Our Lives With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury

A Brighter Future

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by PTSD or depression, its hard to find that silver lining. Its hard to imagine that there is hope for the future. Then, all of a sudden you stop and realize that today is actually a decent day. You catch that glimmer of a chance that things could work out.

When we are in our darkest hours, those days where getting out of bed is a physically painful feat, that is when we need our silver lining the most. That is when we need to reach out to our supporters and let them help us. That is often the hardest part for veterans… letting someone else help. We have been taught to work as a team, but the team members have changed; instead of battle buddies, we have spouses, friends and family. We have to find even the minutest crack in the walls we have built around ourselves and find a way to let them inside. They don’t need to know all the gory details… but they do need to know the triggers. Knowing what triggers your symptoms can go miles toward healing these wounds. However, this is not enough. We also have the responsibility to find our own voices. We have to speak up about what it is we need when this monster takes hold. Some people find comfort in the arms of their spouse, some need to disappear into a dark room to self-sooth. If our supports don’t know this, then how can they help us? My husband knows when my symptoms start rearing their ugly little heads to give me a few minutes then let me curl against his chest while he holds me until I’m feeling safe again. He wouldn’t know this if I hadn’t told him. Now he knows, when I curl against his chest like that, its because I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious, hyper-alert and all the other crap that accompanies PTSD.

Its hard to find hope when you’re dealing with PTSD. But taking these TWO simple steps can help so much. Please, take the time to sit down and think about your triggers as well as your comfort zones. When you have identified them, write them down, try to be as specific as possible without going into uncomfortably details; if you need to leave a crowded room, say so. Once you’ve compiled this list, share it with you supporters. Let them know that this list will allow them to help you. As they begin to understand more about your PTSD, you will begin to see that hope that had been so elusive before.

The last step to finding your hope is to reach out to other veterans and get help. Do not be ashamed to admit when things become too overwhelming. We have stood side by side, sweated together, cried together and more often than not bled together. We have been there and done that and burned the t-shirt. Your brothers and sisters can point you to the resources that you need to get control of your life again. They can help you up when you find yourself facing rock bottom. But… here’s the kicker…. YOU have to let them know that you need help. If your supporters don’t know there is a problem, they can’t help you figure out how to fix it. It is that plain and simple. We are the ones with PTSD, it is our own responsibility to ensure those around us know what they can do to help rather than keeping them guessing on egg shells.

In the end, finding that hope as you’re walking through the storm is entirely up to you. You can choose to reach out to those who care about you or you can choose to attempt to weather it alone. A burden shared is half as hard to bear.

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