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PTSD and the Reality of it…

PTSD and the Reality of it…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Emergency contacts

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

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

* Medications/Weapons

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

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

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

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

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

* Abuse

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

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

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

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

* Emergency Situations

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

* Children 

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

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

* Focus 

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

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

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

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“Stop, Drop, and Roll” in PTSD Terms… “Roll, Drop, and Move”

“Stop, Drop, and Roll” in PTSD Terms… “Roll, Drop, and Move”

You know, as a child many people learn “stop, drop, and roll” for when there is a fire involved… it’s a safety protocol. For some reason that safety guideline really sticks with me when#PTSD nightmares come. It just fits so very well when you have to leave the bed quickly to make sure you are out of the way of physical actions which may come with nightmares.

I heard “Leave” shouted, no other twitching or warning they were coming, which was odd actually, and I was out of bed! No hesitations.  (Leave me alone… being the first noticeable sign of the nightmare) I’m not sure who responded first to this one, Alex was coming up between us and I was rolling out of bed.

By the way, Alex is my trusty sidekick dog who I trained to get me out of bed when Craig’s nightmares start so I’m not in the way of the physical actions that come with them.  This also allows Craig and I to still go to bed together for at least part of each night and safety still be in place.

There are many that do experience physical aspects with their nightmares. And let me tell you, it makes them feel awful as well as guilty. Especially if they unknowingly make contact with their loved one during them. It can also scare their spouse/partner and cause relationship and/or fear issues to start. The hardest part is understanding that what happens during nightmares is not intentional, however some type of safety does have to be put into place if you are going to remain sleeping together in the same bed.

There are many that can no longer sleep at night with their PTSD partner because of nightmares, rather it’s due to the physical actions, the talking out during them, and/or lack of sleep the partner gets. If this is the case, you have to make sure the two of you are still taking your one on one time together before you part to separate beds or sleep areas. It helps maintain the personal relationship.

For me, the “stop, drop, and roll”… which is actually “roll, drop, and move”… has been one of the largest things to help, besides Alex of course. 😉 It allows me to roll out of bed safely which keeps me away from swinging arms or kicking feet. It puts me out of reach because I am not sitting up in bed to get out of it or in a position to be grabbed. It puts distance between me and the nightmares, and allows me the room to move to a safer location. It’s not a human response during a nightmare to reach down beside a bed. 😉

I do have to say something though, even if your PTSD partner does not have active nightmares, PLEASE do not ever get into the mindset that they won’t. I have had some spouses come to me and state that after 20+ years of no activity during nightmares, their partner has now started having physical nightmares. So it’s something to be cautious or aware of, that can happen. Same as with touching one through nightmares, take caution and make sure you make wise choices. No way you will ever catch me touching Craig during a nightmare lol, no way not happening, already experienced that rodeo years ago. 

Just because you have always received a positive response to touching one through them, does not always mean you will… it’s still a nightmare and they can not control it. That is another thing some have come to me with because the actions or response to them has changed over time. It only takes one time of one of these things happening and it can change your life (either one of you) and/or your relationship, and there is no need for that when there can be safety protocol in place to begin with.

There is one thing about PTSD that is no fault of anyone… you don’t know what’s coming next, no matter how well you know your partner and their symptoms. I personally can tell you what the night will be like before it even comes, I can tell you what body language or words (and lack of) will lead to what reaction or symptom, I can tell you if it’s going to be a good day or a rough one, I know the triggers… but no matter what, it’s still PTSD and you are not going to know everything, every time, no one can. Having some sort of plan, safety protocol, in place no matter how minor or major it seems, saves a lot of hurt feelings and/or physical mishaps. And safety can sure help cut down on the guilt one with PTSD can have, compared to if something out of their control happens and nothing was in place to help prevent it.

There are many things you can try or put into place, rather it’s for nightmares, triggers, flashbacks, children, and the list goes on…

Caution, safety, and awareness can help prevent fear, mishaps, and/or broken relationships, and they can sure help prevent some of the guilt from forming. Do not dismiss that.

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

SAFETY! Which comes in many forms…

What would normally seem like the obvious, isn’t always obvious…

My daughter came home last night and she was just not her happy go lucky self. This morning same thing, so I talked to her. Over the weekend she found out that a friend of her’s was in a serious car accident and is in a comma, and if this friend comes out of the comma will need complete facial reconstruction. I won’t go into any more detail then that, but this brings to light some things that I think EVERYONE should always keep in mind.

I know this page is about PTSD and other mental disabilities/injuries, but this is something for every person out there, mental illness or not!

SAFETY! Which comes in many forms…

* If you are frustrated/angry, having an argument, overly tired, etc. DO NOT drive or even grab the keys to! It’s NOT SAFE! When in that state of mind you can not cognitively make good choices.

* If you know or someone tells you that you are not acting yourself, LISTEN, THINK, and take a break. Use your coping skills to get a self balance back!

* If you know you are angry/frustrated go to a room away from others until you are able to cope with what you are experiencing. This prevents your anger/frustration from coming out on others and at the same time allows you the time you need to manage your feelings/emotions.

* Rather your symptoms are mild or severe, which could be the one with PTSD, mental illness or not, and others in the home, have a safety protocol in place for your family. Basically, “If this happens we do this…” etc. Symptoms can change, increase or decrease, be prepared for when that happens. That goes for anyone. We are all human and experience these emotions no mater what level they may be.

* BE HONEST about how you are feeling with those around you. I’m feeling angry, I’m feeling frustrated, I’m feeling lost, I’m feeling depressed, I’m feeling sad, I’m feeling overwhelmed…. This helps those around you know how to respond, and/or give space, and/or know how to help. It also helps others know not to take things personally.

* Teach children/grand-children safety protocol. It is no different then teaching them anything else in life, and the skills you teach them can help keep a balance in your family AND a balance in the child’s mental health. It also helps to avoid triggering a person. Simple rules, that is all they are. Adults, you need them also! MAKE them and use them!

Example: “Don’t jump on mom/dad’s back without them knowing you are going to do it.” Then give an age appropriate reason so they understand why. “When you do that it startles/can scare him/her, like if someone jumps from a hiding spot and scares you. You don’t like that so we have to be careful not to do that to others.”

* Be cautious to little ears as well as others. Choose appropriate settings to have conversations, especially if there is a disagreement at hand.

* COMMUNICATE!!! No matter who you are, learning how to properly communicate and talk to others can help in many, many life situations. MAKE time for it!

* And pay attention! I know this is a busy world we live in, but learn to slow down and pay attention to others around you, pay attention to yourself, just learning and forcing yourself to slow down at times can make a huge positive difference in life.

These are just a FEW examples of things to think about. It does not matter if someone in your home has a mental disorder or not, SAFETY is important! Do not dismiss things that should be so obvious or that you may think are common sense. TALK about them and make sure everyone in your home understands them.

People are going to make mistakes, they are going to make bad choices at times, at times things will or can be out of their control, but what you do ahead of time and the plan you have in place can make a huge difference… And not only to your family, but to everyone around you or for those that know you!

Anyone can find a balance, anyone can use safety first, now it’s up to you to choose to. 

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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Parents and Grandparents…

This is really not on the PTSD topic, but is something that weighed on my heart over the weekend so I wanted to share it with all of you… Parents and Grandparents

I have to say I was truly floored over the weekend.

My daughter’s party was awesome! ALL of her friends had great manners and well behaved young ladies. They had a blast being here and I enjoyed having them all! However, I was shocked at some of the parents! One of the girls lives not far from us, just over a mile away… now mind you these are 13-14 year old girls! She was walking to our house for the party, could not find the house and called us several times. I finally told her to get permission and I would pick her up. That happened, I picked her up and brought her here for the party.

BUT, the shocker came in after the party. This girl and one other stayed after the party. Until almost 9pm. No big deal to me, the girls were having a blast. At 8:30pm I asked the girls what time were their parents coming to get them. The one that walked said she has to WALK home and be home by 9pm. The other said she did not know because she has not been able to get in touch with the person who was suppose to be picking her up, so her dad would pick her up if need be.

WHAT is wrong with parents these days???

Now we live in an okay area, you actually have to have a background check done to live in our neighborhood, however, the area of the girl that was suppose to walk home at 9pm is outside our area, and does have several sexual predators listed near her home. And she was suppose to walk at night!?! NOT on this mom’s watch! I drove her home. The other girl, her dad did finally come at 9 after she could not get a hold of anyone. Now mind you, the party actually ended at 4pm.

Of 7 girls, only ONE parent actually came to the door to meet us and come inside the house!

Then, my daughter’s new phone… I mentioned a few quick basic rules/reminders before she dove into using it. Her friends were floored that she had phone rules. They said, “wow our parents have never told us those things”. And they even asked me questions. But every single one of them had phones, with data plans, but no rules to the phones, social media, games, internet, nothing. And to watch them listen so closely to what I said, and then say wow that makes sense, and ask questions. Makes you stop and wonder.

I heard, “Your mom is awesome“, “I love talking to your mom!” And even about Craig, “Your dad is really awesome and nice“. Even with Craig’s anxiety and PTSD being up, he still went in and out of the bedroom to help and be a part of the party. The compliments were great, but it also makes you wonder what they are not getting or missing at home.

I admit lol, I might be a little over protecting or a cautious parent to a certain point, in some people’s eyes. How can I not be with the real life fact I myself was stalked and attacked inside my own home years ago as a young adult. I was young (18), carefree, and thought nothing in the world could hurt me lol. That was NOT a real life view… I was wrong! Mine had nothing to do with my parents. I could not change the fact of the stalker/attacker being who he was or his actions, but it was a case that happened that I myself could have taken a little more caution and it MIGHT have helped prevent what happened.

So, I AM cautious about what my children do and who they communicate with, and I do teach them. But you know what? Being a little over protecting or cautious to what is real life situations IS a good thing! And it will sure help keep some of these children safe or at least a little wiser and cautious to what they do!

I think after the weekend my daughter really got a good look at how much she is loved (not that she didn’t already know that, but she got a different view of it) and that the rules we put into place are for good reasons.

Parents, PLEASE take caution with your children. This day and age is not like it was when we were kids! It does not mean children need to fear real life, it means they simply need to be educated on it. Never assume they know what to be cautious of, teach them. There are more and more children missing these days, in the news as being hurt, etc etc. I know not every case can be prevented, but some basic life skills including those of technology, which we did not have those tight/close connections of technology as kids, could help in many cases. PLEASE teach your children and be a wise parent!

I cannot tell others how to be a parent, but this is some food for thought.

Thank you! <3

A Spouse’s Story PTSD