Well, that’s a given isn’t it!
Stress is one of the things that Craig and I have been told time and time again that he needs to avoid in every way possible, which I know many others have been told the same thing. Think about it. That’s in reality a very difficult thing to do. We are talking about life, everyday life in general, and then disabilities themselves mixed in there.
Just with PTSD alone think of what the symptoms are and what they bring. Nightmares, bring stress. Lack of sleep, brings stress. Avoidance, brings stress. Anxiety, brings stress. Triggers and flashbacks, bring stress. Negative changes in thoughts, feelings, emotions of one’s self or others or the world itself at times, bring stress. Guilt and/or Survivor’s guilt, bring stress. The trauma(s) itself, brings stress. And the list goes on. PTSD… “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”.
Oh look, there’s that term “stress”.
Then take all of the symptoms and add them to everyday life and trying to manage it, trying to be the best you can be, trying to function as normal as possible, trying to maintain relationships with family, friends, people in general. The mind can become easily unsettled, even overwhelmed, by simple things. So you can imagine what more important things, issues, or must handle situations can bring to one? It can cause one to shut down, become stuck, and not be able to function.
To those of you that understand PTSD and what it is, you are probably thinking “What is Bec writing? Of course PTSD is all about trauma and stress.”
But what about those that do not understand, or brush off what stress does to someone with PTSD? It becomes an additional battlefield for the one with PTSD, as well as their spouse/partner… and in many cases their advocate. Stress is the one thing that is always there, but at the same time stress has to be managed, and many situations even avoided. Because it’s what is in the best interest of the one with PTSD. You have to maintain a healthy balance and environment.
Some people look at the suicide rates linked to PTSD alone, they are in awe over the high numbers. But yet what is being done to help? What is each person doing or not doing? What can help make life better? What can help a person get to the best point they can get physically and mentally?
Many spouses/partners are in the shoes of, well, playing referee. Many do see and know what external stress can bring to their loved one with PTSD. They know what it also adds to their own life, as well as their family. When stressful events occur or even the “what if’s” of what may be coming, for one with PTSD, symptoms are going to increase. Then the vicious cycle of managing those symptoms continues.
Many people wonder why many of those with PTSD have difficulties leaving the house, many cannot work or are limited, many have a “safe room” that they can retreat to when needed. Many are disconnected from others.
Avoidance is a very real part of life with PTSD, and a symptom.
Those with PTSD do try! They really do not want to be a hermit closed off from society or that stays locked away in a room. They WANT to be and feel normal, like they used to. But PTSD does bring a serious challenge, much of the time.
When PTSD becomes a part of someone’s life, life changes, it’s the reality of life with PTSD. You learn different ways of wording things, you have to tune the communication skills, you have to learn how to manage the symptoms and learn coping skills, you learn safety protocol… as we call it here, you learn signs of depression and suicide, as well as what to do when or if they come, and much more.
The “normal” you knew for that person cannot be expected from them any longer. It does not mean they can’t do anything or are helpless, it just means life has changed and does have to be handled and managed differently. You will still get glimpses from time to time of the person you knew before PTSD, enjoy those times when they come, but you cannot expect them to remain that way all of the time. You can not dismiss that PTSD has become a part of life, and with that a new normal forms.
Which brings us back to stress. When one cannot accept that PTSD is a part of a person’s life now, and that life has changed, it is going to bring additional stress. Why? Because the expectations you hold are going to be too high for one to accomplish or if they can it will not be permanent. Another reason if you see one with PTSD, and you are not living with them, I can pretty much guarantee you are seeing them on a “good” day, because they do not like you seeing their rough days.
I cannot begin to tell you how many times over the years I have seen external, as in outside our home, stressful situations brought on where they lead Craig to “shutting down” or pushed towards that and I had to step in for the best interest of his health. Which of course I don’t mind doing if need be. But the fact is if people would just think once in awhile and take the time to learn, and face the facts, there are many situations that could be avoided all together to where a certain amount of stress is deleted.
Craig and I had a situation recently, well reality is it’s been an on going battle off and on over the years but came up again and this time came to a head. His docs had already said he won’t be able to handle this type of stress so in the best interest of his health, it was put off again. Our focus HAS to be on his health. He gave up, shut down, became completely numb, and just could not handle the stress of fighting for what was right anymore, several months back, again.
Recently I noticed it weighing on him again. There it was, like this demon haunting him. This was a fight that he wanted to try to do himself, but it became too much. He shut down again. I also saw that at times he would try to push himself hard but would feel like a failure when he could not manage getting things done. Honestly, shutting down is probably the best thing for him at this point, but he can’t stay there, something had to be done. This cycle had to stop!
So as his advocate it was time for me to really step in heavy on this from a different angle than we had tried before, because those ways obviously got us nowhere good, and not just help out but to see if I could get this done, so this burden on him could be done and over with. I thought about it carefully, talked to several people, weighed the options to what the best and less stressful path would be on Craig, and I took it this past week.
I know that this “battle” we will call it without stating details, has to end, it’s been going on way too long (off and on as we could face it and dependent on Craig’s health, what he could or could not handle at the moment) and there has to be an outcome. If it was completely avoided and left alone, just let go, I have already seen the stress and guilt it has been causing Craig or how it leads him to completely shutting down, so I can only imagine what more would come to him by just letting it go completely. I can’t let that happen. Our focus HAS to be on his health.
I took my leap on Thursday with fingers and toes crossed that someone would hear my voice and my cry for help with this “battle” of Craig’s. To my total shock I was heard, the very same day I asked for help, after years of trying someone listened. I heard back from another person on Friday. We don’t have an outcome yet, but something is actually taking place and it’s not a stagnant situation of “what ifs” or “failure” or “ok we need to handle that again” anymore. No matter what the outcome is, it’s going to finally be over, at least that’s the hope.This is one of those situations that in reality should have never existed, but this is life and things happen. My point of telling this is life with PTSD does and will come with stress of many different forms.
If you are not the one with PTSD, please keep in mind that what you do, how you act or react, and taking the time to learn will matter. Do not place additional stress on others, especially if they have a life large battle they are already having to manage. Please take the time to learn so you can form good relations instead of causing undue stress on another. If you are the one with PTSD or their spouse/partner, you have to figure out what is the best way to handle things, what is going to be in the best interest of your health, and always know that if you can’t seem to find what works best… ASK FOR HELP!