I was recently asked, “what resources do you read, use for learning or coping with someone who has PTSD?” What seems like a loaded question at times (because it can put me on the spot), is one that I am not often asked, but when I am…well, I really have to think about how to answer.
I knew of Sam’s PTSD diagnosis because he shared with me the story of how he was diagnosed. Sure, he knew of signs and symptoms, and I’m sure he was even briefed on what he could experience after coming home from a deployment. But, hearing that diagnosis, well, that can be hard to take.
How much did I know about PTSD before I met Sam? A little. And that was textbook reading, war story reading, and of course a few videos here and there that were being used for research. It wasn’t a Hollywood version, it was real accounts from Veterans, active duty members, and even some of my students.
When Sam and I started dating I noticed a few of the “signs” that I’d read or heard about. Avoidance–sitting near a visible exit, sitting at the back of a restaurant to keep eyes on everything going around, hypervigilance–knowing everything going on around–anxiety–avoiding large crowds.
Research on this subject, Veterans/PTSD, the narrative/storytelling, was important…but I was learning first hand by being with Sam. Sure, any of us can read about PTSD in a book, but until you live with or experience it, I’m not sure it is all that easy to understand. I know that at times I was overwhelmed with information I read. It didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t know how to ask the proper questions (instead of “did you kill anyone?” which, sadly, is a question that is often times asked of our Veterans).
I’ve found that having the right research, with good, correct and useful information can help. So, I thought I would share some of that info with you all.
I think if you want to understand PTSD, you should read about it. If you are unsure of the “signs” or “symptoms,” please consider visiting the National Center for PTSD at http://www.ptsd.va.gov(don’t let the VA in there frighten you or turn you away–please).
Maybe you are a Veteran or you live with a Veteran and aren’t sure of the VA benefits that you could receive…try visiting http://www.va.gov/explore to find out more about benefits for the Veteran and family. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about benefits (health care, coverage for your family, support groups, Peer Support groups)–the local VA for us is in Marion, Illinois (near Cracker Barrel).
One of my favorite sites with easy navigation, a page full of other online resources, information on PTSD, recognizing signs and symptoms, and an online support system (with a Facebook page you can “like”) is Love Our Vets–by Welby O’Brien. Welby is an author, the wife of a Veteran, and she is someone who truly lives from the heart and shares her experiences. If you want a comprehensive site with information, as well as information on supporting your family (or family members or friends), please visit http://www.loveourvets.org
And, one last one to leave you with for today’s post…
If you want to know more about service dogs, trauma resiliency, and an organization that saved my husband’s life, please visit http://www.thisableveteran.org
I hope you find some of these links helpful. I know at times these sites could put me at ease, because I was unsure of how to ask Sam a question, and I didn’t want to pry or bring up a bad memory. I know now that I have tools (as does Sam) that can help us open up and talk about PTSD and what that is like…because it never really goes away—it lingers…and if these sites can give you hope or comfort, please consider sharing them with others. Remember, you are not alone.
P.S. If you are anything like me, and you want to be an “eternal student” or an “eternal learner,” get your hands (and eyes) on as much information as you can. For me, I wanted to know all I could about PTSD, service dogs, and how to be a good support, a positive influence, and a great listener. Veterans deserve that–they want to share with us, and we owe it to them to listen. I am committed to learning everything I can to support these two…they are a huge part of my heart.