How To Speak With Our Family & Friends About Post Traumatic Stress

Having been diagnosed with post traumatic stress, I have found myself needing to explain why I hesitate to do certain things or why I do not participate in certain gatherings, activities. I have had to learn to speak up for myself. I  had to learn that not everyone knows what I have been through or how to work with me in my times of having stress induced by certain actions, lights, sounds or even smells. How do we get it across to our family and friends what we are going through without having to tell a life story to every single person we come in contact with? This is what I did in regards to a current situation that is ongoing at the moment. Our mother just suffered a stroke. My eldest sister wanted me to sit down next to our mother and hold her hand. I was hesitant to do so at that moment in time as I knew I could not hold back my tears. I did not want our mother to see me break down in front of her. I kindly refused my oldest sister who did not understand why a simple gesture like holding our mothers hand was such a difficult action for me to accomplish. I kindly told my sister away from our mothers listening range that the reason I was unable to hold our mothers hand at that point in time was because I was too emotionally weak with flash backs of our aunt ( our mothers sister ) who passed away from cancer. I was reminded of how our aunt was when I held her hand until she was gone. I remembered every breath she took down to her last one. I could not contain myself emotionally to be that strong daughter our mother needed me to be. The liver spots on our mothers hands are very similar to her sisters hands.

“Triggers” is what is referred to when it comes to the thing or things that make those of us who have post traumatic stress to regress in an emotion or place in time. My sister was kind and understanding after I conveyed to her in little detail why that action she requested of me that I performed many times before was not one I could accomplish at that moment in time. We have to understand it is alright to express to those who are close to us anything that may discomfort us without having to walk around with pamphlets in our hands and T-Shirts saying “I have P.T.S…”. Taking time to understand ourselves and learn what it is that causes us to have stress in certain situations is key to a healthier life not only for ourselves but for those who care about us as well. We can opt to let family and friends know individually in which whom we decide to confide in what it is that we are feeling. We can also opt to send family and friends information about the subject giving a medical explanation to what the condition is about without having to explain ourselves in detail. We can also gear up for questions those who love us may have and give them links to sites that can do the talking for us.

It will not be easy for most of us who do not like to discuss what we are inflicted with when it comes to certain things in life. Those of us with more extreme cases of post traumatic stress have no real coping skill when it comes to our own emotions or feelings of guilt. We do not have the capability to even be around family, friends feeling alienated or like we are monsters who need not be seen by the world. How do we go about expressing ourselves? How do we tell those who love us how we feel when we do not even feel like we are worth being around them? We can start with learning about ourselves first. What is it that we are feeling and why? What was the traumatic event or events that has given us this debilitating social disorder? We have to take things step by step. For those of us who have experienced traumatic events from being in the armed forces past or present there are sites that can be utilized for your knowledge and better understanding of what it is you may be going through. Here is a link to the “National Center For P.T. S.D.” (Public section)

With that link you can search in private what the site has to offer you from what it is you may be feeling to how you can treat the effects of that traumatic experience that has taken away a crucial aspect of your life to assist you in becoming better equipped with the availability of assistance provided to you. The first thing you have to remember is, this is not your fault. Feelings of guilt are often associated with post traumatic stress, (I do not really like to use the D. but you get the point.). What you are going through is never going to be exactly the same as any other person. However there are many people like you both male and female who have found ways to overcome some of their darkest moments in life to be able to reach out to others who suffer from similar life events. Utilize the internet for what it has available to you. If you do not think you can sit there and search content on the subject you can always speak with someone. I will provide a few numbers as well as a direct link to the contact page of the V.A..

This is an insert from the page I will give the link to.  This is their recommendations if you feel you are past point break to if you feel strong enough to communicate with someone about the issues at hand that are making you feel the way you are feeling. Remember it is alright to be the human you are. You are not invincible or invisible. I see you and so does your fellow veterans. Do not be afraid to reach out for help. No matter what or where you are. If you feel you can not hold it together walk into your nearest emergency room and tell them what it is you feel and why. If that is too much to do dial three simple numbers 911 and help will come to you. Do not deny yourself the help that is available to you. You have every right to get the care and compassion you so valiantly fought for. The following is a direct insert from the website:

Where to Get Help for PTSD

Are you are in crisis? You have options:

  • Call 911
  • Go to the nearest Emergency Room
  • Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
  • Contact the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 (text 838255) or Confidential Veterans Chat with a counselor

The direct link to the page the above insert was taken from is;

For those of us who suffer from a traumatic experience not related to warfare or the armed forces we can seek assistance through channels given to us as well. This comes from the same government site above made to assist all aspects of post traumatic stress. We can suffer from post traumatic stress if we were victims of violence, crime,terrorist attacks, automobile accidents, accidents of any kind down to dog bites. We can also suffer from post traumatic stress if we lost a loved one or a child. What is there for us? If you suffer like I do from nightmares you can utilize the resources given via the V.A. government site. The following is a direct insert from their website.;

Nightmares and PTSD

Sleeping man lying down with his arm over his head

Nightmares are dreams that are threatening and scary. Nearly everyone has had a nightmare from time to time.

For trauma survivors, though, nightmares are a common problem. Along with flashbacks and unwanted memories, nightmares are one of the ways in which a trauma survivor may relive the trauma for months or years after the event.

How common are nightmares after trauma?……..

You can continue reading from their website here.;

I had finally spoken with me regular physician in regards to my emotions and what triggers me to cry. It had been about 12 years since my husband passed away in front of me. I felt beyond helpless when I tried to revive him with the assistance of the 911 operator. I was unsuccessful in doing so. I cried for my husband years after he passed away among other issues I had to deal with emotionally. I relayed the concerns I had for my psychological health to my physician. I was prescribed medication to assist with better controlling my thoughts and tears. Through time the medication had to be adjusted to fit my medical needs. I am as of today emotionally more stable. I am in better control over my thoughts as well as the fact I have no more uncontrollable bouts of crying. I do not ever think I will be a hundred percent however I can live a better life with more emotional control over my thoughts and feelings. Getting the help I needed for myself gave me the control back over my own body that post traumatic stress took away.

To help ourselves better understand how post traumatic stress effects our brain function we can do some research at our local library or online. I continuously say I use the search engine “Google Scholar” for what I need to find within the scientific community in regards to case studies and direct scientific material on any medical subject matter I may be researching or expressing an interest in. Read along with me and see what I see when it comes to the vast information given to us at the tip of a finger. What I am going to provide for you next is a little technical when it comes to words and the subject related to neurobiology of stress. If you have time to review this material here is a direct link to a PDF download on the book itself entitled ” Neurobiology Of Stress” volume I. What I am going to link you to is the direct information on pages 89-99 with open access. Here is a little sneak peak of what this link has to offer you. If you feel interested to click the link I will provide to you for further information then by all means please do so. The following is a direct insert from the page.;

During nonstressed arousal conditions when the subject is alert, safe and ...

Fig. 1.

During nonstressed arousal conditions when the subject is alert, safe and interested, the highly evolved prefrontal cortex (highlight in blue) provides top-down regulation of behavior, thought and emotion. It orchestrates behavioral response through extensive connections, e.g. to the amygdala, basal ganglia and brainstem, including the catecholamine neurons. Under these arousal conditions, there are moderate levels of catecholamine release, and phasic firing of LC neurons to appropriate stimuli (Rajkowski et al., 1998). Moderate levels of NE engage high affinity alpha-2A receptors, which strengthen PFC, but weaken amygdala (Arnsten, 2000). Alpha-2A receptors also reduce the tonic firing of LC neurons. All of these actions promote thoughtful PFC regulation of brain and behavior. (For interpretation of the references to color in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)


If that figure above with written material and references interest you then you will enjoy the book itself. Here is the link that I mentioned. Please click the link for further information.;

For those of us who want a not so technical approach to information I will provide you with a general search engine link to reading material that will better suite your style of information gathering. We all love our wonderful wiki anything. The following is a direct insert from the Wikipedia page I will provide you a direct link to.;

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)[note 1] is a mental illness that can develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, terrorism or other threats on a person’s life.[1] Symptoms include disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyperarousal, continue for more than a month after the occurrence of a traumatic event.[1]

If the above insert is more your style for information gathering here is the direct link to the page itself where that was taken from so you can continue reading the remainder of the information available to you.;

Never be afraid to explore all avenues given to gather information to better benefit all of us. For those of us who are family members or friends of someone with P.T.S.D. that want to learn what and how we can help there is also information for you. Sometimes we think if we push or try really hard to get someone with post traumatic stress to confide in us we can help them better. That may very well be the thing that makes someone like me who has this issue push further away from someone like who who is just trying to help. It gets real frustrating when we feel helpless in regards to our family or friends who suffer from post traumatic stress. We need to keep in mind sometimes the best thing to do is learn about this and give ourselves the knowledge we need to better handle any given situation we may face with anyone who has post traumatic stress. The following is a direct insert from a page I will give you the link to.;

Helping Someone with PTSD

Helping a Loved One or Family Member with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD in the Family

When someone you care about suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it affects you too. The symptoms of PTSD aren’t easy to live with, and the changes in your loved one can be downright terrifying. You worry that things won’t ever go back to the way they were before. At the same time, you may feel angry about what’s happening to your family, and hurt by your loved one’s distance and moodiness. It’s a stressful situation all around—one that can leave you feeling overwhelmed, even as you try your best to stay strong. The most important thing to know is that you aren’t helpless. Your support can make a huge difference in your partner, friend, or family member’s recovery. But as you do your best to care for someone with PTSD, you also need to take care of yourself………

As you continue to read you will be given vital information to better understand how you can be of help in any way. There is all sorts of information down to support groups for you, your family and friends. We all love each other that has not changed. The only thing that has changed is how we feel within ourselves when dealing directly with post traumatic stress whether it is someone with the condition or someone like you who loves someone like me who suffers from this issue. Here is that link I told you about. Go ahead and click it. You will not regret it. I promise you this.;

With all my heart and soul I want to thank each of you for taking the time to read what I wrote. I hope I was able to give a little bit of insight from the point of view of someone with this condition. We never stopped loving you. Never forget that. We just have to learn how to deal with our own emotions before we can express ourselves again in a healthy way that benefits all of us. Getting ourselves the help we need is the key to a better life. Gathering information will make the biggest difference in the lives of the people like me and you who are directly inflicted or related to someone in some way with post traumatic stress. Remember there is always information at your fingertips on “How To Speak With Our Family & Friends About Post Traumatic Stress”.








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