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There IS a PTSD Crisis!

This is to EVERYONE that it can possibly reach, whether you know someone with PTSD or do not believe you do.

I am a very strong woman, and I will be the first to tell you I have a lot of pride, but I will fall to my knees and beg you to PLEASE listen to what I have to say!

I know PTSD, my husband battles it every day of his life just like many others do. This is not from a story or a text book, this is not some movie that was made up, this is from firsthand knowledge of REAL LIFE, in hopes that it will help open eyes and save lives!

People are dying! MANY people are losing their battle to PTSD. Do you understand and know why? Do you even care? If not, I’ll explain why you should!

There is a PTSD CRISIS at hand! I have sat here in deep thought after receiving word of another “PTSD brother” that has lost his battle to PTSD. I thought, how can I help people understand that there is a crisis, it is real life, and the crisis is world wide? How do I get people to take the time to care about others in this fast paced world we live in? I’m only one person.

Even with the amount of awareness there is out there, it’s still not enough! Too many people are letting the term “PTSD” pass right by them like it’s no big deal. Too many people are not hearing or learning the facts, and many are still carrying stigma. Too many people are still saying, “That could not happen to me or my family”. Too many are saying, “Why should I care?” Others are saying “My PTSD is not that bad, no big deal, I can suck it up.”

If you are one of those people, I need to tell you with all of my heart the truth, “YOU are WRONG!”

Every day I educate others on PTSD and the seriousness of it, around taking care of my husband and our family. I share our personal story and what each day is like living with or beside PTSD. I share things in hopes that others out there may understand that they are not alone and there are many things that can help. I hope that what I offer will help just one person and/or family if not many, find a shorter path to learning how to manage life with PTSD, something my husband, family, and I did not have when PTSD became a part of our lives. I hope that what I write, will make one person if not many, choose to dismiss the stigma they may hold and realize that stigma kills human beings, real people that should have a chance at life.

They are no different than you or I, they have just experienced a trauma that changed their life, something no person should have to experience. Those with PTSD can still have relationships, they can still be good fathers and mothers, or grandparents, or friends. Many can still be great at their career and in the workplace. Many walk through society and no one would even be able to recognize they have PTSD. Many you would have to be around when symptoms are increased or live with them to understand or actually see what they battle. It takes a lot to manage PTSD, no matter how well manged or bad the symptoms are, and so many do not have the tools and support that are needed, yet.

PTSD is not an individual problem or issue! The reality is, with the number of people who do suffer/survive with PTSD, every person this reaches most likely DOES know someone with PTSD. Whether you realize it or not! It may be your spouse/partner, your mom or dad, brother or sister, or another family member. It may be your best friend or a co-worker, it may be your neighbor, or that person you pass on the street everyday.

It only takes ONE life changing trauma, for PTSD to develop! That one trauma changes life forever.

Traumas effect military, police officers, doctors, nurses, emergency personnel, emergency operators, news reporters, military subcontractors, prison guards, teachers, etc. All of the people who are there for you. It can effect those who have experienced an assault, rape, child abuse, adult abuse, car/transportation accident, dog/animal mauling, cancer or stroke patients and more, natural disasters, kidnapping, school/workplace shooting, mugging, home invasion, the loss of a life of someone very close to them… The traumas are endless in this world we ALL live in, life threatening traumas are endless. They are experienced by military and civilians.

Now take all of the traumas in life people can experience, everything you hear through the news as well as from people you know, and think about how many people could actually develop or already have, PTSD. Until there is peace on this earth, accidents and natural disasters stop, which unfortunately reality is… will never happen, there will be PTSD! History has already proven itself. And the reality is, the numbers are growing. It’s no secret that this world is in a state of chaos, all you have to do is watch the news, read the papers, or listen to the stories of others, and you see it. That chaos brings more traumas.

No, one person cannot change the world or the things that take place in it. I know I sure can’t. But each person can change themselves, and slow down the pace to care about others. It’s actually pretty simple and really does not take that much time.

Stigma does not hurt people, stigma kills people! My opinion is stigma comes from the lack of knowledge or fear of the unknown. There are too many people who are still choosing to hold onto stigma. Which in return is causing those that really need help, to hide in the shadows of PTSD. They are suffering in silence, and many are losing their lives in the battle PTSD does bring. Many are losing their support systems because of stigma, people are walking away from them when they need their family and friends the most.

As far as “sucking up PTSD”, those that do it, are told to do it, or are in a position where they are forced to do it, the hard fact is you will only be able to suck it up for so long. There have been too many people to try to manage PTSD on their own without learning the tools needed or ignore it all together, too many have just dismissed that they have PTSD, or feared what would come from reaching out to someone for help. If you or someone you know are one of them, sooner or later PTSD will break you, or them. Even one who would never have suicidal thoughts or any type of self-harm before, PTSD can change that, negative changes in thoughts or feelings of one’s self, others, or even the world is a VERY real part of PTSD, do not dismiss the facts of PTSD.

It does not matter how strong you believe you are or who you are, PTSD will break you without proper help and support. PTSD has affected some of the strongest, most intelligent, will powered people there are. It effects the strong minded, the ones that take everything that has been thrown at them and keep on pushing forward. Everyone has their limit, you are human. Do not allow PTSD to find your’s. There are too many things that can help, PTSD does not go away but it is manageable and life can continue to be lived! Do not put off what could save your future, as well as YOU!

Why should you care? Because PTSD can in reality happen to anyone! Again, it only takes one trauma, and no one can predict the future to who will be affected. I can guarantee, if you are one day in the shoes of PTSD, you will hope there is someone there that cares about you!

A strong person is one that knows and accepts when they need help. If you have PTSD, I can pretty much guarantee you, you are one of the best of the best. Learning the tools to properly manage PTSD, so you can not only survive but live with PTSD as a part of life, makes you even stronger. It takes a strong person to battle and live life with PTSD each day, and you can do it! Make that reach, you ARE worth it!

A positive support person is one that chooses to step past stigma, and learn, whether you can truly understand PTSD or not. One who takes the time to care about others, even if it’s something as simple as listening. When someone reaches out to you or you see changes in someone after a trauma that brings questions, take the time to care and pay attention. Unfortunately the truth is if you don’t, there may not be a second chance or tomorrow. I have been speaking out publicly about PTSD for close to 4 years now, and the most heart wrenching things I hear from others are, “If only I had taken the time to listen or say something, he/she may still be here.” and “If only I had believed PTSD was real, maybe I could have helped him/her and he/she would not have lost their life to PTSD.” I do not believe anyone wants to be in those shoes, those are very real life shoes.

You may be the one with PTSD, a family member or friend, you may be the one that does not understand PTSD or believe it is real, you may be the one that is just curious. Whichever shoes you are standing in, I want to say “Thank You” for taking the time to read this, by doing so it really could change another person’s life… or even save one!

Unfortunately, many lose their battle to PTSD each day. ONLY of the Veteran reported suicide cases in the USA, there are 22 Veterans losing their battle to PTSD daily. That does NOT include unreported PTSD cases, un-diagnosed PTSD cases, law enforcement and other lines of work related PTSD cases, or civilian PTSD cases… and not world wide numbers. If we were able to add ALL of those numbers up, folks, that is a PTSD Crisis!

Not every suicide can be prevented unfortunately, but WE CAN change those numbers and decrease them by educating ourselves and others, and by taking the time to care about others.

Please take the time to care! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD: Negative changes in thoughts and mood or feelings

PTSD: Negative changes in thoughts and mood or feelings

Negative changes in thoughts or mood and feelings are one of the hardest parts of PTSD to manage, for either side of the fence. This is the symptom of PTSD that EVERYONE with PTSD experiences in some way. It’s also the toughest part for others to understand, as well as to learn not to take personally.

These negative changes in thoughts or feelings, that come with PTSD can include things such as:

* Not being able to experience positive emotions
* Having negative views of yourself or others
* Feeling emotionally numb
* Experiencing a loss of interest in things you use to enjoy
* Lack or loss of hope for the future
* Having difficulty with or maintaining close relationships
* Memory issues, which can include not remembering parts of the trauma experienced
(Reference: MayoClinic.org)

This can include viewing yourself as bad or a negative change in the way you view yourself compared to the way you use to. One may feel they are not worthy, may have feelings of failure or that they are now a burden to others, may have feelings of guilt or shame.

One with PTSD can also view those around them in negative ways. Instead of feeling love and closeness to others that was experienced before PTSD, one may feel anger, resentment, distrust, etc. or nothing at all. One may feel others are “out to get them or ruin them”, may feel the world is against them or the world is not fair, and/or may feel as if nothing is safe and no one can be trusted.

Whoa! Now that is a lot for the one with PTSD to experience! It was difficult enough experiencing the trauma they went through, and now many of these symptoms may be at hand as well. This is when you stop, take a deep breath, step back, and really start thinking about it. All of these things just listed are NOT done on purpose! They are all or each, a part of what PTSD can or may cause.

All of these changes in thoughts and feelings can bring another part of PTSD, arousal- emotional reactions. One may get angry, irritated, experience verbal outbursts or aggressive behavior, feeling of guilt or shame may increase, one may stay on guard or alert, may experience self-destructive or relationship-destructive behaviors such as drinking too much, drug use, sexual communication or encounters with others they would not have had/done before, or driving too fast or recklessly. One with PTSD may be startled easily, have trouble sleeping, or have issues concentrating.

PTSD is NOT an excuse, unfortunately it is a very real medical condition that many people who have been through a life changing trauma experience when symptoms last for more than three months (time frame of symptoms for diagnosis changed from minimum of one month to three months, referenced from va.gov website).

But do not lose hope! There are things that can help manage these symptoms! Just as with other PTSD symptoms, and with a lot of effort, work, learning, and working together… we can try to manage these thoughts and feelings through learning and using coping skills, therapy, there are even worksheets that can be used to help you view on paper your thoughts, feelings, even fears in comparison to facts. There are many things you can try and do to help manage the thoughts and feelings when they come or are present. Things will not change overnight, just like with anything else, PTSD is not going away, but things can change.

Spouses/partners, family members, and friends…

You have a huge role in this too! I know firsthand that when PTSD throws these things at you or into your life, it’s hard, it can try to emotionally destroy you. It can cause you to feel some of the same things PTSD has caused your loved one to feel or experience. And yes, that goes for experiencing or doing anything listed above. This is when those words I say have to play a role, “PTSD is the battle, NOT each other”. The old saying “fighting fire with fire”, is not going to get you anywhere but more stress, emotional hurt, and possibly two people who really care about each other walking away from each other. You have to work together to find what helps best for you, your loved one, and whatever situation is at hand.

So what are some examples of things we can work on?

(NOTE: I am not a doctor or in any medical field. The things I share are from our personal experiences, knowledge, opinions, and what others have shared with us. For more information or help PLEASE talk to your doctor or contact one.)

Self-esteem and self-worth are the two major things that negative thoughts and feelings effect (and that goes for both the one with PTSD and their spouse/partner). These are things that everyone can work on.

* Look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? If the answer is no, then there is something we can work on.  Write down what you do not like seeing. Then set realistic goals in writing for yourself, on how you can change what you do not like seeing. Maybe it’s I’m going to start walking each day for 15 minutes or other exercise, then build from there over time. Maybe it’s I’m going to watch what I eat more closely. Maybe it’s I’m going to shave x number of times per week. Maybe I’m going to have my hair cut once per month. ANYTHING that can help you view yourself in the mirror better than what you are seeing right now.

* Hobbies or projects. These can be challenging! I will not tell you they won’t be. Between the symptoms PTSD brings, then add in any co-occurring conditions, such as depression, or any physical disabilities… yes this can be challenging. BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE! Do not overwhelm yourself or set unrealistic goals. Pace yourself. Choose things to do that bring enjoyment, or are things you use to enjoy doing!

Hobbies and projects, no matter how long they may take to complete or do, show progress. They help with self-esteem and self-worth. Each step taken you are proving to yourself you can still do things and may be very good at something that you had no idea you could do before. 

* Compliments. Oh come on! It does not matter who you are or what you are going through, everyone loves getting compliments! Not only are they nice and make you feel good when you receive one, there is a lot that comes from giving them as well.  A simple compliment given or received can change a day around, bring an unexpected smile, shows someone that you care or notice things. It does not have to be some huge life changing compliment, do not forget that many times it’s the little things that mean the most.

Nothing is negative 100% of the time, no one is wrong 100% of the time… there is always something that can be complimented on, just do not over-do it, make compliments count with meaning.  AND accept them when they are given! Whether you see yourself as the compliment given or not, accept it and realize that people do not give out compliments for no reason, so you must have done something right or something that was in a positive way noticed. 

* “Motions lead to emotions”. Oh you knew I would not leave this one out! PTSD brings all of the symptoms, challenges, and can bring numbness. Numbness is not just going away or decreasing without help. When you go through the steps, you might just find some sparks there in life that you thought were gone. PTSD is good at hiding things or masking one from their true self or feelings. Spouses/partners, you too can experience the distant or numbness, so this is for you as well! Learn how to unmask things by going through the motions. Motions do not have to be only in a physical sense based around relationships and/or sex! It could be anything that you do that can bring back a sense of enjoyment to a relationship or other things that you use to enjoy in life.

* Work on changing the negative to positive. NOT an easy thing to do, but not impossible either!

One of the most common examples I have had come to me lately…
I have had [number of] failed relationships. I will never have a good relationship so why even try.

Okay, so you have had failed relationships, we all go through that in reality. So let’s change the perspective a little and try this, “My last [number of] relationships did not work out. So I am going to work on improving myself, so when that right person for me comes along our relationship will be better than those of my past.” 

And write it down in a note for yourself, place it to where you can see it, as a reminder if you want to! It can help you stick to a more positive mindset when those negative thoughts try to step back in. And you can do that with anything in life!

* Set goals for yourself! Setting simple goals, goals that prove to be a little more challenging, and life goals, all give you things to work towards. By setting goals of different levels they can help when PTSD symptoms are more of a challenge but can be done, it helps you see that even when PTSD challenges you, you can still accomplish things. And when you reach goals of a higher challenge WOW, what a positive change it can bring to you! In all seriousness, setting goals are extremely important. They give you things in life to work towards and are rewarding when accomplished. They help with both self-esteem and self-worth. AND can help you view things around you and in the world differently.

* Oh those negative views of others and how PTSD loves to play with this one! Bring out the pen and paper if you have to on this one! I’m serious! What are the thoughts you are having then put the facts of what has happened or is at hand next to them. Compare them to see if it’s PTSD sticking it’s hand in this to make you think negative about another person ot even other things in life, before placing blame or getting upset at someone (or bringing worry or fear of other things). Many times it’s the negative views that PTSD is bringing and not what another person has actually done. PTSD loves to bring in all of those “what if’s” on this one that you have to be cautious of. Communication is going to be a huge help in this also.

If something seems way off base from what a person would normally be like, talk CALMLY and ask questions. Do not jump to conclusions. Really hear each other out and talk about any concerns and the way you are viewing things. And BOTH people try not to put those defenses up, talk and work through whatever the thoughts are causing and get to the facts. It goes back to the why and letting the facts of why help you get through whatever is at hand.

Okay, these are some examples and what PTSD can cause. Do not lose hope, it is there even if it is masked right now. Keep working on those steps forward to understanding, accepting, and working through what “PTSD negative thoughts and moods or feelings” can bring, and are a very real part of life with PTSD. There are many things each person can work on by themselves, for themselves, as well as with and for others.

And just a personal note from me to you,

I BELIEVE in you! You ARE one of the “best of the best” and CAN make it through this part of PTSD. Do not give up!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD Facebook page

Dear PTSD (Anniversary Month)

PTSD

Dear PTSD (Anniversary Month),

I might as well go ahead and say hello to you, it’s no secret you are here. You have made it very known that you had no intentions of skipping your visit to us this year. I’ve seen your little tactics, all of your messages have been received. So please do not think they went unnoticed, your visit is not a surprise to me.

I know you love your games you play, messing with the mind. You love to cause a chaos, you try to cause it every time.

I know you love to dance at night, your type of party through one’s dreams. You bring so much restlessness and oh how you love to hear one’s screams. Then you carry your party on through to daylight, when one is tired and needs peaceful sleep. Pushing them on to follow you, you never let them be.

I know how you love to create an environment that’s completely out of control. As you play back the traumatic visions, that weigh heavily on one’s soul. You do not allow them to rest, they are not allowed any peace. You play those same visions repeatedly, to see if you can get them to break.

I know how you love to shelter one from everyone, and everything they love so dear, just causing more confusion, heartache, and despair. Your eyes get large with excitement, as you watch a loved one’s reach, as they try to pull one back from you to weaken your grip of strength.

I know you do not like to slow down, high speed is your desire. You love to feel the adrenaline pumping, pumping hard through one’s veins. Their mind in such a fury it can cause them to lose control. You love watching the anxiety, frustration, and even anger it can bring. You like to keep them on high alert and fear what your next step may be.

I know you love pushing one to the point they feel like they cannot take anymore. You love that type-rope between life and death, and watching them struggle for balance. You bring a challenge all year long but this is your favorite month, when you can push one to their furthest point, to see if this will be the year they take your plunge.

But there is something that you missed in your party you like to bring. The one with PTSD is not going to fall, not quietly upon their knees. They are not going to give in to you, or to the chaos that you bring. There are thousands standing with us, that help each other every day. We all stand together, to make sure everyone survives you, and makes it to another day! You may bring your little party, but we have one of our own. We share our tools to battle you, and we NEVER stand alone!

You PTSD, do not own us, you just simply brought changes to our lives! You may think you hold such power but each day we are chipping that away, one symptom at a time!

So bring your little party, your chaos and discontent. We know how to handle you and will NEVER willingly give in. We will carry each other through you and to see another day. We are teaching each other how to live again, by keeping you at bay.

Never standing alone against you,
Me

For more information and to learn about #PTSD and how to live life with it, please visit us at…
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Dear August, September, October…

Dear August, September, October…

You all are the hardest months of the year, as well as a few that follow you. You are the PTSD anniversary time frames for so many people and this year you have come with a vengeance!

August, 

You played it sneaky this year and tip-toed in, but I want to let you know you have been seen! This was not nice of you and all of us will be happy to see you pass soon. You have given us a challenge this year, as you have PTSD symptoms stirring a little earlier than normal and added all of the new challenges and triggers you have brought with you this year. I know there are no rules to this challenge and survival, but if there is a thing called cheating, you have accomplished it with your early arrival of symptoms! But, you will soon be gone and we have survived you! So no, you have not won and next year there will be caution to what you may bring. So to you, we will be happy to say “bye-bye” until next year!

September, 

You are the most dreaded month of the year for MANY, MANY people around the world! We don’t like you and we don’t like what you bring! You are the month that tortured so many lives in the past, and the results haunt so many each year as PTSD anniversaries arrive. I just want to warn you, there’s a different game being played this year! WE ALL are standing together to battle you, to survive you, and we WILL live! We are leaning on each other, we are helping each other, and we are learning from each other! You may bring a massive challenge with you, you may bring us to our knees, but we are stronger then you will ever be! We see you approaching, and we are ready for you! We will see to it that no one will be standing alone while you are here!

October,

You are the aftermath of September for many, and the PTSD anniversary beginning for many others. You bring a combination of things with you as you approach. You are also the beginning of the holiday seasons which has always proven to be another challenge. What was said to September, pay attention closely, because we will handle you the same way! We have formed many ways of handling and managing you and what you bring. So you might want to play by our rules and not your own… we will fight back TOGETHER if you give us a battle. So please take it easy this year so people can make it through you with a little peace. You are the month we will no longer remain on our knees September may bring us briefly to.

To all of the months,

We know the challenges and discontent you bring is very real. We know you and what you bring cannot be avoided. We know that you bring so much pain and suffering during your visit to those with PTSD, as well as their loved ones. But, WE are changing the rules on you! We are letting others know they are not alone in battling you, we are letting them know there are others out here for them and with them. And no matter how many times you cause people to fall upon their knees while you are here, we will offer our hands to help them back up to their feet!

PTSD may never go away, certain time frames are going to be worse then others. But we are learning how to manage it and make it through the rough times, months, and anniversaries that it brings.

We will not only survive you, we will relearn how to LIVE!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

Increased PTSD symptoms?

Increased PTSD symptoms?

I am hearing from MANY who are saying they or their loved one are experiencing increased symptoms that seem to have come out of nowhere. We are actually in that boat ourselves right now, but… it did not come out of nowhere. 

I am hearing “But he/she seemed to be doing SO much better, but now everything is even worse then before. Why?

I am hearing about many relationships that are on the brink of destruction.

There are many different reasons symptoms may be increasing, let’s go over a few of the largest things that can cause this, things to keep in mind, and even some cues that one may be seeing…

What time of year is it? Right there is probably the answer for many!

PTSD anniversary times. 

Old faithful with PTSD, an anniversary time of a trauma. You can pretty much count on symptoms increasing the same time of year every year. Even if you do not know an exact date of a trauma, one will not discuss it with you, are they might not remember, you can take a guess based on the time frame symptoms increase every year. If multiple traumas were at hand, you may notice longer time frames of higher symptoms or several different times per year symptoms increase.

Increased symptoms can start at different time frames. Some experience increased PTSD symptoms up to a month or even two months before the actual trauma date/time frame. Others may start experiencing them a week or even a few days before. Each person will be different.

The hardest days will be close to the date of the trauma, at least in my experiences over the years that is the way it is here. They can also last after that date/time frame.

As an example: Here with Craig, I can pretty much count on higher symptoms from August through the end of the year or through the end of the holidays (beginning of the year). His main trauma which caused PTSD to develop occurred in October. followed by a few other traumas after that date. So for him, the increased symptoms last longer then some people experience.

This time of year we are stepping into, 9/11 anniversary time frame, can be an anniversary time. It is a time that effected the entire world. There are many military, civilians, law enforcement, doctors, nurses, fire fighters, paramedics or EMTs, 911 emergency operators, etc that also have PTSD from what happened. So there are many that experience increased symptoms based around the same traumatic event, even though each personal experience/trauma may have been different.

We are also entering the time of year of back to school, change in routines, the holidays are coming. The expectations and changes that come with this time of year can also cause an increase in symptoms. Routines are very important with PTSD and this time of year can throw those routines off and bring on more expectations.

Holidays. 

Any holiday can effect one with PTSD. Especially if they also have survivor’s guilt. (Which Craig also has). Survivor’s guilt, in short terms, is when one survived/lived but another person did not. The one who lived carries guilt, of sorts, of being the one who lived. If survivor’s guilt is not at hand, you can pretty much guess the expectations coming are the reason for increased symptoms. The “what if’s” that come with PTSD, also the gatherings or large events, crowded places, people rushing around out of their normal… all of the things that can effect PTSD symptoms and increase alert.

An example of a trigger that many may not realize based around holidays or events: Halloween. As soon as one sees candy hitting the shelves, which it’s already there! It’s a sign of what’s coming and can cause the brain to hit overdrive. The “Will my kids want to trick or treat?” “Oh I have to go out that night with my family. I don’t want to let the kids down.”, “Is anyone going to knock on my door!?!”.

Then the day of… there are different vehicles coming through your area, people walking the streets, people in costumes, knocking on doors, playing tricks, etc. THAT ALL brings a lot to those with PTSD!

I used this example because it’s one many don’t think about. 

So what about cues? How do you know those rough times of year are coming?

The largest and one of the first signs for me are the movies or shows Craig starts watching. BINGO! That is one of the largest. neon flashing light signs you can get. With him, it’s military related or high action flicks, more than what he would normally watch throughout the year. I’m going to take a guess that it does not matter what career field or trauma was at hand, it’s probably much the same for others, and is from what I have heard from others. Movies that relate in some way to what was experienced. It’s kind of like a self forced exposure, for lack of better words. I have found this is very common for many, especially those who are military, law enforcement, or any line of work that brought that “rush” of duty. PTSD likes that rush, adrenalin.

The obvious cues would be based around PTSD symptoms themselves, symptoms increasing to more then normal levels seen throughout the year. Withdrawing from others, anxiety increase more often, becoming snappy in tone, frustrated, or angry more then normal, loss of focus or concentration more then normal levels, becoming stressed easily or faster then normal, more talk of not being worthy, loved, or needed… all of the signs which needed to be taken note of as possible suicidal signs. The comments of “You would be better off without me” is a huge one that starts being heard more often.

Spouses/Partners

These are the times that your role is larger then any other time with PTSD. Everything you have learned and placed in your “toolbox” comes into play. You take that deep breath, raise that chin, have patience, make sure you are taking care of yourself, and remember PTSD IS at hand and this is the time that taking things personal may really do some damage to your relationship. This is the time they need you to be supportive in positive ways! The largest time of year I hear about couples separating or divorcing is when an anniversary time frame is at hand. You HAVE to use your toolbox, everything you have learned! You HAVE to believe in yourself and know you ARE strong enough to make it through these times, if you want your relationship to survive what PTSD will throw at it. Reach for help yourself if you need it, there’s nothing wrong with doing that.

Those with PTSD

PLEASE talk to your spouse/partner! Even if you are not sure how to express how or what you are experiencing, give them a heads up that you feel “off balance”. If you notice your symptoms are increasing, call your doctor or get in to see one. Even if it’s just talk therapy to help you through this rough patch, do it, it can help in many ways you may not realize.

Note: Some people will not notice their own increased symptoms. This is common! If those around you are mentioning things to you or telling you they see changes, please listen to them. And hopefully they address this in a kind way to you (hint… spouses!).

Increased symptom times are when some sort of good communication is needed the most. “I need you to just sit and listen to me…” seems to be a good line to use. Even if a spouse does not get it, or not yet, ask them to just listen, then explain whatever it is you feel you need to. To them directly, “I feel [angry, frustrate, lonely, sad, numb, etc]” This gives them the opportunity to know what to do or not do without adding in a PTSD blowup from EITHER person.(Spouses… reread your section here and remember it for these times please. It’s not a time to take personally or to start an argument. They need you to just listen.)

In a nutshell, it’s just that time of year that many experience increased PTSD symptoms. If you are in this situation right now, you are by no means alone. Hang on tight, the ride will pass until it comes around again of course. Come on it’s PTSD we are talking about, but it’s NOT and does NOT have to be the end of life or good relationships. Work together, you can get through this. 

Focus on what you have learned, use that toolbox, use those coping skills, communicate, take breaks or retreat when needed if that’s what it takes to manage symptoms (either person!), allow the one with PTSD to focus on themselves when coping is needed!… It could save a bunch of heartache and broken relationships, as well as hurt feelings.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

PTSD Spouse/Partner Crash Course… before YOU crash!

PTSD Spouse/Partner Crash Course… before YOU crash!

I have many questions coming to me regarding how do I manage the rough times PTSD can bring? How do I keep from taking things personally? How do I keep from becoming overwhelmed? Etc.

Just my note up front… I’m NOT a doctor or in any medical field, I’m just a spouse. The following are simply things I found work for me/us and I’m passing them along to you.

* Truly ACCEPT that PTSD is at hand

I’m not saying you have to like it, no one does. But in order to move forward in positive ways, you have to truly accept that your life does now contain PTSD.

* Learn the symptoms and what comes with them.

If you do not learn what the symptoms are and what those symptoms bring, you are going to be lost in what you are experiencing! PTSD is not something you can just say “okay, he/she has PTSD” and let it go, you HAVE to take and make the time to learn so you as the spouse/partner know how to respond or not respond, and when. And most importantly, to understand what BOTH of you are experiencing.

* DO NOT live in a fairy tale wonderland!

Wake up! Life changed the day PTSD stepped into it. If you stay in the mindset that fairy tale stories are what life should be like, it’s going to be difficult for your relationship to survive PTSD. I can guarantee you that is not where your PTSD loved one is living in! There are and can be good, healthy, balanced relationships with PTSD being a part of life! BUT your expectations need to be real ones, not what you think life should be like or that life should be perfect. The sooner you face reality the easier things become and the less conflict there will be. PTSD brings enough frustration and conflict without your magical views of what life should be like adding to it which can cause things to become worse.

Too high of life expectations will cause the one with PTSD to feel guilty, have low self-esteem, feel like they will never be good enough for you, cause one to fall into a deeper depression… they are going to physically and emotionally pull away more than what PTSD already causes in majority of cases. All of those things can increase from what PTSD already brings if you hold too high of expectations for another person or your life together. It’s okay to have dreams and goals by ALL means, everyone NEEDS those, but be real about them.

* Taking things personally

This goes back to the things I have already stated. When you truly face that PTSD is at hand AND the symptoms that come with it, it becomes easier to not take things personally. Ask yourself, “Would he/she have said or acted this way towards me before?” If the answer is no, then it’s most likely something you should not be taking personally, but instead should be asking yourself “why” did this symptom surface.

When you look past the personal and you place your focus on what caused this and/or what do I need to do or not do right now, things become much easier to get through.

PTSD can cause nasty things to be said, it comes with the symptoms and takes time for one with PTSD to learn how to manage and cope so those things stop happening or stop happening as often. If you continuously take everything personally, I can guarantee you right now you are going to be traveling a very long rocky road.

* Becoming Overwhelmed

Every spouse/partner I know has been there at least once! Including myself. The key is, what are you doing about it? What do you do to prevent it from happening again and again?

You CANNOT wait until you are feeling it, to decide you need to do something! You need to form a daily balance for yourself.

All of the above is a great place to start. You also have to make sure you are taking care of YOURSELF! If you do not take care of yourself, and make time in order to have a break, you are going to become overwhelmed.

And when you become overwhelmed it just rolls downhill to everyone around you, your whole life will become unbalanced and all of those around you. Especially the one with PTSD!

Take breaks, find something you enjoy doing, treat yourself once in awhile… I buy myself flowers, nothing expensive, once a month, eat right… make sure you eat!, exercise, for goodness sake get a baby sitter once in awhile if you have young children, etc. There are MANY things you can do to take care of yourself even if you are caring for another full time. MAKE the time, TAKE the time, DO IT!

If you have already become overwhelmed and cannot seem to break the feeling, PLEASE get professional help for yourself! There is NOTHING wrong with a spouse/partner also seeking mental health help! Honestly, many times just that will also help one with PTSD know they can reach for help also.

* Communicate and Work Together 

I’m sorry, but I will not accept from anyone that communication and working together is impossible! Not in this lifetime after seeing and experiencing the challenges Craig and I have come through and continue to go through. Even with severe memory/cognitive dysfunction at hand, and it was only me trying for a very long time because PTSD and Depression had him in a place where he honestly could not make it a two way street… we still learned how to communicate and work together, so if we can do it so can you!

PTSD does cause a break in communication. It thrives on that break in communication! DON’T allow it to! It is going to be serious trial and error to figure out what will work and re-learn different ways of communicating. Keep trying, keep working at it, find what works.

PTSD is going to try to cause battles between you. It’s a way the frustration and anger vents itself. Each other is NOT the battle at hand, PTSD is! Re-learn how to work together! I know each person is their own individual, and you need to be. BUT, you are also a team, you need each other, and working together. learning who each other is now, learning ways to manage the symptoms, learning when each other needs space (even if it’s just simply going to a different room), learning how to notice when talking is just static noise and a conversation needs to be saved for another time. Etc etc etc. Learn to work together!

* Coping Skills

You knew I was going to say it.  Every single person needs to learn and know how to cope. When PTSD is a part of life you need those skills even more. Coping skills and techniques help maintain a balance, help manage anxiety (in either person), and help in more ways then can possibly be listed.

You have to practice them! These need to be done daily even if you don’t feel you need them certain days. When you practice them, they become second nature to use and easier to turn to when things do get stressful. When I say “breathe”, I mean it literally! Something as simple as correct breathing skills can change your life! There are endless numbers of coping skills out there, try them, see what works for you, and use them! They will make life a lot easier to handle.

* Love, Patience, Understanding, and even Empathy

Just because PTSD came into your life and turned it upside down does not mean you toss to the side the basics of life. Through the hurt, stress, anger, resentment, loss, grief, and all of those other feelings and emotions that may slip in… don’t forget why you fell in love with a person, why you are with them in the first place.

Yes, PTSD changes a lot of things in life, it puts you through more trials and errors then one should ever have to experience, but that person you love is still there, there are many out there that do not have their loved one anymore, unfortunately. Do not allow PTSD to win, take back your relationship and your life, even if it’s in small steps. Don’t forget to still love, have patience as you both learn how to manage this new life, you are partners for a reason, don’t let go of that.

PTSD may mask how one truly feels about you, they may not be able to express themselves in the same ways they use to, but that does not mean they don’t care about you. It simply means they have a battle at hand that covers up who they really are, they have to focus on themselves more then they use to, they may be lost in what they are experiencing. They really do need you. Don’t be blind to the ways they do show they care, those things may be expressed in different ways now, may not be as direct, PTSD numbness may be at hand, keep all things in mind.

Motions lead to emotions“… it has to start somewhere.

These are just a few of the basic things that can help you, at least they helped me, and us. You have to start somewhere, you have to do something, or you will crash. Don’t allow that to happen, make a change today, try something new, start a different routine or way of doing things, and don’t forget to take care of yourself through the process, I cannot say that one loud enough. YOU CAN do this!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

PTSD and the Reality of it…

PTSD and the Reality of it…

This is one of the most crucial and critical topics we can discuss! Unfortunately, it is a topic and conversation that many people put off. Many people get into a mindset of…

Oh their PTSD is not THAT bad for us to have to do that.” or
Oh they cope just fine…

There is nothing worse than a crisis starting, or has already happened, and hearing “HELP! I don’t know what to do, this is what is happening…” or “If only I had done this…” or “I had no clue what was/is happening or what to do…“.

Folks, let’s face reality… we are talking about PTSD! 

PTSD is NOT something people should be fearful of! Just to state that upfront in a very serious way! It is however something you need to have knowledge about! Knowledge to know what to do, when to do it, how to respond in different situations, and how to manage things BEFORE something serious happens, etc. And the knowledge to understand that no matter how mild or severe you think one’s PTSD is, you never dismiss PTSD is in reality at hand, at all times.

PTSD can come with many different types of symptoms… flashbacks, nightmares/night terrors, frightening thoughts, anger, frustration, dissociative symptoms, concentration issues, cognitive dysfunction or memory issues, hyper arousal/being startled easily or feeling on edge, high alert, anxiety, avoidance, numbing feelings, loss of interest in things one enjoyed, depression, isolation, guilt, survivor’s guilt, suicidal thoughts/tendencies, etc. etc. etc.

Now, is this something that you just blow off or sweep under a rug? NOT on your LIFE or their’s! LITERALLY!!!

Spouses/Partners, keep in mind I am saying this with love and because I care about EVERY single one of you! But I have a bone to pick with many of you that I hope you take to heart, someone HAS to say it! So I’ll be the bad guy on this one and hopefully you will be thankful I said this later…

Many of you just simply have not been around PTSD enough to have the knowledge yet, you are still learning, so this will hopefully be of help. Then there are some others, well, you are tossing to the side reality. Whatever the reason or where you stand, I hope this helps! 

YOU need to, have to, step up to the plate when PTSD symptoms escalate! For yourself AND your partner’s BEST interest. (Family members or friends this could go for you too) There is nothing worse to me then hearing about a crisis at hand and a spouse saying, “But he/she will get mad at me.” REALLY??? Reality check, they have PTSD, most likely they are going to get upset or mad anyway if their symptoms are escalated, that’s a part of PTSD. BUT isn’t them getting mad or upset at you better then someone getting hurt OR you having a funeral to plan! REALITY! Fact is, they may get mad or upset up front but I can pretty much guarantee they will thank you for helping, later when symptoms decrease.

When a person is experiencing escalated symptoms, most likely they are not going to be able to think rationally, they are not always going to know what they need to do for themselves, and if they are in a flashback… well that brings a whole new ballgame, they may be physically there but in their mind they are completely somewhere else, and to them you may be someone else! They are right back to that trauma. If you sit back and do nothing, well, sooner or later it’s not going to play out as a pretty picture.

YOU are their spouse/partner! YOU are their support person, they rely on YOU rather you realize it or not, rather they say it to you or not, when PTSD causes them not to be able to rely on themselves. PTSD is NO joke! They did not ask for this, they do not do these things or act these ways on purpose, they are NOT out to purposely harm anyone or hurt someone’s feelings. PTSD is what happened to them! Even a person who has milder symptoms and/or has learned to cope very well can backslide into severe symptoms from time to time, and at any point in time! It only takes one trigger.

As a spouse/partner AND/OR as the one with PTSD… you need a plan for the worst case scenarios that could happen! Again, don’t say “that won’t happen“, if that’s what you are doing you are being blind to reality, have not truly accepted PTSD is a part of your life yet, or simply have not learned enough yet.

Oh yes, before I go any further here… I did not say exactly what this conversation is about, because many of you would have skipped right by this if I had said this up front.  It’s about safety! Safety protocol… as Craig, myself, and our family calls it. Putting a plan together, and knowing in advance how to handle situations when they do come. It’s PTSD, situations will come sooner or later. With every ounce of love, heart, and caring bone in my body I have to offer… THIS is a reality check!

Now that that is out of the way and hopefully I have your attention… 

What are things you can do in advance to help everyone when PTSD symptoms escalate?

* Emergency contacts

Do NOT wait until there is a crisis at hand to dig for phone numbers or ask people who you should contact! Make a list of emergency and crisis line phone numbers, addresses, even print out maps of how to get there!

When a crisis comes, you are NOT going to be able to focus clearly or may not have the time to dig for information. Make that list NOW! Hang it where everyone can get to it or see it in your home. Save info to your phone, carry a print out with you at all times.

* Medications/Weapons

This is urgent! PTSD as well as depression and survivor’s guilt DO in reality come with thoughts of suicide. Even if you have never heard a person say they have thought about it, reality is I personally have never come across a person with PTSD that the thought has not at least slipped quickly through their mind at some point in time.

PLEASE, I will beg you on this one! Use safety in your home! Lock those things up!

Weapons: I am NOT saying a person cannot own weapons or have a means to protect themselves, so please do NOT even start that debate here or it will be deleted, I believe in rights. But I also believe in being responsible and using safety precautions when owning weapons. I mean let’s be serious here, many with PTSD were or are military, law enforcement, or grew up knowing and understanding weapon safety… if anyone knows about weapon safety it’s THEM! Many others have experienced a personal attack and do have the right to protect themselves. So I am simply stating to have safety in place so when PTSD symptoms escalate no accidents happen.

Another thing I have actually heard of several cases of, and do want to bring to your attention are nightmares/terrors and weapons. When one is having a nightmare they are back to the time and reality of their trauma. Weapons under a pillow or beside the bed can be a safety issue during nightmares. It needs to be taken seriously! Even a person that is more than safe while awake, may experience things out of their normal during nightmares/terrors. I have heard of one confirmed case where a person committed suicide during a nightmare. PLEASE be cautious to reality.

Medications: Lock them up! It is an overall safety precaution for ANYONE that enters your home! Many people have children and/or grandchildren, friends with children that visit, even pets in the home. It also keeps PTSD from turning to medications as a way out when those suicidal thoughts come AND/OR accidentally overdosing when memory and/or concentration are at hand.

* Abuse

Unfortunately abuse can happen. It can come with anger and flashbacks with PTSD. PLEASE have a plan in place. No one purposely abuses another when PTSD symptoms are at hand, but it can happen. Make a plan together! “If a symptom escalates to this, we will do this…”. Spouses/partners, IF you have to leave a home due to abuse taking place, safety does come first… but for everyone!

PLEASE do not leave your PTSD partner alone! Have someone that the two of you AND the designated person have agreed upon go and stay with your partner! At least to just have someone present on or just off of the property until the symptoms decrease. Many times once a spouse/partner leaves, the one with PTSD can experience many different thoughts that could lead to self harm. No one wants this situations to happen! Make a plan ahead of time!!!

DO NOT be one to cry wolf! We all know where that gets a person and you won’t be taken seriously when something may indeed happen. There are many ways to talk one down from or manage anger or VERBAL outbursts. (See my postings regarding anger and outbursts and PTSD and Anger… some things to try which may help BOTH people and by all means talk to your doctors!) If you are being yelled at when PTSD symptoms have escalated, that is NOT physical abuse! There are many things one can learn to help manage verbal outbursts.

I know verbal abuse is very real, I know it can be very scary, as well as cause mental harm. Learn what to do for these situations even if it’s something as simple as saying “I’m going to another room so you can cope with your anger. If you need me I am here.” and remove yourself from the situation. Calling law enforcement every time one with PTSD (only) yells at you will eventually be taken as a non-serious situation. You do not want this to happen.

* Emergency Situations

If emergency responders are needed, contact them! It’s not the time to say “oh he/she will get mad at me”. TALK about this ahead of time! IF you have to call law enforcement or medical help, PLEASE tell them the person has PTSD AND how to approach them correctly so symptoms do not escalate even more than they already will, as well as you are not putting the one with PTSD OR the emergency crews in any unknown to them harms way, especially during flashbacks. Do NOT allow someone to walk into a home blind to what is happening! You can save a lot of extra stress and heartache by keeping everyone properly informed. And I will tell you right now, law enforcement is sent in as “get the situation under control”, it’s their job. ANY and ALL info you can give them BEFORE they get there will be of help to both them as well as the one with PTSD!

* Children 

I have written several articles regarding teaching children and safety. The largest mistake, in my opinion I see, is a parent who causes children to fear a PTSD parent. Many times a parent will allow their own fears or opinions roll over to their children. Many times conversations happen in front of children that are NOT for little ears. This is mentally damaging to a child, their personal development, as well as their relationship with BOTH of their parents.

TEACH children on their age levels what to do in different situations, TEACH them about PTSD on their age level of learning, TEACH them coping skills they can also use. You want your family to form and maintain a healthy balance. That balance only comes when everyone knows safety protocol and learn about life with PTSD. Children are still learning, they have not developed stigma yet, YOU can make a huge difference in their lives as well as others by simply teaching them about PTSD and how to live life with it, just as you would teach them anything else in life they need to learn.

* Focus 

Many people lose focus in escalated situation. BREATHE! As a spouse/partner these are the times that your focus is needed the most! Do not over react to the situation, focus on how to help or what needs to take place to get things back to a manageable level. These are the times that you have to focus so you can use everything you have learned and the things that could help BOTH of you. What you do, how you say things, even your body language will matter.

      
From time to time I do have to get serious about certain topics, this is one of those times that it is urgent and serious. These are just a few things of MANY that can be of great help when symptoms escalate. PLEASE do something now. Use this basic information to build a plan for you and your family. Don’t wait until things are out of hand to try to figure out how to handle a situation. I know you won’t always have the answers for every situations, no one will every time, but what you do now can sure help you and your entire family when situations do come. Please don’t dismiss the reality, embrace it and use it to your advantage so you are prepared. Again, PTSD is not something to fear, knowledge brings balance. 😉

Much love to ALL of you! You’ve got this, you CAN do this, it’s simply communicating and making a plan. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook Page

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

Our Love Story…

Morning. Coffee in hand and looks like we are going to get rain today, imagine that  😉

Let me tell you a story…

Craig and I had dated for 4+ years, he was my high school sweetheart, we had our entire lives together planned out. When he left for the military we had a misunderstanding that no amount of love in this world could fix at that moment. He went his way and I went mine. We stayed friends over the years, but 10 years after that misunderstanding took place our paths crossed in a way we thought would never happen again.

Eleven years ago today… it was raining, Tropical Storm Bill to be exact. I had been on the phone all day with our moms trying to work on wedding plans. Everyone had different ideas of what our wedding should be like, I mean this was a huge deal after our history and us coming back together as a couple. Was it going to be a lake wedding, a military wedding, a spring or winter wedding, were the flowers going to be this or that, etc etc.

I stood there that day after being on the phone all morning and just thought about everything. Craig and I had already made the decision that our lives were meant to be spent together, we had already brought our families together, we both have children from previous marriages. But marriage? It was something that after our history I never expected to happen lol. We had both already been through things in life and we were happy just the way we were. He did honestly shock me when he proposed to me almost 2 months prior to this day. I was just thinking about everything, and thinking about all of this planning at hand now.

Craig came in from work, I can still picture him walking through the door that day in uniform, him saying “Man, it’s raining out there.” as he grabbed a bowl, then the ice cream from the freezer. I remember him looking at me, leaning over and giving me a kiss, him telling me he loves me with that grin on his face, and asking me how my day was. I told him I had spent the day working on wedding arrangements. We talked for a few minutes then he sat on the couch with his famous bowl of ice cream in hand, watching CSI. LOL.

I continued what I was doing, then stood there for a few minutes just looking at him from across the room. I took a deep breath, walked into another room, and called my son who was 8 years old at the time, who was at his dad’s for summer. I asked Brandt, “Hey, is your heart dead set on carrying the rings at the wedding?” His response? “Mom! You haven’t married Craig yet?” LOL, out of the mouth of babes. I finished the phone call, looked at Craig again as he ate his ice cream, then picked up the marriage license.

I sat down on the arm of the couch next to Craig, then asked, “Hey after you finish your ice cream and show, do you have any other plans today? Do you have a few minutes?” He looked at me and said “Nothing planned, sure I have time. What do you want to do?” And I dropped the marriage license in his lap. He looked up at me, grinned, and asked me if I was serious. I smiled back at him, chuckled, and said, “Yep, dead serious.

He finished that ice cream rather quickly lol. We threw on white shirts, blue jeans, and boots. Got into the corvette and backed out of the garage into Tropical Storm Bill, and headed to the court house.

I can tell you this 😉 there were no lines or groups of people at the court house that day lol. The weather gave us a break in rain to go in, we were married, then a break in rain on our way back out. We sat in the car, looked at each other and started laughing, “I guess we better call our parents!” Craig called his first, he said “Hey mom your daughter-in-law needs to talk to you.” Oh yes she caught that! 😉 Then we called my parents. You know what? There was not one person upset about us doing that, they were all happy.

Then we went to Wendy’s for a late lunch. After we ate we went by the airport to check on the airplane. Then went back to the house for the rest of the rainy day. It was a perfect day!

To my dearest husband Craig,

I just want to say to you, even through the worst storms in life, we have something together that is greater then any storm. You have been and always will be the other half of every heartbeat my heart takes, you make my life complete in ways that some people never get the chance to experience. 

Together we have proven and continue to prove, that there are true love stories in life. The hard times, trials and errors, only bring us more strength and closer. The good times of chuckles, those grins, and memories that will last a lifetime do make each rough day worth having and living this life together through. There are good and bad things in life, that’s just life, but you and I for sure have discovered a balance to all of it. 

Every day my love for you grows another day stronger. I’m not saying some days the thought of a frying pan in hand doesn’t come to mind LOL (That’s a figure of speech/southern JOKE by the way! Of course I would NEVER do that! 😉 ), but yes I do love you and that love will never fade. 

I know the life we had all planned out 25 years ago, well lol, did not quite turn out as planned, and that weighs on you. But you know what? I think you and I proved 11 years ago today that life plans altering are not such a bad thing, and we keep proving it daily.  I will never need riches of gold, or a mansion on a hill, or all of the materialistic things in life many long for. I have true love… and that is priceless.

You Craig, are my best friend, my partner, my soul-mate, an awesome dad to our children, and truly the other half of every heartbeat my heart takes… and I could not imagine this life without you!

 Happy 11th Anniversary! I love you! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook page

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

The true meaning of Memorial Day

I have to tell you what happened yesterday! Craig was watching videos online where people were asking others what they were doing for Memorial Day and in these recorded interviews they were misleading people to what the meaning of Memorial Day is, on purpose, trying to find out how many people actually know the true meaning of Memorial Day.

I was in TOTAL SHOCK at how many Americans, of all generations, do NOT know the true meaning of Memorial Day! So if you want to pass the following along, you are more then welcome to… Memorial Day is a day that EVERYONE should understand the meaning of!

Memorial Day

Many know this as a long weekend, a chance to take a short vacation, time for parties and/or family gatherings, a time to start the grill and have a cookout, time to hit the lake or beaches. It is a start to summer time. However, what is the TRUE meaning of and for Memorial Day?

Let us not forget…

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday, it started as being known as “Decoration Day” at the end of the Civil War to honor and commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War. It was a time when ladies placed decorations/flowers on the graves of the fallen, a tradition which carries on today.

Today, Memorial Day honors and remembers all of those fallen during military service, man and woman. It’s a time of remembrance and a time of respect to all of those who gave their lives for us.

As you honor this time this weekend, please don’t forget the true meaning of this day. If you fly a flag in honor of this time on Memorial Day, please remember to fly it at half-staff until noon, then raise it back to the top for the remainder of the day.

Memorial Day can be a difficult time for veterans, military, and loved ones. Please keep that in mind if you are celebrating this weekend. If you know of a veteran that is alone this weekend, take a little of your time and visit with them, many of them have lost a battle buddy or a loved one who served and did not come home.

To those that know someone or have a loved one who suffers from #PTSD, here are a few things to remember and/or things that can help through this time…

* Remember that many suffer from survivor’s guilt. This can make this time a very difficult one for them, even more then normal.

* Don’t push them to participate in gatherings. Let them set their own pace of what they are comfortable doing.

* Talk to them and be there to listen.

* Be careful with your words! Be respectful with things you may say or ask regarding service time.

* If you are setting off fireworks, PLEASE make sure you let them know ahead of time or let them know if your community will be setting some off. Even if it is not loud or from sound, remember the smell can be a trigger to some. By mentioning it ahead of time it can help keep triggers down or help them be able to control them.

* Some families remember by setting up small memorials or even place settings for an empty seat at the dinner table as a sign of remembering those lost in battle. If you have someone joining you or in your family with PTSD, PLEASE be careful with doing this, if they have survivor’s guilt and/or PTSD this could easily trigger bad memories. If you plan on doing this, ask if it’s okay first.

* Allow one to grieve during this time if they need to, don’t push them to be happy and join in events, let that be up to them.

* Know the signs of suicide and be cautious to them. This is a difficult weekend for many and PTSD could be more severe then normal.

And PLEASE, teach your children the history of Memorial Day, and what it really means.

These are just a few things to keep in mind this weekend. If you are out and about please try to enjoy yourself, be safe, but always keep in mind the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Those lost in battle may not be with us in body, but they will never leave our hearts. Each and every one of them gave their lives for each and every one of us.

Not one of them, will ever be forgotten! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Caregiver/Family Survival Guide… In other words, my “tool box”

Caregiver/Family Survival Guide… In other words, my “tool box” 😉

There are MANY things that caregivers, spouses, and family members can do for themselves. You know I’m going to say it again…

“You have to make sure you are taking care of yourself in order to take care of others.”

Too many are forgetting to use their “tool box”! I will preach this until it sinks in, you HAVE to make and take the time to take care of yourself. And if you don’t, well you might as well pull a seat up right next to PTSD and Depression because you are going to start experiencing some of the same symptoms or other symptoms of your own that are not positive to or for anyone… if you are not already there!

Many people get so stuck in their routine, the overwhelming things/symptoms that come, the hustle and bustle of every day, that they forget OR set to the side and ignore themselves.

When this happens YOU are not going to maintain a healthy balance, mentally or physically. YOU are going to be the one that has snappy tone with others… become angry or frustrated, you are the one that will become overwhelmed, you are the one that will experience anxiety, you are the one that will honestly feel like you are falling apart! When this happens and you don’t do something to manage it and keep a self-balance, the rest of your world is going to fall apart around you.

So once again I am going to open up and share my toolbox with you…

1. MAKE and TAKE time for yourself!

By doing this you are better able to maintain your own self-balance mentally and physically. When you do this it gives you what you need to make it from today to tomorrow and still have life within it. This helps YOU and it helps your FAMILY!

Start a hobby, go window shopping, have lunch with a friend, something, anything that you enjoy doing and that gives you time to maintain your self-balance.

2. Coping Skills!

We talk here about coping skills all of the time. There is a VERY important reason for that, coping skills help you when the most challenging times come, they help you prepare for them and they help you manage through them, they help you keep your personal balance. There are MANY, MANY different forms and techniques of coping…

LEARN them, PRACTICE them, and USE them!

3. Get Outside!

Many caregivers and/or family members are inside a lot, way more then normal. When disabilities are at hand it does become challenging to get outside for a healthy amount of time. You HAVE to! If you don’t you are cutting yourself off from the world, you are cutting yourself off from maintaining a healthy environment, and you could cause it to happen to others in your home as well.

4. Respite Care!

Make sure you have someone that can provide back-up care. This allows you to do the things you need to do. It allows you to take a break (even though we love and choose to be the one to take care of another, you still need breaks!). It allows you to have some time to make sure you are taking care of yourself and maintaining a healthy self-balance.

There are MANY places that can help with providing back-up care!
Family members, friends, neighbors… If those are not available, there are professional companies, if you can not afford those then check with local churches, organizations, VFW’s can provide info if not some back-up care time themselves. There are many things available, use the phone or do the leg work and find them! You NEED back-up and help, do NOT dismiss that fact!

5. Eat!

Many times caregivers are so busy taking care of everyone else that when it comes to themselves, they simply just do not eat, do not eat right, or are too tired to eat. This is NOT healthy! Your body is like a car, it needs fuel in order to function, food is the body’s fuel. Make sure you have the fuel your body needs or you will find yourself on empty!

Keep prepared veggies, fruits, healthy snack bars, etc on hand. These are quick and easy snacks for the whole family throughout each day. Keep a schedule for meals. If you are tired when it comes to meal time, take a few minutes to just sit, relax, use those coping skills  so you feel like eating. And make sure you are drinking enough fluids throughout the day! Staying hydrated helps keep you healthy!

6. Exercise!

It does not matter what type of exercise you do, do something! Don’t think you have time for it? Well try this  So your partner likes watching movies (a common one for those with PTSD), do yoga while you are watching the movie! Now that’s a two for one.  There are a lot of two for ones that can happen… Walk or play outside with the dog or kids, take a walk with your partner, you BOTH get exercise. While cleaning house put on your favorite music and sing/dance that broom away! Anything physical can be exercise, and you can make it fun at the same time.  You don’t need expensive gym memberships or equipment to exercise.

7. Write, Journal, Talk!

It’s NOT healthy to keep things bottled up inside! Come on let’s face the facts, not everyday is going to be butterflies and flowers. You NEED an outlet! Even if you write it out then shred it (what my 14 year old actual does), get it out! Talk to someone you can trust or a therapist! Even a conversation with a stranger in a grocery line, no matter what the topic is, can make a world of difference!

8. Talk/Communicate with children/grand-children

There is one thing many dismiss. If you are a parent or grandparent, if you notice children not doing well, YOU are not going to do well! It’s a fact about being a parent! Take the time to just talk with the children in your life! This not only helps them, it teaches them how to communicate, it helps you know when something is wrong or not quite right, or bothering them, and you can get to the root of things quickly before something becomes a large issue. It makes them feel important! Many time caregivers are so overwhelmed with their daily caregiver rolls and helping that person, that the kids are just there, so to speak. There HAS to be a balance!

I have seen it go the other way in many families also, many times sadly. The non-disability spouse pays more attention to the kids then the one with disabilities. It’s like a protection of sorts, and it can be harmful to the family structure! Some end up with children resenting the parent with disabilities, some end up with marriages/relationships on the rocks or failing, because all of the attention is on the kids. There HAS to be a balance so the entire family as well as your relationship maintains a balance!

9. Which leads to One on One Time!

Everyone needs one on one time! Children need it from both parents/grandparents and relationships need it! Family time is important but don’t forget that one on one time is equally important! You know I’m going to say it… It helps keep and maintain a healthy balance!

10. Unplug!

There is NOTHING wrong with stepping away from that computer or putting that phone down! You have to live real life even though those things help you stay connected to others. Spending too much time sitting in front of a screen is NOT healthy and it takes you away from the real world you need to be living in. It can also become an addiction to where important things in your life take a side seat, folks, that’s not good!

This is a rule I live by! Even though I blog and LOVE communicating with everyone, even though I am in the process of writing a book, even though I enjoy my new phone, I still make sure I step away from them each day. When Craig and I are talking, or I am talking with my kids, you won’t find a phone in my hand etc. My attention is solely on them. I am a wife, a caregiver, a mom… those things come first. It helps maintain a balance, as well as respect, it’s important to you as well as those around you.

No number needed on this one… Respect Yourself!

Have respect for yourself. You are not a superhero, you are a human being and every human being has their limits. Don’t push yourself too far, don’t expect yourself to be perfect all of the time, allow yourself down days to re-group, allow yourself to be you! Don’t lose yourself in taking care of someone else. Sure things have changed, what you can do or not do has changed, your roles have changed, but that does not mean you have to lose who you are in all of it. YOU are important too! Don’t lose sight and respect for yourself… it helps keep a healthy balance. 

Being a caregiver or a family member that helps out another, is a big job, it can and will weigh you down if you do not do the things you need to, YOU can find and maintain a balance that not only is healthy for you, but also healthy for all of those around you. Don’t forget to make the time, take the times, and most of all… Don’t ever forget to use your toolbox.

If you know someone that this information could help, as with all of my postings, you are more then welcome to “share” it. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD