Tag-Archive for » PTSD and Holidays «

A holiday note…

To ALL of my “family”,

Today here on the lakefront it is Christmas. Coffee in hand and getting this day going. 😉 I know with our family here on the page being world wide, not everyone celebrates today in the same way or for the same reasons. Whatever your beliefs may be, with respect, I hope you have a wonderful day filled with love and smiles.

I hope PTSD will give you some time to just enjoy whatever you choose to do today, even if it is only for a short time, embrace it. Use those coping skills, take those breaks when you need to, and do those motions to find the emotions. I know today is a very difficult one for many of you, but … You’ve got this 😉 because I believe in each and every single one of you!

Each day we learn together, share with each other, support each other, and with each day of this special family we have created here, we grow stronger together. I honestly believe, PTSD does not stand a chance. 😉 It won’t go away, but we, together, are giving it a new fight and we are making a positive difference.

Do not allow whatever stigma you may experience today swallow you, you are better then allowing that to happen. We will change stigma one person at a time. And if someone is carrying that stigma, send them to my website or my page 😉 we can teach them the truth and reality of PTSD and life with it together. Because YOU no longer stand alone! <3

You all mean the world to me (and Craig). Today I wish you peace of mind, some time for happiness and joy, and I send you much love and strength. We may not have the same blood running through our veins, but YOU are a huge part of our “family”! <3

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Happy Thanksgiving… no matter where you are!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today (and always) I am thankful for so many things in my life…

I want to say Thank You to all of our brothers and sisters in the military that are not home today with their families for Thanksgiving. I thank you for the job that you do and for how giving you are of yourself and the sacrifices you make for all of us… you are in our thoughts today and always. I wish you a safe Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for my husband. Even with PTSD I could never imagine my life without him. Craig you are my love, my soul-mate, my best friend… and still the other half of every heartbeat my heart takes! I am thankful we fight this war of PTSD together by each others sides and not against each other. I am thankful that our relationship has grown to something greater then one could even dream of or imagine during this battle… PTSD does not stand a chance against us! I love you babe <3

I am thankful for our children. We have 4 of the most kind hearted, understanding, happy and loving kids, and they carry no stigma towards anyone, and do carry on educating others with pride… how could we ever ask for more. I am a very proud mom/step-mom of all of them. I am thankful for the unique personalities each of them have and for the strong souls within them. They are our daily reminder that life and family with PTSD can in deed exist as we hear them laugh, tell jokes, and pick on each other about their taste in music lol. 😉 Children grow up too fast, enjoy every second of it! I love you kiddos! 

I am thankful for our families. Craig and I both have strong families that are always there for us and with us. Some may still not quite grasp PTSD and our life with it, but that has not changed that they are family and family sticks together. I am thankful our parents raised us with loving hearts and strong upbringings which help us today as we ourselves grow stronger.

I am thankful for each and every single one of YOU! <3 I stand strong that we are a “Family”! Each of you are special and very dear to my heart. I am thankful that we all have the chance to learn together, lean on each other, help each other, and friendships form that have a bond that many people never have a chance to experience in their lifetime. We stand strong together against PTSD and finding a positive type of new life even through the roller coaster it brings. I am proud of each of you and the strength you have. I am Thankful to be able to call you our “family”!

I am thankful for the strength and love I have been given within me to understand, learn, help others through our personal experiences, and to stand back up and stay positive when PTSD tries to knock me down. And that I can pass along education to others about PTSD, other unseen disabilities, and life itself… in a positive light. And lol 🙂 I am thankful you can tolerate my lame humor and southern slang! 😉 Humor is a wonderful coping skill!

I wish each of you a very special Happy Thanksgiving today, no matter where you are, because I am thankful for YOU! Please know that you are loved and cherished. I hope your day brings a smile and even a chuckle. Please be safe if you are on the roads today or as you travel. Stay strong  <3

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Holiday Gatherings vs PTSD

Holiday Gatherings vs PTSD

This is probably one of the toughest things there is! It’s family, it’s friends, it should not be problem, right? But what about when it’s combined with PTSD?

PTSD does not pick and choose who to be around and who not to, or when. Even if it is family and friends, it still brings a gathering, a crowd, expectations, anxiety levels may go up, things out of a normal daily routine, etc. etc. It has nothing to do with “who it is”, it has to do with the symptoms of and PTSD itself. This can be very hard for people who know you or knew you before PTSD to grasp.

This also brings times of meeting new people, or being around ones you are not use to being around on a regular basis. That can cause symptoms to increase as well.

SO… What are things we can do to still be able to TRY to manage through gatherings and the holidays?

* TRY! That is a key word to PTSD. 

See, PTSD brings a massive symptom of avoidance. When you give in completely to avoidance… don’t go, don’t make it out of the house, don’t at least attempt… you really don’t know honestly what you can manage through and what you can’t. That’s not being fair to yourself!  You might just find a break in the day where you can actually enjoy seeing friends and/or family members. Even if it is only for a short time, give yourself a chance to see what you can actually accomplish. In order to do that, we have to know a little more about how. 

* Gatherings at your own home

We have personally found these are the easiest! If there is such a word as easy. But this is real life and everything in life is not going to take place in your own home, there’s a huge world out there for you. But, if the gathering is at your home, there are things you can do to help your day run as smoothly as possible.

If you need a break from everyone, take it! Go to a room where you feel more at ease in and use your coping skills. It’s okay to step away from others for a little while when need be, then when you are ready to, go back and join them.

Walk outside. This is something else that can help greatly! Get your mind off what is going on inside by taking in everything that is going on outside… the sounds, the sights, hopefully a little peace. Once anxiety comes back down or other symptoms, then go back inside with the others. You might have to tell someone “I just need to step outside by myself for a few minutes”, so others don’t follow you, and again that’s okay!

Use your coping skills!!! I can not say that one enough. If you have not learned any as of now, then start learning before the holidays get here so you know how to use them correctly, so you are use to using them, and can notice when to use them. In honesty, everyone should learn coping skills rather they have PTSD or not.

* Gatherings at another person’s home

You can still use the same things that you would use at your own home! Just ask ahead of time or have the person you are going with ask if there is a room in the house you can go to or use if needed while there. It’s a simple “Sometimes [name] has a little anxiety with people he/she is not around a lot. Can they use one of the rooms if need be?” You can still ask without it being overly obvious if they do not know you suffer from PTSD.

You can use the bathroom to step away to also. Great place for coping skills and giving you a few minutes to gather yourself… well, until someone else knocks on the door. But it will still give you a little time to yourself.

Step outside. Normally on holidays people are in and out of a house anyway. So this will not always be extremely noticeable. If you have someone there that you are comfortable with, ask them if they want to take a short walk with you. That person can help you with coping and taking your mind off the gathering of people, or simply give you someone to talk things through with before returning.

* Gatherings in public

Make that plan! My other posting went over this one. There are many things you can do to make it through a public gathering, or at least try to for a little while. And the bathroom “escape route” for coping works better in public then in a home. 

* Time to leave

If you need to leave early before others do, that is okay! Don’t be hard on yourself or try to keep up with others. If you get to the point where you have tried and coping skills, meds., etc. are not helping enough and it’s just time to leave, that is okay! The fact is, if you went to a gathering, were able to make it out the front door and go, that is an accomplishment! You did something and put the effort into doing it and that is what counts!!! PTSD brings a lot of symptoms to battle and if you tried then you did NOT fail even if it comes time for you to leave early. The length of time you are somewhere is not what matters most, the fact that you made it there and tired IS! 

* Those that can not make it out

There are still going to be those who can not make it out to gatherings. PTSD does not have a schedule, just a fact. You do not know when the good days or bad ones are going to come. If you are one that can not, even with trying, make it away from home, do not allow others to guilt trip you! Many times this will happen without the one saying the words even realizing what they are doing. Not everyone is going to understand PTSD or what comes with it. It’s just a hard fact that many still have not learned or may not care to learn. Do not allow those people to bring you down.

The one thing that Craig and I have found works best is, “We would love to come and will try to make it, IF we can.” Simple phrases like this one shows you care, shows you do want to attend, but at the same time holds no promises. This also cuts down on your expectations, not only for or by others, but also on yourself! At times when expectations are removed or lessened, it helps reduce the “what if’s” and anxiety, which in turn gives more of a chance of being able to attend or at least try when that day comes.

These are just a few things that may help with the holidays or any special event. One day at a time, one step at a time… and don’t give up if you have a day that you can not manage getting out, tomorrow might be different. Always TRY! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

So are you ready? PTSD and The Holiday Season

So are you ready?

Ready? Ready for what?  The toughest time of year for many who suffer from PTSD.

Think about it… Are you seeing more symptoms or worse symptoms of PTSD right now? Are more conflicts starting? Is your loved one seeming to be more focused on themselves then those around them? Are they not wanting to leave the house compared to what they normally do? Are they having more difficulty with plans made? Etc. etc. etc.

As many are shaking their heads yes! Step back, bite your tongue for a second, and think about it. The holiday season has started! And there are also many that are going through their PTSD anniversary time.

Symptoms become greater around these times. The expectations, crowds, holiday hustle and bustle, parties or gatherings are coming, people dropping by, phones ringing more, finances oh let’s not leave those out… money becomes more tight then normal as people try to maintain a normal holiday season of expectations. And one of the largest ones to take and keep into consideration… survivor’s guilt. Survivor’s guilt weighs heavily during the holiday season.

Mix all of these things together and shove them into one brain with all of the other PTSD symptoms they suffer from daily combined in there. Then shift all of that into high gear nonstop thoughts. In all seriousness, what do you think is going to occur?

I am seeing many right now giving in to the bickering or outright fighting, blaming the one with PTSD or pointing fingers, and everything that we have spent so much time learning about and understanding was thrown to the back burner and the “this isn’t fair to me” has come back up.

You are right, it’s not fair… but it’s sure not fair to the one with PTSD either! Just because it’s the holiday season does not mean PTSD can just be set to the side, it is still a daily battle, holiday or not. What you do to help yourself or another person through this increased symptoms time of the year will make all the difference in the world to how the season will be for you. You have to continue working together and helping each other. There are many who lose the focus of what really is at hand when the holidays come around. You have to maintain focus, you have to maintain positive support, and you can’t just expect anyone to shift into a holiday mindset when so many other things are still at hand.

Find the balance. You can still have a joyful time even with PTSD, but you have to find a balance with it. Don’t forget the basics of PTSD and how each person responds to different things. Don’t push so hard for a normal that you end up back stepping and having to start all over again. There are enough dance steps that already come with PTSD without more being added to it because someone is forgetting the facts of life as it is now.

With what I am already hearing from many right now, it’s pretty serious that if you don’t start getting a handle on some situations now, I dread what will come once December gets here. Keep in mind what I always say, “If something is happening out of the everyday normal of your’s, WHY?” Find the why and things just seem to go a little smoother because you can work on finding what can help with each situation.  😉

It’s so easy for ones without PTSD to get sidetracked with all of the holiday things going on or coming, please try to keep in mind that this is a time when PTSD causes more difficult struggles, it’s the time that everything you have learned to this point comes in handy, and you have to still stay on track. It’s what’s best for everyone.

* Be cautious of too many expectations.

* Except if schedules get altered some. Keep in mind it doesn’t mean things won’t happen, it may just be a little more difficult to stay on a schedule. This can be frustrating, however work on a solution or rescheduling, and don’t allow harshness to take over.

* Don’t become negative about the other person. Negative feelings lead to worse PTSD symptoms.

* Communicate. Be honest with each other! Even if you are afraid of letting a person down because you are not up for something at that time, it’s better to be honest up front and you work through it and find a solution or reschedule, then it ending up in a huge blow up later.

* If Survivor’s Guilt is a part of your or your loved one’s life, please keep that in mind!!! I can not emphasize this one enough! This is one of the most difficult times of year for this and we want to keep positive thoughts of why life is worth living still, not the focus on what someone did not do right.

* Pace yourself. Allow yourself or your partner down days where there are no expectations and they have time to rest for an event that may be coming. We have a golden rule here, a couple of days before and a couple of days after… and that many times helps us to be able to participate in things along with putting a plan in place.

* Include the one with PTSD in decision making. This can be difficult for some with PTSD, however there are still many that would like to be included or at least included to what they feel they can do. So always leave it an open option for them to help.

* Don’t forget coping skills. Everyone can use coping skills, PTSD or not! And trust me 😉 they come in handy!

* Non-PTSD folks… Keep in mind that just because one with PTSD seems to be ignoring you or off in their own world does NOT mean they don’t care about you! It may simply mean they are having to cope more then normal.

* DON’T take things personally!!!

* Stay on schedule with doctor appointments, medications, therapy, etc. Keeping your normal schedule can help. And if you need an extra appointment contact your doctor.

There are MANY things you can do that help through the holiday season, patience and understanding need to be a huge part of them. Everything in life is not going to run perfectly, it’s just a fact of life, PTSD or not. Find things to help you, your family, and your situation. Work together!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Halloween…

Witches, Goblins, Ghosts, and Werewolves… OH MY!

Today actually can be a difficult day/evening for many…

It’s Halloween!

It brings more activities to your streets, crowds, children running around going door to door, laughing, making all sorts of noises to match their costumes, etc… oh the strangers at your doorstep YIKES!

Halloween and PTSD, some do okay and others not so much.

So what are some things that can help you through this day?

* If you are the non-PTSD parent and the kids want to go trick or treating, make sure you do not pressure the PTSD parent to go! Let that one be up to them. If they choose to stay home, and need someone with them, ask a friend or family member that they are comfortable with to come over for a little while while you take the kids out.

* Start a new tradition if going out is just not a possibility. This actually can be fun! Maybe an early dinner out or dinner and movie time at home, let the kids pick out their favorite candy at the store or something special, use your imagination to do something fun but within PTSD’s limits.

* If you are one that hands out candy, but the door knocking doorbell ringing is just too much, set up a table outside that blocks the door 😉 even decorate it if you want to and sit outside to be able to pass out candy to the neighborhood kids but still have a comfort zone.

* Not the most favorable to the kids out later, but you can always make up little candy bags and put them in a container outside with a printed sign that asks for each person to take one bag. Using a sign with a hand with pointer finger raised can help the little ones know to just take one.

* Another one that can really help, put a sign on the door with an arrow pointing to a neighbor’s house “Pick up your candy from us next door please” and ask a neighbor to pass it out when they pass out their’s. 😉

* My kiddos favorite was having the outside table and THEM being the ones passing out candy! They got to see more people, more costumes, and even make new friends. Sometimes their friends would be having so much fun they would stick around and pass out candy with them instead of going door to door.

* If the one with PTSD does go out, always remember that if it becomes too much for them it’s OKAY for them to return home, don’t over-do it!

* If you are not interested at all in this evening, make sure you turn off your outside lights and you can place a paper over doorbells so they can’t ring or turn them off. Place a sign on the door to help prevent people from knocking. There are always the ones that are going to try anyway, but this idea can help back down the number of people coming to your door.

One that is good, “Happy Halloween… but please Do Not Disturb/Knock

* And I have to add this one in here 😉 PLEASE do NOT leave pets outside on Halloween! It’s just not safe and not all people think before they act, especially with the excitement of the night. We don’t need animals teased or fed candy/other things!

* Flashlights and/or glow sticks. These are awesome! If your kids are trick or treating make sure people can see them! My kids have always loved glow sticks, we would put them in their bag and also have one on them that could be seen. These things just help provide a little more safety.

* And always use safety! No eating candy until an adult checks it! Many hospitals will actually scan candy bags if you would like to stop by one or are passing one while out.

* Use your coping skills and keep an eye out for triggers. But you already know that. 

Well, these are just a few ideas to help you through the day/evening. If you are going out tonight please be safe, and if you are attending an adult type party (drinking) please be careful mixing alcohol or too much, with medications, and make sure you have a designated driver. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD and Fireworks…

Has anyone noticed that many with PTSD are having additional symptoms or increased symptoms right now? Now, do you know why?

For those of you in the United States… What’s coming? Ah… the 4th of July! (There are certain anniversaries or such going on in other countries as well) Which means…

Fireworks…Crowds…Celebrations…Expectations! Oh fireworks!

Fireworks. 

Many ask why fireworks. Because they might resemble what someone, especially military/war related OR a natural disaster, went through.

Many that do understand believe it’s because of the sound they produced, which is very true however not the full truth to them. What about the vibration they give off, vibrations from them can also effect one. Then you have the light produced from them, it can be another PTSD trigger as well.

So the one with PTSD might be able to manage through the lights, vibrations, sound but you can’t figure out why fireworks are still a trigger to their PTSD. But are you still missing something? What about the smell? Ah… you might not have thought about that one, the smell. Many that have experienced military trauma relate the smell of fireworks to combat.

In a situation where natural disaster was at hand, it may be more of the sound, lights, and vibration over the smell sense that trigger a person.

You have to keep in mind ALL of the body’s senses when it comes to PTSD. PTSD can react to anything that can be sensed that reminds them of what happened to them.

At times, ones that are triggered by fireworks can find ways to cope through them, others may have a more difficult time doing so. It all depends on the person and their level of coping at that time.

So what can you do?

* Some will face what is going on. Actually sit, watch, and focus on fireworks to try to help keep themselves grounded to present time and place.

* Some will stay inside to avoid the smells fireworks produce. Or to avoid the light they produce, also by keeping the curtains shut to block the light.

* The vibrations are a slight bit more tricky. There’s no avoiding those. If vibrations are a trigger you have to focus to keep yourself grounded. Prepare yourself to what you know is actually taking place or going to take place. Helicopters are another thing that is a huge trigger to many due to vibrations.

* If the sound is a trigger, sometimes playing music or something you like such as watching a movie can help drown them out. Ear buds or headphones/headsets are wonderful in these cases.

* Using coping techniques/skills can help.

* Talk to someone through these times. Having someone to talk to and focus on can help, as well as help keep you grounded.

Whatever works for you, or try different things until you find what’s best for you in each situation, just make sure you do something. Flashbacks and triggers are no joke and sure not a fun experience so do or try things that can help get you through these times.

PTSD does start showing more symptoms when one is getting closer to days like the 4th of July. Recognize what there is a cause for additional symptoms and they are not something that are just coming out of the blue. With PTSD, there is always a “something” to cause the flashbacks or triggers. When you learn to recognize the causes or reasons, it makes it a little easier to handle and learn to cope best as possible when those things come. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Memorial Day (USA)

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. 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 will 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! <3

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

PTSD vs Selfishness… But is it?

PTSD vs Selfishness… But is it?

So it’s a holiday, birthday, anniversary, special event and PTSD seems to hit it’s all time high! Your loved one with PTSD seems so selfish, only thinking about themselves, forgetting about everyone else or who ever is having that special day… so you say. 😉 This is another one of the things I hear a lot and have seen myself. But do you understand why?

Survivors guilt normally. When the one who suffers from PTSD feels that they let someone down, or a life was lost when they felt they could have been the one to change the outcome, they should have “been there” or even if they were in a position that they themselves took another life… they survived but someone else didn’t. This also can happen to a Veteran who has been out of the service but yet hears of one of his brothers that has lost his life during duty… it makes their mind go into “if only I had been there for him”. It really flares up PTSD on all holidays, birthdays, etc.

Survivor’s guilt is something a loved one might not even know is there. A sure sign of it is on those special occasions when everyone else is happy and smiles and the one with PTSD feels guilty of being alive. They feel that they don’t deserve to be happy, that they haven’t earned it, that it’s not fair or right for them to have happiness when someone else no longer has that option. They feel a life lost took someone away from their family and caused so much hurt. It’s almost as if it’s a way of punishing themselves for the hurt they feel they have caused. The fact is, many of these experiences were out of their control, they were in a position to where they had no choice, but they take the responsibility as their own. Leads to survivors guilt.

Another reason for this change at certain times of year is also the fact that the holiday, anniversary, or special event may put them in a situation of being around crowds, people laughing and having a happy time when they can’t seem to find the happy within themselves. Many see it as the person with PTSD is being selfish, but in reality they don’t view it or think of it that way at all! Their mind is on the loss and coping with it. Also, it’s focused around what they are expected to do or how they are expected to act which is difficult for them… it’s really not them being selfish at all. It rolls back to what happened to them and how they respond to their trauma.

Anniversaries of the trauma is one of the largest. You might not know the exact date, but if you watch closely you will know approximately when the trauma occurred. You will notice PTSD becoming extremely bad at a certain time of year, majority of the time not linked to any other holiday or event. Many think it just comes out of nowhere, but in fact there might be a link… that anniversary date.

So before you jump to calling a person selfish or that they lack caring about someone else, ask yourself why they are acting in this manner. No one with PTSD purposely wants to hurt someone’s feelings or ruin a holiday or event. They are in fact dealing with that trauma. Always take this into consideration.

There are ways of helping them through these times. Not everything has to be bad. Try pointing out the positive things they have done in their lives, people they have helped, ones that did live because of them. Remind them of the progress they have made. Whatever you come up with that helps will not take their trauma or feelings away, but it can help them have a better day and that might just make events or holidays better. Look to the good, as I always say. It will help!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”