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Dear August, September, October…

Dear August, September, October…

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

August, 

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

September, 

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

October,

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

To all of the months,

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

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

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

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

Traumas in life… PTSD or Not

I want to talk about something from a different angle… 

Many people have experienced a trauma in their lifetime, rather they have developed PTSD or not. Craig and I had a very odd thing happen a couple of nights ago and it really made me start thinking. There are some topics that we have never discussed on here and this mishap that happened made me realize that this is something that everyone really needs to think about… and talk about. 

Craig was actually picking on me in what he thought was a funny way of waking me up, and he was using humor to help with anxiety. He honestly meant no harm in it, and had no idea what was going to happen by what he did. We had been watching a show late that night, and I fell asleep. Well, sometimes those with PTSD just want someone awake with them. Rather it’s comfort just knowing someone is awake with them, they need to talk, or they just don’t want to feel alone at that moment… and I’m sure many other reasons. So he woke me up.

Something he picked up during his career, and I guess it was a way of waking people in a joking manner (no harm intended) when they would not wake up, was by pinching their nose shut for a few seconds. Yep, it works, brings one right out of sleep quickly and it did just that to me… and I DON’T recommend doing it! 

See, Craig’s focus was on whatever he was feeling and therefore wanting me awake. But in focusing on what he was feeling, he was not focusing on the big picture… and probably could not in all honesty. To state this up front, I’m not upset with him at all and we did have a talk about this after the fact, so everything is okay.

But… what about that big picture?

In his focus, what was Craig not picturing? Why was this such a huge deal to me? It never crossed Craig’s mind in his focus that I had a trauma in my past. (I’m not upset with him by the way, but felt this example could help others) Many of you know my story somewhat, ***trigger warning to those that have been assaulted, you might want to skip to the next paragraph now*** I had a stalker for several months that tormented me daily, this person left evidence that this person had been there, even became friends with my dog I had at that time (and the main reason my dogs are never outside by themselves or left alone) but I never saw this person until I was attacked by that person inside my home, and I was left unconscious, and they left out the front door in the middle of the day like no big deal. (Yes, this person was caught eventually)

I was stalked and attacked. Now picture me in a deep sleep and someone pinching my nose closed, even though it was meant to be harmless. NOT a good combination and it took me right back to that attack and me fighting the person off, for a very brief moment.

I have handled what I went through extremely well. I do have anxiety during certain episodes/situations, am a little more cautious then the normal person, but I have coped with what happened well. But that one small harmless act with my nose, did effect me, for a brief moment I panicked.

My point in sharing this is… So many that live with a person who has PTSD focus on the PTSD and the other person’s symptoms. At times they do not talk about their own traumas… their own triggers or what could be possible triggers. On the other hand, the ones with PTSD have to focus so much on themselves, that sometimes what another person went through is in a way blocked from their thoughts, during their own coping and/or what they are experiencing at that moment.

I had no clue that waking me in such a manner would cause me to react the way I did. It was not something Craig would have thought about, he’s never had an issue waking me before. No real fault from either of us, but something we learned. Craig and I were dating at the time of what I went through, we have talked about it a lot, but I have never talked about what could possibly be my own triggers besides the obvious. Craig knows I’ve coped with the trauma well, I do not have PTSD from it, but I do have some triggers. It was just a mishap the other night that neither of us would have ever thought about.

Communication and thinking before acting. Take time to talk to each other. Even if a person does not have PTSD, if they have experienced a trauma don’t dismiss the facts… neither of you or yourself. Listen and talk to each other so you have an idea of things that could be or become triggers… for either person.

Rather you have PTSD or not, if you have experienced a trauma, talk about it so mishaps like we experienced the other night can be avoided.

It really is a two way street when any trauma has been experienced, by either person. Don’t dismiss that fact. Talk and make sure you are hearing each other, and talk about possible triggers and/or what you know effects you… so you are on the same page.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Looking back on 2013

Recap of 2013… Back at the beginning of the year I announced that this was going to be a very trying year for us. We had a long list of special events mixed in with the usual tough times that come. WOW, was I right! But you know what? We made it through and a new year is getting ready to start!!! Of course the new year already has some serious things coming, like Craig’s surgery this week. BUT, if we could make it through 2013 we will for sure make it through 2014! 😉

In 2013:

My oldest turned 18 AND we made it through his high school Graduation!

My daughter and step-son turning 13! Yes, we accomplished a girl’s birthday party here… with many breaks during it lol 😉

(Craig said I HAD to add this one or he would add it lol) I turned 40!

Craig and I had our 10 year wedding anniversary… we chose to not do anything, being together was enough for us 🙂

We made it out of town for a few hours so I could be in my sister’s wedding on the beach! And Craig did well as a cameraman 

I started writing my book (Thank You to “My Elder” Dean  and ALL of you!!!)

Miss Marble (the cat) came into our family.

AND that emergency bathroom remodel lol… It’s almost done! A great way to start the New Year with that off of my plate! 😉

We did not accomplish everything that was on the list for the year, however we accomplished a lot considering how life is with PTSD and everything else! 

There was one other thing that I personally accomplished this year. Let’s see if I can type this without crying happy tears. Everyone knows that I have struggled with not being able to train dogs anymore, a true love of mine. One of those weights on my shoulders that just always tried to keep a grip on me. HOWEVER, that changed this year! You know how I always say listen to what other’s say? Well, I had a light bulb moment not too long ago from a very special person. I want to say a special Thank You to Beth P. for making me realize that I am actually doing exactly what my original life dream/goal was!

My life goal from an early age was not to train dogs (even though I love it and always have), my life goal was to follow in my mom’s footsteps and help children and young adults with mental disabilities learn that they are valuable no matter what and to teach them how to make it through life with having disabilities. I wanted to teach.

See, I had a trauma happen to me at 18 years old that caused me to alter my life plans, I took a different route in life after it, I avoided my dream. My husband and his mental illnesses and ALL of you changed my avoidance and got me back on the path that originally filled my heart.

My goal might be altered a little, age group, and not as a certified teacher… but I AM living my life dream, helping others! Right here with and beside ALL of you! I hope each of you really, truly understand how much you ARE a family to us! 

I did not fail with dog training or by having to give it up to care for my husband at all. The page in my life had turned, and I accepted that a long time ago. But I was honestly being placed back to where my heart really has been all along and didn’t even realize it! I opened my eyes, heart, and dream to what has always mattered to me. Some how with one short conversation Beth and I had, the weight was gone from my shoulders completely of not being able to train and a huge extra kick was put into my step. I had never really viewed it before as I do now. I have been bringing awareness of PTSD and other mental illnesses to others for over two years, living beside and through mental illnesses with my husband for 10 years. Yes, it’s safe to say I had a light bulb moment this year. 

So, I would have to say even though some things were not accomplished this year, a whole lot of wonderful things were! And you all… you are each SO amazing! Don’t EVER give up on yourself! 😉

Much love and strength to ALL of you as we step forward to a New Year together!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

What is PTSD?

What is PTSD?

Sometimes we need to get back to the basics of what PTSD is, especially for those of you that are just starting to learn or have not heard of PTSD before.

PTSD is the abbreviation for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Majority of the time you will not see it spelled out and “PTSD” or “PTS” are commonly used.

PTSD is a psychological reaction to a highly stressful event(s)/trauma(s) which is/was outside of normal human range of experience. It is caused by experiencing or witnessing life threatening harm to oneself or that of another person. PTSD can effect anyone who has experienced a severe trauma where the symptoms last more then a month. Many believe it is only military related, which is untrue. Civilians can develop PTSD the same as one who had a military experience. The trauma experienced may be different, but the symptoms from “what happened” are much the same no matter what the trauma was that one experienced.

Some examples which could lead to PTSD developing:

* Military, Law Enforcement, Emergency personnel, Prison Guards, Doctors, Nurses, etc. related event(s).
* Car accident.
* Personal physical attack.
* Rape/Sexual Assault.
* Home invasion.
* Child abuse.
* Natural disaster.
* Witnessing a death of one close to you.
* Abuse (adult)
* Major surgery (such as breast cancer and stroke patients)
* Kidnapping or Torture.
* Mugging or Robbery.

Virtually any trauma that is life-threatening and damages the physical and/or emotional state or well being of an individual or causes intense fear.

Symptoms of PTSD:

  •  Reoccurring thoughts/re-experience of what happened.

Nightmares of the event.  Flashbacks.

  •  Dissociative symptoms.

Can include memory issues. If you have not heard of this one, please research it! This can in many cases explain things that do not seem to be PTSD related symptoms.

  •  Avoidance of people, places, or things that remind one of their trauma they experienced.
  •  Increased Arousal. Feeling keyed up.
  •  Sleep problems.
  •  Anger, Frustration, Irritability.
  •  Negative changes in beliefs and feelings.

May include guilt, fear, shame, lack of self-worth.

  •  Self destructive behavior. Such as alcohol or drug abuse.
  •  Suicidal thoughts or attempts.
  •  Physical symptoms can co-occur with PTSD.

Such as heart disease, digestive issues, upset stomach, high blood pressure, diabetes, and others.

  •  Other mental illnesses can co-occur with PTSD.

Such as depression, survivor’s guilt, dissociation, and others.

These are a few of the most commonly seem symptoms of PTSD.

Developing PTSD does not mean a person is weak, which is a huge misunderstanding by many. It means the person has experienced something beyond what is normal. Many people who develop PTSD may have experienced more then one trauma, compiling the traumas. Again, anyone could develop PTSD after a life threatening trauma, it is not based on being weak or weak minded.

There are many different treatments and therapies to help manage PTSD. It is highly recommended to seek help as soon as possible! The sooner you seek professional help, the sooner you can learn to develop ways of coping and managing the symptoms, as well as being able to maintain a more normal lifestyle.

Having a support system of some form, rather it is family, friends, support groups, online support, etc is urgent. These things are needed not only for the one who suffers from PTSD, but for family members as well. It is in your and your loved one’s best interest to take time to learn as much as you can about PTSD, the better educated you and your loved ones are, the stronger you will be to “battle” and cope with PTSD symptoms, as well as what can come with living life with or beside PTSD.

PTSD is not new. PTSD has been around for many, many years… just known as other names such as shell shock, battle fatigue, and soldier’s heart. With the technology in today’s society, PTSD has become a more known name due to the many forms of awareness and ones speaking out to the public in hopes of helping others and reducing stigma. Past generations suffered alone in many cases due to the stigma which does come with PTSD and the lack of information provided. Thus in the past, majority of known cases were related to military and other cases were unreported.

These are some of the basics of PTSD. There is a lot that can be learned as well as taught regarding PTSD. Rather you believe you know someone who suffers or not, the hard fact is, you probably already do or sooner or later you most likely will know or meet someone who does suffer from PTSD. Learning about PTSD could very well help save lives. PTSD is a very real disorder and has touched many, many, people’s lives. It is not something that one can just snap out of, get over, or forget about. When PTSD affects one’s life, they relive the trauma they experienced each and every day, it is not just going away. Ones with PTSD are very strong individuals who fight every day to make it to the next the best they possible can and to be there for their family/loved ones, have a heart, please take the time to educate yourself.

One who suffers from PTSD is no different then you or I, they have just experienced something we may have not.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD” :Website

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

When you first start learning about PTSD OR a Reminder…

When you first start learning about PTSD OR a Reminder

There is A LOT to learn about PTSD, I will not lie to you and I will not tell you it’s going to be easy. It’s not going to be! But just because it’s not easy does not mean it’s not possible to make it through it or make things better. The more you learn, the more effort you put into trying and understanding, the better things can become.

PTSD is not going to just go away. It’s not something that you can just say “this can not be happening” and ignore it hoping things will be better tomorrow, and it’s sure not something to battle alone! When you do not face the truth of PTSD, do not accept it, and do not try to learn… you can almost guarantee life is going to get harder then what you are already experiencing.

There are a few terms/phrases you are going to hear very often related to PTSD (other then what’s in text book definitions)…

* Roller coaster ride

PTSD has that nick name for a very good reason, because that is exactly what you are going to feel like you are on! Every day can be different, especially before one learns to cope with PTSD (no matter which side of the fence you are on with PTSD). And even then, there will be days that a quick turn could be hit, then back again.

One of the golden rules of PTSD is to take one day at a time. Don’t have overwhelming expectations and learn the “tricks” to get through what does come. It’s not going to happen overnight, there’s going to be a lot of trial and error, and again a lot of effort, but things can get better then they are right now!

You are going to feel like your world and life have been turned upside down then back again, but with learning and putting good effort into it, things can get better and symptoms can be managed. PTSD is not going away, but there are ways of coping and managing it that can reduce the symptoms and put some symptoms at bay, so to speak. But it will not be handed to you on a silver platter and you are not going to just wake up one day and PTSD be gone. You have to work at it to make things the best they can possibly be! But things CAN be better then what they may be right now, but you have to actually DO something!

* Walking on eggshells

This is a phrase you will learn very fast, especially if you are a loved one of one with PTSD. You are going to find things “appear” as if you never say anything right, you can’t do anything right, you may “think” you can’t express your own feelings or emotions, you may even feel fear of PTSD, and you are going to experience the feeling of being alone, even though that person may be physically right beside you. And when a good day is experienced you might even feel like you are waiting for the other shoe to drop and wonder when everything is going to turn around again. Over time these things can change! Again, the more you learn, and understand, the better things can become. You will never understand exactly what the one with PTSD went through, you are not them and most likely you were not there when what happened to them happened, however you can learn to understand what they experience now as a result of what happened to them in the past.

Always remember, the nasty things that may come with PTSD are not the person you love, it’s PTSD. The person you love has not left, they are still there and you just have to find ways that work for you and them to help some of their old self shine through. I learned a saying a long time ago, “I know this is not you talking/acting this way because you would never do that, I know this is PTSD”… that one phrase may be the understanding I found that saved us.

When you find yourself walking on eggshells, make sure you are taking care of yourself! Take time to do something for yourself, even if it’s just getting outside, away from everyone for a few minutes. Self-help will help things become a lot better then they may be right now. And my goodness, learn the same coping skills one with PTSD learns!!! I can not say that one enough, you would be shocked at how much they can help you through the rough times. If you don’t take care of yourself physically and mentally, how are you going to be able to help or take care of someone else? You won’t be able to, and you may very well find yourself standing in the same shoes as the one with PTSD.

PTSD can have many different levels to it. Some can still function and maintain a somewhat normal life, others can be more severe to the point they have to rely on someone else to help them make it through each day, and everything in between. No matter what level of severity you or your loved one may experience, educate yourself on everything you possibly can about PTSD and the real life things that come with it, not just textbook symptoms! Doing so can give you the knowledge to battle PTSD on just about anything that PTSD can bring.

My husband and I do share our story, our experiences, and things we have found that do or can help. If my writings about our life can help just one person make it through living with or beside PTSD, then everything I do is worth it! I did not have help when things were at there worst, I battled what my husband was going through totally alone, and I do not wish that upon anyone! My words come from the heart and our experiences. I can place it all in writing but what you do with it from there is up to you. Whatever you choose to do or not do is up to you, but whatever it is, DO something to make things better for yourself and/or your loved ones.

I’m not a doctor or in any medical field. But I am a spouse that has been there and continue the battle PTSD each and every day of our lives, and I share our story with you!

Work together! Battling PTSD together instead of battling each other will help you accomplish much more in life. The battle is not between you and your loved ones… the battle is PTSD.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

A PTSD Dad…

A PTSD Dad

Being a dad may be a lot different now then it use to be. But this thing called PTSD that haunts your nights and disrupts your days, never takes away from a child that speaks the words “my Dad”.

Dad is a strong word with a strong meaning behind it. Some children may say the word pops, and some still say daddy or papa. It doesn’t matter which is used, when it comes from the mouth of a child, with love, meaning, and pride, it still boils down to “my Dad”.

Any man can be a father, but a special man to a child’s heart and through their eyes know him as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad may feel guilty, because they can’t spend as much time with a child or go places another father might be able to or as often. But a child sees through eyes of innocence, they do not judge you on the amount of time PTSD may take away from them, they do not count the minutes on a clock, they know the quality of the time you give, and they speak those words “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad may have different schedules or act in different ways then other fathers, but a child still recognizes love through the illness that haunts you, and they still view you as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad teaches something special, and he needs not say a word to teach it. He teaches a child not to judge others, he teaches a child to see through a person’s disabilities or illnesses, and teaches a child that no disability can prevent a man from being a man known as “my Dad”.

A PTSD dad shows a child that life is special and the value in every day that comes. He shows a child that you don’t take life for granted, that you cherish it and you do your best through it. That child in turn knows him as “my Dad”.

A child does not know the word stigma. That is something that is taught or not taught to a child. A PTSD dad shows a child that stigma is just a word and he shows them life past a simple word when others may not see it. He teaches them the truth. That child, that child is a child that can change the world. That child will say the world will change because of “my Dad”.

To the Dads out there that battle PTSD each day of your life. You have a special gift, rather you see it or not. Many of you may view yourself as letting your children down, many may view that your life is not worth what you put others through because of your disability, many may view that you are not worthy at all. If you view yourself that way, before you judge yourself so harshly, you might want to really listen to your child. PTSD may seem to take a lot away from you, but don’t allow it to take away those words “my Dad”. Your child or children love you, honor you, and they by all means look up to you. Why? Because you ARE their DAD! That is something special. 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all of the PTSD Dads! 

~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

Secondary PTSD explained…

Secondary PTSD

Just to note upfront, secondary PTSD is very controversial. There are many doctors who have different opinions on this topic and many people view “what” secondary PTSD is differently. I’m not a doctor or in the medical field and the following comes from my research on the subject.

Many have asked about this, many believe they suffer from this, but… many are misdiagnosed.

Secondary PTSD has a specific set of symptoms, that many times become confused with other things which leads to a misdiagnoses. There are also things such as caregiver stress and stress related to the person’s own traumatic events which may play a huge role in this, causing one to believe or think they are experiencing secondary PTSD.

Secondary PTSD contains many of the same symptoms as PTSD does, however, a person with secondary PTSD has not experienced a/the trauma. Here’s where the difference comes with secondary PTSD.

One with secondary PTSD will experience:

* Avoidance of things, people, and places that are related to the one with PTSD’s trauma to the extent it is their own trauma.

* Have nightmares/terrors related to the one with PTSD’s trauma, but the nightmares/terrors are not from a trauma of their own.

* Anxiety, panic, uneasiness, much the same as one with PTSD but are based around issues related to the one with PTSD’s trauma and triggers, not their own.

* Irritability and mood changes and/or attention.

* Change, increase or decrease, in sleep and/or appetite.

All of these are based off of the one with PTSD’s trauma and not one you personally experienced. Ones who are caregivers or living in a home with one that suffers from PTSD can develop secondary PTSD, however ones outside the home are less likely if any to develop it.

Secondary PTSD comes from mirroring the one with PTSD. Kind of like re-experiencing their trauma as your own. You have listened to the one with PTSD, what happened to them, details of the trauma, know their triggers, and in trying to help them avoid things which can trigger their PTSD you in a way start living their trauma as if it were your own. You start experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, etc when, say for example you hear a helicopter. The sound and vibration sets you, yourself off instead of you just being cautious of it possibly setting the one with PTSD off. Same with nightmares, this is a huge sign in my opinion of secondary PTSD, you start dreaming their trauma, you place yourself in that experience as if it were your own. Basically your brain has altered their experience(s) from what you have heard or know about the trauma, and now relates to them as if you were the one who went through the trauma.

See the difference between secondary PTSD and caregiver stress now? As a caregiver you can still experience the symptoms of PTSD, however you don’t “own” them, you are more cautious of/to them rather then them becoming your own.

I know someone is going to ask 😉 so I will go ahead and say it. What about me? Yes, I have personally had the words “secondary PTSD” said to me, however I do not believe I have secondary PTSD. I am cautious to his triggers and everything else that comes with his PTSD, however his PTSD has not become my own based off of his trauma. I do not experience nightmares of his trauma or get triggered myself by his triggers.

However, I do believe I most likely fall into the category (due to the additional stress that his PTSD brought before we understood what it was), of my own PTSD surfacing from my own past traumas (re-activated PTSD). BUT, knowing what I have learned about PTSD since that time, I am fully functioning and can maintain my own symptoms as well as know what I need to do if symptoms start. Some of the events which have happened since his PTSD has added to my own, not his fault by any means, but something that has happened, but are managed.

Being knowledgeable about PTSD myself has given me the skills I need to maintain my own traumas I experienced. So, when I say it’s good to hear and know both sides of the fence of PTSD, it’s pretty literally spoken. 😉

No matter where you sit on the PTSD scale or as a caregiver or loved one to PTSD, make sure you educate yourself, work together, and communicate. I know for a fact that having knowledge can help both of you in the future and very much help you if or when your own symptoms develop… and when/if they do your ability to manage them.

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story…PTSD