Tag-Archive for » Understanding PTSD «

When you want to throw your hands in the air and scream “REALLY?”

You know lol, sometimes you just want to throw your hands in the air and scream “REALLY?” 

You all are by no means alone when it comes to others not understanding! Not getting it, or choosing not to.

“What’s wrong with you? Why are you having so many headaches? You’re not doing enough. You need to get outside more and get things done around there, you are not getting outside enough or doing things. If it’s too hot you have things inside you need to be doing. I already told you that. I don’t get what’s wrong with you?” -Spoken to someone who has had disabilities for years and information is known by the person who said these things.

Well, RIGHT THERE is a huge part of it!!! The words and the way things are spoken.

When PTSD has a grip on one, that lower stage of PTSD, which if they were not already in you may have just put them there, you don’t kick a person in the teeth when they are down!!! And that’s exactly what that conversation was doing.

SO, here’s the answer to that person’s questions and statements…

It’s called PTSD chronic, Depressive Disorder, it’s also called Migraines. (For an example, it could be whatever combination at hand)

Now where those statements and questions came from, was not a stranger. They were from one that has been informed, has been educated, knows what is going on, but obviously does not view the facts at hand or accept that they are real.

If you are the person that says things like this, I have some really serious information for you. And I really hope you pay close attention. And if you don’t think I’m right, you might just be the one regretting your actions and words.

When a person with PTSD is struggling, your words and the way you treat them can mean everything. It can make a difference in your relationship with that person or it can cause them to completely walk away or distance themselves from you as a form of self preservation. And with many cases of PTSD, your words or actions can easily be the straw that broke the camel’s back and send them over the edge. And I don’t mean crazy as you would phrase it, I mean them choosing the choice between life or death. Suicide is no joking or put off matter when it comes to one with PTSD. The numbers already clearly state that fact!

Clearly the conversation at hand as an example has serious repercussions to it…

“What’s wrong with you?”

I think that is very clear and known! This question actually needs to be reversed, what’s wrong with you? You have ALL of the information right in front of you of what is wrong including all of the why’s to it with complete explanations, but yet you choose to not utilize it or accept it! The one with PTSD has the obvious problem of PTSD. Look in the mirror at what YOU are doing, it’s sure not helping or being positively supportive.

“Why do have so many headaches? You’re not doing enough.”

Well there has been a diagnoses of migraines, this is nothing new, it’s been happening for years, it’s being treated to the best possible, and getting outside more etc is not an answer for migraines. Again, all of the knowledge of this is right before you. When you ask questions like this when you know you have been given all of the information at hand, you are adding stress to the person who is suffering. You are not accepting they are doing everything they can do to manage it. You are causing more guilt that they are not doing enough, when in fact migraines can completely drain a person for up to 24 hours. They are painful, they cause upset stomachs, temporary loss of vision, sometimes hearing, and they are extremely draining. And you are causing additional damage to their mental state of mind.

“You’re not getting outside enough. You aren’t doing enough. You need to be doing things that you should be doing.”

Pushing someone to do something when maybe they just are not capable of that anymore or have to alter the way they do things, is negative support. Again, accept the facts on the table and if you choose not to understand with the facts of a situation laid before you, then by all means don’t add your input! You are tampering with someone else’s disabilities, their self-esteem, and mental state of mind. You either need to step up to the plate and learn or you need to avoid giving your uneducated input!

Then there is that word “NEED”, you need to be doing

If you clearly have stated you don’t get it, then how can you tell someone what they “need” to be doing? YOU don’t know what they need or don’t need to be doing. YOU are the one not being rational. You are telling them they need to be doing something as if there are no disabilities at hand. Well, let me tell you something, YOU need to take a reality check!

You can not tell a person what they need if you don’t accept and/or understand their disabilities. You don’t know their needs, therefore you can’t give helpful or accurate advice.

In the example you have a combination of PTSD chronic, Depressive Disorder, as well as migraines, but you are going to tell them what to do, what they should be doing, and what’s “best” for them? YOU don’t know what’s best for them if you have not even taken the time to learn what you have been given to learn to help you understand their disabilities, and you have not accepted what is going on with them! And you very easily could be making the matters worse!

PTSD changes people. Then add whatever other disabilities may be combined with it. They are still the same person but the way things are handled, the way they view things, what they can or can not do, has changed. They have to cope with things in different ways, they have different ways they have to manage themselves as well as their disabilities. And point blank, you can’t expect them to be exactly the same as they were before their disabilities “happened” to them. Until you can accept those hard facts, your words and actions are or can be extremely damaging!

Now, let me go further with this and show you what can happen to a person, and what they can experience when you say things such as the example given…

This is what that person you so dearly care about and you are telling what they should be like or what they should be doing, is now experiencing due to you choosing to remain uneducated and not accepting the facts.

“They don’t get it. They know what’s wrong with me. Why can’t they understand? I try so hard to make it through each day and obviously I’m a failure. I should be able to do things like I use to. I have let them down. I’m broken and no good to anyone anymore. Why are they not understanding? What else can I do to make them understand that what I go through is real? They expect me to act like there is nothing wrong, my disabilities are real, why can’t they accept them? I am so frustrated and angry. Why did they even say that? I am trying so hard and their expectations I can not meet no matter how hard I try. I’ve told them what’s wrong, we have given them details. They don’t listen to anything we say to them. I have let them down, I have let everyone down, I should be like I use to be. I can’t help that I have migraines, the doctors are treating them the best they can, how are having migraines my fault? I did not ask for any of this! I want to be who I use to be! I’m a failure at everything…”

I think you get my point, or should!

Oh, but wait, we aren’t done yet. That conversation does not end there. Remember you still have PTSD and other disabilities in on this conversation.

Now it rolls over to others. Who takes care of that person you just spoke that original example to? I will take a good guess it’s NOT YOU! You are not there to see the aftermath your words and/or actions caused. You are not the one there talking to them and making them realize they are not a failure at all. You are not the one there reminding them why they are important, why life is worth living. You are not the one there to help them cope and manage through the frustration, anger, and feelings your words caused them. You are not the one there to sit and rationalize with them for hours on end, hoping your words can bring them back down to a reasonable level. You are not the one there to have to walk them through coping skills and helping them manage the symptoms as they come. You know what? You are just NOT the one there!

Anyone can learn the ins and outs of PTSD, you can learn correct and positive ways to support a person who suffers, but you have to choose to. If you choose not to learn, not to educate yourself, not to take any positive steps to help that person you say you care about so much… then as my mom use to say, “Zip Your Lips!” If you are choosing not to do something positive, then by all means don’t say or do things that will damage the person who is suffering and/or the ones taking care of them! What you say to one person does effect not only them but all of those supporting and taking care of them.

Taking care of someone who has PTSD and/or other disabilities takes a lot more then people outside the home realize, fact is, should know. If you ever wonder why some people suffer in silence, or others distance themselves, and even others don’t see any way out but to take their own life? Well, you just heard some reasons and explanations to exactly why.

PTSD no matter what level it is, is very serious and can be very damaging if not handled and managed correctly. If you have someone you care about in your life that suffers from this deadly disability, you might want to start taking it seriously. You push a person too hard or in the wrong ways by your actions and words, you can very factually push them out of your life or out of life period.

If someone has trusted you to tell you what is going on with them, or what happened to them, don’t misuse that information. If you care, take the time to educate yourself so you can provide your loved one with positive support! PTSD is not just going away, and they are not going to mysteriously be who they use to be again. Face the facts, accept them, and learn. THAT’S what people do who truly care!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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”

So it’s a holiday, birthday, anniversary, special event…

So it’s a holiday, birthday, anniversary, special event… 

You might be faced with PTSD hitting it’s all time high… and not in a good way! Your loved one with PTSD seems so selfish, only thinking about themselves, forgetting about everyone else or who ever is having that special day… so you say. This is another one of the things I hear a lot and have seen myself. But do you understand why?

* Survivors guilt.

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

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

* Added expectations.

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

* Anniversaries… of what happened.

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

* Dissociation

Dissociation is still one of the hardest terms out there for people to wrap their heads around. It many times can come with/from PTSD. It’s a form of detachment. Detachments from their surroundings and can become sometimes more serious to detachments from their physical and emotional experience. It’s a way of coping and in terms a type of defense mechanism. Everyone experiences some form of dissociation, even if it’s daydreaming. But it can also become more severe when a trauma has occurred.

A person can experience fragmented memory problems or even amnesia but this does not always occur for every event or all of the time, sometimes it can be triggered sometimes not. Sometimes one may act in ways that are not themselves so to speak, spending money when they normally would not, cheating or having “another life” which is out of their normal character. Psychological numbing can occur. Judgement altered from their normal can occur. There can even be parts of their identity altered in severe case… split personality. Now, with this they are NOT like this or experience this all of the time, they could act their normal selves then out of nowhere, loosely speaking, something changed or triggered them and they are not acting themselves anymore.

“Dissociative disorders are typically experienced as startling, autonomous intrusions into the person’s usual ways of responding or functioning. Due to their unexpected and largely inexplicable nature, they tend to be quite unsettling.”wikipedia

When dissociation is involved, at the time or moment it is effecting them, it seems that a person only thinks of themselves, is distant from everyone, and can very well act like a totally different person, have memory issues, etc. To say the least this is a huge subject and this is NOT all of the details that go with it, but dissociation could very well be at hand when one disconnects etc. Again, this does NOT mean the person is “bad”, it means there is something else their causing their actions when they may occur, which is NOT all of the time.

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

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

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

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”

“It must be nice being able to stay at home all of the time.”

“It must be nice being able to stay at home all of the time.”

Oh I can already see staem and smoke coming out of some of your ears on that one. 😉 This is a phrase I hear a lot! Or other phrases close to the same. It is one that just makes me boil.

I’ve even caught myself becoming defensive in a way, and saying in a nice way things like “Well, I tell you what. You can come live in my shoes for 3 days and then let’s see if you still view that comment the same way”.

The response to that is normally “Why 3 days?”
Simple! Because day one you are going to be clueless to what you are experiencing. Day two, you are going to be frustrated and/or mad and saying “what the heck is wrong with you/him or her?”. And day three is when it is going to set in to how things really are in my life and you will be taking back that comment of “it must be nice…”.

To start with, this is by NO means anything negative about my husband! I love him dearly with no doubt and do not place any blame on something that was/is out of his control. It’s just the facts of life and the hand we have been dealt. We make the best of the situation, together.

So I want to explain to those that do not understand what a caregiver and/or even one with PTSD go through.

* Work. To set this straight, my husband and I were both work-a-holics. We loved what we did, and it wasn’t something either of us wanted to give up. However, there was no choice in our case. Due to his disabilities, it became where he could not manage through everyday life without help. This is why I’m his caregiver full time now. It’s not that we just choose to not work by any means!

When disabilities come into your life things change. Schedules are hard to keep. When flare ups happen you don’t know when or what you will be facing throughout the day, which happens many times. You are now in a position where another person is relying on you to help them make it from one day to the next, literally. That honestly takes a lot out of a person just within itself, and life begins to get juggled. I might not work, or work away from home, but being a caregiver is a full time “job” within itself. One that is urgently needed. You have to make sure that person eats, takes their medications, showers, gets outside, keeps appointments, turns off things after using them (stove, grill, lights, closes the fridge), etc. Without you there to assist or do things that person can not correctly function like a person without a disability can.

All of these things make it nearly impossible, if not completely impossible, for a person to hold a job or even keep a job. I know this personally, I tried everything I could think of, even right down to mowing lawns (and note, I was a dog trainer)! Nothing worked! Work requires a schedule and PTSD does not do very well with schedules in severe cases.

* PTSD itself. You don’t know what each day is going to bring, period!

– It might be a day of them not remembering anything. These are urgent need days for making sure medications are taken correctly and everything in general with helping them through everything that a person without a disability just assumes or does each day without thinking, and on their own.

– It might be a day where they are depressed and you have to pay close attention to how it is effecting them. Making sure they do things they need to, etc.

– It might be a day where they are suicidal, or have thoughts of suicide… these days you are right by their side every second helping them through it, past the thoughts, talking them through positive things, helping them cope, making them know the reasons life is still worth living!

– It might be a day where they are full of anger or right down to no feeling at all, numbness. Times when support is much needed.

– It might be a day for appointments. Getting a person with PTSD to even leave the house is difficult within itself, then you say “you have an appointment”? That brings on a whole new meaning as well as a harder job.

In all that comes with caregiving as well as to the one with a disability, there are many things that people do not understand are involved until you have actually experienced it for yourself.

Of course there is much, much more to it then just those things, but you get my point.

Now, you know the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side”?

Well, you might think it’s nice to be able to stay home all of the time, but how about this?

* You get to have “date night” where one that has a disability, and their family even, is in a position to where something as simple to you as a date night is something not possible anymore to us. It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s that a disability keeps us from being able to, and when we can it’s few and far in between. Maybe one time every 2-3 months if lucky.

When one does manage to make it out of the house then they still have all the symptoms of PTSD to face. The crowds, noises, not feeling safe, and the rush out and rush back home that comes with that. Makes it kind of difficult to relax and enjoy an outing, wouldn’t you think? YES!

* Vacations. Many people take one a year if not more. One with PTSD rarely can do this. You are talking about several days or more in a different place, out of your comfort zone, strange people, a different bed, etc. Then to add to it whatever you would do during that vacation.

* Shopping. Something many do every single day of their lives. Walking through stores, trying on clothes, taking time to pick out your food. Another thing that doesn’t come easy to PTSD or the ones who care for them.

* Parties/Gatherings. With what I’ve already mentioned I’m sure you get the point of what would come with these. Oh, and these include gathering of family as well let me add.

I could go on and on listing the other side to all of this, but I’m sure by now you get my point of how different things are when one has a disability or cares for one who does.

Saying to someone “it must be nice to get to stay at home all of the time” is just not a fair statement to anyone! Where you see it as we get to stay at home, we look at it as “look at everything you can do with ease, and everything in life we don’t have an option to enjoy like you do.”

Something to really stop and think about isn’t it?

We did not choose this, it happened. PTSD happened. And it’s sure not something someone can just snap out of or get over. We do the best we can to make life the best it can be, like anyone else in our shoes. But I do ask, before you make such bold statements, before knowing the facts of another person’s life, think about what you say before you say it. You might just find you are the one standing on the greener side of the fence to someone else.

Please take the time to educate yourself for the sake of someone else. It might just prevent some really hurt feelings… and very well even save a life!

~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”

PTSD vs The ones that don’t accept it…

PTSD vs The ones that don’t accept it…

Oh boy! Here’s a tough one. With PTSD it is urgent for you to have support, especially from family members!

This is the toughest thing in the world, war would be easier then trying to get a family member to accept that you have a mental illness that is very real. I already see heads nodding yes don’t I!

Parents especially have a hard time accepting PTSD. They remember working so hard to raise you, made sure you had everything you needed growing up, see you as that perfect person with so many possibilities in life, have in their minds expectations of you, etc. They remember all of the good times and how you were as a child. How motivated you were as a young adult heading into an adult world with so much potential ahead of you.

Then something happened and the world crashed! A mental illness? No, not my child! There must be another reason. Oh you don’t have that, you just need a different job with less stress or that you like more, oh it’s your spouse she/he is not good for you, oh you are on all of those meds that make you this way, your doctor is wrong, and the ultimate… there’s nothing wrong with you maybe you need to be closer to home and I can get you back into the right self-esteem frame of mind, someone is the cause of making you feel this way.

These are all things that parents/family members might say when they can’t accept what has “happened” to you! OUCH! That hurts deep!

There are many things you can try in these cases. Some will listen and hear you, others will stay closed minded or take time to open up. It’s difficult for a parent to comprehend when they don’t live with you, don’t see the rough times, then turn the blame else where when they do see a change in you or you become distant from the family because it brings on more stress.

Many times in these cases it’s the spouse that goes to bat for you. A spouse will get overwhelmed with lack of support or a family member saying the things they have said. The one with PTSD will not always speak up because it’s hard to know how your family is viewing, not accepting, or acting towards what you are going through. And that guilt of letting a parent down! That’s the worst ever and the more they talk and don’t accept it as being real, the heavier that guilt becomes. That’s tough! And adds to what you are already struggling with every day. Many of you start putting distance between you and these family members. Some times you have to, but the reality is you could use their support!

So what can you do? First, accept that some will never accept it, they will never understand because they don’t see what PTSD does. But that doesn’t mean not to try! Over time many others will get curious and start to learn. No parent wants their child to stop talking to them or become distant.

* Have a family sit down. Explain this is real, this is not something that some doctor just made up and it is real life to what you go through and battle every day. Tell them what PTSD is, what you go through that it causes. That PTSD is not a light switch that you can turn off and on, it is not controlled by you and sure not something you can snap out of. Let them know you care what they think and how they feel, and you need them as support, not someone that is against them. So for them to be able to understand and be supportive they have to want to learn.

* Show them medical documentation. Sometimes it helps when a person can see it in writing. It helps make it real.

* Let them know that this is not something your spouse has caused. Your spouse supports you and helps you make it to the next day. Well, unless your spouse is the one you are having to have the sit down with. Parents need to know that they can’t play the blame game. A trauma caused PTSD not your spouse or children. When parents have a hard time accepting something, it’s very easy for them to blame who you are closest to. Don’t let this happen! It causes more hardship, conflict, and even family feuds! No one with PTSD needs any of this!

* Medications. You have to explain that medications are in many cases needed. They are NOT to dope you up or make you feel like a zombie, they are as I say “band aides” that help you control the symptoms so you can learn to cope with what PTSD causes. Over time the medications can be adjusted and many can be reduced or you can come off of them… but only by what the doctor says, cold turkey off of meds can send you into a very dark place! Many parents/family members will say “You are fine get off of those meds” Well, the fact is you “seem” fine to them 1. Because they probably won’t see you on a bad day. 2. Because OF the medications. Trust me, no one wants to see what one is like when they do not have medications and/or professional help. PTSD can cause a person to act in ways or say things that is just not the true them. The medications can help with sleep, nightmares/terrors, anxiety, and a lot of other symptoms PTSD brings. No one likes having to take medications, but in many cases they are needed. During your sit down the fact is, if you didn’t have this outside help you would most likely get angry, throw something, punch a chair, etc. But the fact you can and are sitting there is due to the fact you got help for yourself. A parent might say “you’re not violent”, well PTSD brings a lot of anger and frustration, the fact is anyone can be violent, it’s all in what you do to help yourself control it. So, yes, medications are many times needed. They are not a cure all, but sure can help with the symptoms.

* If you have a supportive spouse, it is urgent that your family understands that your spouse can be a lifeline for communication between you and your family members. Your spouse needs the family as much as you do and a family that turns everything against a spouse is going to have serious problems. When you are having a down day or a day that you don’t want to talk or see people, the family can still stay in touch with the spouse. It’s not that the spouse calls all of the shots or controls you, it’s that your spouse supports you and wants you to be the best you can be with PTSD. A family being supportive of your spouse will be very important for everyone in the family.

* Have the family research PTSD. The internet is a wonderful tool to use and there are so many resources about PTSD out there. Use this page and the website. Eventually parents will become curious rather you know about it or not. Give them the tools they need to learn. A family can still function with PTSD, it’s just different as with any other illness or disability. You have to learn!

* Have family members read other people’s stories! When a person sees it’s not just you or your situation, it helps it become real life to them. These people who do tell their stories, me included, don’t do it for attention or fame, actually they are putting themselves out there to the world of stigma, they do it because they know what rock bottom is and want to help prevent others from going through the same things if they can be avoided. Knowing information before something major happens or having someplace to turn to when something happens gives a new support system… that is urgent and can very well be the difference between life or death.

* The fact is suicide numbers are through the roof with PTSD! There are reported 22 veterans/military per day in the United States alone that take their own lives. And those numbers only incorporate the states that participate in reporting the numbers, which is in the low 20s right now. That does not include civilians or unreported cases or PTSD cases hidden due to stigma. It CAN happen to anyone, family support is urgent in order for those numbers to not continue increasing! Anyone that says “Well that won’t happen to my child or my family” is being blind! PTSD is VERY real and I don’t know a parent or family member out there that would bet a person’s life on if they are right or wrong about it existing.

Parents and family members, open your eyes! If your family member comes to you and says they have been diagnosed with PTSD, take it seriously! That’s an extremely hard step for someone to take coming to you with something like this. Don’t brush them off until tomorrow… if you do, you might just be the one that doesn’t get another tomorrow with them. I say that with every seriousness of my heart. Your family member needs you. I know you might not understand PTSD, but you can learn, you can be supportive in a positive way, you can be that mom or dad or family member you were when they were younger. Don’t shut them out and don’t turn your back to them or take it as a joke. It’s truly nothing to joke about! Your child/family member’s life might just depend on you and how you respond to them.

As always, feel free to “share” this if you feel it could be helpful to you, your family, or someone you care about.

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”

PTSD vs Taking things Personally…

One of largest battles for a loved one of PTSD is to NOT take things personally! I hear this a lot, used to battle it a lot myself, and it’s become a #1 rule.

PTSD brings out some nasty comments. It’s always good to keep in mind when this happens that it’s the PTSD talking, not your partner!

One with PTSD seems to take things out on the one they love the most, are the closest to, most comfortable with, and most of all the one they trust. You learn over time what is PTSD by how they respond to things, how they are acting, etc. By learning the signs, it helps you know the difference between what is PTSD talking and what is the true them.

When PTSD gets to a point of being harsh, listen. Just listen. And sometimes it helps if you remind them that you know this is PTSD speaking to you this way because you know they would not do this, it’s not the true them. I know it does not excuse what is being said or how it is being said, but you always have to keep in mind that PTSD is there and sometimes the venting is needed. For BOTH of you, find a way to communicate so you can keep the harshness at bay. No one intends to hurt each other, so find a way to avoid it.

To the ones with PTSD, be honest when you are feeling the anger coming. Tell your partner you are feeling angry, frustrated, or that you really need to vent. This keeps the arguments down and allows the door to open to helping each other through the rough times. Communication is a huge key in battling PTSD, use it! Work together! It takes time for both of you to learn this and how to approach a subject, but you can do it.

Things like this can be of help:

“I notice your PTSD has a grip on you today, is there anything I can do to help?”

By saying this, you are accepting that you see PTSD is causing the issue. You are pointing it out in a nice way when maybe your partner is unaware of how they are acting. And it opens the door for communication which can avoid an outbreak later. The one with PTSD can do the same thing in reverse, accept and tell when you know you are having a PTSD battle that day. A heads up to a partner on this can help things go more smoothly. Sometimes it’s the partner that might be acting off key, accept that you are not perfect and built up frustration, anger, feeling alone, etc can cause you to act in a negative manner as well… it does happen!

“You seem to be having a rough day, why don’t you just take it easy today.”

Wow! Huge statement there isn’t it? PTSD wears you out! Accept that some days your partner needs to just rest. Never expect too much. Anything that needs to be put off today can always be rescheduled for another day. It is important to give that down time when it is needed. No expectations. The doctors have actually told my husband that if taking a nap or going back to bed is the best way for him to cope, then do it. Start the day over when you get up. You just have to always keep in mind not to let depression keep you down too much of the time though, but breaks in the day are okay. Even take this time to watch a movie, or just talk if you are okay with doing this at this time. 😉 If not, take that nap and start over. Even take a nap with your partner… sometimes we all could use the extra sleep. 😉 It’s better then taking anger and frustration out on the one you love.

Keeping in mind that a lot of anger and frustration comes from PTSD and knowing not to take these things personal is urgent. They are going through a great amount of battle within themselves, and taking everything personally… even when and especially when it is directed at you, can make matters so much worse. Focus, use the coping skills, and make sure you take care of yourself during these times. PTSD can bring you down, but you can find ways to pick yourself up and continue being there for your partner, especially through the rough times when they need you most.

Communicate with each other! Don’t take things personal… remember PTSD is there! I can’t state that enough!

~Bec
“A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”