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There IS a PTSD Crisis!

This is to EVERYONE that it can possibly reach, whether you know someone with PTSD or do not believe you do.

I am a very strong woman, and I will be the first to tell you I have a lot of pride, but I will fall to my knees and beg you to PLEASE listen to what I have to say!

I know PTSD, my husband battles it every day of his life just like many others do. This is not from a story or a text book, this is not some movie that was made up, this is from firsthand knowledge of REAL LIFE, in hopes that it will help open eyes and save lives!

People are dying! MANY people are losing their battle to PTSD. Do you understand and know why? Do you even care? If not, I’ll explain why you should!

There is a PTSD CRISIS at hand! I have sat here in deep thought after receiving word of another “PTSD brother” that has lost his battle to PTSD. I thought, how can I help people understand that there is a crisis, it is real life, and the crisis is world wide? How do I get people to take the time to care about others in this fast paced world we live in? I’m only one person.

Even with the amount of awareness there is out there, it’s still not enough! Too many people are letting the term “PTSD” pass right by them like it’s no big deal. Too many people are not hearing or learning the facts, and many are still carrying stigma. Too many people are still saying, “That could not happen to me or my family”. Too many are saying, “Why should I care?” Others are saying “My PTSD is not that bad, no big deal, I can suck it up.”

If you are one of those people, I need to tell you with all of my heart the truth, “YOU are WRONG!”

Every day I educate others on PTSD and the seriousness of it, around taking care of my husband and our family. I share our personal story and what each day is like living with or beside PTSD. I share things in hopes that others out there may understand that they are not alone and there are many things that can help. I hope that what I offer will help just one person and/or family if not many, find a shorter path to learning how to manage life with PTSD, something my husband, family, and I did not have when PTSD became a part of our lives. I hope that what I write, will make one person if not many, choose to dismiss the stigma they may hold and realize that stigma kills human beings, real people that should have a chance at life.

They are no different than you or I, they have just experienced a trauma that changed their life, something no person should have to experience. Those with PTSD can still have relationships, they can still be good fathers and mothers, or grandparents, or friends. Many can still be great at their career and in the workplace. Many walk through society and no one would even be able to recognize they have PTSD. Many you would have to be around when symptoms are increased or live with them to understand or actually see what they battle. It takes a lot to manage PTSD, no matter how well manged or bad the symptoms are, and so many do not have the tools and support that are needed, yet.

PTSD is not an individual problem or issue! The reality is, with the number of people who do suffer/survive with PTSD, every person this reaches most likely DOES know someone with PTSD. Whether you realize it or not! It may be your spouse/partner, your mom or dad, brother or sister, or another family member. It may be your best friend or a co-worker, it may be your neighbor, or that person you pass on the street everyday.

It only takes ONE life changing trauma, for PTSD to develop! That one trauma changes life forever.

Traumas effect military, police officers, doctors, nurses, emergency personnel, emergency operators, news reporters, military subcontractors, prison guards, teachers, etc. All of the people who are there for you. It can effect those who have experienced an assault, rape, child abuse, adult abuse, car/transportation accident, dog/animal mauling, cancer or stroke patients and more, natural disasters, kidnapping, school/workplace shooting, mugging, home invasion, the loss of a life of someone very close to them… The traumas are endless in this world we ALL live in, life threatening traumas are endless. They are experienced by military and civilians.

Now take all of the traumas in life people can experience, everything you hear through the news as well as from people you know, and think about how many people could actually develop or already have, PTSD. Until there is peace on this earth, accidents and natural disasters stop, which unfortunately reality is… will never happen, there will be PTSD! History has already proven itself. And the reality is, the numbers are growing. It’s no secret that this world is in a state of chaos, all you have to do is watch the news, read the papers, or listen to the stories of others, and you see it. That chaos brings more traumas.

No, one person cannot change the world or the things that take place in it. I know I sure can’t. But each person can change themselves, and slow down the pace to care about others. It’s actually pretty simple and really does not take that much time.

Stigma does not hurt people, stigma kills people! My opinion is stigma comes from the lack of knowledge or fear of the unknown. There are too many people who are still choosing to hold onto stigma. Which in return is causing those that really need help, to hide in the shadows of PTSD. They are suffering in silence, and many are losing their lives in the battle PTSD does bring. Many are losing their support systems because of stigma, people are walking away from them when they need their family and friends the most.

As far as “sucking up PTSD”, those that do it, are told to do it, or are in a position where they are forced to do it, the hard fact is you will only be able to suck it up for so long. There have been too many people to try to manage PTSD on their own without learning the tools needed or ignore it all together, too many have just dismissed that they have PTSD, or feared what would come from reaching out to someone for help. If you or someone you know are one of them, sooner or later PTSD will break you, or them. Even one who would never have suicidal thoughts or any type of self-harm before, PTSD can change that, negative changes in thoughts or feelings of one’s self, others, or even the world is a VERY real part of PTSD, do not dismiss the facts of PTSD.

It does not matter how strong you believe you are or who you are, PTSD will break you without proper help and support. PTSD has affected some of the strongest, most intelligent, will powered people there are. It effects the strong minded, the ones that take everything that has been thrown at them and keep on pushing forward. Everyone has their limit, you are human. Do not allow PTSD to find your’s. There are too many things that can help, PTSD does not go away but it is manageable and life can continue to be lived! Do not put off what could save your future, as well as YOU!

Why should you care? Because PTSD can in reality happen to anyone! Again, it only takes one trauma, and no one can predict the future to who will be affected. I can guarantee, if you are one day in the shoes of PTSD, you will hope there is someone there that cares about you!

A strong person is one that knows and accepts when they need help. If you have PTSD, I can pretty much guarantee you, you are one of the best of the best. Learning the tools to properly manage PTSD, so you can not only survive but live with PTSD as a part of life, makes you even stronger. It takes a strong person to battle and live life with PTSD each day, and you can do it! Make that reach, you ARE worth it!

A positive support person is one that chooses to step past stigma, and learn, whether you can truly understand PTSD or not. One who takes the time to care about others, even if it’s something as simple as listening. When someone reaches out to you or you see changes in someone after a trauma that brings questions, take the time to care and pay attention. Unfortunately the truth is if you don’t, there may not be a second chance or tomorrow. I have been speaking out publicly about PTSD for close to 4 years now, and the most heart wrenching things I hear from others are, “If only I had taken the time to listen or say something, he/she may still be here.” and “If only I had believed PTSD was real, maybe I could have helped him/her and he/she would not have lost their life to PTSD.” I do not believe anyone wants to be in those shoes, those are very real life shoes.

You may be the one with PTSD, a family member or friend, you may be the one that does not understand PTSD or believe it is real, you may be the one that is just curious. Whichever shoes you are standing in, I want to say “Thank You” for taking the time to read this, by doing so it really could change another person’s life… or even save one!

Unfortunately, many lose their battle to PTSD each day. ONLY of the Veteran reported suicide cases in the USA, there are 22 Veterans losing their battle to PTSD daily. That does NOT include unreported PTSD cases, un-diagnosed PTSD cases, law enforcement and other lines of work related PTSD cases, or civilian PTSD cases… and not world wide numbers. If we were able to add ALL of those numbers up, folks, that is a PTSD Crisis!

Not every suicide can be prevented unfortunately, but WE CAN change those numbers and decrease them by educating ourselves and others, and by taking the time to care about others.

Please take the time to care! 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

PTSD: Negative changes in thoughts and mood or feelings

PTSD: Negative changes in thoughts and mood or feelings

Negative changes in thoughts or mood and feelings are one of the hardest parts of PTSD to manage, for either side of the fence. This is the symptom of PTSD that EVERYONE with PTSD experiences in some way. It’s also the toughest part for others to understand, as well as to learn not to take personally.

These negative changes in thoughts or feelings, that come with PTSD can include things such as:

* Not being able to experience positive emotions
* Having negative views of yourself or others
* Feeling emotionally numb
* Experiencing a loss of interest in things you use to enjoy
* Lack or loss of hope for the future
* Having difficulty with or maintaining close relationships
* Memory issues, which can include not remembering parts of the trauma experienced
(Reference: MayoClinic.org)

This can include viewing yourself as bad or a negative change in the way you view yourself compared to the way you use to. One may feel they are not worthy, may have feelings of failure or that they are now a burden to others, may have feelings of guilt or shame.

One with PTSD can also view those around them in negative ways. Instead of feeling love and closeness to others that was experienced before PTSD, one may feel anger, resentment, distrust, etc. or nothing at all. One may feel others are “out to get them or ruin them”, may feel the world is against them or the world is not fair, and/or may feel as if nothing is safe and no one can be trusted.

Whoa! Now that is a lot for the one with PTSD to experience! It was difficult enough experiencing the trauma they went through, and now many of these symptoms may be at hand as well. This is when you stop, take a deep breath, step back, and really start thinking about it. All of these things just listed are NOT done on purpose! They are all or each, a part of what PTSD can or may cause.

All of these changes in thoughts and feelings can bring another part of PTSD, arousal- emotional reactions. One may get angry, irritated, experience verbal outbursts or aggressive behavior, feeling of guilt or shame may increase, one may stay on guard or alert, may experience self-destructive or relationship-destructive behaviors such as drinking too much, drug use, sexual communication or encounters with others they would not have had/done before, or driving too fast or recklessly. One with PTSD may be startled easily, have trouble sleeping, or have issues concentrating.

PTSD is NOT an excuse, unfortunately it is a very real medical condition that many people who have been through a life changing trauma experience when symptoms last for more than three months (time frame of symptoms for diagnosis changed from minimum of one month to three months, referenced from va.gov website).

But do not lose hope! There are things that can help manage these symptoms! Just as with other PTSD symptoms, and with a lot of effort, work, learning, and working together… we can try to manage these thoughts and feelings through learning and using coping skills, therapy, there are even worksheets that can be used to help you view on paper your thoughts, feelings, even fears in comparison to facts. There are many things you can try and do to help manage the thoughts and feelings when they come or are present. Things will not change overnight, just like with anything else, PTSD is not going away, but things can change.

Spouses/partners, family members, and friends…

You have a huge role in this too! I know firsthand that when PTSD throws these things at you or into your life, it’s hard, it can try to emotionally destroy you. It can cause you to feel some of the same things PTSD has caused your loved one to feel or experience. And yes, that goes for experiencing or doing anything listed above. This is when those words I say have to play a role, “PTSD is the battle, NOT each other”. The old saying “fighting fire with fire”, is not going to get you anywhere but more stress, emotional hurt, and possibly two people who really care about each other walking away from each other. You have to work together to find what helps best for you, your loved one, and whatever situation is at hand.

So what are some examples of things we can work on?

(NOTE: I am not a doctor or in any medical field. The things I share are from our personal experiences, knowledge, opinions, and what others have shared with us. For more information or help PLEASE talk to your doctor or contact one.)

Self-esteem and self-worth are the two major things that negative thoughts and feelings effect (and that goes for both the one with PTSD and their spouse/partner). These are things that everyone can work on.

* Look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? If the answer is no, then there is something we can work on.  Write down what you do not like seeing. Then set realistic goals in writing for yourself, on how you can change what you do not like seeing. Maybe it’s I’m going to start walking each day for 15 minutes or other exercise, then build from there over time. Maybe it’s I’m going to watch what I eat more closely. Maybe it’s I’m going to shave x number of times per week. Maybe I’m going to have my hair cut once per month. ANYTHING that can help you view yourself in the mirror better than what you are seeing right now.

* Hobbies or projects. These can be challenging! I will not tell you they won’t be. Between the symptoms PTSD brings, then add in any co-occurring conditions, such as depression, or any physical disabilities… yes this can be challenging. BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE! Do not overwhelm yourself or set unrealistic goals. Pace yourself. Choose things to do that bring enjoyment, or are things you use to enjoy doing!

Hobbies and projects, no matter how long they may take to complete or do, show progress. They help with self-esteem and self-worth. Each step taken you are proving to yourself you can still do things and may be very good at something that you had no idea you could do before. 

* Compliments. Oh come on! It does not matter who you are or what you are going through, everyone loves getting compliments! Not only are they nice and make you feel good when you receive one, there is a lot that comes from giving them as well.  A simple compliment given or received can change a day around, bring an unexpected smile, shows someone that you care or notice things. It does not have to be some huge life changing compliment, do not forget that many times it’s the little things that mean the most.

Nothing is negative 100% of the time, no one is wrong 100% of the time… there is always something that can be complimented on, just do not over-do it, make compliments count with meaning.  AND accept them when they are given! Whether you see yourself as the compliment given or not, accept it and realize that people do not give out compliments for no reason, so you must have done something right or something that was in a positive way noticed. 

* “Motions lead to emotions”. Oh you knew I would not leave this one out! PTSD brings all of the symptoms, challenges, and can bring numbness. Numbness is not just going away or decreasing without help. When you go through the steps, you might just find some sparks there in life that you thought were gone. PTSD is good at hiding things or masking one from their true self or feelings. Spouses/partners, you too can experience the distant or numbness, so this is for you as well! Learn how to unmask things by going through the motions. Motions do not have to be only in a physical sense based around relationships and/or sex! It could be anything that you do that can bring back a sense of enjoyment to a relationship or other things that you use to enjoy in life.

* Work on changing the negative to positive. NOT an easy thing to do, but not impossible either!

One of the most common examples I have had come to me lately…
I have had [number of] failed relationships. I will never have a good relationship so why even try.

Okay, so you have had failed relationships, we all go through that in reality. So let’s change the perspective a little and try this, “My last [number of] relationships did not work out. So I am going to work on improving myself, so when that right person for me comes along our relationship will be better than those of my past.” 

And write it down in a note for yourself, place it to where you can see it, as a reminder if you want to! It can help you stick to a more positive mindset when those negative thoughts try to step back in. And you can do that with anything in life!

* Set goals for yourself! Setting simple goals, goals that prove to be a little more challenging, and life goals, all give you things to work towards. By setting goals of different levels they can help when PTSD symptoms are more of a challenge but can be done, it helps you see that even when PTSD challenges you, you can still accomplish things. And when you reach goals of a higher challenge WOW, what a positive change it can bring to you! In all seriousness, setting goals are extremely important. They give you things in life to work towards and are rewarding when accomplished. They help with both self-esteem and self-worth. AND can help you view things around you and in the world differently.

* Oh those negative views of others and how PTSD loves to play with this one! Bring out the pen and paper if you have to on this one! I’m serious! What are the thoughts you are having then put the facts of what has happened or is at hand next to them. Compare them to see if it’s PTSD sticking it’s hand in this to make you think negative about another person ot even other things in life, before placing blame or getting upset at someone (or bringing worry or fear of other things). Many times it’s the negative views that PTSD is bringing and not what another person has actually done. PTSD loves to bring in all of those “what if’s” on this one that you have to be cautious of. Communication is going to be a huge help in this also.

If something seems way off base from what a person would normally be like, talk CALMLY and ask questions. Do not jump to conclusions. Really hear each other out and talk about any concerns and the way you are viewing things. And BOTH people try not to put those defenses up, talk and work through whatever the thoughts are causing and get to the facts. It goes back to the why and letting the facts of why help you get through whatever is at hand.

Okay, these are some examples and what PTSD can cause. Do not lose hope, it is there even if it is masked right now. Keep working on those steps forward to understanding, accepting, and working through what “PTSD negative thoughts and moods or feelings” can bring, and are a very real part of life with PTSD. There are many things each person can work on by themselves, for themselves, as well as with and for others.

And just a personal note from me to you,

I BELIEVE in you! You ARE one of the “best of the best” and CAN make it through this part of PTSD. Do not give up!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD Facebook page

PTSD and it’s relation to Dementia.

PTSD and it’s relation to Dementia. 
How do we handle this if it comes?

Yesterday I was asked an extremely important question based around one with PTSD that now also has been diagnosed with early onset of dementia. This is a subject that studies have been taking place on over the years and it has been found in a study of Veterans, those with PTSD are “two-fold” as likely to develop dementia “later in life” over those in the study without PTSD. For those that like to read research, I will add the link to the study at the end of this.

There are many different factors related to #PTSD that can cause cognitive issues, whether dementia may be or has been diagnosed or not. Some with PTSD “MAY” actually have smaller hippocampus volumes of the brain which is related to PTSD and can cause short-term memory difficulties, anxiety can effect focus and cognition, chronic stress also effects memory and learning. Other conditions which can also contribute to it may be depressive disorder, TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), or other PTSD co-occurring conditions, as some examples. Even though studies have been done on aging Veterans, we are also seeing cognitive issues/dysfunction in our PTSD community among different age groups, military or civilian. Craig being one that is among the many.

So that is a very basic and short example of things regarding cognition, which may lead to dementia. It has not to my knowledge been found that PTSD causes dementia. From what I have personally researched so far, PTSD may simply bring a higher risk of dementia developing.

So what do we do if these symptoms, cognitive conditions or dysfunction, are present or dementia has actually been diagnosed?

Yesterday I was asked the following… 

“Thank you for your kind words.. life has been tough. We just found out a new bump in our road. Early onset dementia.. his mind is going. I am so angry, sad, hurt and so many other emotions that I can’t name them.. he is so lost and hopeless. He has now sunk into depression. How do you deal with these new feelings? And this new diagnoses.” -Anonymous

The best way I know how to answer this, is by sharing a little of what Craig and I went through when we were told he has/was diagnosed with, cognitive dysfunction and “memory disturbance history considered permanent”. Which actually came before we were told he has PTSD.

Craig and I went through all of the emotions and feelings as the one who asked the question and her partner are going through right now. It was hard! Having to face that life just changed drastically, that all of the things in life and things you have experienced together are in reality fading away from memory, and everything else that comes with.

I will never forget the day one of Craig’s doctors sat down with me to talk. He told me the only way to address the conversation was with directness and honesty. I was told that with Craig’s cognitive dysfunction, there may be a day come that he no longer knows who I am. There was no way of knowing if his memory and cognitive function would continue to worsen over time or if maybe something would come along to help him. Well, it’s been 10 years and in reality, it has continued to get worse as he ages. Just a fact we have faced but we never stop trying new things that may help or at least to manage life with what is at hand.

I went through all of the emotions. I was hurt, I was sad, I felt a loss, and I got angry. I processed and went through every emotion I think there is. Then I realized I just had to face the facts that life was changing for us, and I had to accept that fact.

I think the largest thing that helped me personally, as the spouse, was changing the way I viewed what was happening. I decided instead of allowing all of those negative and “what if” emotions weigh me down and cause me to worry, I was going to set out to make sure that every day that comes, I will cherish with Craig. I will make the best of them. And we will find a way to manage this life. That’s exactly what we have done.

It’s hard watching the person you love fade away, in a sense. I know even though Craig has not at this point been diagnosed with dementia, we still go through a lot that is similar to dementia. His symptoms have been compared to Alzheimer’s. He has okay days and he has really bad ones. And at this point we never know what he will recall and what he will not, there is no rhyme or reason to it.

There are days that he does not remember my name. That’s where that cute nickname “babe” came from that we both use. When he does not recall my name, he calls me babe. I found that it eases him in a way when I use it for him to. He gets names mixed up of family members, I learned to just go with it, I can normally figure out who he is talking about. Even the dogs have nicknames, many of them, the names just do not stick with Craig all of the time. I will say it is amazing the dogs have learned all the different names and will respond to him.

Craig does not relate being hungry to needing to eat. That’s part of my caregiver role to make sure he does, or he will not eat. Another thing that is effected with this, say for example he has cereal. No big deal right? Wrong. If the box is left with him where he sees it, he will keep having bowl after bowl if it is not monitored, until the box is empty. There is not recognition of what he has or has not eaten, so he will continue to eat. That has to be monitored because it can lead to other health issues if he overeats.

Making decisions is something that he has huge issues with, even if given choices he has a difficult time answering or choosing. His brain does not recall things he likes or does not like, which in reality this one we can laugh at because you would be amazed at the foods he will eat now that he hated before. At times both of us making light of the subject actually helps. We do not let it weigh us down, we find ways to work around things.

Safety protocol is huge for us. He has been known to wander, leave things turned on such as grill or stove, leave the refrigerator door open, all sorts of things that one may not think about happening. So we came up with things and ways of doing things to make sure safety is always at hand.

For example, the back yard is fenced in and locks stay locked on all gates. That still allows him to go outside without feeling like he is always with someone or being treated like a child. Even though I will fess, I check on him or look out the windows when he’s out there by himself. One of the largest things when cognitive issues start, is figuring out things that will work and at the same time not take one’s self-esteem away. And if they can do something, let them!

I was told if we started from day one working on finding ways around things, of sorts, finding what works for us, as well as exercising his brain, then if the day comes where his memory does fade to an extreme level, those things will already be in place and there is a chance due to routine he will still follow them or some of them.

Then there is me, facing the fact that one day he may not know who I am any longer, he may not remember our life we have shared together. That is hard for anyone to swallow! I was told the best thing we could do, is work together and make sure no matter what PTSD, depression, and his cognitive dysfunction brings, even if he loses all memory eventually, that bond will be hardwired. Forming trust and a bond now is crucial!

That really stuck with me. Who knows what the future will hold for us, or anyone. Especially when having PTSD may increase the chances of dementia developing in the future, at whatever age. But with having the big picture view of what may in reality happen, it really makes it easier handle things each day. I think being told about cognitive dysfunction before PTSD actually in a weird way helped. Seeing the big picture of what may come, knowing what we have to work on just in case, makes us not sweat the small stuff that PTSD brings.

I was told to view it this way. Will it, whatever it is at that moment, matter in 5 years or 10 years? If the answer is no, then don’t sweat it, figure out how to work through it or let go of it. When the big picture may be in the future the memories are gone for him, a difference of opinion, a day of frustration or anger, a day of working through flashbacks, or a night of no sleep due to nightmares, they are just things we work through and don’t sweat them. They are just another part of what life holds and may in reality be the small things when looking at a lifelong picture.

Another thing that I do, for us. You see those photos at the top of the page? Our kissing photos that I get teased about lol. Those not only hold memories, they also show love and give a sense of trust. Those things are important now, and may be really important in the future. Especially if memories and knowing who people are fades away if dementia develops. Photos tell a story about your life, and they are very important. Craig already has memory issues and cognitive dysfunction, photos, and even being able to sit down and look at photos together, and me tell him the stories to the ones he does not remember already, well, it helps.

I know facing a new diagnosis, especially one like dementia is hard! It’s hard for the spouse, and it’s also very hard for the person with the symptoms. Depression can become very real. You have to take one day at a time, work together, strengthen that bond you have with each other, find the positive things in each day, and do not sweat the small stuff. All of that can help form a more manageable future.

I will believe, and choose to believe what the doctors have told us. Even if the day comes where Craig does not know who I am, or everything fades away for him, the bond we have worked together to form, will still be there. You just have to make the most of each day, right now.

I really do not worry about the future any longer, what we need to do is always a focus. But today is also our focus.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Risk of Dementia among U.S. Veterans

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD : FaceBook

Dear PTSD (Anniversary Month)

PTSD

Dear PTSD (Anniversary Month),

I might as well go ahead and say hello to you, it’s no secret you are here. You have made it very known that you had no intentions of skipping your visit to us this year. I’ve seen your little tactics, all of your messages have been received. So please do not think they went unnoticed, your visit is not a surprise to me.

I know you love your games you play, messing with the mind. You love to cause a chaos, you try to cause it every time.

I know you love to dance at night, your type of party through one’s dreams. You bring so much restlessness and oh how you love to hear one’s screams. Then you carry your party on through to daylight, when one is tired and needs peaceful sleep. Pushing them on to follow you, you never let them be.

I know how you love to create an environment that’s completely out of control. As you play back the traumatic visions, that weigh heavily on one’s soul. You do not allow them to rest, they are not allowed any peace. You play those same visions repeatedly, to see if you can get them to break.

I know how you love to shelter one from everyone, and everything they love so dear, just causing more confusion, heartache, and despair. Your eyes get large with excitement, as you watch a loved one’s reach, as they try to pull one back from you to weaken your grip of strength.

I know you do not like to slow down, high speed is your desire. You love to feel the adrenaline pumping, pumping hard through one’s veins. Their mind in such a fury it can cause them to lose control. You love watching the anxiety, frustration, and even anger it can bring. You like to keep them on high alert and fear what your next step may be.

I know you love pushing one to the point they feel like they cannot take anymore. You love that type-rope between life and death, and watching them struggle for balance. You bring a challenge all year long but this is your favorite month, when you can push one to their furthest point, to see if this will be the year they take your plunge.

But there is something that you missed in your party you like to bring. The one with PTSD is not going to fall, not quietly upon their knees. They are not going to give in to you, or to the chaos that you bring. There are thousands standing with us, that help each other every day. We all stand together, to make sure everyone survives you, and makes it to another day! You may bring your little party, but we have one of our own. We share our tools to battle you, and we NEVER stand alone!

You PTSD, do not own us, you just simply brought changes to our lives! You may think you hold such power but each day we are chipping that away, one symptom at a time!

So bring your little party, your chaos and discontent. We know how to handle you and will NEVER willingly give in. We will carry each other through you and to see another day. We are teaching each other how to live again, by keeping you at bay.

Never standing alone against you,
Me

For more information and to learn about #PTSD and how to live life with it, please visit us at…
A Spouse’s Story PTSD on FaceBook

Awkward Intimacy story…

A husband and wife were watching a movie in their bedroom. The wife was laying across the bed, under a blanket (not in bed). The husband looks across the room at her and asks, “Are you wearing a top?” The wife answers, “Yes.” The husband then says, “Are you sure?” Wife pulls down the blanket some and shows him, then says with a chuckle, “I’m wearing pants too, but can take them off if you want me to.” slight pause then proceeds to cover back up with her blanket and smile, leaving clothing on. They return to watching the movie. Wife then says, “You could join me over here if you want to.” Husband responds, “I already took my meds.” Wife chuckles and responds with a smile still on her face, “I know that, what do meds have to do with you joining me under a blanket?” And then there was silence.

Okay, it was funny in a way, but what does that example really show?

It shows curiosity which quickly changed by one comment to the “what if’s” and “what am I expected to do” followed by avoidance… PTSD and what it really does. When in reality there were no expectations at all. 😉

When bedtime came after the movie, the husband wrapped his arm around his wife and told her he loves her.

Even in what seems to be awkward situations, it can still all work out. PTSD at times just simply processes things differently.

“Motions lead to Emotions”… no expectations needed  😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD :FaceBook

A Spouse’s Story PTSD :Website

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

As I Promised! Our 1st trip out in the boat!

As I Promised! Our 1st trip out in the boat!

Jumping for joy is an understatement! We made it out for the first time in the boat today!!! What better time to go then right before the rain storms when no one is on the big lake.  You know I’m ALL smiles today 🙂

This is such a HUGE step for Craig! It has been several years since he left the house to do something other then have to things. Just HUGE! We stayed out for just under 2 hours, had the lake basically to ourselves, and enjoyed it! 🙂

~Bec

A Spouse’s Story PTSD

 

 

PTSD… But what about “Life Goals”?

There is something with PTSD that was really brought to my attention yesterday. In a way it made me sad to start with, then empathy really kicked in… I felt what Craig was experiencing by watching the expressions on his face, watching his body language, listening to his words as he struggled to define answers.

Then, I listened to him laugh as he told about how we first met on the lake, and he handed me a lily pad. I watched him smile as he told about how we use to hike and all of the places we traveled together. How we use to take a solid month each year and just go! Travel anywhere.

Then I continued listening to him speak of how he is just numb. How he just feels nothing, no emotions or feeling, for anything or anyone. Something that is very real with PTSD. So how do you change that? What can you do? It was a question he honestly could not answer. (And just to state this, he does not mind me talking about and sharing this.) “I don’t know.“, he answered.

This struggle I watched, and felt, really made me think. It made sense! Then I realized it may be a huge puzzle piece that is missing for a lot of people who have ‪‎PTSD, or a disability of any sorts, and honestly… even for the spouses/partners. The big picture.

Then it really set in that there is something missing in everything HE does try to accomplish.

PTSD brings a here and now. You work hard to cope, manage the symptoms as they come. You work hard to make it from one day to the next. You work hard at learning as much as you can so you can live this new type of life with the challenges it can bring. You work hard to manage through any physical medical you may also have.

But in this here and now that does exist in life with PTSD, many times the “Life Goals” are missing.

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” 
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Life Goals. Now that’s a huge topic! But I’m also seeing it may just be a huge puzzle piece that is missing for a lot of people.

Many of you already know our story. Craig and I had our life planned out! It was planned from the day we got back together all the way to the day we said our final “until later” to each other… at hopefully a really old age. 😉 Our goal was he would retire from the military. We had already talked to owners of an RV park we had planned on purchasing around retirement time. I would run a dog park/dog training facility inside the park and he/we would maintain and run the park. We would travel ourselves during the closed (snow season) months of the park. Etc. Etc., We had life goals, a plan, and had our life all worked out to the very last stages of it.

Then life changed, disabilities became a seriously real part of it. Our life goals were unraveled in the living in the here and now of each day. Awhile back I worked out a new plan. I realized that our life goals were still very important for us, and to who we are together as well as individuals. It did not include purchasing an RV park lol, but it did include what we loved… traveling and meeting people. The plan, goal, had just changed and would take much longer to accomplish since we were back to square one. But some of our life goals could still be accomplished.

Then there are my personal life goals. Last year I realized that a huge part of me was missing, that puzzle piece. I buckled down and started setting goals again, and not just the day to day goals of making it through each day. I decided to face my fears and write my book (which I’m still working on). This would also fit in well with our travel goal, but is my personal goal I can accomplish. And extremely important since dog training (what was my career) is something I can no longer do with this new life. My goal of continuing to help others, stands in place. My goals for spending time with my children, our every day talk time, etc. are still in place. Relationship goals… that is a tough one, Craig and I have an awesome relationship, but as with any relationship that involves PTSD, it has changed drastically and getting a part or something back that the disability has stolen or hidden from us, and continuing to build it in new ways, is a goal. I have short term, mid-term, as well as long term goals set… that do fit into the reality of my and our lives. But, I also realized that even my life goals are not complete…yet. 

But what about Craig? What about the many others with PTSD? What about the spouses/partners? I do see that many have lost or misplaced life goals because life changed without warning.

There is so much involved with life now, that life goals get lost or misplaced. This is a part of life that everyone needs! And I will not lie to you, it’s going to be one of the most difficult things to do or set into motion! You have to go back to those baby steps that we talk about all of the time. 

Sit, think, and visualize. What do you want? What do you enjoy? What makes you happy? HAPPY being a strong key word here. Goals need to be something that make you happy, that bring on that smile, that cause the excitement to rush into you. You don’t focus on the how will I accomplish this, that comes later, you focus on the this is what I want to achieve in my lifetime! Think of it as a bucket list of sorts. We all know what a bucket list is, things you want to do before you die. Well, think of this as a list for living! Taking your life back, and having things to work towards. Actually write all of your thoughts down, list them out… you are simply making a visual list of life goals for yourself.

But, there’s a catch I am seeing. That “I don’t know!

No one can move forward if they are unsure of where to start. I think we can safely say that life goals can be a part of the “stuck” that comes with PTSD or living life beside it. The “I feel numb, life has changed, I don’t know what I like or enjoy anymore.” Baby steps, don’t jump ahead of yourself! You start by visualizing what you want your life to be like, and it might include things you know you use to enjoy and things that made you happy. It may be something like going out to eat. Volunteering somewhere. Getting together with other people. Compile a list, just write down anything and everything that you want for your life… it could be of short term, mid-term, as well as long term goals.

You might have to find new things, trial and error, to see what you like now. You might want to try doing something you know you use to enjoy. But that comes later and from your list.  Hey, Craig decided we were buying a boat! That was him taking back something he missed, something he wants to share with our children, and… something he and I use to love doing together. That to me was a huge step, and a little scary for me honestly after us losing so many materialistic things due to the changes in life PTSD/disabilities brought lol, but the step was taken as his goal and there was no way I was going to say no. His next small step is getting the boat clean and ready to take out on the water. You saw the step he made yesterday with the photo I shared! He went to a store he had never been to before to get a polisher to clean with. Then the obvious, taking it out. Which over time will help with getting out of the house, and meeting new people.

The RV even though it is a life goal (which in reality comes with many reasons and goals, not just to own something), was not something that was helping him now, so a smaller step was taken to work on reaching a long term goal.

So, once you have your goal list made, then what? This is a positive, but positive has to have more to it then just talk, now positive steps have to be made to reach those goals. You make a plan.  It does not mean you can’t have down days when needed, it does not mean you have to work constantly every hour of every day, it does not mean one goal is the only thing you do. You have to make a plan that takes those small steps forward to accomplishing, but not forgetting or dismissing reality of every day life either. You find a balance.

You now have a vision of what you want in life and what you want to accomplish, now you work at it, at whatever pace you can. Again, life goals are something you LIKE, ENJOY! When you set goals that bring enjoyment, they are easier to accomplish.  You are building your motivation back that PTSD may have decreased or taken away from you.

Craig and I were able to LAUGH yesterday while talking about life goals! I said, “Hey, I think a goal should be once a month, on a Tuesday, we take the boat out on the lake and eat lunch, off hours, at the little bar and grill on the lake. Because Tuesdays are all you can eat fried shrimp! (My favorite food in life by the way  ).” We did get a good chuckle out of this! BUT, look at the goals that are actually contained in it. Craig is basically agoraphobic these days remember, he only leaves the house for must do things, which is still a chore for him. This one thing I mentioned, look at what it contains in reality… It sets a schedule… which is extremely important and helps the brain work. We get out of the house. We take the boat out and get onto the lake, in nature. We eat out, even if to start with it’s down on the beach area and not in the restaurant around so many people. AND, he has a happy wife because she got all you can eat shrimp!… Relationship building. 😉 And, we laughed talking about this! WOW, it seemed so small of a goal but look at what comes with it!

Goals are important. And before I type you an entire book here, I’m sure you get my meaning.  You have to have something in life to look forward to, without it, you are going to be stuck. PTSD does enough already which changes all of our lives, but it does not mean it has to take life away from you. You have to start somewhere, and that start comes with making a list of things you enjoy and want to accomplish. Even if you HAD life goals that you can no longer accomplish, it does not mean you can not make new ones, or change them around some. But you have to have something in life that you look forward to. Without it, you sit, and we know what sitting without anything does to a person.

Make your list and start taking your life back! Take small steps, don’t over-do it or it won’t be enjoyable and you want these things to be enjoyable, not a task! Work on forming a schedule, which can include anything. Schedules help activate the brain and the body. And you know I have to toss this in… “Motions lead to emotions”, relationship goals, something that has proven to be very true and can help greatly. “Proud”, that word was mentioned yesterday and let me tell you, it stuck big time as the perfect word to me. What so many people are missing after PTSD steps into their lives. Things that can make you proud of yourself. Goals can bring pride, self-esteem, and a part of you back or create a part of you that you did not know you had in you. 😉

Now, here’s my question to all of you…

What is a life goal you have?
There are no wrong answers 

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

Look! ;)

Hi ho, Hi ho… yep it was a VA appointment day. 
And it went much better then we expected.

BUT… after the appointment guess what? Seems the boat idea is working in small steps. 😉  Craig said he needed something so he would not get overheated outside while cleaning it, like what happened last week… uh huh, big boy toys  But, he’s in a store!!!  That is an appointment AND a trip to get something at the store while out… awesome!

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD