The Slightest Move Pulls the Trigger

Some days I really hate PTSD and the affect it has on my family. As I always say PTSD is everyday for me and this weekend was no different. B has no control of how or when it comes up. It could be while we are eating dinner at a fancy restaurant, or as we watch Sunday football, or just with family. It happens and I’ll be honest, it completely catches me off guard. It is not only until the breakdown I recognize what is going on.
Triggers can happen at anytime any where. It is my job to stop them quick, but sometimes I just can’t. If you know anything about PTSD you know that anything can be a trigger and that is often the case for B. Recently it has been songs on the radio, seeing someone/someone who looks like someone who was deployed with him, certain comments made, or even roadkill. Its hard to eliminate triggers because sometimes it affects him and sometimes it does not.
I know his therapist has talked to him about triggers and how to stop them in their tracts, but its hard. I can not make B unsee that horrors he witnessed. I cannot climb inside his brain and remove the connection between Pink Floyd and Iraq.No matter how much I say ‘We are not in Iraq, look at x,y, and z” and other grounding activities, it does not get rid of those images burned into his mind. I am sorry Miss Therapist not everything that is ‘scientifically proved’ is going to work on B. The only way to stop these triggers and the thoughts of paranoia is to remove those images from his mind.
I apologize for the rant, but we had a rough weekend with triggers and trying to overcome them. B had an outburst to a family member that brought me to tears that was a simple misunderstanding. Once I explained what has going on, B simply broke down because of something else that happened that day and it only came to a head at that moment. All he could say was “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
The rest of the night he was not the same, almost reliving the rest of the day in his head over and over.
The next day we had an issue with a dead animal on our property (we live in a remote location in the woods). Just the image of death and flesh brought back some terrible thoughts. When I returned from church, I found just a shell of my husband lost in thought and completely removed from the world around him. If I would have known that this would have happened of course I would have taken care of the animal myself.
This trigger was something that just blew my mind. B is a hunter, always has been a hunter, and will more than likely continue to be a hunter. B, just this deer season, hunted, helped skin, and cut up deer with his family with no issues. Why did this animal bother him so? I have no idea and neither does he.
Triggers can happen one time then not another or can happen every time. The worst part is that when B goes a while without a trigger, he is expecting one to happen and starts to get paranoid wondering when and where it will happen. It just is awful to see someone living like this. It hurts me to see my husband go through this everyday.
I guess it comes back to me to help him through the triggers so they do not become so severe that he needs to seek help other than what I can provide. Slowly, I am starting to recognize the triggers and before he has the chance to process the mental image into something terrible, I always reassure him or test the waters per se to see how it will affect him. I am getting better, but sometimes I just don’t know. PTSD is an everyday battle and triggers is just another battle to fight against PTSD.
I hope our story can help your everyday struggle with PTSD, but please remember I am not a professional in anyway- I just know what has worked for our family. Please seek ‘real’ help if you or someone you love has untreated PTSD.

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PTSD is for the Dogs

B and I were not married two months yet, and B wanted to get me a Christmas present- a dog. It was not a surprise since we both wanted one since we moved in to our home. For B, our dog, Olive, has been such a blessing. After a quick research, I found that dogs and animals in general can be very therapeutic for those with PTSD.

Both of us grew up with animals on a quasi farm. Our childhood was filled with cows, pigs, chickens, horses, and of course dogs. B had a dog all through school and one of the hardest things when he left for Iraq was to say goodbye to’ Dusty’. It just broke his heart when he received news that Dusty passed away while he was deployed. B and Dusty would take long walks outside through the woods. Olive will never quite fill that void, but she as sure filled up our hearts.

It was not very long and B and our Great Dane/Boxer/Black Lab mix became just like father and daughter. He was the one who took her out during potty training, most walks, and got her to love nature just like him. In the process, I noticed he was more focused on her rather than would, could or might happen.

Olive, has really became part of our family. She really does have the personality to be his service dog. I think without any training she has been able to recognize when he is struggling. She brings him her toy or a ball to play. Its like she knows! Also, she goes with him everywhere. B and Olive jumps in the jeep and off they go. She sits in the front seat and enjoys the ride. By the end of the night you can see B on one end of the couch and Olive on the other wore out from the day.

Olive enjoying a fall ride in the back of the Jeep

Olive enjoying a fall ride in the back of the Jeep

When B was in a month long VA PTSD program there was a service dog that came to see the men there. B said the dog was so calm and loved the attention. Many of the other men there really enjoyed having the dog around for a couple of hours. It was a normal that some were not used to. However, it made B more homesick for our Olive.

We are currently looking into getting B and Olive into a service dog program, but because of our location there are not too many within a close distance. With a baby on the way I’m not sure how long B could be gone as well. I know that I am willing to do anything to help B through his everyday struggle.

If you know someone who could use a good distraction and companion, I recommend going to your local SPCA or animal shelter and adopting a wonderful animal. Dog, cat, turtle, rabbit, any animal can help through a struggle. It will give you something to actually care about and take focus off yourself or a bad situation. But please— do what is right for you! If you cannot afford/handle/or have the space for an animal please consider other options.

I hope our story can help your everyday struggle with PTSD, but please remember I am not a professional in anyway- I just know what has worked for our family. Please seek ‘real’ help if you or someone you love has untreated PTSD.

Each Day Can Be A Struggle If You Allow It

Each day can be a struggle if you allow it. I see how B handles stress, and lately it has been getting better (YEY!!) With PTSD it can go one of several ways. Often he gets mad-angry- at the situation. He curses and swears like the vacuum that is clogged can hear him. I have to remind him that it 1) cannot hear you and 2) there is something we can do about it. So after we tear apart the vacuum and get the clog out we get back to vacuuming the never ending pet hair that is shed this time of year.
To me, the vacuum is working well, we got the job done and lets move on. But for B, its not quite that easy. I am relating this to part PTSD and part OCD that he has, nevertheless the situation can go one of two ways: he too will move on, or it will consume his life.
When it consumes his life I have failed as a care-giver. He will be in a bad mood about everything. The milk is out, it’s the worst thing. The light bulb blew, its now the worst thing. We got bills in the mail; THAT is the worst thing to date.
Since we have been married I have learned how to help turn the clogged vacuum to just a clogged vacuum, not the worst thing ever with B. I have offered him to get out of the house, or play with our adorable dog, or go for a walk. Find something that is an instant distraction.
This has worked for me, but I had to learn. There were days when not having enough milk for morning cereal turned to an all day depression and flashback episodes. And you know what? That is okay! It is okay to have bad day, but each day can be a struggle if you allow it to happen. As a care-giver or the person going through it.
What I have noticed to not allow each day to be a struggle is if you start the day well, the day will often end well. B likes to get up at the crack of dawn, and I am just not into that. I all that B’s time. He can write to get things off his chest, as he drinks his morning coffee and do his morning rituals (OCD). I have found this to be his comfort. He has that 2-3 hours to himself completely. Our dog is still sleeping with me so he has little to no distractions from B time. Sometimes, this does go wrong. He will turn on the morning news and see something about VA cuts, or another death overseas and it will spark that hate and emotion again. Often thankfully that’s not the case. But when it is, it is Okay! We get through it. He goes to the gym, or goes to get coffee or just something to get him out of the house.
These are how we do not let each day be a struggle. There were days that we did, and it was horrible. We have learned from it and now we are doing better.

I hope our story can help your everyday struggle with PTSD, but please remember I am not a professional in anyway- I just know what has worked for our family. Please seek ‘real’ help if you or someone you love has untreated PTSD.

About Me

I enjoy writing, public speaking, being with my family, supporting veterans and our military. My goal in life would not to end every war- even though it would be awesome!- but for everyone who serves to know they are loved, prayed for, and will be taken care of when they return. I am also active in my small country church, VFW Ladies Auxiliary, and leadership development in Western New York. Originally a PA girl, and I say you can never knock the Potter County mud off your boots.

I am a wife (married in October 2012)  to a Iraqi Veteran who has severe PTSD and OCD. To me PTSD is everyday. I am his care-giver and together we make it through each day. So many people do know the struggles of PTSD and the affects of war. I feel this is the why I need to write this blog. Mostly for me to escape some of the feelings I have toward PTSD and how it has changed my life, not to mention my Husbands, who I will refer to as B. The best thing in the world would to have a magic wand and wave it around my husband and all of those suffering from this awful condition and have it gone forever. But reality is that there is no medicine, therapy, treatment, or magic wand that can make it go completely away.

Each day my life is affected by PTSD, and I have learned so much about PTSD through other wives on social networking pages. I know I am not alone. The best way to get better-I am saying this about me as the wife and care-giver- is to talk about it. Or in my case write about it. I have learned what has worked for other vets, what has not worked, what is normal and not normal, and how lucking I really am to have a wonderful, supporting husband, that despite his flaws and illness will do anything for me.

I am also pregnant with our first child. This has been a journey in itself. I am currently not working because of budget cuts (loved my job and would never say anything bad about the organization) so between the PTSD and morning sickness, emotional rollercoaster I am on, and life in general I need a way to get it all out. If you do happen to read this, please do not judge, leave negative comments, but lets build each other up. I know I am not the only one going through this struggle we call life.

I hope our story can help your everyday battle with PTSD, but please remember I am not a professional in anyway- I just know what has worked for our family. Please seek ‘real’ help if you or someone you love has untreated PTSD. 

 

Thank you,

EJ