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PTSD and Building A Stronger Relationship: Part 1 “Life needs- Understanding the basic steps/levels in life”

PTSD and Building A Stronger Relationship: Part 1
“Life needs- Understanding the basic steps/levels in life” 

In order to work on one’s self and/or building a stronger relationship with others, we need to start with the basics of what is “needed” in life.

What are “Needs”? These are the basics of psychology and life itself. I think it really explains a lot when it comes to PTSD and why so many are, well… lost within themselves, and relationships are taking a hard hit from it. Your balance in life, either of you, and what you have accomplished to this point has been thrown off track, so to speak. In reality that is exactly what has happened.

PTSD is known for being a roller coaster, a term that describes it so very well. You hit every twist, turn, dip, high point, low point, upside down and then some, then go through it all over again when PTSD is a part of your life. But, I also believe that when you have some idea of what is coming, the best possible knowledge you can that is, then the ride becomes a little more easy to understand. In order to be able to help yourself, to help someone else, or even your relationship you have to understand what is actually going on. So hopefully this will help!

So what are needs? Not wants, not things that are optional for living, but the must have needs for life in general. Don’t let me lose you here, I’m getting to a very important point with this. 

Now I will say, there is debate that level/importance of needs can alter from one population to the next/community, area, between if it is war time or peace (this is NOT only related to military, just to note that here), etc. Some category parts can parallel each other, and some can fall into different levels depending on the circumstances, but the ultimate need in life seems to always be the same. Again, don’t let me lose you here, this does relate to what happens when PTSD is a part of your lives.

So keeping that in mind, here are the original 5 stages of “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” from basic needs at the top to most important at the bottom…

* Biological and Physiological Needs 

Air, Food, Drink, Shelter, Warmth, Sex, Sleep, etc.

* Safety Needs 

Protection, Security, Order, Law, Limits, Stability, etc.

* Belonging and Love Needs 

Family, Affection, Relationships, Work group, etc.

* Esteem Needs 

Achievement, Status, Reputation, Responsibility

* Self-Actualization 

Personal growth and fulfillment: expressing creativity, helping others… desire to give to society, pursuit of knowledge… achieved when all basic and mental needs are essentially fulfilled.

SO, now that the basics of psychology needs, are out of the way, now lets add those to life with PTSD. Told you I was going somewhere with that. 

You have PTSD in your life now, both of you most likely had accomplished all of the steps above, had reached the fulfillment of self-actualization, the actual top of the pyramid, the grandest place in life. Then somewhere in life something happened, a trauma. Resulting in PTSD.

What just happened to all of those steps you had accomplished? I can tell you what happened, you both just got knocked off your feet and right back down to the bottom basic steps. Maybe the effects of PTSD cost one their career, maybe you lost your home, maybe you worry about how you will feed your family, sleep… oh how PTSD effects sleep. Sex, yes I’m listing that one too, some are probably grabbing onto it with a vengeance or don’t want any part of it at this point! Which comes with PTSD and all of the symptoms, and in some cases medications, it can bring. And the list goes on. (And just to add it in here, this does NOT make you a failure! Even though I know that is a true feeling. To me, a failure to anything in life only comes when you never try.)

Stop and think about it. Where do you and/or your partner sit right now? What level of basic life needs are you or they at? Have you ever thought about that before? The answer is probably no! And if you have, I bet there’s a good chance you are sitting right there dwelling on it, stuck… another part of PTSD that can happen. There can be just too many thoughts jumbled up together and trying to survive and sort through them.

Your thought might be the here and now actions of what you are experiencing with no understanding of why you are experiencing them, the psychological root to the why, besides the obvious… PTSD. Whichever level it might be, I am sure PTSD has a hand in where you are sitting, as well as being able to make it to the next step… which you can do! It is just going to take a little more than you were use to… for BOTH of you!

Spouses/partners, have YOU yourself taken a step back, looked, and thought about any of this? It’s easy to lash out or back and say this isn’t fair or stop treating me this way. But trust me, that does not solve anything and can make matters worse. What are the triggers? What is causing one to feel the way they do? What is making YOU feel the way you do? Find the why to whatever is happening and you can find what works best to take the next step.

If you are lacking intimacy in your relationship, the big one that comes with PTSD, a large part due to the negative thoughts or feelings that are a real part of PTSD. Instead of dwelling or complaining about it, find it in life’s steps and then find what is missing, find what’s preventing your partner or even yourself from reaching that step, and be supportive to help each other reach it.

If social interactions are missing, again find that step in life’s needs and look to see what’s missing so you can make it to that step. Life changes when PTSD is a part of it. Your social calendar is not going to look like it did before, but that does not mean you cannot work on things and figure out what works to help with different symptoms and situations, as well as individual needs, so you can get something back the two of you may be missing.

No matter which level a person is on, you really need to be considering the “why” to it so things can get better, for both of you! And make sure you yourself are finding those steps as well.

PTSD can and does knock a person down, even both of you, it’s just a fact. But that NEVER means you can’t bring yourself back up! I could sit here and go through every single step above to life needs, but they are pretty clear, and pretty clear to what is needed to reach to ultimate goal in life, even with PTSD… Take one step at a time. But in order to do that you have to understand the basics of order when it comes to needs.

Work towards building yourself back up. So you got knocked down, so what, just because you got knocked down does not make you less human, PTSD does not decrease one’s intelligence level, PTSD does not mean a relationship cannot work or improve, and PTSD sure does not mean life has to end. We all know that PTSD has it’s ups and downs, the PTSD dance as many of us call it… one step forward two steps back. But you don’t stop taking those steps.

Each of you and your loved ones are equally important in life. Each of you deserve a chance, understanding, and to make this new life with PTSD the best it can be. I stand strong behind my saying, PTSD affects “the best of the best”, the ones that are strong, taken everything thrown at them, and continue to survive each day that comes even though PTSD developed. If you can do that, then you can accomplish many of life’s basic needs. It’s just going to take that extra strength, time, patience, and understanding to do so. Don’t ever give up on yourself or your loved one. You both are worth more than that!

I know many of life’s basic needs are being trampled on right now. I know many are suffering more then normal, and a lot of worry and stress have been added to what you already go through. And the difficult times are far from over. But don’t give up. Life has changed, and starting over is never fun, experiencing that step back and having to step forward again can weigh on you, but it does NOT make you or your loved one a failure, it does NOT mean that step forward will not come, it just means life has changed and focus needs to be placed on building it back in a different way.

Please take the time to understand that life does in reality have and needs a balance. It takes work, communication, coping, and working together to make that balance happen. Take the time to care, take the time to view what others or even yourself may be struggling with, and work towards that next step to things getting better. PTSD is not just going away, but your life and relationship can improve from where it may be right now. And be one that offers positive support in the process, it can change a life, save a relationship, and even save a life!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD Facebook page

Those with PTSD and A New Relationship.

Those with PTSD and A New Relationship.

I have heard from quite a few people with PTSD recently, that have brought questions about starting or being in a new relationship.

No matter what the reason a new relationship begins, it can bring many questions and concerns when starting something new that will be a huge part of your life. PTSD or not, new relationships can be scary in a sense. Then add PTSD to it and all of those “what if’s” that PTSD loves to run through your mind come to the surface…

“Will this person accept me with PTSD?” 
“Will this new relationship survive PTSD or fail like the last one?” 
“Is a new relationship worth what it might bring?” 
“How do I make this relationship work?” 
“How do I explain to this person about PTSD?”
“How do I get my new partner to understand what my PTSD is like and that I cannot just get over it?”

… Okay, the questions have been endless and with as many as I have been receiving I felt this was very important to talk about.

You know Craig and my story, which I shared a little of yesterday. We were together, then apart, then ended up back together after our marriage to others did not work out, and then Craig and I married. I’m actually Craig’s third wife by the way. Life is not a written book, we do not know what will happen next. Not every marriage or relationship will make it, just a hard fact. But I do believe there is someone out there for everyone, and sooner or later those two people will cross paths.

“Will this person accept me with PTSD?”

Honestly, who knows! But you will not know until you try.  I know it’s difficult wondering if someone will accept you or not, that is something that everyone goes through whether they have PTSD or not, it’s just a part of relationships.

The best thing I can tell you is just be honest, not saying that you would not be by any means. When Craig and I got back together, he was very honest about there were things with him that had changed, due to what he went through. We had no idea it was PTSD at hand, at that time, but there were some changes in him that were noticeable. We talked, he told me right up front about what we now know as symptoms, and I believe that made a huge difference for us.

Everyone has something in their lives that when another person enters a relationship with you, they either have to accept or you both have to move on in separate directions. PTSD is no different than having an ex, or children, or maybe you have animals that are a part of your life, maybe your family has a medical history of cancer etc., maybe you are a mama’s boy or a daddy’s girl… The list is endless of things that are a part of a person. When the right person comes along, they will accept and work through whatever is at hand with you. PTSD is no different, they just have to learn so they have the tools that are needed when it comes to PTSD being a part of life.

“Will this new relationship survive PTSD or fail like the last one?” 

DO NOT cut yourself short in life and what life can hold, just because you had a relationship that did not make it. A “failed” relationship does NOT make you a failure! A relationship contains two people, not only one.

Maybe with the last one the tools of managing life with PTSD were just simply not known or learned yet. Maybe you were with a person that could not accept life with PTSD. Maybe you had not gotten help for yourself yet or enough help to know how to cope and manage PTSD. Maybe you just simply were not with the right person for you! The reasons are endless, but that does not mean every relationship that you enter will not work out. Keep learning, keep working on yourself, and when that right person comes along everything you have been working on with yourself will be seen and help.

“Is a new relationship worth what it might bring?” 

Absolutely! Life is not a cakewalk in the first place, there are going to be trials and errors, there are going to be conflicts, there are going to be steps to learning how to work together, communicate, and also learning how to manage PTSD. But a good relationship is by all means worth it! All of those things make a relationship stronger!

“How do I make this relationship work?” 

Relationships take two. You both have to put effort into it, good relationships are not just handed out. Work together, communicate, learn everything you can so you have a full toolbox to work with, learn coping skills, and never forget one of my favorite sayings that is so true, “Motions lead to emotions” not speaking of only physical aspects of a relationship, and make sure you make and take one on one time together. It does take a lot for a relationship to work, and even more for it to be a good relationship, but it can be done… even with PTSD. 

“How do I explain to this person about PTSD?”

PTSD is not something you can just sit down, explain, and all will be known in one conversation. That’s just not possible. Telling someone you have PTSD is the easy part, which by no means is easy to begin with. But when it comes to explaining about PTSD, they are going to have to take the time to learn on their own also, but they do have to know about PTSD in order to do that.

People who do not already know about PTSD, do have a hard time understanding it, what is involved, and accepting it. You have to give them time to learn. If they make the effort to learn, take it as a good sign. Everyday is a learning experience, even for those of us that have been together for years there are still new things that come with each day. Do not overwhelm yourself with trying to lay it all out at once, step by step, just like with anything else that comes with PTSD. And by all means use this page and other resources to refer to, they help bring different views and perspectives from both sides of the fence which can help.

“How do I get my new partner to understand what my PTSD is like and that I cannot just get over it?”

Talk to them. Sooner or later they are going to see the symptoms, there is no hiding symptoms of PTSD from one you are in a relationship with. Give them the knowledge so they can learn and become better understanding of what you experience each day and you can learn how to work through things together.

I think the toughest part when it comes to explaining the “I cannot get over it” part, is with PTSD there are good days and there are not so good days, which to someone that has not yet learned about PTSD makes it difficult for them to understand it. It takes time and learning to understand and really grasp that a good day does not and will not mean all days will be that way. PTSD does have the nickname “roller coaster” for good reasons, but it does not mean everything is bad! It just means you have to learn the tools to manage the turns when they come.

As I always say, “You take the good days when you can get them, and you use those days to bring strength for the not so good ones.” It boils down to education is needed in order for one to learn that PTSD is not something one can just get over. It’s not just a mood swing, it’s not just a phase one is going through, it’s a very real part of everyday life for one who has it, and it’s not just going away and cannot just be set to the side. PTSD takes a lot of effort and work to manage so those good days do come, and it does need those things from both people not just the one who has it.

Relationships are not handed out from a silver platter. They do take a lot, but what BOTH people put into them is well worth it. Just because you have PTSD does not mean you cannot have a relationship or that all relationships will be bad. Do not give up on yourself and what you can have in life that quickly.  You are worth more than that! Relationships are different with PTSD than what most people view as “normal”, but that does not mean they are not worth it.

I do believe that there is someone out there for everyone. If we were meant to live life alone, then there would only be one person standing on this planet, which is far from what there is.  Do not cut yourself short just because you have a diagnosis, yep I’m going to say it again  “PTSD is a diagnosis, not the definition of who you are”.

If you are one that is in a relationship or new relationship with a person who has PTSD, PLEASE take the time to educate yourself! Self-education is priceless!!! The more you learn about PTSD, and things that help, the stronger your relationship can be. Just because PTSD may not seem “normal” to you right now and a relationship is different, just means you need to take the time to learn and redefine what the word normal means. Do not allow stigma and lack of what your knowledge may be right now, prevent you from a relationship with one with #PTSD which may very well be that person your path was meant to cross with. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD Facebook page

“WHY did you fall in love with your significant other?”

A few days ago I asked a question, “WHY did you fall in love with your significant other?” Not the where or situation around it, but the why. What about them was the root of why you fall in love with them? This is something that even if you do not have a partner right now, may help in some way in the future, so is intended for everyone.

This question had a meaning behind it on many different levels…

Rather you are the one with PTSD or the partner, that question can bring to light a lot of memories, feelings that my not feel like they are quite there anymore or different now, some may feel there is no love left, some may say their feeling of love has grown stronger even though things have changed, or the question may bring thoughts of good times. It can bring a huge amount of mixed feelings good and/or bad. One thing I found extremely important to any relationship, in my opinion, is not forgetting why you are with someone. So I wanted to talk about this… and more.

There is also one question that Craig (being the one with PTSD) asks me a lot. “Why do you still love me?” That’s a pretty serious question! You know when someone asks that, their brain is in overdrive of thought, concern, and trying to understand reasons. Sometimes it may be as simple as they are not feeling real well or in a not so good place right then, maybe feeling they are a burden. Whatever their thought is at the moment, or whichever side of the fence they stand on really, hearing the reasons someone still loves them helps them. Sometimes it is a hard question of not understanding why a person is still here. To me, how could I not love him, how could I not remain here, it’s rather a simple answer. However the answer is way more deep then just a simple one. But to that other person, they may not understand the why or maybe they just need to hear it. We all know PTSD brings a lot on both the one with PTSD as well as the spouse/partner. At times things that seem like they have simple or already known answers still have to be voiced, need to be voiced.

I’m sure there are many in the same shoes. That was actually proven when a spouse actually asked the original question I asked the other day, and I asked if she minded me carrying her question further with a couple of postings. 

These types of questions do boil down to communication, reassurance, concern, as well as self-esteem issues from not feeling sure if you should be with or feel deserving of another person, or even wanted there by another. These are all very real with PTSD no matter which side of the fence you are standing on.

So let’s go over some of the mixed emotions and feelings these questions bring…

Why did you fall in love?

To many, and I know myself included, that question brings back all of those butterflies in the stomach of that time of excitement, a new relationship, learning about each other, finding what you have in common or what qualities compliment each other, the building of something special and personal over time. There was something, no matter what it was, to cause you to choose the person you are with (or will be with)… as well as to fall in love with them.

Some people had a relationship before PTSD stepped into your lives, like Craig and I. Then others may have fallen in love after PTSD was there. And on that note, don’t ever allow anyone to convince you that a relationship is not possible with PTSD involved!!!

So there are two different angles to it in reality. Some had to learn and develop their relationship through changes due to PTSD and others knew upfront the one with PTSD, even though changes can or will still happen.

Does it make a difference? I’m not sure it really does in some ways, then in others I question it. To me, knowing him before PTSD I think is beneficial in ways, I view it as I am lucky to have known him so well before PTSD. I know his true self without the mask PTSD does form, I have the before and now to compare so we can focus on what PTSD causes and how to make things better and continue moving forward. But while always keeping in mind that people do change, it is a part of life rather one has PTSD or not and many times based around circumstances life brings in general.

Then other times the knowing him before, caused a feeling of loss and a grieving period had to be taken of sorts, and a greater acceptance of the changes had to take place in order for our relationship to still grow. I had to change my mindset. Getting past the “what was lost” and working towards the “what can be” makes a huge positive difference. It does not mean those thoughts of loss or what was will completely go away, you will still experience them from time to time, however you learn to cope and move forward so they don’t hold the “what can be” or “who we are” back.

In either case, learning how to live life with PTSD has made us stronger. Our relationship has grown in a way that is very positive, even though it does take a lot of work and a lot of extra effort on both of our parts… I will never say it is easy. That is something that never stops, each day will be different and each day can bring new things as well as challenges. Just because things have changed for us does not mean I love him any less, or he loves me any less, it’s actually caused our love to expand to a different level then many people ever get to experience. There are many more trials and errors, constant effort to figure out things that work for us, and a serious amount of honest communication and making sure we hear as well as listen to what each other says, then what one considers a “normal relationship”, but to me those things make us stronger.

Many times it goes back to that saying we were once told, “You have to go through the motions to find the emotions.” That is one of the most true statements that has ever been made to us! It can go for either person as well. It’s not faking feelings or trying to be someone you are not, it’s not about being someone just to make another happy, it’s about discovering who you can be and what you can feel, and bringing back what PTSD has masked. It’s about rediscovering what PTSD has hidden from you. Again, for either person. 

Just because a person suffers from PTSD, or just because a partner feels weighed down by changes, does not mean you have lost the love between you! It is a fact that PTSD brings numbness, distance, and all of those other things that are hard to grasp for either person. It’s also a fact that a partner may many times put up a wall as I call it, a defense to protect one’s self emotionally against those symptoms. However, just because these things are real and experienced does not mean your love for each other is gone. It means you have to put the motions into action to find those hidden emotions and feelings. You fell in love for a very personal and real reason, just because PTSD may mask that love will never mean that love is gone. Use what you know about each other, use what you have learned about life now and PTSD, and work together to rebuild what you feel is lost.

Why you fell in love? Use those real reasons to your advantage, the root of a relationship already established.  It might just change tomorrow in a positive way. Don’t lose sight of why you fell in love with someone, use it as a positive way to uncover that love again and build from it.

PTSD can or does take away many things from a person, a career, materialistic things, loss of friends, etc. But love… that is one of those things that does not have to end in many cases, it is a true feeling that can’t just be taken away from one. It might be masked and not seen, but gone? That’s a choice you still hold onto and can make based on real feelings. Work on it, educate yourself, and find ways to hang onto it… it won’t be easy, but it is very worth it. 😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Letter: To my dearest husband

PTSD

To my dearest husband,

I wanted to write something directly to you…

I know the weight of your medical is hard for you, and it rolls over to the weight of the world for you. I know you are having a really tough time right now, you don’t have to say it for me to know it, I know you oh so well. I see it in your eyes, I see it through your expressions, I hear it through the words you do not speak, as you sit so quietly and to yourself. I hear the words you do speak and feel the pain you carry within them. I see how your head is hung low, and I catch a glimpse of the tears as they fall down your handsome cheekbones. I hear you speak the words “failure“, “burden“, and how you say “I lost everything and lost myself to this illness” and “Why can’t others understand?“. I also hear the words “you could do so much better without me.”

Well I need you to know something. Really hear and listen to my words when I say this and understand that they come completely from my heart, my love for you, and with honest truth.

I know you view yourself as a burden to others, I know those are real feelings. But I want you to view things right now through my eyes, and what I see. I see a man that is not at all a burden, yes things may have changed in our lives but that does not mean you are not loved or wanted by those closest to you, it does not mean what has become a part of you is too much for me. Just because life did not go as planned and you have to rely on others more than normal, does not mean you are a burden, it means that you are loved. Loved by those who are there for you and standing beside you. When a person allows their own life to change in order to be there for another, that is a choice and with that choice comes great meaning. It is easy for one to walk out the door and never look back, but that is not the case here. You have people standing beside you because they choose to, I choose to. When that happens there is no such word as “burden”, it’s love and it’s because I believe in the man you are.

I know you view yourself as a failure, again I know those are very real feelings to you. Just because your life has changed and taken a different path does not make you a failure. It simply means things have changed. I know it hurts deeply that you can no longer proceed with your past dreams, but it does not mean there are no new dreams and goals to be made. The pages of life have just turned.

A failure would be not accomplishing anything. That’s not what I see before me. I see a strong man that has accomplished so much in his lifetime so far. A man who fights every day to make it to the next, no matter what struggle is before him. I see a man who people… many people… look up to, respect, turn to for help and guidance. A man that when something is wrong he looks for a solution, when something is broken he fixes it, when someone is down he lends them a smile or kind word, when help is needed he is there. In my eyes that is not a man who is a failure, that is a man who has succeeded in life, no matter what disabilities are a part of it now. YOU have succeeded, and will continue to.

I know you view your life as you have lost everything, those are very real feelings and I do understand. But in reality what have you lost? A career, things? Are those things really everything? No, they are not. You have things that some of the greatest of men, of all time, long for. You have people who care about you and love you and respect you. You carry a meaning to your life that is beyond materialistic things or past accomplishments. You may view what you have lost, but in reality look at what you have gained… so much.

I want you to see what I see, who I see you as, through my eyes. Even with the changes you have experienced due to disabilities, it does not change the true you, who you really are and what you stand for. And I know that a lot of times disabilities mask things, and I truly understand that, but I know you are still here. You are one of the greatest men I know. You stole my heart the first day I met you… and there is not a disability on this earth that will ever take that feeling away from me. You are my hero and my soul mate. I still get butterflies in my stomach like a teenager when you look at me or you walk into the room. I am still attracted to you as the first day I met you. I have the utmost respect and consideration for you. You are my best friend and the one I can always count on and trust above all others. You are the one that taught me to stand on my own two feet and be my own individual. And you are the one there to catch me when I fall, and to hold me when I cry.

That’s not a burden, and that sure is not a failure! That’s a partner in life and a very strong one. And there is no disability great enough to strip that away from us, because we are too strong to allow it to. I stand beside you and with you through life’s changes with pride, love, patience, and understanding. And when you hit the rough patches I will be here to pull you through them, and to fight them with you… no differently then you would do for me.

I know this is a difficult one, but Please do not hold yourself as guilty for what has or how my life has changed. It’s simple, I CHOOSE to be here. I CHOOSE to fight this battle with and beside you. That one is my choice and one I have made. Move forward with me, do not let guilt hold you back. I know that’s easier said then done, but just remember it is my choice I have made and I accept you and our life the way things are.

I know your disabilities and the struggle they bring weigh you down at times, but I want you to always remember that I am here to help you raise that handsome chin back up and I am honored to be going through this life with you… and that firmly means no matter what road is ahead of us! You are not alone in this, and I choose to be here. I hope this will help you see what I see, and help you realize that even though your feelings are very real, you are much more and greater then you are viewing yourself right now.

I know PTSD and Depression have their firm grip on your right now. But I also know that you and I will get through this, just as we always have and do together. Hang on to my hand, I will not let go, and I will be here to help guide you and walk through the steps of this life with you.

“You could do so much better without me”… No, no I couldn’t. I couldn’t imagine life without you being a part of it! Live this life with me! 

Love,
Me

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD: The Flat-line in relationships

PTSD: The Flat-line in relationships

I knew I could not leave a posting short lol. 😉  There is just SO much to this subject and after seeing how many of you tuned in, I knew I needed to say more.

My last posting…

“Yesterday I didn’t spend much time on here. I got the pond maintenance done, the yard mowed, and then Craig and I got some much needed sleep. My kiddos went to see my mom and dad after they got home from work/school, so Craig and I stepped away from everything and took some us time here at the house. 

PTSD and the feeling of distance and feeling alone can be really tough at times, and very real… even when you are sitting in the same room. Sometimes you have to put your foot down and say this isn’t us and take that time to just be with each other to try to find even a small part of what PTSD snatches away from you. Anyone that states love, closeness, feelings and emotions should not be “forced” but should just happen… has never lived with PTSD in their lives. It takes a lot of extra time and effort to hold a relationship together when PTSD is a part of it. And the sooner ones who have PTSD in their lives realize that, the better the outcome is going to be.

Relationships are not carried on a silver platter when PTSD is there. It takes patience, communication, and “going through the motions to find the emotions”. “

That said a lot within itself, but let’s dig a little deeper. 

Relationships are hard with PTSD being a part of them. It does not mean by any means that there can not be relationships or good ones, it just means you have to work extra hard at them, for them to work.

Craig and I are no different then anyone else going through this. We are very lucky, in my opinion, that we had a strong relationship before PTSD became a huge part of our lives.

And I will get to that in a minute. But, I will be honest… sometimes the fact of knowing the person before PTSD became a part of life can also have it’s down side. I did know Craig before, I know what he was like, the things he loved in life, the funny character he was, how he could so easily make me laugh, how goofy he was, how he loved the spur of the moment let’s do this or let’s go there. I watched him excel through life with his head high, no fear in the world, and a person who would take on the world without thinking twice about doing so. He would go out of his way to help anyone.

He loved teaching our kids as well as others about airplanes through the EAA Young Eagles program that we were a part of. He loved flying, being outdoors, and he dearly loved his job as an air traffic controller with the military. He/We loved travelling and being able to see the country and meeting new people. He loved teasing me (in a good way) about my love for dogs and animals in general. He loved family gatherings, loved having cookouts with friends, he just loved life to it’s fullest. All of the things and person he was brought a larger sense to us and who we are as individuals as well as a couple. If you do not believe in the term soul mates, you should, because if there is any belief in that word, Craig and I are living proof of it.

I miss those things in him, (Let’s see if I can make it through writing this without crying lol), he is right here but yet it seems like he is so far away. I do get to see a glimpse of him from time to time, but for the most part PTSD keeps it hidden. I am very thankful for knowing him before PTSD, and being able to have the memories and have enjoyed that part of life with him. I would not change things at all and value every step of life we have experienced together, and will continue to. But at the same time, I see the changes PTSD has caused. I love Craig with every ounce of my being, and I love him as he is now and accept that our path has changed, and I sure don’t hold any of it against him and hate seeing the guilt he carries caused by PTSD. But it doesn’t take away the fact and feelings of missing who he was, the part of him I knew before PTSD. It is only normal to have those feelings from time to time, it’s part of being human. They are real feelings, not meant to be hurtful in any way, but at times they do exist.

I also know that that part of him is not gone, it’s still there, it’s who he truly is, it’s just masked by what happened to him and by PTSD. So knowing how he was before PTSD also helps me understand what we have to do to help him work towards who he is, and through PTSD. It gives myself and him hope.

I also face the fact that I have changed. How could I not? It’s just a fact that comes with PTSD being a part of our life. My career changed, my/our dream life changed, my way of handling and viewing things changed, life has changed. I know I don’t laugh as much as I use to, I know some days it’s hard to find an extra smile, I know I am in a position that I have to handle things more seriously then I use to. PTSD has changed me too. I accept that and still push to move forward each day and put more effort in making sure there is positive in our life. I know I have to find that smile and hold on to myself through this “different then it was” life, and I’m okay with that. I accept it and I never lose hope, I make the best of each day that comes.

But not everyone has been in our exact shoes. Many relationships form after PTSD has become a part of life. You don’t know what they were like or who they really were. You accept them for the now.

It’s okay to in a way grieve over the feeling of loss of who a person was, it’s okay to miss them, and it’s okay to wonder who they were or what they were like before you met them or before PTSD became a part of life. You own those feelings and they are very real. And to the ones who suffer from PTSD, please do not pull away further or leave because your partner may go through this from time to time. I know it can effect you greatly. I know it causes hurt because you do not want them feeling these things. But it’s also a process to move forward and to a better future. When this happens take every strength you have and hold on to them, it’s really what they need so they can move past this. You as the one feeling the loss or distance can not stay stuck dwelling on it. Own it, feel it, go through the emotions that come with it, then use it to move forward and make things better for both of you.

And don’t get me wrong here, it’s not only the ones living beside PTSD that feel this way. These are very real feeling for the one with PTSD as well! They feel the loss, the distance, etc. and it weighs on them greatly. You have to work through these feelings and also guilt they may bring together!

I have had many people ask me which is easier, knowing them before PTSD or not? I can’t answer that. It’s really a catch 22. There are probably good and bad with both, like with anything else in life. But I do know it’s what you do today that will make a difference. And accepting PTSD is where you start.

PTSD comes with so many things. The flat-line effect is very real. And it’s not just the one with PTSD that can experience this, the partner can too. It’s where you feel numb, feel disconnected from others, when you know you love but can’t find the feeling to go with it. It’s that feeling of being there but yet it doesn’t seem real, it just seems distant… you are just there. Things get so wrapped up in trying to get better that the real life right in front of you gets put to the side. Then you add in other PTSD symptoms, avoidance, anxiety, the what if’s, etc. it all just added to it.

It’s so easy for relationships to get sidetracked when PTSD is a part of the relationship. There is so much in helping yourself or the other person, then finances, work, children/grandchildren, then throw life itself into the mix, relationships are where the suffering occurs.

This is when you have to plant your feet in concrete as Craig and I say it. You have to take a time out to focus on you as a couple. Even with all of the symptoms still there with PTSD, you can still maintain a good relationship. It’s not going to be easy, Craig and I both will tell you that. It comes with many feelings, emotions, and also lack of both. It is very easy to end up in that flat-line of a relationship, where you are just there. Many view it as the “roommate” status. You are both right there but the relationship feeling is lacking, and by either or both people, it’s more like a feeling you are roommates then a couple.

So what do you do if you are sitting in that position right now?

“Motions lead to Emotions”

Those are the strongest words there are when it comes to a relationship that has PTSD as a part of it. Emotions are not going to form or come back if you don’t do anything to make them. Even if you are numb and feel nothing at all, don’t lose hope, don’t sit there stagnant and allow it to continue. It will only get worse if you don’t do something. Follow through on motions, it could be a simple hug, holding pinky fingers, laying on the couch together to watch a movie, gently touching one’s face or kissing them on the forehead. Take a walk, even around the yard, sit and eat a meal together and talk about things you enjoy together… not about the news or what’s going on with someone else… but about “us”, leave a nice note or send a text or email, use your imagination! There are so many things that can help get a relationship back on the right path or going in a better direction. And acknowledge when one does something for the other, a little acknowledgement can go along way for helping both of you. Use the motions, it sure can’t hurt worse then doing nothing.

Relationships take a lot for the average couple, and relationships with PTSD take a lot more. They are work, they take a lot of extra effort, understanding, communication, working together to find solutions. I know all of us go through a lot, but through all of it, don’t forget to add in the motions so you can find or restart the emotions to your relationship. It can make life a little if not a lot better. Don’t forget the “us” in life. Don’t allow a flat-line to remain in your relationship, you as a couple and as individuals are worth more than that!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

How do we maintain a good relationship through PTSD…

Recently, and actually many times to be honest, I have been asked how Craig and I maintain a good relationship through PTSD.

I can quickly answer all of the things we have done or tried through the years, but I really thought about it and thought “what was the true turning point for us?”

Of course learning about PTSD etc. by all means plays a huge part in it, but where was that turning point?

Let me tell you a story…

When they were switching Craig from doctor to doctor and there was no stability coming from so much bouncing around, having to tell everything all over again from square one with each doctor that saw him, trying to get his medications figured out (which is always an ongoing process), and it seemed like there was no moving forward because we were always back to square one every time a new doctor would see him. Then the continuing delays between appointments because of the large amount of patients being seen or new doctors coming on board… getting everyone’s schedules in the system booked correctly. You know how that goes lol. It’s no joking matter!

We had a doctor say, “Well why don’t you try going to [I will kindly leave the name out here]”. So we said sure, we can do that so there are not gaps in his treatment. Well, the counselor started seeing him and made it a point of seeing us together as well…

An appointment day came, and I will be honest, things had been VERY rough between us for a little while before this appointment. The counselor took Craig back. The counselor came out and called me back to the office towards the end of his session. I could tell by the look on Craig’s face when I entered the room that he was greatly upset. I sat down beside him and placed my hand on his leg to help try to calm him.

The counselor told me to tell her what had been going on with us. And I told her. She then looked at Craig and Craig told her what I said was completely true. By this point emotions were so high that Craig and I both were crying and at a very high emotional state.

The next thing we knew, she looked at her watch and said “Well, time is up I have to get to my next patient.” About 10 minutes, that’s about all I was in there. Just enough time to be questioned, emotions to get high, then told it was time for us to leave.

Craig and I BOTH walked out of that office in tears. We sat in the parking lot in the car for a little while. By this time his sadness had turned to anger. We sat there and talked for a few minutes. How could a counselor call a spouse back and knowingly get into that type of in depth conversation to then just look at her watch and say your time is up? We were appalled.

Of all of the counselors that are awesome out there, we got that one. Well, that experience did do something for us. Besides reporting what happened back to Craig’s doctor and telling him we would NEVER step foot in that “place” again.

We realized that if our relationship was going to survive, we had to do it ourselves. Delays in appointments, counselor that would do that to a couple… survival was now in our hands. I pushed for my husband to get back in to his regular doctors. Treatment is still needed even though we had that bad experience. But as for us and our relationship, we worked on that part ourselves.

And I won’t by any means say every situation does not need a therapist/counselor for marriage, so don’t put it off if you do! At times a third party is going to be what helps you move forward and get past a lot of what does go on. So if you need one, go see one!!

That third party was needed by us, but the outcome was not what we expected. We expected many visits and a third party helping us work through things and helping each of us see exactly what we ourselves were doing or not doing, what could make things better, how to understand each other, etc.

That’s not what happened though. The third party made us realize we could communicate and work through our marriage ourselves. One bad experience with one not so good counselor. It made us so angry with what happened that we buckled down and said we will not be treated that way again. It pushed us past the poor us and into a state of doing something for ourselves. Was that this counselor’s attempt? Absolutely not! She couldn’t understand why neither of us wanted to go back. Well lol, I let Craig explain that one to her when we cancelled the next appointment. 😉

Even though that appointment weighed on us greatly, and there is no way we would ever step foot back into “that place”, and Craig went backwards in a very serious way that day, something good did come from that day. Even though we had been having the problems we were having, that day made us realize that our relationship and strength together is stronger then our problems and forced us to face them and work through them together.

Communication, understanding, facing when you are the one that may be wrong, listening to each other, patience, and working through things as a team and not two people fighting against each other. There’s a larger battle at hand to fight, it’s called PTSD. And we are in this one together!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

Surviving in a PTSD Relationship…

Sometimes in life with PTSD, things are going to get rough. It is going to seem or feel like your life is falling apart. Relationships are going to get rocky.

But I will gladly be the first to tell you that relationships can survive PTSD. It will take more work and effort then normal, learning how to communicate so you know where each other is standing and what you both are feeling, it takes truly accepting that PTSD is real, and planting your feet in concrete that you are not going to let PTSD destroy your family.

I know the fact is not every relationship will survive, however if you truly love someone, you can get past what PTSD can bring or did bring, and you can heal and form a stronger relationship then you ever thought possible. But you have to try!

I won’t tell you PTSD is just going to go away and a fairy tale story magically appear… that won’t happen, this is real life. However I will tell you there are many ways of coping with it and making things better then where you have been or are standing now. But you have to put your all into it. BOTH of you!

When you both give it your all, you might be shocked at how much better things can become, instead of that dark rock bottom place you have been.

There were several times over the years that I thought I couldn’t do this anymore, thought it might be best to walk away, but when it came down to it and I looked in the mirror, I realized he is a part of me. I couldn’t walk away, he’s worth more then that, WE are worth more then that.

So I planted my feet and decided the only way for us to make it through this was facing the battle and learning what weapons/tools to use to fight it. You know what? It’s worked.

Every day I come here, I share things, and I rarely post something without some type of meaning behind it. I’ve been there, I live beside PTSD every day, and I share the tools with you that can help no matter which side of the fence of PTSD you are standing on. PTSD and life with it is by no means new to me. I won’t tell you it’s always easy, it’s not, those ups and downs are going to come. But I can tell you, our marriage survives through it, we have and are raising wonderful well balanced children through it, and we do make it from one day to the next. I won’t accept anything less.

But I can’t make you use what I share, that one has to be up to you. You are the one that chooses your and your family’s future. You are the one that decides if the fight is worth it. You are the one that can make a change for the better. But you have to choose to.

I will tell you, even through the worst PTSD can bring, it is possible for things to get better. But the first thing you have to do is stop holding things against each other, accept PTSD is what you are battling, and take a stand to battle it together! Craig and I, and our family are living proof it can be done! If we can do it, so can you!

* If you have already left, it does not have to be the end!

If you have already chosen to and walked out that door, have taken breathing room, really think about if that’s what you truly want. If it’s not, if there is any ray of hope, walk back through that door and stand tall that you two are going to work together to make life better through this.

* Communication. 

Place the anger, hate, and hurt of the past to the side and start new today. I know you won’t forget whatever has happened, but you can get past it. Learn to really talk as well as listen so you can work together.

* Set rules. 

Learn each others lines or boundaries. They have to be spoken, even write them down if it helps. But you have to know where each other stands in order to move forward and heal whatever has already happened.

* Get professional help. 

Many times having a third party to help you find a level ground is needed, you are both worth trying, reach for additional help if you can’t find that level ground to stand on. Get one on one help also. Therapy can help keep both of you balanced and moving forward.

* Take care of yourself. 

BOTH of you have to do this! Make sure you use the coping skills. Make sure you take “me” time when needed. Use self-help therapy, whatever works for you to help keep you balanced.

* Physical and/or Verbal Abuse.

These are things that can change! No one purposely hurts the one they love. In many cases you can get past these. Coping skills, learning about PTSD and what comes with it, communication, and everything else you can use to your advantage can help correct these things. Work together to get past any abuse that may be going on. Do it for yourself and do it for your family.

* Safety Protocol.

Rather there is any type of abuse in your home or not, having safety guidelines is a must in any home. Especially if you have children. We all know what PTSD is capable of bringing, have safety in place of what to do in any certain situation, it goes back to it’s better to be safe then sorry. Knowing ahead of time if you are faced with such and such then this is how it will be handled, and everyone understanding that, can save a lot of issues from happening or knowing how to handle them if they do arise.

* Education.

Learn! There is no tool more powerful or that can help both of you more then both of you learning what you are faced with. As you learn you will also learn solutions and ways of dealing with or coping with what PTSD can bring. You learn how to handle situations without over reacting. You learn to find a balance which helps you move forward.

* Stop fighting each other.

You have a larger beast to battle then each other! Fighting and arguing just breaks down your relationship, don’t let it!

Through everything, keep in mind you chose to be with the one you are with for a reason, don’t lose sight of that! Both of you do what you need to in order to make it through life with PTSD. PTSD is not just going away, so make a plan and take action to make life the best it can be with it. Life might not be a fairy tale story all of the time, but it doesn’t mean life has to be bad either. Don’t give up on each other! Work together, help each other, support each other, and let go of the past and start new today… it can make all of the difference in the world! 

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

PTSD vs Verbal Abuse

PTSD vs Verbal (Abuse)

I have had quite a few people come to me lately regarding this and how I personally handle(d) it. So I want to start by reminding you I am in no way a doctor and what worked for us might not be the correct things to do in every situation.

First thing you need to know, your PTSD loved one loves you, if they didn’t they wouldn’t be there. Verbal abuse in most cases is not how they would normally have acted towards you, so they sure are NOT meaning to do this to you now!

During the times of verbal abuse, I did not have anyone to guide me, I kept trying different things and continuing to educate myself on PTSD until I found what worked for us.

Verbal abuse is very common with PTSD. I believe it happens to those closest to the one with PTSD because that is the person they trust the most, the one there with them. The person they know they can turn to, and the person they know cares about them. Also the person that they know they have always been able to be themselves around. Just to say that up front.

My belief is verbal abuse happens when PTSD is what I call “out of control”. When they do not know or understand how to cope with the feelings they are experiencing, what is going on within themselves, not being able to cope with changes, feelings, and emotions or lack of, their medications if they are taking them might be out of balance, they may not know or be using coping skills… or not using them enough when needed, which leads to the anger and frustration PTSD brings being let out on the one(s) closest to them. The fight that PTSD “needs” in order to release those feelings of anger and frustration as I say it. These also seem to be the times when many with PTSD turn to alcohol, porn, or even drugs in some cases. Anything that can “seem” to help them cope. To me, it’s a cry for help.

BUT, there is hope! These things can be controlled with time, effort, self-help, professional help, family support, and a lot of good communication!

To understand why verbal abuse is there, you have to step back and figure out what is causing it, what signs are there? This obviously isn’t the way this person would normally be towards others.

Common signs that help is needed:

* Alcohol, drug, porn increased use or not normal for them to do but they are now.
* Addiction to video games has become very common for many.
* Avoiding a loved one much more then normal.
* Constantly picking the fight.
* Being critical of little things which should not hold huge issues.
* Throwing things or even taking anger out on objects.
* Becoming physically abusive.
* Picking or looking for a fight with other people, strangers.
* Road rage.

Those are just a few examples other then the verbal abuse itself.

Verbal abuse can weigh heavily on one or even on a family. It will bring you down, cause loss of self-esteem, cause emotional issues with the person on the receiving end of it, cause conflict, etc. It can very easily end a relationship.

It took me a long time to figure out, I had to get to the root of things in order for changes to happen. Once I did figure it out, then I started trying different things until something worked for us. He was not able to cope, he wasn’t able to notice what he was doing or how he was acting/speaking, to him all of the negative things that were coming out did not exist. I had to find a way to stop PTSD and what it was bringing to us in it’s tracks so he could focus and learn to cope. I had to accept the fact that he was in a place where he could not help himself and yes, it was on me to help him. All of this was PTSD, not the true him.

Please note again, these things may not work for everyone, or you might not have a situation where you are in a position to use these, and I advise you to seek professional help and NEVER put yourself in harms way!

Our part of the story…

In the beginning I would fight back, I am not one to just take personal attacks lightly, no one I don’t care who they are speaks to me that way. But you know what, that was not working out too well! It was leading to arguments which were totally out of the norm for us. It was causing more chaos, hurt feelings, avoidance of each other, and this could not continue, it was not us!

So I tried something different, when verbal abuse would start I would sit and listen. I would not interrupt and I would not really say anything at all. And I kept in mind and forced myself not to take what was being said personally.

Just to note: This by no means, means verbal abuse is acceptable or you are suppose to just take it, it’s not acceptable and has to stop.

I would sit and honestly listen to what was coming out of his mouth. Always keeping in mind that he had never talked to me this way before, so I knew this was caused by PTSD and not his true self. I would hear the anger, frustration, and most of all I could hear and see the internal pain he was experiencing. I would just listen.

I figured out real fast this was a form of coping, even though not an acceptable way of doing so, but it lead me to knowing that he needed help. This verbal usage was a way to vent, let it all out, and with me sitting there listening and not fighting back to any personal attacks (which I knew were not how he truly felt) it would eventually bring him to a more peaceful place once he had vented, and the apologies and the “what have I done? I’m so sorry.” would start. Out of nowhere he would be “back”. Even if it took hours.

This went on for some time while the doctors worked on finding correct combinations of medications, taught him coping skills and such. He did get therapy through these times as well.

Then I found that once his anger of this had it’s break though and I could see the true him was coming through with each verbal episode, I could calmly and with a stern grip on my own feelings say “I love you, I know this is PTSD and not you. You would never treat me this way. I will not fight with PTSD, but I will talk with you.” And it opened a non attacking or confrontational door for communication to start. And we would sit there and talk for as long as he needed to.

Once this started happening then I was able to add my feelings into the conversations over time. It’s kind of like when you teach a dog something new (by no means referring to him as a dog lol), you don’t and can’t expect a dog to know a command on the first try, it takes time and many steps to teach something correctly, so they learn the command. So in a weird way, I guess I was using my training abilities and applying them to our life. See, you can’t expect a person to just stop doing something and everything change in one second, it takes time, lots of effort, and many steps to get to the outcome you are looking for or is needed.

Then came into play the coping skills. Oh this was a fun one. I heard “Those won’t work for me, that’s silly and I’m not doing them”. Okay, this is a normal reaction from someone who’s PTSD has not found a balance. So what did I do? I can tell you I didn’t fight or argue about it.  I started using the coping skills myself, exactly what his doctors were teaching him and sending home worksheets with us on. 

One day I was doing breathing exercises, he looked at me and said “What the heck are you doing?” I paused and calmly said “Breathing.” I continued doing the exercises. Then I heard, “Why are you doing that?” My answer again calmly, “Because they help me when I’m stressed, help me relax.” And he walked away and I continued the exercises until I completed them.

It was only a few days later I noticed him away from me and sure enough he was doing those exercises.

See, PTSD causes one to lose direction at times, it causes them to have difficulty in making decisions at times. And sometimes it just takes someone else leading the way and giving an example to follow. And it worked!

I knew that I could not take the verbal abuse, I also knew it was killing Craig that he was treating me that way and couldn’t find a way to control it. So I had to find a solution, and I did. I had to get past the words being yelled and focus on what to do to make a change, and I did. I also had to accept that it was not a quick fix and it was something that had to have a lot of will power and effort put into it, and I did. It also took him putting effort in on his part, and over time he did. It just took time to re-learn, so to speak.

Over time Craig has learned other ways of coping with anger and frustration, all the things that come with PTSD. Those feelings don’t just go away, they are still there, but he battles them and keeps control of them.

He found that when he does have those feelings surface that it helps him if he just focuses and becomes quiet. He and I talked about this as a form of coping, so we are both on the same page of what is going on and no one takes anything personally. If I see he becomes quiet, then I leave him alone and allow him his time to be quiet and cope.

He also found that if that does not work, it helps him if he sleeps, takes a nap, and when he wakes up start over as if it were a new day. And yes, the doctors have even said they approve of this since it does help him to be able to cope with his feelings and emotions.

Communication is urgent! Many have lost their communication skills with each other in all of the anger and hurt. Small steps and work on getting it back. Talk to each other, both really listen to what each other is thinking and feelings. Don’t take everything personally, accept that is how the other person is viewing or feeling right now this moment, rather it is factual or not it’s the way they are feeling or viewing things at that moment… so you can work on finding solutions to it instead of arguing. Know that nothing involving PTSD is going to be solved in one conversation or right there that moment. It is going to take time and effort. Accept the phrase “we are going to work on this” and then each day work on it. Don’t dismiss what each other is feeling, use it to move forward, use it to heal the situation. Also understand that the verbal abuse may not only be coming from the one with PTSD, if one experiences verbal abuse for any extended amount of time, they can very well become a verbal abuser themselves without realizing it. Both parties have to work together to prevent this.

If you take note of everything I’ve said here, what we have been through, and you do something to help your own situation, you might just find the verbal abuse, the arguments, and the space between you gradual heals.

I can say, Craig and I have not experienced any verbal abuse or arguments since we started doing this and had our breakthrough. Every day will continue to need steady work to keep it the way it is now, I mean let’s be real, PTSD is still at hand, but we found what works for us! 

We are proof it can be done, and there is hope! Find what works for you and make sure you get professional help along with it. It will save your relationship, your children, your family!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Relationships: Communication and Balance…

We have a question brought to the page. It has been asked…

“Any advice on how to manage the emotions that flood you when your spouse w/PTSD goes out to a bar with his battle buddies…and you can’t even get him to take you out to dinner on a date?”

This is my opinion,

I have found this is extremely common. I know we have been through it. And it can sure overwhelm your emotions greatly!

First, understand what is happening. You as the spouse know the deepest things and emotions that PTSD brings to one, you are the one that sees it all, experiences it beside your PTSD loved one, and sees the bad and good that comes with it. The other people most likely have not.

When one with PTSD is having a good day, they try to put on that happy face and go out and do things they enjoy doing but can’t always make themselves do. Hanging with the guys is a very common one. It’s a comfort zone, but at the same time a place where all of their deepest details are not known in majority of cases. Almost like an escape from it for a little while. In some cases it’s also their way of taking the guilt away or the burden of their spouse having to do so much or be there for them during this time.

However, as a spouse we don’t see it that way. We see it as they finally make it out of the house and here they are hanging with their buddies and not spending any of their “good time” with us. The spouse wants to enjoy the good breaks in PTSD as well and with their loved one.

One thing I hear a lot is “I take care of him/her all of the time and as soon as he/she has a good day everyone else gets him/her besides me.” It’s heartbreaking to a spouse! Especially when you are happy to see them doing something normal but at the same time you are upset, maybe even angry because you don’t get to share any of that good time with them.

PTSD only allows so much energy at a time, and when it gets worn out, that’s it, the good time is gone and the PTSD battle starts again. So one with PTSD seems to try to soak up as much as they can during that time of and to feel normal.

The spouse is the one they trust, the one they know will be there, again the one that sees it all, and sadly is many times the one left out. It’s not purposely done at all! Many don’t even think about or or even realize they are doing it. In their minds it’s no big deal because they know you are there for them. They trust you.

But, that doesn’t change the way the spouse feels. Hurt feelings come.

Normally having a talk and communicating about how you are feeling and how you view it can be of great help. It doesn’t mean they can’t hang with the guys, it means that you would like some of their “good” time also.

Try to find a balance. We know it’s important to them to be able to feel normal and do things they want to do, but as with any relationship it’s a give and take situation. Both of you have needs and finding the balance within that is a huge key.

Making sure your PTSD spouse understanding that you would like some of their good time is important. Work together to make good time for the two of you together. It doesn’t mean it has to be set on the calendar, but make sure the time is there when a good day comes. Maybe, you can have an outing together during the day, lunch out together, then that night he can hang with his buddies. That puts it to where neither of you are trying to cram everything into one night or him constantly looking at his watch to see how close the guy time is, that keeps things from being on a crash course of hurt feelings.

Have date nights, as much as I personally hate that phrase. Times when you two only have to focus on the two of you. No plans for anything else. You are married, there has to be a balance and every night can’t be a buddy night or it is really going to come between you two.

Many times when a spouse is caring for one with PTSD they are home bound much of the time. When the one with PTSD does hang with the buddies, take that time to do something for yourself. Don’t spend the time cleaning house or doing errands. Do something that helps you feel good. This also gives you a break to see your friends or family. It allows you to have “me” time without having to watch over them so to speak.

Another thing that I have seen happen is one with PTSD at times seem to be able to just drop everything and make themselves do something when someone calls, but yet they don’t do that for the spouse and their time. I think this goes back to the comfort level between the spouses and the fact that one with PTSD many times feels guilt if they don’t do something when someone else calls or asks for a favor. It is a way they help their self-esteem, feel needed by someone other then the spouse, and feel guilt that they have let someone down if they don’t give in to what is asked of them.

Now that part can bring issues. If they are not having a good day but yet drop everything and go, you can almost bet the next day or few days they are not going to be able to do anything! They are worn out! This happens during those buddy situations also, especially if it’s military buddies. They have that bond that they have to be there for each other. But if it’s not one of the good days, they are going to pay the price later. To avoid the guilty feelings and fight having to be out when they actually are not ready for it, it brings higher anxiety, caution, etc. and all of that will not only physically but also mentally wear them out.

So there is a lot that goes with this other then them just having a good time and leaving a spouse out.

Balance. You have to find a good balance. The one with PTSD also needs to learn their limits and not push themselves too hard to try to please everyone.

Handling the emotions.

That can be extremely difficult. You can go on a serious roller coaster ride when things aren’t balanced. And them being away, they are not going to realize it until it’s too late.

I think it’s always best to talk up front, before something does come up. I say that because once that phone call comes in asking them to do something, and you wanting their time, it can easily turn into “you just don’t want me doing anything” and the fight is on. Avoid that! Work on finding the balance now and you can in many cases prevent all of this from even starting and find ways to keep you from even having to experience those emotions. And be prepared, sometimes you will have to remind them there is suppose to be a balance, it will happen.

When they do go out with their buddies, tell yourself this gives me a break, this gives me “me” time, and I am going to enjoy it. You know you will see them later so take the time when no other option is given and use it wisely. You might find you actually needed that time to yourself. Getting mad, upset, and crying the whole time they are gone is not going to help much. Even though that, in reality, does happen at times.

Communication and Balance. They will make all of the difference in the world. 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

“Self-Esteem” things to help…

“Self-Esteem”

This is something for everyone! 😉 Self-esteem is one of the hardest things to keep up when it comes to PTSD… and it does not matter which side of the fence you are standing on either. I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t or won’t hit the down side of it sooner or later.

Being in the rut of it is not a good thing either. I know this first hand. The key is to never give up, there are always ways to pull yourself up and out of it. Then, when it comes again and trust me, it will come again, you work to pull yourself up again.

The one with PTSD:

“Oh those medications, (many times) the weight gain, lack of energy, all of the anxiety, the sleepless nights, lack of sex drive and emotions and/or feelings”…. You look in the mirror and think “Who is that? Why would someone want to be with me? Where did I go?”. The thoughts run through your mind of “why am I here? Why would someone love me? No one is attracted to me? I’m useless!” You just don’t see you anymore. Now hang on there, I’m coming right back to you in a moment. 😉

The one living beside PTSD:

“Oh I’m so lonely, my life is out of control, I’m worn out from having to take care of everything, my husband/wife doesn’t look at me the same anymore, I’m not attractive anymore, I don’t want to spend the extra time making myself look nice when no one is going to notice, I feel like I have a roommate now not a husband/wife, I miss the good times… the fun times, I miss the physical relationship, …”

Oh boy! WE have a huge problem here. You have two people (in a lot of cases, even though this can go for just one person of either side) that has lost their self-esteem and now playing ping-pong off of each other. I don’t think that’s going to work for any of us.

This is when we have to step up and put our foot down to ourselves! “I am not going to allow myself to be like this.”

It’s time to do something. No matter what PTSD has done to you or brought to your life, you can still find your self-esteem! Even if it is not as much as you had in the past, self-esteem is self-esteem and you can find it.

Things that can help:

* Take a shower. I’m serious, many start losing the fact of what things are basic that they still need to be doing. Bathing refreshes you, makes you feel better, and sure helps those around you want to be around you more. 😉

* Brush your hair and teeth. 

* Put on fresh clean clothes each day. It becomes a bad habit to say “oh I didn’t go outside yesterday so this isn’t dirty, I’ll wear it again.” Don’t do that to yourself. Let each day bring a new you and sometimes changing your clothes or fashion for the day can bring some of that self-esteem back and help you view yourself differently.

* Hair cut and/or Shave. Something you notice in the mirror and can change your whole outlook on yourself. Ladies, if you are one that always shaved before, don’t stop now or you will not feel very good about yourself.

* Exercise. I don’t care if it is just doing sit ups while laying in bed or taking a walk outside. Any type of exercise can make you feel better about yourself and even change the way you view yourself in that mirror to the better.

* DO something. Anything! Doing something equals accomplishing something, even if it’s just a step forward to accomplishing something larger. Accomplishments of any size equals self-esteem.

* Change bad habits. Changing or working on changing bad habits, or ones you know aren’t so good for you will lead to you feeling better about yourself.

* Notice others. Tricky one there, isn’t it? 😉 Taking note of someone else and actually saying something nice not only will make you feel good but can improve how someone else is viewing themselves.

* Sex. Oh my lordy yes I’m going there! This is a huge issue that comes with PTSD. The lack of or decreased amount of physical relationship can weigh on both of you dearly or you as an individual! Medications, lack of self-esteem, decrease in or inability to function, not feeling worth, etc. etc. etc. These are all very real situations and play a toll on you. There are many different ways to have a physical relationship with the one you care about… and no lol, I’m not listing those off! 😉 Use your imagination! At least attempt to continue your physical relationship, don’t let what you can’t do interfere with your closeness with another person. Back to that saying “motions = emotions”. Everyone deserves to feel needed, wanted, cherished… it’s human! Don’t let what PTSD brings to your life step between you and what was there or could be there. And I can bet you will find a little self-esteem hiding in there when you find some sort of closeness with your partner. 😉

Okay 😉 I will stop there even though as always there is a long list to things that you could find to help. Find the things that make you feel better about yourself and you can almost guarantee someone else will follow suit. Self-esteem is one of those things that is contagious, like a smile is. Find it within yourself. It won’t only change you, it may just change a person’s outlook about you and themselves both.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD