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PTSD and Cognitive or Memory Issues

PTSD and Cognitive or Memory Issues

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

A prime example was a few days ago, Craig looked at me 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, I don’t view it that way anymore, 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 because to him he did not know.

See, last week we talked in depth, over multiple days about my next projects. We talked about what I wanted with these projects, what he wanted, threw around different ideas of likes and dislikes, how to move things around, where to put things, etc. I am always working on something, so that part seems to stick in his memory, it’s a part of my daily routine to work a little on something. I am also doing some extra Spring cleaning before starting some projects, as well as have a couple of outside projects I am working on getting to. So we had talked about these.

So, I’ve spent the past week preparing, a little each day. But to Craig, it just did not “stick” in his brain what we had talked about. This is something that has been a part of our lives for years now, we are used to it and know how to manage it.

The cognitive problems can lead to repeating things, not understanding that something has taken place, or something was said, the confusion, frustration and/or anger that comes with it, misplacing things, not recognizing the body’s signs of being hungry or not knowing if he has drank fluids or not… or believing he has when he hasn’t, same with showering, brushing teeth, etc, medications have to be given to him not just taken… for safety reasons, not recalling people’s or pets names… that includes my name as well. There are also many safety protocols we have in place.

Movies, something that is no big deal in reality but, 😉 do you know how many times a person with cognitive issues can watch the same movie and not realize it? Not recall any details of the movie? I believe we are up to 13 times for the same movie, for multiple movies watched at home. How do I respond? I just go with it! I don’t mind re-watching movies anyway.

So, those are just a few of the many things that are a part of daily life for us. The best way I can describe it, is he has to have guidance with many things each day, things that he can’t or does not know to do by himself, things that many people don’t even have to think about to accomplish.

I have actually documented things, to see if there is any rhyme or reason behind different things, because with PTSD‬ as well as depression‬, there can be concentration issues and lack of focus due to anxiety, flashbacks take one away from reality while they are occurring, dissociative episodes are the same way, and other things that some things may be related to other than true cognitive or memory issues. There has still not been any rhyme or reason discovered to why some things stick and other things don’t when it comes to true memory or cognitive issues. Some things or bits and pieces of, flow in and out of memory. Then some things are just not there at all any longer.

These things are a part of both of our everyday lives, but there are days that are worse than others, really just like any other symptoms or medical conditions. There are going to be somewhat better days then there will be the really bad ones.

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. By the way, Craig approves what I write about and many times will ask me to write about things so he has kind of a record of things to look back on. 😉

(Just to note here for Craig… he uses my writings as a guideline to help with cognitive issues and as reminders. 😉 I am working on re-flooring my son’s bedroom, painting inside, forming a ground level stone area to sit the outside fire pit on… so I don’t have to keep moving it to mow or have to weed-eat it, and re-doing the backdoor stones that have shifted.)

I do want to state up front, I am using the term “cognitive” more than “memory” because 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… overlapping symptoms, and I have basically been told to back off from using the term “memory” as much, 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 11 years. “Cognitive dysfunction” is a term that has been used since day one no matter what other terms have been additionally used (“memory loss” and “memory impairment, which long term memory has been affected just as short term memory has been), so for now we will stick to “cognitive dysfunction”, which has been described as dementia like symptoms he experiences.

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, some situations came across as untruthful when in reality to him he was telling the truth, not recalling things lead to arguments.

I guess the best way to describe days like the other day, which was based around conversations and what I have already accomplished around the house and am working on, is they are like deja vu to me. Like the day is replaying itself, which in a sense it is, to me at least. 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 do prompt Craig at times, or give some small amount of information, if the situation is correct for it (in other words, as long as safety is not an issue), it’s a way to try to help him and his brain function, work at recalling things or part of things, and at times can help to a certain point. The brain is like a muscle, and it does take exercise, as well as this also helps spark the neurons in the brain. So the prompting is important to do, but there is a limit if higher levels of frustration and PTSD start stepping forward, so there has to be a healthy balance.

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, what his thoughts were last time, or where things lead, especially with conversations, so I 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, and just going along with the repeat of the day, which doesn’t really bother me anymore. It took time for me to understand what he goes through in order to know how to respond or to know what I need 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, so I can help him through the day.

But to Craig he does not comprehend that something has already taken place, to him it’s new. 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 just listen and not reply, my/others facial expressions or lack of at times, 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. Sure, he has lost part of what he had learned, some things take longer to accomplish, or he has to look up how to do something now, but he is still intelligent. When he picks up on something it’s now 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 even though whatever it or the situation is, for lack of better words, is gone. Then at times 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, he’s learned to state “I am just really lost today”, express to me how he is feeling which in turn helps me up front know how to help manage the day. There are many times where he will ask me to tell him about a photo, an event, what he did yesterday or what he had for dinner the night before, 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 if i already see lack of recalling is frustrating him. 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.”, which I have been his full time “official” caregiver for over three years now. 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, what his disabilities are like and how we do things, our rules/boundaries 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 be able to function. This view and lack of understanding from others is probably one of our toughest battles, but at the same time we have had this as a part of our lives for so long now, that majority of the time we just let things or comments roll off our backs, so to speak. Negativity from others just can’t be a part of life with battling what we do to step forward each day.

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 the best possible, basically what he could/can not honestly manage alone. We have those who 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/saying or not doing/saying things. There is an overlap in symptoms which does cause life to be managed differently, and that 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. Not to state this in a negative way, but I can function and manage life on my own, independently… which is healthy for me to be able to do. 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 11 years and a lot of professional help. There is a different type of bond that does form, how could there not be? But co-dependent, as in a negative aspect of the term, no that’s not a fitting term in our case.

But, there is also the humorous sense or side that comes with this type of life and disability. Humor is important and healthy in the right situations. Due to the cognitive issues, Craig does not recall what he likes or does not like… especially foods! 😉 If it is on his plate or I fix something, his brain processes it as “I must like that” and he will eat it. He now eats a lot of healthy foods that he did not like or would have never eaten before! Again, those body signs come into play, he will eat something then recognize the grin on my face, it’s hard to hide the grin. Next thing that comes? “Do I like this or is this a new food you gave me?” My response 😉 “Looks like you like it to me”. 🙂

We did also go through the kids playing on dad’s cognitive issues when they were younger, and mom here had to put a foot down to it. If one of them was in trouble, had something taken away, were told they couldn’t do something, etc. they learned rather quickly that they could wait for mom to be out of sight and ask dad if it was okay to do something, etc. Of course dad would say “Sure”. So, there became a lot of “What did mom say?” over time. Now, with the kids, Craig is still included in everything, decision making, and we talk about things regarding the kids. It’s important even with the cognitive issues that he remain involved, it’s important for him, his self-esteem and self-worth, as well as good for the kids. Now, will he recall any of it later? Normally not but that’s OKAY!

Bottom line is, cognitive dysfunction or memory issues, 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 than what others view as normal or what life used to be like for us. And hey, some things you get a second chance to try again. 😉

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Facebook page

“Why are they lying?” A misconception!

I do ask that you read this completely, and I know it’s long but extremely important. There is absolutely no disrespect towards anyone here… in other words you are NOT going to find me throwing anyone under the bus on this one.  I honestly believe and have proven in our personal situation, that there is a root to everything, you just have to find what it is. I have been asked to write about this, and I will be honest, we have been there, but many will be shocked at what I discovered and the outcome! I am adding links to older postings of mine within this for you to view after reading, to help shorten this but still give additional information.

Why are they lying?

Right or wrong in actions and/or words… This is one of the most heart-wrenching, mind boggling, relationship breakers I personally think there can be over many other things that can come with PTSD.

A person’s word, honesty, is one of the greatest positive characters of a human being. It is the basis of who they are and basis of forming relationships, friends, or co-worker relations. Trust drives the human race. But what happens when trust is tampered with? What happens when you discover you have been lied to? The one thing about a person’s word is, sooner or later the truth will ALWAYS come to light. It might be today or it might be 30 years from now, but the truth, rather great or small, has a way of coming to the surface.

The things I hear the most are:

Why would he/she say that? It’s not true!
Why would they lie about something so small?
Why didn’t they just tell me the truth?
Why are they blaming me when it’s something they did?
Do they know how much their lies have hurt me?
There is no situation large enough for him/her to feel they need to lie to me!

Okay, that’s a short list, but you get my point.

The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Was this person known for not telling the truth before a mental condition?” It’s really a fair question. Some people for some reason do lie, it’s a part of their personality and character. And I am sure with a lot of help those that are this way can get past the “need” they feel to not be truthful.

But if the person at hand did not fit into the being known for telling lies category, then why are they telling lies now? Have you stopped to think about that or are you focused on what was said or what has hurt you? It’s a fair question.

I know the first thing I am going to hear on this is, “A lie is a lie, period.” You are right. A lie is a lie, however you have a little more at hand here then the normal. Have you stopped to view those not so normal things going on? This is not an excuse by any means, but what is the reason? Lies do have to stop! But getting to the root of what is causing these things have to be found in order to stop them.

See, majority of things that can come from PTSD or other mental conditions, can be worked on, things can get better, and those hurtful things you can majority of the time get past if you choose to… but you have to find the root of what is causing them.

So what are the roots when PTSD is at hand? We all know what PTSD causes, how it makes a person feel or not feel, and we know the symptoms. Not being truthful with someone does have to stop or a lot of damage can come from it.

* Memory 

This is one of the largest causes of so called lying with PTSD. Memory issues are very serious, when one can not recall details, stories, what happened or did not happen, to put it bluntly it’s embarrassing and can make one feel stupid. Imagine being in the middle of a sentence and BAM! You don’t know what comes next! The natural defense to this is what I call “filling in the blanks”. They place in what to them makes sense would be there. Sadly, what gets filled in may not be what actually happened or the way things actually were. And now it’s viewed as a lie.

MANY arguments start due to memory issues. You know the truth and the other person’s perspective is altered which leads to a fight. Which many times then leads to PTSD’s fight or flight. See, a person that is having memory/cognitive difficulties will honestly fight to their death they are right, they are not lying to you. Why? Because they honestly do not know when they are wrong, they do not remember! So they honestly do not know they are lying! Their brain is simply and honestly filling in the blanks, and many times they are probably not even aware of it.

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? If you have heard or experienced things like these, you can almost bet there is a memory issue of some form at hand. Anxiety is linked to memory difficulties with PTSD.

Here is an older posting of mine regarding memory issues and things that we found can help:

“PTSD vs Memory”

*Dissociative Symptoms

This is a whole new ballgame within itself. These symptoms can come with PTSD and a VERY basic definition to this, it is a way of the brain protecting itself. One will not recall anything that takes place when these symptoms are present, therefore like with memory issues will fight to their death, so to speak, “that did not happen” or “I did not do that”. Dissociation does not happen all of the time and majority of the time takes place during highly stressful situations.

Here is a link to more information I have wrote about:

“PTSD and Dissociation”

* Guilt 

Guilt can weigh heavily on one with PTSD. However, when this happens majority of the time the not so truthful things being told are known by the person, but guilt outweighs the truth. I’ll be honest, this is a hard one to cope with for that person. They feel they let someone down or should have done something differently, the stories may be exaggerated, and those twists in stories may become to them viewed as the truth. Avoidance is a huge part of PTSD in the first place and them viewing the truth of a situation can be difficult, to the point it turns into what is viewed as lies.

It does go back to the truth will always surface, so facing it up front and being honest is the best thing whether you view it as such or not at this moment. This is when a lot of honest, sit down talking can sure get things back on a positive moving forward as well as getting help for the way one feels. Guilt and survivor’s guilt can be deadly way beyond just lies, please don’t let it get to that point. Reach for help.

* Numbness/Relationships

I know no one is going to let me slide without bringing this one up. Relationships and lies. Surfing for others or actual cheating. It did not seem like a big deal but now it’s known and consequences, hurt, and unbalance to a relationship are present. It’s that trying to find or feel normal in all of the wrong places, and it happens more than one could bear to imagine.

There are many things you can do within your relationship to help prevent this or from it happening again. Those other people are not going to fill the void that one feels (and that’s for either person, PTSD or non-PTSD, this one is NOT one sided). Finding a balance, help with PTSD and GOOD coping skills, communication, and being honest within your own relationship are great tools for helping with the numbness that comes and finding what you use to feel within your relationship. No matter what “high” that other person may give you at that moment, that high is going to wear off and reality of what has happened set in.

Be careful not to let what PTSD can bring (to either of you) misguide you from what is truly meaningful to you, your partner. The lies formed from outside relations OR communication can destroy your true relationship with the one you love. PTSD does come with numbness and lack of being able to have or feel emotions, that can change with effort and time, “motions lead to emotions”… don’t let lies destroy your relationship.

An extra link regarding relationships:

“PTSD: The Flat-line in Relationships”

These are just a few examples of many. Lies hurt, whether they are intended lies or ones that are unknowingly told. As I said, PTSD comes with many things that are out of the normal, there are many things to think about before just jumping to the “you lied to me”. Sometimes one may honestly be at fault, but honestly you have to get to the root of the why, in order to know the truth of a problem.

Many things that come with PTSD causes the brain to function in different ways, causing what appears on the surface to be a lie when in reality it’s not a lie to the other person, it’s what their brain has placed there whether as a defense, as a way to survive, or simply there is a memory issue of some form at hand. There are many things that can be tried or put into place to prevent the untrue from happening, good honest communication can form, and you can move forward. But the first thing you must do is accept that you are not in a normal situation and things do need to be viewed as such. Find the root to the why, it will help you move forward in a positive way.

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Website

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook page

PTSD and Routines…

I had a question come to me about…

PTSD and Routines

So I want to talk about that a little.

“Hi Rebecca , I’m very curious, why people with PTSD like to do routines same every day and difficult for change it , example eat the same thing for 3 months , I can tell for tomorrow what my husband will do tomorrow.”

To answer this question from my personal point of view and observations, it’s because it’s what they know and there are no anticipations or expectations to it. Especially if they have memory issues which many with PTSD have. Like with food for example, Craig won’t remember what he likes or does not like so he will also stick to the same foods unless I place something different in front of him and tell him not to worry he likes it. This goes for most anything, when they know they can achieve something even simple things without fail, they are going to stick to it.

Memory again… the person with PTSD might not realize what they did or what they had the day before, when this happens they seem to repeat themselves or even the days. This happens a lot around here as well. Craig won’t recall much at all, only bits and pieces from the day before. When that happens he seems to repeat things rather it’s a conversation, food that he eats, an activity, etc.

I’ll be honest, when Craig first wakes up in the morning, I can almost bet you what he will or will not do during the day based on his mood and anxiety levels when he wakes.

For examples:
* If he wakes up and has really bad anxiety. Most likely it will be a day of severe memory issues, he will want to stay in the bedroom all or most of the day, and will most likely want to spend the day watching movies.

* If he wakes up and makes an effort or mentions getting coffee. Then it will be a day that he most likely ventures outside to get the mail and come back in, will ask me if I would like to walk outside with him, he will walk through the house and not stay completely confined to the bedroom all day, and will talk with the other people in the house.

I have found I have to be the one to change the things up without making a huge fuss over it. It’s kind of like helping them on to the new day and activities. Sometimes once they get comfortable with something that’s where they get stuck. When this happens I have found that slowly adding different things to the routine helps.

So to highlight the reasons this could be happening:

* Memory issues which causes repeating ones self as well as not trying new things or something different from the routine.
* Being in a comfort zone with that activity, food, etc.
* Doing the routine does not bring expectations.
* Doing the routine does not bring a sense of failure.
* There is not extra anxiety caused by anticipating the outcome of something new or different.

These are just a few examples for reasons ones with PTSD stick to routines. As a loved one, make an effort to help them slowly add other things back into their day, even if it is something as simple as a food. And be reassuring and positive with anything you do! 😉

“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”


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

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

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

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

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