National PTSD Awareness Day: Living within PTSD
PTSD effects no just the soldier but the family too.
June is National PTSD Awareness month. Today, June 27 is PTSD Awareness Day. Mental health is a huge component of well being but so many do not realize how hard living with PTSD. Military members present and past deal with some form of PTSD. PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There is no cookie cutter answer for what PTSD is or how it effects a person. PTSD covers a vast variety of stressors but I am here to speak on behalf of living with a Military Veteran with PTSD.
Medical history has called PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in many forms: Shell Shock, battle fatigue, operational exhaustion, combat neurosis, nostalgia, Soldier’s Heart. Diagnoses can be a complex process based on the symptoms that are displayed by the soldier. Treatment can vary based on the needs of the soldier and can be effective to combat PTSD.
The question I put into play is what happens to the family and loved one of the soldier with PTSD. What is it like to live with someone with PTSD? There are no real answers. Treatment for PTSD usually does not extend past the reach of the soldier. What happens to the family? How doe the wife cope with something she is unfamiliar with?
PTSD can flare up with no known triggers. Triggers can be smells, sounds, sights, physical restraint or even unrelated stress. There are times that I can return home for work and not know that my husband in is the middle of a PTSD episode until I enter the house. He tries to control his emotions and actions but it bleeds over into our life. Sometimes he will not advise me that he is having PTSD episode and I do not figure it out until I hear his words or watch his actions. He does not become violent or physicals but outburst can create chaos within our world. Emotionally PTSD can be taxing on the family psychological health. Think about families with younger children who do not understand what is going on.
Simple evenings become late nights riding the emotional roll coaster known as PTSD. Memories flood back and take the both of us for a ride. Time to hide out isn’t available to make this easy. Emotions run high during this time and feelings can be hurt by words that are said during outbreaks. There is no way of truly understanding what is going on during a PTSD episode.
Remember, if a soldier is in therapy for PTSD (group or individual) doesn’t mean that the spouse or loved one knows what is going on. Usually, spouses are not invited into session or a family sessions are introduce to help the family assist with understanding or defusing the situations. The soldier may not understand what is going on or even how to explain it to people. Imagine how frustrating it would be to have a issue you can not place into words. Some days leaving the house can not be done due to overwhelming feelings of the unknown. You can not put your harm into words or instruct someone on how to help you due to not having a full comprehension on PTSD.
Telling a soldier,” I know how you feel.” is a form of compassion for not knowing what to say to them. You can tell them that you are there for them and you are willing to talk anytime. Offer to take them out of the house for a little while. I write this post for people to understand that PTSD effects more than just the soldier. There are programs and therapy that can assist the spouse and the family. They are not widely know to most. Embrace the person as you know them but understand they are living with something they truly don’t comprehend themselves.
Break the stigma of PTSD and understand its not something a soldier can just “get over”. Love them for who they are and use resources to manage PTSD.
Disclosure: I write this article as a sneak peek into my view as someone who loves someone with PTSD. Some days are incredibly hard while other days are nonexistent. Remember to always take care of yourself first because Mental Health awareness is pivotal for well being.