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A Perspective of what PTSD is like…

comparison of ptsd

Many times, in order to learn how to understand something better, you have to have something to compare it to that can bring an understanding.

I was trying to come up with a description or comparison of what PTSD is like, especially when the fight or flight and other symptoms are high. There is only one example I could think of off the top of my head that I think fits and helps explain what it’s like for one with PTSD, and at times even their spouse/partner…

It’s like when a bird flies into a room, through an open door or window, it does not matter how it entered, it’s still, so to speak, closed in the room, and it’s desperately trying to get back outside, but can’t find the way without a lot of effort, struggle, and help.

Picture that in your mind. How the bird acts, the way it flies around the room, it panics and struggles to desperately find an exit, to escape from. Some birds will hit the walls or windows of the room trying to find an exit. Other birds will shut down, fall to the floor, seem almost dead but are actually in a panic stage and it takes time for them to recover from that stage. Then sadly, others hit the walls so many times, so hard, that their life actually ends… in essence, they lose their own life in the process of trying to escape what happened to them.

I imagine that those of you that know PTSD are agreeing with me right now. But maybe this will bring a little better understanding to those of you that do not understand or have a lot of knowledge of PTSD yet.

No one knows why the bird flew through the window or door, maybe that opening was just on their flight path, maybe it was a direction they were forced to go and had no other option, we don’t know… it just happened. PTSD is no different. It’s something traumatic that a person experienced, whatever the path or reason was, it still lead to the same place… what happened to them.

It happened, the bird is there, it flew into a room. Now it’s trying hard to find the exit, the solution of how to get out. It flies around in a panic and fears for it’s life. PTSD is the result of a real life, extreme trauma that caused one to fear for their own life or that of another. It causes a person to feel trapped, really no different than the bird.

Where as the bird makes that quick response of “have to find exit now” and everything it experiences happens quickly in time frame, take that experience and multiply it. PTSD drags the experiences out, they last for more then a month in memory and can last a lifetime. Repeating that same experience of the trauma over and over again in their brain, through flashbacks, nightmares, triggers, anxiety, and many more symptoms.

Can you yell at a bird and say, “Hey bird! Stop flying around, stop and look for the window or door“? You can yell all you want to, but that bird is not going to hear you or listen, it’s a bird. The fear has it in a panic, fight or flight, and it can not slow down, it’s fighting for it’s life.

PTSD is no different. Sometimes it just can’t hear one’s voice because of the results of the experience being there, replaying itself. Voices and reasoning are just static noise compared to a real life trauma replaying itself through the brain, in many cases much of the time.

At times the bird will wear out, find a safe place to perch as it regroups to fly, try to find that exit again. PTSD does the same thing. There can be outbursts, anger, frustration, fear, panic, then the brain and body get tired, worn out, and one just retreats to a safe place, away from everything and everyone.

What happens next? The bird has perched for whatever amount of time, long or short, then starts the same things over again trying to find an exit. Again, PTSD does the same things.

At times that bird will find an exit. After the struggle and fear it finds an open window and flies away. Other times, maybe a human that saw the bird trapped stepped in and helped it get out of the room safely. Other times the bird falls in a panic and it takes time to recover in order to start flying again.

These things the bird experienced can be compared to PTSD. Some people push themselves through their trauma, it does not make the trauma go away, they won’t forget it, but they learn coping skills, they reach for help, they allow others to help them, they find ways not to escape, but to live with PTSD. They learn how to manage it even though it is a constant “bird trapped in a room” feeling that is very real. They learn how to survive and live with PTSD being a part of their life.

Then sadly, there is the bird that flew so much, hit the wall so many times, and just could not find that open window or door, that it died. It happens, it’s real life. There are 22 Veterans per day that commit suicide. Now that’s only veterans of reported cases in the United States, that does not include civilians, unreported cases, or world wide numbers.

Folks, these are those “birds” that did not make it out of that room they were trapped in. They are the ones that did not have enough or any help, they are the ones that tried and tried and just could not find that exit to safety. This HAS to change!

You just watched that bird in that closed room fly around and around, hitting the walls, struggling to find that exit. Did you help it? Or did you sit back and watch?

If you see or know anyone that is struggling, lend that hand, open that window to help… open your ears and listen, even if you don’t “get it”. You cannot make PTSD go away, but you can help by learning and caring about others. Understand that PTSD is not something they can just get over, it’s VERY real and what they experience every single day is real. Do not be the one to sit back and just watch, or you might be the one to watch that final “bird” scene when you could have been the one to help save them. Open that window, be there for them, take the time to care. PTSD is not just a personal issue or problem, it effects everyone and it needs EVERYONE in order for the one who suffers from it, as well as those around them, to survive and learn how to live again. Please do NOT be that person who just sits back and watches the “bird” trapped in a room, be the one who does something, be the one who helps save another person’s life or loved one.

Whether you know someone who suffers from PTSD or not, odds are you actually do. Take the time to learn, take the time to care. Others need to understand and the only way to get awareness out there… is to spread it!

Please share if you care!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : Website

A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook Page

“Walking on Eggshells”…

“Walking on Eggshells”…

This is a very common phrase to those who live with someone who has PTSD. It can also be one of those vicious circles as well… PTSD symptoms are up, the spouse feels like they are walking on eggshells, then that feeling or actions roll over to the one with PTSD, and back around again.

Anxiety, that is really what this phrase boils down to. It is a mind set of what words/actions need to take place in order to keep peace and calm environment to help PTSD symptoms settle down, and doing them. Which can in many cases lead to one developing anxiety.

Walking on eggshells is the phrase used when one watches closely what they do, how they say things, how they act, used when they are trying not to cause frustration or anger in another person. They are just simply trying to keep things calm, not rock the boat, so to speak. Things that have to be done but in doing so, many times they leave out the balance needed by themselves and instead, allow the walking on eggshells feeling consume them. You then feel on edge all of the time, you lose your self balance.

There is a problem with this. There is not a single person on this earth that can manage and do everything perfect. You are expecting yourself to be a super hero with super powers… folks, that is too high of expectations of yourself! Then add to that, we are talking about PTSD being a part of our lives, and with that come the symptoms. It goes back to what I always say, you have to find a balance and you have to know what to do and how to take care of yourself in order to help someone else.

I know the “walking on eggshells”. I am no different then anyone else, as a spouse of one with PTSD I’ve experienced it. It is the most horrible, draining, heart aching feeling that hits your gut a spouse can experience. And you want it to go away quickly when it appears. And yes, I myself have anxiety, much of what came from the walking on eggshells, and I’ll be the first to admit it, but I learned to control it instead of allowing it to control me. 

See, when PTSD symptoms rise it is normal for a spouse/partner to feel the eggshells. You think “what’s coming next” or “when is the other shoe going to fall”, “how will we make it through this time”, “will the things that worked last time work again?” or a simple throw your hands in the air and scream “What do I do!”… etc etc etc. This brings anxiety in the spouse/partner. You start watching everything you say, every action you take, anything to keep things calm. The spouse is experiencing something very similar as one with PTSD does, they start thinking about the “what if’s” and those what if’s can take over. They can also experience the feeling of just being lost in everything happening and not know how or what to do… which leads to anxiety.

So, what do you do?

You face it! I don’t know any other direct way to word it. I learned that when I say to myself AND out loud  “My anxiety is up right now” or even at times “I know your PTSD has you on edge and I feel on edge too, so please just understand that.”, it helps. Then I redirect to what I know I have to do for myself as well as my husband to help him through.

Some examples of things that work for me/us:

* Communication

Both of us learned to tell the other what or how we are feeling. This helps both of us understand the other. It does not mean we can “fix” each other, it simply means we are on the same page so if words or actions seem off, we understand why and don’t take it personally.

* We don’t point fingers at each other.

“This is how I feel…”, “This is how I took what you said, can you explain…so I can better understand…” which can be based from the other person’s words or actions, however we don’t accuse or place blame, we explain this is why and I need us to work on this together or time to get a grip on what I am feeling or what happened. We work together to find a solution and/or allow the other person time to work out what they are feeling. NO blame! No guilt trips! And it’s all in the wording.

You have to allow a person to feel and experience their emotions and thoughts. It’s their feelings, their emotions, and rather they seem totally off base or not allow them to express themselves so you can work through those feelings and emotions. You also have to keep in mind “It’s their’s, they own it” that means you can address it, except it, help support and talk through things, but you don’t have to own that feeling or emotion if it’s not your’s to do so with.

* Redirect yourself.

If I feel the eggshells coming or anxiety rising, I find something to do to help calm it. It could be doing something that makes me feel good, working on a hobby or just getting outside, it could be using coping skills, etc. Self-help, the strongest, most powerful tool you have! You are NOT going to be in control of every situation that comes up, but you are in control of what you do and do for yourself when it does. 

* Don’t feel guilty.

Again, this is life with PTSD. You can not control everything and things are going to happen, especially when PTSD symptoms are high. At times you will need to take me time, at times you might not know exactly what to do… if there is even anything you can do. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t have the answer or solution. That does take time to figure out, and there’s no guarantee when you do find something that helps that it will work every time. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty, basically about being human. You can still be there as support, to help, to listen, to talk, etc. but that does not mean you will have all of the solutions or answers.

Many spouses are known for saying or feeling… “Well if I had done this…” or “If I had said that…”. You are laying a guilt trip on yourself by doing this. Change your mind set! “Okay, next time I know I can try this… or I can word it like…”. Use what you have learned and allow it to work for you next time. Do not land yourself in guilt and cause you not to look forward. You are human and with being human you are not going to be perfect every single time or situation, no human is.

These are just a few things of many. Bottom line is, walking on eggshells is a very real feeling. It will happen sooner or later, but find ways and things to help you lessen that feeling. Even with taking caution to words and actions in order to help one with PTSD, you can still find a self balance to help keep yourself from becoming too overwhelmed. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Stop, Think, and Breathe!

Stop, Think, and Breathe!

Are you getting so tied up in what is happening right now, that you are forgetting how or what to do to make it through it?

I am seeing MANY people lately that have some serious issues or situations going on. Then I’m seeing the results and how lost they are becoming because of what is going on, as well as how the one with PTSD is responding. The situation has become unbalanced. Not good.

Are you forgetting that PTSD and the symptoms are also involved? Are you forgetting to use coping skills? Are you forgetting to look for the “why” in order to find what works best for managing situations, as well as PTSD? Many, if honest with yourself are going to answer, “Yes, yes I am forgetting“.

I know it is tough to focus on what you need to do or need to remember when serious situations arise! The brain of one without PTSD wants to resort back to how you would handle things in a “normal” situation or resorts back to viewing things through “normal” eyes. My friends, if PTSD is involved, handling or viewing things with a “normal” response is not in many cases going to get you very far, and you might just be causing a serious matter to become worse.

I am seeing many that are so upset either with a current situation or with something that has happened regarding one with PTSD, that they (or you) are allowing their emotions to take over to the point they are now the one having issues. (And when you have issues, you can bet your bottom it will cause the one with PTSD to have issues!) The pointing fingers has started again at the one with PTSD. Communication is breaking down. And the coping skills of how to handle reality has leaped out the window. The positive ways to find solutions or what is best has been set to the side and you are stuck in the negative. STOP! Step back, and take a good look, think… and for goodness sake breathe! 

If you do not take a step back to look at the big picture and figure out the what and why to it, you are going to over react, your world will fall into chaos mode, and you are going to become very unbalanced… which can lead to all of those around you becoming unbalanced.

Life throws curve balls all of the time, it’s life! It happens to every single one of us, but how you handle it can make all of the difference in the world. It’s like I always say, make a plan and make sure you have a back up plan. But in order to make a plan you have to slow down and take a good look at things in order to move forward.

Keep in mind:

* PTSD is involved.

You have to keep in mind what one with PTSD goes through each day and that they also have coping they have to focus on. Keep in mind their symptoms, and the “why” to things that happen. Those “why’s” will and can help you find solutions or what can help best with a situation or symptom. You can NOT dismiss that PTSD is a part of life now.

* Coping Skills 

Don’t forget YOUR coping skills! Coping skills need to be used every single day rather you feel you need to use them or not. The more you practice them, the better they can work for you when a tough situation arises. They become your new normal for handling stress, frustration, anger, sadness, and any other emotion or feeling that can come with intense situations. USE THEM!

* Make a Plan 

It does not matter what the situation is, you can take a few minutes to think it out and make a plan, and a back-up plan! If this happens we handle it this way, if that does not work we try this. Plans are easy, you can come up with one at any point in time. But you have to stop and think…

* Slow down.

You have to slow down! If you allow yourself to go full speed in a tough situation, you are not allowing yourself to look at the big picture and figure out how to handle it best. Many not so good decisions and overreactions can happen, or even worse situations can come if you do not slow down to think rationally and take in everything involved, so you can find what the best course is or you think will be. Even if you take 5 minutes to stop, slow down, and think, it can be a huge help!

* Don’t Overreact 

Overreacting is one of the largest mistakes when it comes to life involving PTSD. Think of the symptoms, think of the why’s, and try to figure things out, and communicate before you allow an overreacting nature take control of you. Again, life has changed now that PTSD is a part of it! What made sense before might not be the normal now. You can still find ways to work through things and find a balance, but you have to work on it.

* Balance 

The golden key to life with PTSD and life in general. You HAVE to find a balance! A balance in emotions, feelings, responses, coping, managing, communication, etc etc! Even though life can change from one day to the next, or one situation to the next, you can still find a balance. But it’s sure not going to be handed to you, you have to DO things in order for it to happen.

These are just a few very important reminders that I have found extremely helpful. Life with PTSD is different from the normal, but you know what? A new normal can be found if you work on it. Stop, think, and don’t forget to breathe! Those things can sure help make life a little easier, as well as make it more balanced.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD vs Society

PTSD vs Society

This was something that was mentioned a few days ago and I wanted to write more about. I’m actually glad it took me a few days to write because yesterday I got an eye opener to another part of this as well and realized there is much more to this topic that needs to be discussed.

The comments were made…

I wish society understood” and
It’s hard when you aren’t in a military area“.

Both VERY honest statements!

You know, I have found that the only way for society to somewhat understand is to be taught. Even though one is not going to totally understand unless they experience PTSD or live with one who has it, they can still learn the basics of it, or any other mental illness. It’s not going to happen over night, there will still be those that refuse to learn or listen, but I have to say I personally have seen changes over the past few years that are positive.

People by nature are curious. I mean think about it, just for an example… you are in a check out line and the clerk talks to you as they are ringing your items through… “Oh what age is your child“, “I heard the weather is changing again“, “I love this product too“, “So what do you do for work?” Whatever they talk about, somewhere in there the door will open to educate.

How about when the one with PTSD is with you out somewhere? They might stand back away from others, be looking around a lot, quiet… As you are checking out you notice the cashier is glancing at them off and on, BINGO! Your door just opened! “Oh it’s okay, his (my) PTSD is just causing him (me) to be a little more alert today.” When you act like it’s not a huge deal, just a part of life, and calmly toss it into conversation, you might be shocked how one’s curiosity takes over and they start asking questions! By your calm response you just took the awkwardness out of the equation of their curiosity and opened the door to educate.

I personally go to pretty much the same stores for shopping or take out. People get to know you. Every single one has opened the door for conversation. You know what I hear now? “Hey, how’s your husband doing?“, “I haven’t seen your husband in awhile, you need to tell him to come in with you and see us.“, “Tell Craig we said hi and miss seeing him.” Once in awhile Craig will venture out for a quick trip with me, when he does people greet him with a smile, ask him how he’s been doing. And they always ask new questions! They don’t treat him differently, don’t treat him like he has the plague, they treat him like they indeed care.

Curiosity is there and over time I have used it to educate without people even realizing it. They don’t carry stigma or judge, and if they did it’s not there now. I had one lady tell me she was so happy I had talked to her about PTSD, because she met someone else that also has it and they are now friends! She said she doesn’t know as much as I do, but it was enough that the term PTSD did not bother her.

I went last week to our local BBQ place for takeout. First thing I heard was, “How’s your husband doing? We haven’t seen you in several months and were concerned about you all.” Stigma is fading and people are caring. And their curiosity causes them to want to learn more.

It’s not about preaching, or lectures, it’s just about being human and sharing small parts of your life. Many times you might be shocked when one says “Really? I have a friend/family member that also has PTSD.” And you can see the almost excitement of them hearing that someone else understands and knows what PTSD is. You just made them realize they are not alone!

I have to be honest with my personal opinion on the military areas. I personally think us not being in a military area has been easier. There’s not, or as much, stigma already placed on PTSD. It’s not a secret that there is stigma with the military, why? Because PTSD can in many cases effect a serious, life or death situation, job. That is pretty much the bottom line for it. That part of stigma is not in civilian society. So to me, it’s been easier for us. I do dearly miss being around military families and the bonds formed, I will never say that is not so. Civilian life is different then military life, but when it comes to PTSD, it just seems easier. Again, people are curious because it’s not something they may hear about every day, or they only hear what is reported and want to learn more from firsthand experiences and opinions of what life with PTSD is like.

Now, I want to talk about something else that really got brought to my attention yesterday regarding society and mental illnesses. I was watching a program and have to admit I was in total shock! It was talking about lack of room for ones with mental illnesses in facilities, which is an honest fact. Now, I will say up front rather quickly, I understand if attempted suicide is involved or situations where one has to be in a facility, so by no means dismissing that. But I heard SO much more in this program. It was like the whole society focus of placing someone in a facility was the only option! There was not any talk about what they try at home, outpatient treatment, therapy, etc. It was all about why there are not more beds available. Personally, that bothered me! I understand the reason for the focus, but it still bothered me.

We are not living in a society like it was 50 years ago or so, where if you had a mental illness you were just locked away! There are SO many things now that help with mental illnesses that people are able to live a somewhat normal life, be out in public, have jobs, be with family, there are medications that help, all sorts of therapy, etc. That program and what was being said made me feel like I was listening to people from decades ago! How UNFAIR! I happened to be sitting with a group of veterans during the program and know I was not the only one thinking this way, I heard a sarcastic comment, “sure just lock everyone up, great solution”. As we watched, we could see the lack of education regarding the illness at hand as well as lack of how to manage it. It was honestly sad. Sure, one may have to have inpatient care, maybe some guidelines need to change for safety reasons of length of stays, and more beds are indeed needed, but that does not always mean a person has to stay there forever!

To listen to one say that they fear a child becoming an adult and there not being laws to where a family member can place them in a facility unless they harm themselves or someone else… I’m sorry, but that bothered me. Why would anyone want them placed in a facility and take away the chance of them living as close to a normal life as they can? In cases where others do need help managing their medical, and cases where the need is there to prevent one from getting to the point of harming themselves or others, why not put legal documentation or guardianship of sorts into place for possible what if times? Wouldn’t that be an easy solution but at the same time allow the person with a mental illness a chance to see what they can do on their own? My personal opinion, it goes back to education and management at home. It’s okay to have the fear of the what if’s, the concern is an honest concern and not dismissed by any means, but you should not let your what if’s run someone else’s life, it’s just not fair to the individual. Goes back to my saying, have a plan and a back up plan, there is no law needed for that.

To say the least this is a subject that I could write about forever, but just a few points I wanted to share.

Society has come a long way from the way it use to be. I am seeing many positive things, even though there is still a lot of work to be done. And the more things reported (rather good or bad) leads to more doors opening for real education. That program yesterday was a prime example, there was a huge conversation which came from it. I see the positive that has happened in our life with our community, negative reports and such have not changed that at all, except at times it brings new conversations with people asking more questions and wanting to learn more from someone that is real life standing in front of them. 😉 That’s not a bad thing.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Looking back on 2013

Recap of 2013… Back at the beginning of the year I announced that this was going to be a very trying year for us. We had a long list of special events mixed in with the usual tough times that come. WOW, was I right! But you know what? We made it through and a new year is getting ready to start!!! Of course the new year already has some serious things coming, like Craig’s surgery this week. BUT, if we could make it through 2013 we will for sure make it through 2014! 😉

In 2013:

My oldest turned 18 AND we made it through his high school Graduation!

My daughter and step-son turning 13! Yes, we accomplished a girl’s birthday party here… with many breaks during it lol 😉

(Craig said I HAD to add this one or he would add it lol) I turned 40!

Craig and I had our 10 year wedding anniversary… we chose to not do anything, being together was enough for us 🙂

We made it out of town for a few hours so I could be in my sister’s wedding on the beach! And Craig did well as a cameraman 

I started writing my book (Thank You to “My Elder” Dean  and ALL of you!!!)

Miss Marble (the cat) came into our family.

AND that emergency bathroom remodel lol… It’s almost done! A great way to start the New Year with that off of my plate! 😉

We did not accomplish everything that was on the list for the year, however we accomplished a lot considering how life is with PTSD and everything else! 

There was one other thing that I personally accomplished this year. Let’s see if I can type this without crying happy tears. Everyone knows that I have struggled with not being able to train dogs anymore, a true love of mine. One of those weights on my shoulders that just always tried to keep a grip on me. HOWEVER, that changed this year! You know how I always say listen to what other’s say? Well, I had a light bulb moment not too long ago from a very special person. I want to say a special Thank You to Beth P. for making me realize that I am actually doing exactly what my original life dream/goal was!

My life goal from an early age was not to train dogs (even though I love it and always have), my life goal was to follow in my mom’s footsteps and help children and young adults with mental disabilities learn that they are valuable no matter what and to teach them how to make it through life with having disabilities. I wanted to teach.

See, I had a trauma happen to me at 18 years old that caused me to alter my life plans, I took a different route in life after it, I avoided my dream. My husband and his mental illnesses and ALL of you changed my avoidance and got me back on the path that originally filled my heart.

My goal might be altered a little, age group, and not as a certified teacher… but I AM living my life dream, helping others! Right here with and beside ALL of you! I hope each of you really, truly understand how much you ARE a family to us! 

I did not fail with dog training or by having to give it up to care for my husband at all. The page in my life had turned, and I accepted that a long time ago. But I was honestly being placed back to where my heart really has been all along and didn’t even realize it! I opened my eyes, heart, and dream to what has always mattered to me. Some how with one short conversation Beth and I had, the weight was gone from my shoulders completely of not being able to train and a huge extra kick was put into my step. I had never really viewed it before as I do now. I have been bringing awareness of PTSD and other mental illnesses to others for over two years, living beside and through mental illnesses with my husband for 10 years. Yes, it’s safe to say I had a light bulb moment this year. 

So, I would have to say even though some things were not accomplished this year, a whole lot of wonderful things were! And you all… you are each SO amazing! Don’t EVER give up on yourself! 😉

Much love and strength to ALL of you as we step forward to a New Year together!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Why do people fear others with PTSD or other mental disorders/illnesses?

Why do people fear others with PTSD or other mental disorders/illnesses?

It’s actually rather simple. Fear comes from the unknown and lack of understanding/education. Stigma!

You can’t, or shouldn’t, judge people based on just a term. If you do, you probably are cutting yourself short of a possible new friend, a relationship, or just meeting someone that is actually a good person.

Just because someone suffers from a mental illness/disorder does not make them a bad person, it just means they have been through something someone else hasn’t or maybe they inherited or developed something that you didn’t. But it doesn’t make them bad, it just means their life is different then your’s may be.

A lot of stigma comes from media outlets, who mainly report the bad episodes surrounding mental illnesses. You know, everything in life has bad that could be attached to it, but there are also the good things that you might not hear about as much. Then stigma comes from it being passed from one person to the next. Basically people taking what someone says without doing their own research on the topic or actually meeting and getting to know people before placing judgement.

Kind of sad actually, especially considering there are so many people in this world that suffer from some form of mental illness, but yet would do anything for another person and are some of the kindest people you could ever meet. I mean think about it, that person has been through more then the average person, they know suffering, they also know altering life to survive, and they appreciate life to it’s fullest possible.

Just because some people have issues or outbursts from time to time doesn’t make them necessarily bad or all people bad. The stigma and stereotyping people just because they have a mental illness/disorder is just outright wrong. And if you are one that does this, you are really cutting yourself short of having many wonderful people in your life.

So, what do we do about it? We keep educating others. The more people learn, the less stigma there will be. You take the time to care in general. If you have time to sit on your phone or sit at your computer all day posting funny things, then you obviously have the time to care about another human being, many other human beings. And what about you, yourself? What happens one day if you develop a mental illness? Don’t say it won’t happen lol, mental illnesses can happen to anyone. And if you don’t believe that one, ask anyone who suffers from one. I guarantee you at some point in time they said the same thing, “That could never happen to me.” How would or are you going to feel if it does happen to you? I bet you would like like the stigma that comes with it. Just something to think about. 

Take the time to care. It only takes a few minutes of precious life to learn, and you might just save the life of another person in the process… FACT!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Our #1 Rule of many #1 Rules: TRY…

I know many with PTSD have difficulties with things such as memory, stepping out of the house, attending events, okay let’s be real… the list is long.

We have another “#1 rule of the many number one rules” that we use on a daily basis around here, and it’s rather simple…

TRY.

Okay, so it sounds simple and easy to many people, but in reality it’s not so simple or easy for those who suffer from PTSD. There is a lot that comes with that one simple word and rule, “Try“. You face, yet again, all of the “what if’s” that come with it.

It really goes back to an old saying my mom use to tell me over and over and over when I was growing up…

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” 

I use to think ,”Oh come on mom, really? Would you just stop saying that. I did try!” Well, then one day I stopped viewing it as it sounded and started doing and understanding that old saying.

See when you try, you are making the effort to move forward with something, anything, rather it is the grandest of all things or the smallest thing that only matters to you. Even if you view it as you have failed because something did not turn out like you wanted it to, have you really failed? Nope! There is no such thing as failure as long as you have tried and continue to try. If something didn’t work out the first time, or the second time, and so on, that’s okay. The fact is, as long as you are trying then it’s not possible to be a failure, if you accomplished anything to this point then you are not a failure. You fail when you quit trying, because if you quit then there is no chance of moving forward in whatever you were putting effort into. Even the smallest accomplishment means you have already or are succeeding.

Then there is the “I can’t do that“, that comes up. How do you know, for a fact, you can’t do that? Whatever “that” is. You don’t! Even if you can’t manage to do something today, it does not mean you will not be able to do it tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. Yes, mom has another old saying for that one too and I heard it a lot.  “Can’t never did anything, Try did it all.” Oh I just wanted to stomp my feet and grit my teeth every time I heard that! I would say back to her, “But mom! You don’t understand, I DID try!” You can guess what I heard next lol, “Well try again.” You know what? Mom was right! The more I tried, the closer I got to succeeding with what I was trying to accomplish.

Life with PTSD is no different than those little sayings I grew up knowing. Everything is not going to turn out perfect or the way you want it to every time, or on the first try. You have to work at it, you have to do things different ways until you find what works best, you have to try.

Memory is one of the largest battles for my husband. It would be so easy for me to step in when he can’t remember where he placed something, or whatever the situation is. But would I be actually doing anything for him if I did? Not really, the only thing I would be doing is helping him avoid some frustration, but I would also be preventing letting him try things for himself and for him to know HE was able to do something. Those are valuable things he as a person needs to be able to experience. Sure we have to consider safety with some issues, but if safety is not a concern then it’s only fair and right for me to let him try first. If he has tried, and can’t seem to manage whatever is needed, then I will step in to help. Next time he can try again, and we handle things case by case to if I’m needed or not. But if I didn’t allow him to try, we would never know the truth of what he can or can not remember or do.

Other symptoms, and the results of those symptoms, are no different than the memory. Same goes with different types of therapy, coping skills, different things you can try so you can manage to do something you might not have figured out yesterday. It’s the only way to keep moving forward and be able to accomplish what works best for you.

Each day with PTSD can be different. The days do not stay the same, they are going to change, no different than life itself changes. Don’t give up on yourself, don’t give up on what you might be able to do today or tomorrow. Yesterday is now gone, and it’s a new day, and a new day brings new things. Try again and keep trying, you might be shocked at what you can accomplish when you don’t give up. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Right and Wrong forms of Support

Right and Wrong forms of Support

I mentioned this the other day in one of my postings, and last night it really hit home and weighed on me. So I wanted to go ahead and talk about this.

People who do not live with someone who has PTSD or Depressive disorder (or other unseen disabilities), in many cases… seem to really not understand what “correct” support is! This can be so frustrating, can anger you, can send you in a deeper depression, can cause the greatest guilt you have ever witnessed.

Ones that don’t take the time to “get it”… understand the disorder/illness at hand, offer support in a way they would offer to anyone else. So I’m not dismissing that they might have good intentions, many times they won’t see that what they are doing is actually causing more damage. I’m saying there is a right and wrong way when it comes to an unseen disability.

So let me give you an example and maybe this will help…

A person calls and says they need your help with something, let’s say yard work just for the sake of an example. It goes something like this…

Person calling:
“Oh there is just so much we have to do and the yard really needs to be mowed and trimmed up. Oh and those hedges, they have gotten so tall and we just can’t get everything done by our self. I have this, this, and this I need to be doing instead. Well, you have time on your hands, I need you to come over and do this for me.”

Okay, no big deal right? The one with PTSD loves helping other people out! Especially if it’s family or friends. But let’s take a deeper look into what was said from the view of the one with PTSD or their spouse.

Person with PTSD:
“Hey they want me to do this, this and this. I have to do it. I will have to watch what time of day because of my medications and the heat. I am so tired because I didn’t get any sleep or little sleep over the past, well forever. After a rough night I fell back asleep, I missed getting up to do that before the heat, now it’s too late. I can’t manage to get this done around my own house but I have to put that to the side and go do this for them because they expect me to. I have no energy. They keep bugging me so I need to get this done. I have no energy. I can’t let them down. I have to do this. I rarely leave the house but I have to do this. Oh look at my own yard, I can’t even manage to get it done myself. But I have to do this for them…….” Then lays down a sleeps the rest of the day.

I know in that last part I said the same things more then once, I did that on purpose because that is exactly what happens.

What just happened? By all means the one with PTSD WANTS to do this for someone else. But at the same time the anxiety built up. The expectations grew and were out of control, the thought of not being able to accomplish things of your own but yet being told to help someone else made them feel bad. Guilt set in on it’s highest level. In this example medications and heat were an issue which narrow the time frame of expectations, causing even more anxiety and guilt. The fact that there is lack of sleep involved therefore lack of energy, which means after this thing asked is done, this person will probably crash and not be able to do much if anything for a few days. The repeat of being told what needs to be done is a huge guilt trip.

I’m sure the person asking for this favor has every good intention. So I will give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are trying to push the person to get out of the house, maybe they are trying to get them to be active, maybe they think this will be “good” for them to be included in helping out… or maybe they just don’t get it and are treating this person like there is nothing wrong with them?

Things like this can be handled in a much better way. I just showed you what approaching a situation as in this example can do to someone with an unseen disability. Now let me show you a very simple, easier way to approach the same example…

Proper support:
“Hey we are going to be working on the yard today which has become overwhelming to us, if you are up for helping you are more then welcome to come over. If not that’s okay too, we understand.” And don’t say it again!

Do you see the huge difference? Wording things to where what you want to say is said, but also in a way that does not place expectations, guilt, or even harassing manner, I can almost promise you will work much better… and for both people!

Work, another example…

Wrong support:
“You are the best at the job you were doing. Don’t give up, go get another job doing that. There’s nothing wrong with you and you can still do the same thing. Why are you just letting your career go? You are letting yourself and us down, go get another job. We know you can still do this, you were so good at it.”

Person with PTSD:
“I let them down. I’m not good at anything anymore. I was the best and everyone knows that, now I’m nothing! I failed. That was my life dreams and now I’m nothing. I’m worthless. I can’t do what I did before. I’m damaged goods. I should be doing my dream job right now and living life to it’s fullest as I expected to, but I can’t. Look at all of my education wasted! All those awards mean nothing, I failed my family and myself!….”

OUCH! The person that was trying to be supportive, or just not accepting the unseen disability, could have just honestly pushed the one with PTSD into ending their life! You think that is a strong statement? Well let me tell you, it’s a pretty honest and serious one! To the one without PTSD, they view it as pushing the person in a positive way that they can indeed still do what they are good at, that they should not give up. However, look what their view of positive turned into. Not so good when an unseen disability is involved.

Correct support:
“I know you have to figure out what you can or can not do with your disabilities, but I just want you to notice and remember how many accomplishments you have made in your life. Just because you may not do what you expected you would be doing, does not mean you won’t find something else you are wonderful at also. Life comes with changes, and this is just one of them. And look, you get to find something new you will enjoy just as much.”

See the difference? Wrong support and/or wording can throw someone with PTSD into a huge downward spiral. To the point that they honestly want to end their life. It does not mean you have to pamper them or treat them differently, it means you choose your words wisely and remember that a disability is indeed there. There are many ways to word things to keep things positive, and to avoid making them feel guilty or unworthy… or even make them feel as if they are a burden and everyone would be better off without them. Think about what you say before speaking!

These are only two examples of many, but I hope you care enough to get my point. Your words can honestly be the difference between someone wanting to live and move forward, or sadly… want to end their life.

PTSD and other disabilities are very real. Rather you are one that believes they are or not, you really need to take a good look at what the facts are. And right now the fact is 22 veterans and 1 active duty member are taking their own lives each day, that’s higher then war itself… and that’s only reported cases in the United States and not including civilian or world wide. If those numbers don’t scream PTSD is real, then I honestly don’t know what does!

It only takes a minute to think about “how” what you do or say to someone will effect them. It only takes a little bit of time for you learn the difference between correct and wrong support. Things have changed when PTSD becomes a part of your life or your family’s life. And with that change everyone needs to learn how to be supportive in a way that will actually help not hinder your loved one.

PLEASE take the time! Take the time to CARE!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Everyone needs to read and share this…

PLEASE read and “share” this…

I’m on my soapbox this morning. So pardon me while I’m there but this needs to be said. The worst thing to me is knowing that so many people wear blinders when it comes to hearing the term “PTSD”.

Yes, by all means doctor, medications, and therapy can be of great help to ones who suffer from PTSD… BUT, yep I put a but in there… but the real help is going to come from the public and people learning about PTSD! That is YOU!

We have proof right here in front of us that educating yourself about PTSD can save lives! In numbers we can and do make a difference.

It does not matter if you know someone who has PTSD or not! And I can almost bet you DO know someone rather you realize it or not, many suffer in silence due to the stigma and what others will say or think. People, that’s sad!!! Each day there are ones with PTSD taking their own lives, the numbers are extremely high. Why? Because the battle became too strong for them to handle alone! PTSD takes support, it takes learning, it takes educating others, it takes this WORLD laying it’s differences to the side to save mankind!

When you turn your back on a person that is suffering, you are turning your back on a human being, and many times that person is a mother, a father, someone’s brother or sister, your friend, your neighbor, that nice person you met at the grocery store that offered to help you load your car, that person who went out of their way to hold a door open for you, that person who you made eye contact with that politely nodded and kept on walking. PTSD wears many faces, a person with PTSD is no different then you or I, they have just experienced something traumatic when maybe you haven’t.

Taking the time to learn about PTSD rather you think you know someone with it or not can honestly save a another person’s life! It is never too late or early to learn. PTSD can affect anyone, and I dearly hope you never have to experience it, but in all honesty look at the numbers of how many people do. Look at how many take their own lives each day… ONLY the reported numbers in the United States, now that’s reported numbers, that does not include civilians, unreported cases, or world wide… 22/23 per day! That’s a lot of people and YOU can help prevent this!

It only takes a few seconds to hit a “share” button from any PTSD page or share a link to a website… I mean seriously, you do it for everything else in the social media, it only takes a few minutes to read an article on how YOU can help or learn the basics about PTSD, and it only takes one second to save another person’s life! That person you passed in the store or made eye contact with, they may be the one on that last breathe that sees no hope left, did you know that YOU may be the person that creates a setting for them to keep fighting? I’m very serious, I pull no punches and I play no games, you never know when it may be you to save that person, and many times you may not even know you did.

If you were or are the one who suffers from this unseen disability, wouldn’t you want someone to care enough about other human beings to help YOU? ABSOLUTELY!!! Take the blinders off!

Ones with PTSD have feelings, emotions, and can throw a good cook out just as the next person, they can be great fathers and mothers and friends. DO NOT let the fear of the unknown blind you to what is all around you, stigma is a horrible thing and comes from the fear of the unknown. It only takes a few minutes of your time to educate yourself and share that education with others. And again, if PTSD happens to you or a loved one, wouldn’t you want someone to do the same? YES!

A person suffering from PTSD is not a bad person, they are only a person who has to fight harder to have as normal of a life as possible. They are not weak minded, if fact they are what I call “the best of the best”. Why? Because they have made it through something that completely changed their life, they have witnessed things that you can not even imagine the horror, and they fight everyday of their life to make it to the next! That takes a strong person in my book! Much stronger then many.

The only things you hear in the media are the bad things. It’s extremely misleading. And those bad things that are being reported most likely are cases where that person did not receive or was not able to reach for proper help. If you want those bad stories and cases to go away, you want the fear of the unknown to vanish, then do something!

Many of these people are heroes and many wear different “uniforms”. They are military, civilian, doctors, nurses, police officers, paramedics, firefighters, teachers, fathers, mothers, K9 trainers/handlers, etc. and they may just be your neighbor.

It is not a battle anyone deserves to fight alone. With support, education, and just taking a few minutes of your time, YOU can make a huge difference in this world… you can save a life! Why are you delaying? Rather you know someone with PTSD or not, I ask you to please… and I will swallow my pride and beg you, please hit the “share” button on this. You might just save a life today!

Let’s make this go viral! Someone out there and someone you may know, deserves it!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

What is PTSD?

What is PTSD?

Sometimes we need to get back to the basics of what PTSD is, especially for those of you that are just starting to learn or have not heard of PTSD before.

PTSD is the abbreviation for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Majority of the time you will not see it spelled out and “PTSD” or “PTS” are commonly used.

PTSD is a psychological reaction to a highly stressful event(s)/trauma(s) which is/was outside of normal human range of experience. It is caused by experiencing or witnessing life threatening harm to oneself or that of another person. PTSD can effect anyone who has experienced a severe trauma where the symptoms last more then a month. Many believe it is only military related, which is untrue. Civilians can develop PTSD the same as one who had a military experience. The trauma experienced may be different, but the symptoms from “what happened” are much the same no matter what the trauma was that one experienced.

Some examples which could lead to PTSD developing:

* Military, Law Enforcement, Emergency personnel, Prison Guards, Doctors, Nurses, etc. related event(s).
* Car accident.
* Personal physical attack.
* Rape/Sexual Assault.
* Home invasion.
* Child abuse.
* Natural disaster.
* Witnessing a death of one close to you.
* Abuse (adult)
* Major surgery (such as breast cancer and stroke patients)
* Kidnapping or Torture.
* Mugging or Robbery.

Virtually any trauma that is life-threatening and damages the physical and/or emotional state or well being of an individual or causes intense fear.

Symptoms of PTSD:

  •  Reoccurring thoughts/re-experience of what happened.

Nightmares of the event.  Flashbacks.

  •  Dissociative symptoms.

Can include memory issues. If you have not heard of this one, please research it! This can in many cases explain things that do not seem to be PTSD related symptoms.

  •  Avoidance of people, places, or things that remind one of their trauma they experienced.
  •  Increased Arousal. Feeling keyed up.
  •  Sleep problems.
  •  Anger, Frustration, Irritability.
  •  Negative changes in beliefs and feelings.

May include guilt, fear, shame, lack of self-worth.

  •  Self destructive behavior. Such as alcohol or drug abuse.
  •  Suicidal thoughts or attempts.
  •  Physical symptoms can co-occur with PTSD.

Such as heart disease, digestive issues, upset stomach, high blood pressure, diabetes, and others.

  •  Other mental illnesses can co-occur with PTSD.

Such as depression, survivor’s guilt, dissociation, and others.

These are a few of the most commonly seem symptoms of PTSD.

Developing PTSD does not mean a person is weak, which is a huge misunderstanding by many. It means the person has experienced something beyond what is normal. Many people who develop PTSD may have experienced more then one trauma, compiling the traumas. Again, anyone could develop PTSD after a life threatening trauma, it is not based on being weak or weak minded.

There are many different treatments and therapies to help manage PTSD. It is highly recommended to seek help as soon as possible! The sooner you seek professional help, the sooner you can learn to develop ways of coping and managing the symptoms, as well as being able to maintain a more normal lifestyle.

Having a support system of some form, rather it is family, friends, support groups, online support, etc is urgent. These things are needed not only for the one who suffers from PTSD, but for family members as well. It is in your and your loved one’s best interest to take time to learn as much as you can about PTSD, the better educated you and your loved ones are, the stronger you will be to “battle” and cope with PTSD symptoms, as well as what can come with living life with or beside PTSD.

PTSD is not new. PTSD has been around for many, many years… just known as other names such as shell shock, battle fatigue, and soldier’s heart. With the technology in today’s society, PTSD has become a more known name due to the many forms of awareness and ones speaking out to the public in hopes of helping others and reducing stigma. Past generations suffered alone in many cases due to the stigma which does come with PTSD and the lack of information provided. Thus in the past, majority of known cases were related to military and other cases were unreported.

These are some of the basics of PTSD. There is a lot that can be learned as well as taught regarding PTSD. Rather you believe you know someone who suffers or not, the hard fact is, you probably already do or sooner or later you most likely will know or meet someone who does suffer from PTSD. Learning about PTSD could very well help save lives. PTSD is a very real disorder and has touched many, many, people’s lives. It is not something that one can just snap out of, get over, or forget about. When PTSD affects one’s life, they relive the trauma they experienced each and every day, it is not just going away. Ones with PTSD are very strong individuals who fight every day to make it to the next the best they possible can and to be there for their family/loved ones, have a heart, please take the time to educate yourself.

One who suffers from PTSD is no different then you or I, they have just experienced something we may have not.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD” :Website

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook