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Monday, June 16, 2014

So if you are really pissed at your vet: Day 16 of National PTSD Awareness Month

So if you are really pissed at your vet, if he has been yelling and unreliable and drunk or watching TV or gaming non stop and all the other crap veterans can pull, can you change your perspective?
Can this be evidence of how hard what he went through was for him? How about if he seemed fine (haha) and recently something came up that triggered his PTSD and Mr. Reliable is falling apart? Most of us wouldn't walk off if he got cancer and wouldn't think cancer is his fault and if he just straightened up... no cancer.
PTSD is a set of survival skills which have become your loved one's biggest problem, and he or she does not want to have problems, and especially doesn't want to have them brought up every day. The current military take on PTSD is it exists but real men/women don't get it. We are so tough...
Human beings are designed to get PTSD because they are designed to do whatever it takes to survive, which is not always pleasant. And the symptoms last and come back on further trauma.
Most of us don't like being told we have problems either. I hate having my mistakes or faults pointed out to me.
So in the face of pain or anger, try calmness and compassion. "It must be so painful to be treated like that/feel so angry/be so depressed." People need to be listened to.
You do too, but when a vet is in the throes of PTSD, it is good to take you concerns to friends, a group or a therapist. Not to the vet.
I didn't know this so I kindly let Bob know whenever he hurt my feelings or disappointed me, but only after enough hurts and disappointments had built up to the point where I felt put upon enough to either explode or be self-righteously martyred and let him know.
It was not effective in getting me what I wanted.
That is the touchstone for me: "IS IT EFFECTIVE?" instead of my old pattern, "Am I right?"
I also learned to have compassion for myself. Living with a PTSD person, vet or otherwise, is very hard. We suffer, but most of us think they are worth the pain.
If you can have a good day when your vet is having a bad one, it lifts the big burden of ruining everyone's day off him or her. I used to think it wouldn't be polite to have a good day when Bob was having a bad one, but now I know it is politer to lift the burden.
I don't believe in long talks and working things out verbally, either. I believe in "Can you help me with this?" "No." "OK." or "Yes." "Thanks a lot." Getting along is a one moment at a time thing.
One thing that really helped me was understanding PTSD and anger. People with chronic PTSD have been found to have depleted cortisol, so they can't calm down once they are angry. This explained a lot to me about Bob. He could not calm down for hours once we started fighting. So I learned to say, "You may be right," and let go. Sometimes I'm thinking, "on Mars," but I don't have to say it. And when your heartbeat is above 175, which often happens when people get upset, your body is ready to run or fight, but no one is home in your brain! They can't take in what you are saying anyhow...
So would you rather be right or happy? And can you find support so you aren't trying to get all your emotional needs met by a numbed out PTSD vet?
That is what I did and still do. Bob and I are quite happy most of the time and when he has bad days, I listen. And guess what, when I have bad days, he does too. He doesn't even give me advice (except as a joke) since I told him "I just want to whine and snivel about this and I don't need suggestions." Luckily he likes my sense of humor.
More tomorrow.

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