Advice for Family Members..Understanding My PTSD

Living with PTSD is hard, things vary from moment to moment. I wanted to share with all the Family members of those with PTSD about how to be supportive through my real life experiences during my battle with PTSD. I have been with my Husband for 10 years, he has tried to help me as best as he could, but there are ways he can help me!

Go To Therapy To Learn About Your Loved One’s Disorder:

I have had my husband go to therapy with me because my therapist can put what I feel in words better than I could. Also, he got to ask any questions and learned some techniques help me

Know Your Loved One’s Grounding Techniques:

My first bit of advice would be to know what your loved one’s grounding techniques are and use them during panic attacks. Grounding is used in therapy to help keep your loved one with PTSD grounded/in the present during a flashback or dissociation for example. I told my Husband grounding techniques and he will use them to help ground me during a panic attack for example. I usually end up snuggled up in my soft blanket smelling lavender oil and putting a cup of ice on my face. It helped relieve the panic attack, he reminded me to breathe and stayed calm as well.

If You Haven’t Established Your Loved One’s Grounding Techniques..Here Are Some Grounding Tips Try:

  • Bring up today’s newspaper on the web, notice the date. Read something fun!
  • Breathe slowly and steadily from your core. Imagine letting fear and worry go, evaporating along with each breath.
  • Trace your hands against the physical outline of your body. Experience your own presence in the world.
  • Call a friend and have a chat.
  • If you are feeling ‘stuck’, change how you’re positioned. Wiggle your fingers, tap your feet. Pay attention to the movement: You are in control of what your body is doing, right here and now.
  • Eat or drink something. Is it hot, or cold? Sweet, or sour?
  • Meditate, if that’s OK for you. Otherwise use distractions like television or music to help settle down.
  • Use your voice. Say your name or pick up a book and read the first paragraph you find out loud.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror. Smile, even if that’s the last thing you feel like! How does that feel? What can you see? (If  negative thoughts come to mind, write them down to look at later but let them go for now. You’re anxious enough as it is.)
  • Write out what’s going on. Keep writing until you start to notice it makes a difference, lets some of the things you’re anxious about out.
  • Take a shower/bath. Notice the sensations of the water.
  • Write somebody you care about an email.
  • Imagine yourself in a familiar, comfortable place. Feel the safety. Know it.
  • Take a look outside. Count the number of trees and street signs.
  • Exercise. Jump up and down on the spot. Try some gentle yoga, or ride a bike.
  • Hold onto something comforting. Maybe a blanket or an old stuffed toy.
  • Laugh. Even if that’s hard. Just the act of laughing about something, anything can break that spinning out of control feeling.

When Your Loved One’s Are Going Through Medication Changes:

There are so many medications that can help your loved one with PTSD symptoms. My husband is all to familiar with the adding/removing/changing medicines. For your loved one with PTSD it is hard on them too, on top of battling mentally along with that comes physical side effects from medication. I have had some medicines that work great and some that have landed me in the hospital. I do at times feel like a guinea pig, but when you find the right medication it will be worth it. PLEASE during medication changes be patient with your loved one because it is a roller coaster at times.

Your Loved One Will Need Alone Time, Don’t Take It Personal!:

There are times when I tell my husband I need alone time, it’s not that I am trying to be hurtful. With PTSD your mind races and extra noises can add to overloading the brain. Being alone doesn’t indicate that your loved one is depressed, maybe they need a little personal space to calm their brain.

Know Triggers And Help Your Love One Avoid Them:

After I got diagnosed with PTSD I made a list of triggers for my husband in attempt to help me avoid them. Have your loved one write down triggers of certain items, sounds or places that trigger them. For some reason home improvement stores will throw me into a complete panic attack. Some things may sound silly but take them seriously!

Be Supportive Of Your Loved One At All Times:

Your loved one is going through so much ask what they need for you to do to help make life a little easier. For me it is my husband just sitting next to me. Sometimes its not just words that your loved one’s need. There will be good and bad days, take each day as it comes.

I hope some of these tips help your understand your loved one a little bit better. Your loved experienced trauma they didn’t ask for, always be kind and listen to their concerns.

  • LJ

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