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Everyone needs to read and share this…

PLEASE read and “share” this…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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”

Happy 2nd Birthday!!!

After spending many years fighting this battle called PTSD, just Craig and I, I felt the loneliest I have ever felt in my lifetime. After a few years of learning about PTSD in the beginning and doing what I could to better understand it, I refused to believe we were alone. Just over two years ago I started the FaceBook page trying to find others like Craig and I out there, There had to be others that were going through the same things we were, and ones that had already experienced it.

I decided that if I could help just one person, just one person out there have more knowledge then I had in the beginning, if just one family could be saved, if just one person realized they were not alone, if just one person learned it’s okay to reach for help, then the effort for me to try was more then worth it. I think in a way it was also my reach for help into the unknown, my little hole on the internet as I call it. If we were going through this, someone else had to be too.

I found out really fast that we were by no means alone! There are many of us.

Two years ago today I sat here in my desk chair, looking at this page, and realized just how many this page had touched in such a short time. I sat here and realized that I could do more! My mission was not going to stop here. When Craig woke up on this day 2 years ago, I told him “A Spouse’s Story PTSD” and every single person it touched was worth it, they ARE worth it. I had purchased the website domain that day, a Birthday gift to myself and hopefully a gift of life and understanding to others.

Today, I want to thank all of you for becoming a part of this “family”! We have had so many friendships form here, we have kept each other’s backs, we have picked ones up when they reach the down side, we have shared silly things that life brings, we have laughed together as well as cried together… THIS my friends is what the word FAMILY is all about! And I am proud and honored that you are a part of it!

It’s not about numbers to me, it’s about heart, helping, and understanding… reaching out to a hand that needs to be held onto and not letting go. However, that number of 30 people two years ago has now reached approximately 70,000 people and growing! No, none of us are alone anymore! Thank you for helping me spread the word and awareness about life with PTSD, that has touched so many lives, you ALL ARE “The Best of the Best”!

Today on the calendar it says I was born 40 years ago today, but you know what? Two years ago today was a very real birthday. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

HAPPY 2nd Birthday “A Spouse’s Story PTSD”!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

Perimeter security and PTSD: Paranoia and/or Alertness

staying safe

Perimeter security and PTSD: Paranoia OR Alertness

This is something that becomes a huge part of life with PTSD for many. Checking the window and door locks seems to be the most common, but it can go much further then that for many. It’s linked to paranoia and/or over alertness that PTSD can bring related to one’s safety.

See, once you experience something that possibly threatened your or your family’s life, and most likely linked to PTSD, you become alert, many times over alert. This is common in veterans/military, assault/rape victims, and abuse victims… I like the term survivor better personally. It’s your natural defense for the “I won’t let that happen to me again.”

Caution to me is always a good thing, however it can consume you if you allow it to. The fear of the attacker or situation, and belief it will happen again takes over. All of the “What if’s” that can come with PTSD.

You could find yourself not only checking doors and windows but also constantly looking out the windows, seeing and hearing everything, noticing and being alert to everything that moves from the corner of your eye, find it hard to make eye contact with others or letting them too close to you, being over cautious to your loved one’s safety, etc.

Your defenses for protection can go into over drive. Extra security around the house, cameras, lights, video recording systems, electric fences, fences in general, guard dogs… and even weapons. There are some that use geese for their alert system, and some that go to extra measures of the type of landscaping and gravel/rock around their homes. Many even move out of populated areas or to ones that have more space to where it is more noticeable if someone approaches. And also gives PTSD a breathe of space and silence from the busy world.

The measures one may take for their safety and piece of mind can be great but again, they can also consume you… which is not a good thing many times.

So what are things that you can do to help you feel more secure yet not let it consume you?

* Window treatments.

– There are so many different kinds these days! There are blackout curtains where you can see out but others can’t see in.

– Curtains that are more thin so you still get light in and not feel confined inside but can be followed up by a heavier curtain for times they need to be closed.

– Sometimes if the paranoia is really high, it’s good to just close the blinds and focus on coping.

* Electronics.

Cameras, computer systems, house alarms…

With technology these days this one is endless. Whatever system you choose to use, if you choose to use one, just make sure it is not going to be to the extent that others within your home feel like prisoners. As well as your neighbors not feel like the FBI moved in next door. Paranoia can roll over to others very easily and you sure don’t want people saying you are out of your mind or feel threatened/scared of you.

* Lights.

Think out of the box on this one. Sometimes those fluid lights are not always needed. Motion sensor lights can be an easy fix as long as you set them in the right locations and remember that sometimes they can be set off by animals and strong winds.

But there are other things these days you can also use. Landscape lighting, glow in the dark stepping stones and/or garden fixtures, lamp posts… Things that will blend in that are appealing to the eyes of outsiders and not cause alarm or over reactions from neighbors, but still give you the sense of security.

* Locks.

Fort Knox is not needed to feel safe. There are many products on the market now that can be used and do just as good of a job. There are lock sets that can easily be changed or code changed after someone has had access to your home such as a repair man or relative. Locks on windows can be updated. Just whatever you use, remember if there is an emergency and people need to get out, they can get out… this is where you don’t let the security consume you to the point it could cause harm.

* Dogs.

I am putting this in here for a very good reason, this seems to be the first thing by human nature to turn to. I know just a little bit 😉 about this subject lol.

For those of you that turn to using dogs for protection and/or alert purposes there are a few things to keep in mind.

– A dog is a responsibility.

– Getting an aggressive breed of dog and putting it in a back yard and/or confining it from people outside your family is only going to cause you more problems and heartache and could very well damage your checkbook.

– Dogs are pack animals, they in majority of cases will not protect someone they are not bonded with. In many cases they will welcome an intruder that gives them attention. You also have the chance of them attacking a child or someone they should not, that isn’t a threat, if they are not properly trained. Majority of dog bites happen within the dog’s own family.

– If you are one that decides a dog is what you feel you need for protection, make sure it is trained and socialized, it could save you from possible legal action and problems within your own home.

– In my opinion the best dog is a quiet one unless there is a true reason for alarm/alert, well socialized and trained, and one that is a family dog I can almost guarantee you will do the job it needs to if that time arises. On the norm, not by any means in all cases, just the appearance of a dog present can detour one.

Okay, I will spare you there, you know I could write a book on this one.

There are many things you can do to help lessen the feelings PTSD can bring. Use your coping skills! There are also many worksheets out there that can come in handy when these feelings overwhelm you, they allow you to see with your own eyes the differences between the facts at hand and the “what if’s”. Once you are use to using these skills, they don’t have to be done on paper but can be used mentally. Always look at the facts at hand and learn to face what you are feeling, which is very real, but find ways to not let it consume you and your loved one’s lives.

Caution is always welcomed, just don’t let it consume you to the point you become a prisoner to it.

~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

Do you ever run out real quick without wearing shoes? …

Do you ever run out real quick without wearing shoes?

This use to be a bad habit of mine, here in our state you are not required to wear shoes when you drive. And I am one that loves to go barefooted. I could not begin to tell you how many times I have left the house and didn’t wear shoes lol.

But you know what? I learned after many years to keep a pair of shoes in my car because I never know when I might just need them. 😉

You never know when you might have a flat tire… had one of those recently lol, or need to stop for gas or go into a store, you never know when you might get a phone call and need to go somewhere right away, etc. By keeping that extra pair of flip-flops in the car, I am always prepared for whatever might come.

How is PTSD any different?

It’s really not! You have to always be prepared for anything with PTSD. It does not mean become paranoid, it means be prepared, ready. Make sure you have that pair of shoes with you, so to speak.

Things that help:
* Make sure you use your coping skills. Better yet, make sure you learn them and know how to use them and what situations you need them for.

* Make sure you take your medications as directed. And when you leave home, make sure you take them with you! You never know when you might get delayed, anxiety starts, etc. and you may need them. Many times missing one dose can lead to several rough days.

* Carry a medical ID card and/or wear a medical alert bracelet. You can never be over prepared in case something unexpected happens.

* Keep your doctors’ phone numbers/cards with you at all times.

* Have safety protocol in place in your home not only for yourself but others as well.

* Educate children on their age level of learning about PTSD. They can never start learning too early, and no that does not mean tell them the details of what happened, that means educate them on what PTSD is and how to respond to it.

* Find things to do for self-help therapy. Something that makes you feel good or better about yourself.

* Eat well. It’s so easy to skip eating or not eat right, try not to do this, your body and brain needs to be fed properly.

* Exercise. Exercise not only helps your body, it helps you feel good about yourself!

* Talk to those around you. Talking to others close to you can help you greatly. It helps them have a better understanding to you and how you feel, how they can help, as well as them understanding that at times you just need them to listen.

There are many things you can do to prepare yourself for what PTSD brings to your life, as well as to others. Remembering to take a pair of shoes with you could be a life saver in the long run 😉 always have a pair with you. Be prepared for PTSD and it might just make life a whole lot easier.

~ Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Service Dogs/PTSD Service Dogs

Service Dogs/PTSD Service Dogs

As many of you know, I’m a retired dog trainer and had my foot in the service dog industry for more then several years. I do still get the topic brought to me quite often and I also try to help other people out, well, truth is I say it like it is and sure don’t sugar coat it. Awareness about service dogs is greatly needed! And sometimes I seem to step on toes when I say it like it is but it goes back to the saying “sometimes the truth hurts”.

To be completely honest with you, I don’t even like talking about service dogs much anymore because I at times experience panic attacks/heart palpitations just talking about the subject due to the things that I have seen that are just out right wrong in the service dog industry, from personal experiences of things seen, and what those things are doing to ones with disabilities. It’s a subject that truly hits my heart as a former trainer and a spouse of a disabled Veteran. But from time to time I do speak up because it is something dear to my heart and I do know how a service dog can make a huge change in a person’s life.

I use to really push service dogs, because I do indeed know what they can do. However, the industry has changed. I’m by no means saying there aren’t any quality service dogs out there, by ALL means there are and some organizations/trainers are awesome!!!! But these days you really have to use caution. I know many get into the industry because their heart is in it and I am grateful for that, however there is more to it then just heart. Others get into it because of money or personal gain. And then there are your true people that have what it takes to produce a quality service dog, skills, quality, and heart all.

When I write something, you can bet there is pretty much a damn good reason for it, pardon the southern lady mouth on that one, but it’s true. And any quality trainer/organization/business out there would agree with me on what I’m have to say!

To start with, I do support PTSD service dogs 110% and then some. But I’m also seeing what is happening in the industry due to the high demand for them. Quality is getting harder and harder to come by. Then, I am seeing what is happening to the one with disabilities when quality is just not there in the dog they received. And I’m sure there are some if not many here that know exactly what I mean.

This is by NO means meant to scare anyone away from the service dog industry, this is meant to educate you so you know things to look for or recognize when searching for the right organization/trainer/business as well as dog for you. There is nothing worse to me then someone contacting me and asking me for help with their “service dog” when that dog should have already been trained before being placed with them, that hits the heart hard that people are having to go through that.

Here is a person who got this “service dog” to help better their life and they are faced with issues which add to their stress. It’s not that I don’t want to help anyone, so please don’t take it that way, it’s that they shouldn’t be in a position to need my help. And I’m good at directing people to quality trainers since I no longer train, but it goes back to the fact of that dog should have been completely ready to work and know it’s tasks as well as the person should have been taught what to do with the dog, educated.

So, with that said I want to go over some awareness. To the trainers out there, you are more then welcome to add to this list because I know many of you are having issues from the lacking of others out there. Just please NO SPAMMING! I try to keep this page clean of names of businesses or organizations that train so we can keep the service dog topic on topic of things people need to know and not about the organizations/trainers directly.

When considering a Service Dog:

  •  Make sure you “need” a service dog. There are many people that have heard so much about service dogs and what they can do for you, that the person jumps straight to wanting one. This is not always a good thing. You are not giving yourself a chance, especially if you are newly diagnosed with PTSD. First, if you can not cope with life and yourself, how are you to the point of taking care of that dog right now? You probably aren’t and need to wait before even considering a service dog. See what will work for you… medications, therapy, coping skills. Learn to cope with your anger, you sure would feel awful if you took your anger out on that dog that is helping you… and you might just end up in trouble over it, no one wants that. There have been many to jump into getting a service dog then discovering they really don’t need one. When this happens the dog normally ends up becoming a pet when time and money were put into it to help one with their disabilities and that dog should be working. And I can almost guarantee you once you discover this you and that dog are already bonded and you won’t be able to give it to someone else, and it’s not fair to the dog either. Not everyone is going to need a service dog. As I like to say it, let a service dog be your last resort when other things are not helping to the point you would like to achieve for yourself.

 

  •  Educate yourself on what a service dog is! It’s not a pet!! A service dog is a dog trained to do specific tasks to mitigate one’s disabilities that they can not do for themselves.
  •  Learn what is involved with having a service dog. A service dog is with you 24/7. It’s not left at home while you run out to eat or to a store. It’s not left in the yard. It’s not away from you in the house. And if you sit on the can, you can bet your dollar that dog is right there beside you!
  • Learn what cost is involved. You might get your service dog from a not for profit where the dog is “free” to you, but fact is that dog is not free, someone paid for it. And it also comes with a lifetime of care that is more then a once a year vet visit and shots.
  •  Learn what it’s like to have a dog in public. Many think “oh no problem, that’s cool”. But in fact there are many negative things you might encounter in public… examples: restaurants that are not educated on service dogs resulting in not allowing you to enter, other public places where a confrontation may occur, kids running up to pet the dog and have to be addressed they can’t pet it, other people wanting the dog removed from the place it is, people asking you questions of why you have the dog, and there is a long list that goes with this. Truly ask yourself if you are ready for all of that. Now don’t get me wrong lol, a service dog will sure get you socialized again. 😉
  •  Know what to look for. When trying to find a service dog you are going to come across some of the best speakers you have ever seen. You will also encounter ones that can give a great show. But, when it comes down to it, can they give you the full package?
  • Look at the dogs themselves. ALL of them! Don’t be shown only one dog that seems to be a great service dog. See what all of the dogs are like, especially one that they say is a match to you.

Do they have house manners?
Are they good with the other dogs?
Do they have yard manners?
How is their obedience on and off leash?
What is their age compared to how they are performing?
Is their nose into everything or are they paying attention to the person who is handling them?
Will they work without treats to get their attention?
Do they leave food alone on or off of a table?
Know your service dog tasks for your disability and ask to see the dogs preform them.
There are many dogs with great obedience, but do they have the whole package for the job at hand?

  • Socialization… make sure the dogs have been socialized with other animals, people of different races, children, out in public, different forms of transportation, different environments, cars, doors, elevators, anything that goes with everyday life in general. AND don’t be afraid to ask the trainer to show you! Go out with them and watch how the dog responds to things.
  • Health. This is huge. I know over time health issues may arise, that’s part of any living thing. However, you should not be getting a service dog that has health issues right up front.

Ask to review the vet records of the dog that is your match, and this needs to be done AT the vets office not at the facility unless they have a full in-house vet that takes care of everything, which is not always common. In these you will want to make sure all shots have always been kept up, that temperament testing has been done and on record, fecal exams and blood work have been done routinely, hips have been x-rayed and good, if there were any other health issues the dog had that could be long term damage… on these you can talk to the vet and get a second opinion from another vet, eyes have been checked, etc. If there is a breed-line history get a copy of it and do your research.

If you ask for these and hear or something along the lines of “we are a not for profit so we run off of donations and don’t have the funding to cover those things.” I personally would keep on looking for another place. If they can’t put the needed things into the number of dogs they have, then that’s a red flag to me.

  •  Rescue dogs. I know you are now asking about rescue dogs 😉 There should still be a history of health records even if it is not from birth. Service dogs are not trained over night, they take many, many hours to train and with rescues they also may have behaviors that needed corrected, so the timeline should be there.
  •  100% success rate. REALLY? Be cautious of anyone who states this! There is no such thing as a 100% success rate. Only approximated 1 in every 8-10 dogs will make it to full service work, quality work. A service dog’s job is very serious and not every dog is cut out for the job. Yes, there are many quality dogs out there but quality service dog work are some of the best. Many that do not make it full service are placed as pets, do therapy work, some can be trained for different areas of work other then service depending on their individual skills. But there is no such thing as every dog making it to a job for full service dog work.
  •  Self training. The one question I have asked to me the most.Yes, by the current laws you can self train HOWEVER I do see that law changing, and in the near future. There are many out there that have self trained and do have awesome service dogs. But on the other note there is also the opposite. Self training takes a lot! If you are not in some form of dog industry work or have been I would highly NOT recommend trying it.

It takes thousands of hours of training and dedication to correctly train a service dog. And the hard fact to it is you are putting all of your eggs in a basket on one dog. You might have a dog that is great with you and helps you but that still does not mean it would make a great service dog. Being out in public carries way more then how a dog is at home. Your dog might be an awesome “emotional support dog” but not be able to do full service work.

You are going to put many months and thousands of hours into one dog you hope makes it, and it goes back to the success rate numbers, what are the odds? Probably not good. You can have one of the best dogs out there and just one thing set it off course and what if during that training time the dog has an injury or medical issue come up? Your eggs just got dropped.

I know you will still love the dog no matter what happens, but service is service work and now you are looking at either starting all over with a new dog or trying to locate one.

This is where quality organizations can be a plus to you. They have a variety of dogs in training and you are not stuck on relying on just one dog, which you’ve already bonded with, to make it.

My own Alex is a great example here, we hand picked him as a match for Craig… and he is… and by the skills I saw possible in him and his temperament. However a few months into it I noticed skin issues which bothered me, we got him at 6 months old so we did not have any background information on him except his mother was a German Shepherd.

So we started researching organizations so our choices would not be limited to one dog. I have found a trainer and breed line I like, however Craig is unsure of where he stands at the moment on using another service dog, so time will tell. Craig’s first service dog had to retire a year into working, that hit Craig hard mentally and caused him to slide backwards. Something to keep in mind and also prepare for.

Alex is awesome yes, by incredible means he is! He works PTSD, depression, as well as migraines like a charm, he also helps me physically when my nerve damaged hands act up (laundry is his favorite task lol) and many more tasks I have trained him (too long of a list to type out)… but will he make it full service now that his skin issue is solved? I can’t answer that. He has a nose of a bloodhound and I fear it might get in his way of service work, so I might direct his training elsewhere. So only time will tell with him, but this shows you a real life scenario that even a great task working dog still has the chance to fail service dog work. Something I am very honest and true about. I accepted that fact when we adopted Alex, and he is by no means a failure to us, with the many things he does do, but full service work? We will see, I’m not blind to what a service dog needs to be and I’m honest with myself about it. In reality, he would make an awesome search and rescue dog! But my ol’ knee and hands are not up for that line of work anymore. (Update: Craig has chosen not to use a service dog, so Alex has now become my dog, but does still work the tasks trained for Craig and I both. So we decided, Alex is NOT labeled as a service dog.)

My point is, be honest with yourself. Don’t become one of the many out there that don’t truly have a “service dog” but claim they do. It only hurts others, and none of us want to do that!

  •  Can I suggest an organization/trainer?

I know this question is coming 😉 so let me go ahead and say it. Find an organization/trainer that is right for you and can show a proven track record of real service dogs. There are many awesome trainers out there and there are legit organizations. I’ve given you a guideline to go by, use it and don’t be in a rush! Take time to really keep your eyes open to what you are seeing in front of you and you will find the one for you.

A service dog is your lifeline! Don’t take it’s quality lightly! You deserve the best! Take the time to educate yourself, make sure you really need a service dog , make sure a service dog is the right step for yourself, and by all means do your homework and don’t just jump into something. There really is a lot to consider and think about.

To say the least this list could have been much longer, but this will give you a good start.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Caregivers and Family of PTSD…

Caregivers/Family of PTSD

Many people do not realize what a spouse/partner and/or family members of one with PTSD may go through themselves. We love our PTSD family member by all means but knowing what comes with PTSD can greatly help everyone, so important to talk about.

Things a partner/family member may experience and be affected by:

* Detachment/Disconnection. This is when one with PTSD has emotions which are shut down to others, has difficulties showing positive feelings, they may want to be alone and/or avoid gatherings… even family ones. The one with PTSD may shut someone out, actually trying to protect their loved one from negative feelings or emotions. These things can lead to a loss of support, friends, family, understanding, and even intimacy.

* Sympathy. It is normal for loved ones to show sympathy to one with PTSD. No one wants to see their loved one suffer from a trauma as well as ongoing symptoms of PTSD. But sometimes too much sympathy can be a bad thing. It can lead to you doing everything or babying the one with PTSD which can effect the way they feel about themselves, the way they cope, and things that they try to accomplish even with PTSD. It leads to low expectations from one’s self.
* Conflict/Anger. PTSD can lead to conflict within a family. Ones with PTSD seem to find themselves more irritable or angry then before, they may expect things to be perfect and the way they view things should be. Things such as what a partner is expected to do or in a certain time frame, how children are expected to do in school, expectations from ones on a job. All of this can lead to conflict and finding ways of explaining how one with PTSD feels is often times difficult to do. It can lead to arguments and the fight which PTSD can bring towards family members.

* Worry/Fear. When a family member with PTSD feels unsafe or a situation is unsafe, it can cause the family to feel the same way. Families trust feeling of others within the family, so when unsafe feelings surface they can roll over to others. Many fears for safety are acted upon by means such as extra security, more locks, checking locks on doors and windows, a protection dog, alarms. You might live in a great neighborhood with little or no crime, but with PTSD the feeling of extra safety is needed.

* Depression. This is something very real among PTSD family members. There can be a sense of loss, change in lifestyle, and just the fact of seeing what your family member with PTSD goes through each day. It is important to still do things you enjoy, see friends or family members, take care of yourself, participate in support groups, and seek professional help when needed.

* Shame/Guilt. Many family members might feel guilt or shame for many different reasons, maybe because you feel no matter what you try your PTSD family member is not getting better, maybe you feel if you had done something differently the one with PTSD would not have experienced the trauma, maybe you feel out of control of an outcome or even what could be in the future. These are things that will greatly effect you when in reality something might have been completely out of your control. Continue educating yourself, get help for yourself, and work on moving forward and not holding so much guilt personally. Your PTSD family member needs your support, rather they show improvements or not, making it to the next day is a positive thing and they need your help to do that.

* Addictions. Many family members might turn to drugs and/or alcohol when they feel as if they can’t cope anymore. I don’t think I really need to tell you these are not good and won’t help you find a way to keep moving forward, they can be detrimental to you and your loved one. There are many resources for coping other then these, try them, let them work for you. Even as a family member you can use the same coping skills your PTSD loved one has been taught.

* Anger. Oh boy! Yes, it’s true. Family members can have anger or anger outbursts just as the one with PTSD can have. You can feel lost, unwanted, that nothing means anything anymore, you may grieve, you let things weigh on you, and sooner or later you explode. Do things to help with the anger you might start feeling. Exercise, do that mad house cleaning, scream into a pillow away from everyone, allow yourself to cry, allow yourself to grieve, and remember that you are human too. 😉 Find ways to let the anger go before you start taking it out on the one with PTSD or others in the home.

* Negative feelings. This is a huge one! Negative feelings come out when you feel a loss of love, closeness, when one with PTSD has a hard time expressing their feeling towards you. You might find yourself or even doing it without realizing it, being mean or short with your loved one with PTSD, even acting the way they might have acted towards you. You might even experience feelings of disrespect, that you have been let down, or that your loved one could have done something differently related to their trauma. All of these feelings are going to lead you to negative feelings toward someone you actually love, and neither one of you need to go through that. Focus on the good things, what you can do, positive steps that you both have or are taking. Setting the negative feelings to the side and not feeding off of them will help both of you.

* Health issues. Many family members can experience being anxious, when this happens it can lead to physical health issues such as stomach problems, bowel problems, headaches, body aches/pains such as neck and back. You can also have health issues caused by poor eating habits, lack of exercise, and bad habits starting such as drinking or drug use. You have to again, make sure you are taking care of yourself to help prevent physical conditions from forming.

* Stress. The one which I think weighs the most one a family member. There might be a loss job or change in job, where finances become a huge weight on you to handle. The fact of learning hope to cope and care for your loved one with PTSD. Lack of communication or socialization which you use to be able to maintain. You might be the one having to juggle the finances and bills now. You find yourself in a position of being the one to handle important issues and decisions where it use to be someone else’s responsibility or position to do so. And the world came crashing in… what they refer to as “caregiver burden”… even though I hate that term, I don’t see my loved one as a burden at all!!! But wait, it doesn’t stop there, you are also trying to understand the changes in your loved one, the change in affection and even intimacy. It plays a huge toll on your own self-esteem on top of your everyday responsibilities. So what do you do? Make time to take care of yourself! Do things that you enjoy. Seek professional help. Caring for a loved one with PTSD can be a handful, but what you do for yourself can make all of the difference in the world to both of you!!! Learn ways to cope with the stress, and if you say there’s no stress lol… open your eyes and face the truth! I’m not saying we don’t love our ones with PTSD, that is by far from the truth, but I am saying that all of us will at some time or another have stress. Do something to help it when it does come.

Well, to say the least there is still a lot more to it but this is a start. Many don’t realize what families go through and how things change when PTSD comes to life. But when it does, it’s what you choose to do to make things the best possible and how you choose to take care of yourself through this that will make the largest changes to life with PTSD. And I’m here to tell you, your loved one needs to see you taking care of yourself and your family… it helps take some of the stress off of them and leads all of you to the better or good days. And those lead to the strength to battle PTSD again when the time comes to. Take care and smile, PTSD does not have to be the end of life or the end to a family in many cases. Work together, learn from each other, and help each other! “Family”, it’s a pretty strong word in my book!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

Just one smile :)

🙂 <—- Do you know what that is? I can tell you it’s contagious! One of the hardest things to find with PTSD is a smile. It’s something people don’t really think about and is much of the time absent with PTSD.

BUT, do you know what one simple smile can do for PTSD? A LOT! When someone with PTSD sees a loved one or friend smile it sends out a type of signal… Something must be good, that person is not worrying about things, that person is happy today, etc.

When one with PTSD thinks these things it takes a kind of weight off of their shoulders. It keeps them from thinking “I don’t make them happy” or “What did I do wrong?”. Those are some pretty serious things to add to PTSD.

I know life is not all smiles when PTSD is involved, I know it’s hard to find a smile in everything that you go through, have to take care of, and so on. But that smile can make a huge change in your day… and the day of one with PTSD. Smiles are contagious, they seem to bring, even if it’s just for a moment, a sense of relief. And you might even find when that sense of relief comes that PTSD knows how to smile too! 😉

Don’t forget to find your smile 🙂 sometime or another, it’s something that sure can help everyone! Try it! 🙂 = 🙂 🙂

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD

PTSD and Routines…

I had a question come to me about…

PTSD and Routines

So I want to talk about that a little.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So to highlight the reasons this could be happening:

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

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

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”