory issue, I had the scare of my life! I will say first, PTSD does not always make a person dangerous to a child. They can be as good of a parent or even better then one without PTSD. But, if you have young children and you know there is a memory issue involved, take caution! BEFORE we knew the severity of Craig’s memory issues, I had left to run to the store. I left a 3 year old in Craig’s care. I was only gone about 15 minutes. When I got back, Craig was sitting inside. I asked him where the 3 year old was. He looked at me with huge eyes, “with you!” Craig, no! I ran outside calling her name in a frantic. The office manager called to me and said Becky come here. Come to find out, my 3 year old had wandered up to the swimming pool trying to get into the gated pool area. Luckily the manager had seen her and took her inside until I returned. She was safe! Craig still to this day blames himself that a child that he dearly loves could have had something bad happen to her because of him. He had no clue he was watching her, he had not remembered. Rules changed that day for us to say the least. It wasn’t in reality his fault, his medical was the cause. But we as a family started making new rules.

As much as we all hate having to have safety protocol in place, it is a must. It’s not to be degrading in any way to anyone, it’s just the facts of living with PTSD and what it’s symptoms are. Memory is one of them.

Memory can play a huge part on your life. Adjustments have to be made, but that’s with anything in life. Facing memory issues is tough, especially if you don’t realize you have them, but we have proven it can be done. Don’t give up! Communicate, find ways that help you in your situation, work together, this is one time that trust plays a huge part with PTSD. It will pay off!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

PTSD and Memory…

~Journal March 19, 2011~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arguments, Frustration, Spouse frustration, Confussion, etc.

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

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

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

Rosemary

Rosemary! Nope, not talking about cooking now 😉

Let me tell you a little story…

A few years back Craig and I dropped in to visit what we call our “other parents”. Nope, neither of us come from divorced parents, I am talking about the people that were always in our lives as we were growing up, and now as adults with children of our own. This couple are Craig’s parents best friends. See, Craig and I both came from church backgrounds and close knit neighborhoods where everyone knew everyone and neighbors were like family. 😉 I bet you have heard that somewhere before, now haven’t you 😉

Well, while visiting that day they were telling us of the new doctors they have been seeing, different things they have been taught, and that they try now for their own health. As we talked, we walked through their backyard full of gardens and just so much color to look at. As I passed one bush I stopped. “I have one of these at the house, what is it?” To my shock…A rosemary bush!

I was intrigued. First thought, oh you use it for cooking. “Actually yes…but no also.” Okay, now I was confused. What did they mean?

So they continued with a chuckle. They had started seeing an herbalist. They use all sorts of interesting things for things you would never think of lol!

So, what does this story have to do with PTSD? Ahhh, now we are getting somewhere. See, this family also tutors children and young adults of all ages, so they have people in and out of their home all of the time. The kids rush in from school to do their studies, or from sports practice, etc. Well, you have to unwind a little to be able to really study. If you are always in a rush it’s hard to “take in” new things as quickly. Or what if you are having a rough or emotional day?

They looked at me as I ran my fingers gently across the rosemary bush, smelling the scent in the air that it produced. I was then told that what they do when they are expecting “their kids” is either have a small bowl of picked rosemary for them to rub in their hands or sometimes the kids will have the fun and game of picking their own piece. It’s a breathe in, hold, and breathe out…You all know that one 😉

So this got my brain working. If this plant can calm a child down in order for them to study correctly, what would it do for Craig’s PTSD and Depression?

I took home cuttings that day and started my own plants. The big rosemary bush in the yard, not suitable really for cooking, was wonderful for just smelling.

It became a ritual in our home that day. When the kids got home from school I told them about what I wanted to “try”. My daughter loved the idea! So, it became her little thing for “dad”. Every day before she would go to school she would pick a small white bowl of rosemary, destem it, and leave it in a bowl on the counter for dad, for when he woke up. Sure enough each morning as he made his way through the house he would stop at that little bowl, rub his fingers through it, then pick up a small handful and rub it in his hands then place it back into the bowl.

Here at the “new” house I have started a new rosemary bush. It’s growing good so far. We found that you don’t even have to pick it very often, just run your hands across it and take a deep breath, or water it which releases the same fragrance. Does it work on PTSD? Got me lol…I’m not a doctor. 😉 I can say that it always smells good, Craig always stops at it and takes that deep breathe and it seems to slow his racing brain down some, my daughter still does her little white bowl of rosemary for dad ritual, and if you can stop and smell the roses then why not the rosemary? 🙂 I think it works for all kinds of things now…even down to a small white bowl of love shown by a child to a PTSD Parent. 😉 Yes, it’s worth getting one! 🙂

Just to note here, I have had it brought to my attention that some Vietnam Veterans are triggered by rosemary, so if that is the case, lavender seems to work well too. And also check with your doctor before trying things such as this if you are taking medications, to make sure it does not interfere with what you are taking.

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD