10 Things to Change Your Life If You Love Someone with PTSD
Do you love someone with PTSD? I do.
I find myself unable to understand PTSD. At least the majority of the time. One thing I do recognize is, how it changed my life. I know what that means. I even understand the process by which people develop PTSD. None of that changes the fact that dealing with PTSD is a beast all its own. Here are 10 things to start a life change within yourself if you love someone who has PTSD.
Life for family members is hard. Life with PTSD is harder. I ask myself, when is Ron coming back? He asks himself the same question. The truth is, I didn’t fully understand how bad PTSD could be. Ron is in pretty good spirits. Most of what I see is quick judgement, frustration and anger. Luckily, not violent mentally or physically. Much to my joy.
Early Signs of PTSD
Over the years I’ve known service members, who were not diagnosed with PTSD, they clearly had a problem. When there is a bang, they hit the ground. Regroup and move on. Many get nervous is cars following to close. Even the appearance of being followed. At Ft. Hood we hear training (fake) artillery rounds being fired at various times throughout the year. This REALLY bothers some. It’s not a matter of telling yourself, its practice. The sound alone invokes memories that do not immediately shut back down. For them, they may as well be back on the battle field.
Memories are suffering the trauma over and over.
A Reminder We Aren’t as Safe as We Think
Changes, large or small, need time and adjustment to process. Deep down the person you fell in love with is still there. They want to be okay. For quite a while Ron had dreams of being murdered. In fact, I have a friend whose been choked in her sleep. We all know it is a lot to deal with. There is no question about it. But here are 10 reasons why making the effort might be the best choice you ever make.
1. Living for you is harder than dying.
- This sounds crazy, but to die for something you love is easier than trying to live. Therefore, to suffer the pain of war day after day is excruciating. According to Rural Health.VA.GOV, if a dependent is self-sufficient it’s even harder. Service members especially, but any first responder, has a desire to serve and protect. The result, the person he/she loves doesn’t need saving.
2. It’s easier to be at war
- While deployed service members have one mission. They train for that mission. They know exactly what to do. That isn’t life. Life is chaotic and messy, leaving the service member feeling like their life is out of control. Finding their place in the world can become a very difficult task. When deployed there is one job.
3. He’s afraid to get attached
- While service members are deployed they are faced with an ugly truth. People die. For them, this could be an acquaintance or battle buddy. The fatalities they face are people they love. People they swore to protect, but couldn’t. As a society we tend to brush off death. Something not thought of unless it effects someone we know. Without knowing it, someone suffering from PTSD will push you away. Likely, they do not know why. The behavior itself becomes a compulsion. An inability to deal with the idea of dying. Instead, unknowingly, they push. Push away until you can’t take it anymore and leave.
4. You, yourself are a mama bear on the inside
- Soldiers forget. They forget we all struggle. The average person could kill in self-defense of themselves or their family. Anyone in this situation would go into survival mode. If a gun or knife was pointed at our child we would in fact react. Having been deployed, they believe they need to save you. They trained for this. What could we know? It is a valid argument. However, they forget we can and will fight too. To us, PTSD is the enemy. We, we as supporters, automatically want to fight for them.
5. Having PTSD does not make you crazy
- According to VA.GOV there is no correlation. Certainly to the population without PTSD they seem crazy. Their actions erratic. Remember service members / first responders suffered one or many extremely traumatic events. People living with PTSD are hyper aware of potential issues. In truth, issues we should, but most of us never notice. Contrary to what some may believe, they are not crazy, they are simply ultra aware of their surroundings.
6. Family therapy helps
- Not everyone is willing to go to therapy. But it helps. One strategy, if your loved one refuses treatment say,
“I need it. I would like your support in helping me through this. To do that I need you to go with me.”
Getting them there is half the battle. Once they’ve become comfortable, hopefully, they contribute and discuss issues. Having been through family counselling before, don’t push. Remember, if they go, it is a success.
7. Understand the perception, getting help is a sign of weakness
- Service members are taught to be strong. The Army adage, service before self is foremost in their mind. During a deployment service members decisions have the potential to save or end lives. Holding someone’s life in your hand is no easy task. Certainly coming home and admitting they need help with their own life is a hard pill to swallow.
8. They get tired easily
- Truthfully, people who experience anxiety get tired faster. Dealing with anxiety is an exhausting way to live. Surviving life this way dictates a hyper-tense state at all times. Individuals are always ready to fight. Life is lead in a fight or flight manner.
9. It’s not all in their head
- Despite what some think, PTSD changes the brain. Once the change in function occurs, it isn’t something they can merely recover from. While conducting my research I found, 11 Things People with PTSD Want You to Know. It looks like a fantastic resource. According to NCBI.NLM.NIH.GOV explain PTSD as:
“Symptoms of PTSD are hypothesized to represent the behavioral manifestation of stress-induced changes in brain structure and function. Stress results in acute and chronic changes in neurochemical systems and specific brain regions, which result in long term changes in brain “circuits,” involved in the stress response.”
Identify triggers and find ways to avoid them all together.
10. It’s possible to live a healthy productive life
- While dealing with someone who has PTSD it is hard to picture a “normal” life. Longing for the days when everything can just go back to what it was. It is possible. Default at times, but try to remember the person is not PTSD alone. There is beautiful spirit trying to get out. It’s just crippled in fear right now. It’s a piece of who they are. At times a large piece, but it is important to remember with treatment, life can normalize.
Continue to Love
There is no cure for PTSD. One of two things happens. The sufferer either learns to deal with it, up committing suicide. The latter is too high of price to pay. That is why each of us who stand by helplessly and watch someone suffer from PTSD, wants them to get better. We must understand and accept PTSD changes the thought process within the brain. In order to start recovery, at the very least, individuals should speak with others who suffer. Open dialog allows them to relate and hear another struggle. This is the first step in changing your life. While they may not realize it, the discussion alone helps deal with lasting effects of battle.
Surviving PTSD for yourself or your loved one is long hard battle. A curvy, jagged road. Straight up a mountain. In the snow. Without protective gear. The joy is the destination. At the top of the mountain is a beautiful scenery. One you will be glad you stuck it out for. Don’t forget the journey. Each day is a victory. A mile marker on life. When you look back you will be amazed at all your progress.
I urge you to try. Try for them and yourself.
It is hard to see but PTSD suffers want a normal life. They want a life change as much, if not more, than you want it for them. Fortunately for me, I found many wonderful support groups on Facebook and Twitter. Some, but not all, are specific to spouses. However there are many for military and first responders. While people may be extremely uncomfortable at first, ensure you have support. Someone who can be there when you need it. We all struggle. Everyone hurts. Know you are not alone.
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I would love for this to be a dialog for you.
Suffer from PTSD?-