More from the www.helpstartshere.org website article on tips for veterans and their spouses living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: I’ve added a few of my own ideas too.
Things to Remember
- Always be truthful with your vet. This builds trust. Tell him calmly when his behavior is not normal. If you don’t know if it’s normal, ask others, and observe others. Don’t walk on eggshells.
- Accept that he probably will never be totally the same. He is now, in many ways, a different person.
- Grieve for what is lost, and move on. This is your life now, even though it’s not fair.
- Stay on top of medications. Try to notice the changes with new medications or when he stops taking meds, and report this calmly to your vet. Suggest he call his medication prescriber if the side effects are problematic. Running out of meds can trigger depression and other problems.
- Anticipate drug and alcohol problems. Learn about resources for you, your kids and for your vet. Find out what to do. Discourage him from isolating and drinking or doing drugs.
- If he isolates himself, point this out and encourage involvement with family, sources of help. Don’t go with isolation for long periods of time.
- Short periods of withdrawal to help control anger make sense, but withdrawing from life into a “bunker” is not helpful.
- When you have conflict, which is normal and to be expected, focus on the issue at hand and resist bringing up issues from the past. Stay focused on the issue, not the person and seek solutions, not who is to blame.
- If possible, set a time limit for hot topics of a few minutes, and take a time-out with an agreement to discuss this issue later. Be sure to again discuss later.
- If you feel concerned about violence in your home, bring others into the situation: your minister, a trusted friend, a counseling professional and talk about your concerns calmly when things are not escalated.
- Don’t keep any concerns about violence secret. If necessary, to protect yourself and your children, call the police!
- Sometimes war experiences cause a spiritual crisis, a loss of faith. If your vet’s not finding help with this, you might encourage him to keep looking. There are spiritual advisors who understand combat and PTSD.
- Physical exercise helps everyone release anxiety and tension. Stay active and encourage your vet to do the same. Regular meals, good nutrition, plenty of rest and time for play help everyone cope with stress.
- Take care of yourself in many different ways. You matter just as much as your vet!!
- Handling traumatic stress in a loved one is very stressful for most partners! Learn and use stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, guided imagery, journaling about your feelings, talking to a friend, and joining a support group. Twelve step programs are free and found everywhere.
Enjoy the good times. When bad times come, hang on! Good times will come again.
I’ll be sharing more from this website, and words from this particular support group. The Epilogue to the whole article states:
“This is an article in progress. We are learning that many of the Iraq vets have traumatic brain injury as well as PTSD, which brings new challenges, and often requires a spouse to remember things for their vet.
We are learning that it is hard to tell how much someone can recover from a traumatic brain injury. We believe that drawing together in a community of support and encouragement is still the best way to face these unknowns, and we are grateful for the good company of one another.”