Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Today my heart is aching--I can feel the heaviness in the air from both "sides" of this story.

While I do not agree that #Ferguson was a "racial" thing--perhaps that is because I have a Combat Veteran for a husband who has shot and killedindividuals from another race in a war that had nothing to do with race...and I know how that affects him...I know that instead of being excited about the pending birth of our daughter during my pregnancy with her in 2007-2008, he was horrified because the bigger I got the more he saw the pregnant Iraqi woman he had to confront during a house raid.

Perhaps my thoughts are as they are because I look beyond the color of skin to the heart and soul--and feel that love is the only answer...and it is such a simple answer--if we get our ego out of the way--that I sit wanting to cry because what happened last night doesn't make sense to me.

I didn't follow this case much. In fact, I don't pay attention to the news or political agendas hardly at all because I don't need those lower energy frequencies in my life. I am a role model and example for too many hurting people that desperately need hope and something to hold onto in their lives--someone to love them regardless of their past...and I do not take that responsibility--one that I didn't choose, but rather chose me--lightly.

In August. ..

We lost a troubled, young man who had a lot of life left in him--who made decisions in the moment that resulted in his death. I live by a quote..."Out beyond the limits of right and wrong, there is a field--I will meet you there"...for I believe it is not my place to judge. It is my place to love--to comfort--to be a light--to spread hope, and I have seen first hand that amazing miracles begin as seeds not yet seen in deep, dark moments like last night...I have come to know beyond a shadow of doubt that no death or life is ever in vain. There was a reason and a purpose and a plan to literally every microscopic detail of each life and death.

We lost another young man who had chosen to be a civil servant and has now removed himself from this selfless role because of choices he made that resulted in the death of another human being--regardless of skin color...taking the life of another human being (even in a kill or be killed situation) is a heavy burden to carry... any Veteran or Service Member will tell you that (if they feel safe enough with you to admit the pain they carry within their hearts and souls).

I fail to grasp the "reasoning" for the rioting and destruction last night--again, regardless of the color of skin, I am so very ashamed of humans right now....WHERE IS THE HUMANITY?

I've chosen to share the following example because the color of one's skin has been such a focus lately...

"In this African tribe, when someone does something harmful, they take the person to the center of the village where the whole tribe comes and surrounds them.

For two days, they will say to the man all the good things that he has done.

The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as a good. Each one of us only desiring safety, love, peace and happiness.

But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes.

The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help.

They unite then to lift him, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he had been temporarily disconnected: “I am good.”

Shikoba Nabajyotisaikia!

NABAJYOTISAIKIA, is a compliment used in South Africa and means: “I respect you, I cherish you. You matter to me.” In response, people say SHIKOBA, which is: “So, I exist for you.”

This is taken directly from the Facebook page of author Natasha Kyssa.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Lessons from "The Slight Edge" by Jeff Olson

"Turning Simple Decisions Into Massive Success" reads the subtitle on the book that came in my "start-up kit" for Nerium International this past January.

And you know what? That book sat around in a stack of other books I've been "meaning to read" since then. I literally had to dig it out of a box to start reading it after the move.

And guess what? Today is one of those days that I really don't "feel" like writing a blog post or scheduling social media--all part of the slight edge plan that I'd created for myself a few weeks ago...because I'm going through and I'm doing the right things to grow the Battling BARE network and get my life on track, but it's not like this plan is a magic wand and everything is "poof" going viral again. Know what I mean?

It's a slow process.

A process that must be carefully, deliberately and diligently executed--a little bit every day.

So what exactly is "The Slight Edge"--I'd never even heard of the book or Jeff Olson before I was introduced to Nerium. So, I completely understand if you have never heard of this book that has been a "best seller".

The Slight Edge is a philosophy...an attitude in life that brings to like that it is the little decisions that don't really seem to matter...you know the little ones...that either give us the "edge" or have the "edge" working against us.

The decisions like getting out there and walking for 10-15 minutes because you just know you should--and a year later, you look and feel amazing because all those minutes of walking added up and created this huge life change....but that is after a year. At first, the small decision to walk 10-15 minutes doesn't result in much change...and you don't look or feel any different. So, you just have to stick with it...and the cool thing is that the walking really becomes second nature. You just "do it" instead of having this big huge debate in your head about whether or not you "feel" like walking.

The same thing with getting on top of finances and saving money to finally break the "paycheck to
paycheck cycle" of life that often results in the infamous "bill juggling" where one never gets ahead in life--they catch up on one thing only to fall behind on another. UGH...I think every person has been there a time or two--but far too many "stay there" because they don't know how to break the cycle...it's their "normal" or as I like to call it their "awareness". (For how to break this cycle, check THIS THISout!)

The same thing with eating--which I have to be honest, this is where I am really having a tough time because I have come to love food and "flavor adventures"...especially in times of stress where I crave sugar and "baked goodies"--not to mention that baking in and of itself is a stress release for me--and I adore the reactions people have to my delicious concoctions. So, all of that together--along with my decision to not work out since we've been in Missouri...and let's just say the only clothing that comfortably fits right now are "stretchy" things. (For resources on medicating with food, check out these 2 incredible books: Within and Loosing Your Pounds of Pain)

**I do want to insert here that I have made the decision to start working out again and am getting new athletic shoes today. 2 weeks ago, when I started my "slight edge" plan, I found my athletic shoes had been left outside during the "great garage" organization...and my 8 year old Maine Coon decided to pee on them. YUCK! And...since we are still getting back on top of the finances...I didn't "just have" $60 to go spend on shoes. Today is payday! So, GUESS WHAT!?!? New Shoes!!! :-)**

So, why am I rambling on about the slight edge after I just wrote about not striving for perfection and stressing yourself out in yesterday's "Reality Check" post?

Because the slight edge isn't about doing it all at once.

It's about doing a little it here and there--like with your house for instance, I just love The Fly Lady's 15 minutes a day program that starts with shining your sink. :-) It's amazing how that results in a clean home less than a month later....and a purified and lightened heart and soul, too!

It's about reading a few pages a day in a book that feeds your heart and soul--instead of what I used to do...buy 30 books at a time and read 30 pages of one of the books before ordering another 30 books on the new "topic de jour". (Lord have mercy! I have a LOT of books and self improvement programs!)

It's about make small nearly unnoticeable changes that have time start working in your favor and not against you. (Like--Christmas is coming! Are you putting aside money to pay cash for gifts?)

It's about setting a goal and breaking it down into tiny little baby steps and then working your plan...even if, like me and my social media plan, you see more "unlikes" than "likes" on the Facebook page--or people being cranky that I refuse to focus on the "sad, angry truth about PTSD".

It's working that plan--no matter what, and before you know it, you'll have a brand new life.

So what are you going to do to give yourself "The Slight Edge"?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reality Check

So, I don't make a million dollars a year.
Not even close.
We are lucky enough to count ourselves above the median income here in South Western Missouri, but things are still tight as we try to adjust to retirement and furnishing our home.

So, I'm not one of those moms that I idolize who seem to have it all together and are just, you know, on top of everything.
In fact, I'm quite the opposite....you know, the kind who is scrambling to find something acceptable for picture--or, like this year, didn't even realize when picture day was...and who constantly seems to be searching for missing shoes or backpacks at the same time we are supposed to be heading out the door to do the morning "drop the kiddos at school" run.
...the kind of housewife who loves and adored organization--even color coding clothing "Roy G. Biv" style, but in reality is shoving things into the hall closet and vacuuming "where people see" right up until company comes over...and even then is apologizing for the globs of black hair that my Newfoundland leaves all through the house no matter what time of year. *sigh*

I'm also the kind of wife that realizes my husband has PTSD/TBI issues--thus I find myself helping him search for his wallet or shoes or whatever because he can't remember where he put them...thinking all the while, "Umm...I have 3 children...one teenager, one "tween" and a 1st grader...why am I doing this for my nearly 40 year old hubby? And why is it that I can remember where everyone else's stuff is, but no one seems to have a clue when my crap turns up missing?"
....and then I feel all kinds of guilty for a little bit...and then forgive myself because, Lord-have-mercy, I am only human and I'm trying...I really am trying to give my best, but for what ever reason I seem to get caught up on one thing and then something else falls behind.

Please tell me this sounds familiar.
Please tell me I'm not the only one who tries to budget--yet forgets a bill or doesn't think to plan financially for something and then has to juggle/maneuver things around to make it all work...
...who has made valiant attempts at creating a daily schedule and a "home organization binder" but with 3 kiddos and this monkey on our backs called PTSD/TBI, things get over looked, forgotten, put off, adjusted, and then who knows what else! *laugh*

I try to stay balanced.
I try very hard to not strive for perfection; however, with Pinterest as my comparison...well....it's rather difficult. *laugh*

Can I let you in on a little secret?
In my crazy brain, your home is literally perfect...like Pinterest perfect.
Your pantry is perfectly stocked with all the labels facing out and organized by this incredible system.
Your meals are planned--always.
You never forget anything at the grocery store.
You are dressed fashionably and with no dog drool or kiddie oopsies anywhere to be seem..oh and your shoes, jewelry and purse perfectly accessorize your ensemble....and you have these outfits planned out the week before.
There is no digging in your purse because it is perfectly stocked and organized at all times with no crazy loose receipts fluttering about.
Your animals are perfectly bathed and groomed.
Your towels folded and organized.
Your house is always cleaned--with fresh vacuum tracks in your carpet.

Why are you laughing and rolling your eyes?
Is this not your reality?

See, I had some girlfriends clue me in on the reality that this "reality" in my mind that I was constantly comparing myself to was ridiculous and just not REAL.

I was stressing myself out for some illusion I had concocted all on my own in my head.

So what is real?
What is realistic?

Well...you are going to have to define that one for yourself, but right now my office isn't all the way unpacked and even though I make organized little piles every other day, my kittens or children come in and remind me how much they love me by leaving this:

About once a week...ok, probably more like every 2 weeks when myself or the children run out of clean socks and underwear, my laundry room looks like this as I catch up on a tsunami of dirty clothes:

And my kitchen sink seems to always have "straggler" dirty dishes that didn't quite make it into the dishwasher....like this:


But you know what? I don't care anymore...because  have found that as long as my children and husband get my attention for a few minutes a day--they don't care whether or not the house is immaculate...and Lord knows I don't look back over my childhood and wish my mother had kept the house cleaner...in fact, I remember how stressed she was raising 4 children with a husband that worked away trying to keep it to the standards that her mother kept her house....oh and her mother had a live in house keeper. ;-)

So, why am I writing this?
Why am I sharing my "lived in and full of love" house?
Because I want you to know that you are a superstar!
You are more than enough...and this "stuff" that women's magazines tell us is important is B.S.
I want you to love yourself--have fun with life where ever you are at and let that be wonderful.

For instance, we pinching pennies to save for Christmas and fix this crazy car that "blew up". So, I've decided to see how creative I can be to feed my family for $150 or less a week. I'm learning how to make bagels and bread at home...along with a bunch of other stuff. And Christmas is going to be rather home made...along with Halloween costumes this year. And we've committed to buying gently used clothes...basically the only thing new we'll buy is socks, undies and shoes.

And you know what?! We are having a lot of fun with it! (And not focusing on "lack" but instead all of the things we have to be grateful for!)

So, I challenge you to give yourself a "reality check" by redefining what "reality" should be in a life that is full of mood swings and unexpected "stuff".

Remember, my friends, to always:
Love with PASSION!
Live with PEACE!
Dare to DREAM...for you are more than "enough" and incredibly worthy of everything you desire--and more!

I love you.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Managing Expectations

Can I be totally honest here? I really feel like I have no idea what I am doing sometimes.

No seriously.

In the beginning of the crazy, awesome journey called "Battling BARE" I was only on Facebook. I had no idea about websites or Twitter or blogs or anything like that. Social Media was just fun for me--so the idea of using it as a business just blew my mind.

And then things went crazy...
And the entire team that was working with Battling BARE at the time felt like we were simply holding on for dear life.

Fast forward to today and I am really a one woman show as far as everything really goes, and I really let everything slide for awhile. Even thought about shutting everything Battling BARE related down, but was begged not to by many, many strangers.

So here I am--writing a blog, figuring out what it means to have a Social Media plan, what it means to be the wife of a now retired 20 year Veteran, settling my family into a beautiful home that we don't have enough furniture to furnish--and I've decided in all my home-making to literally build most of the furniture and thoroughly adopt the attitude/philosophy of my secret addiction--The Duggar Family's show on TLC of "Buying used and saving the difference."

This idea means that it'll probably be a full 6 months or so before our home is furnished and "finished"--which drives me absolutely insane in the mean time and delays having a "house warming party" where all our family and friends locally can come see our beautiful new home.

On top of all of that, this move from Tennessee to Missouri has been full of crazy ups and downs, financial adjustments, epic surprises...like the SUV we bought in June having catastrophic engine failure 5 weeks after we bought it...thus we now drive a Ford Flex (which is basically the result of a station wagon and a mini-van/SUV falling in love and having a baby car...ok, I drive a tissue box, people. Ask my children. And yes, he has a name--Felix!) and are still figuring out what to do with the SUV(--so if you have an engine to a 2007 Ford Expedition you are getting rid of, please let me know!)

On top of all of that, we are still recovering from a $3,000 shortage in July, and I just honestly have to sit back and laugh because isn't this life? Isn't this wonderful journey what everyone goes through? That no matter what we plan for and try to figure out, life is full of surprises and pitfalls and just craziness sometimes--and each and every moment is truly a miracle if we stand back and look at it?

Just this morning, I sat contemplating what to write--thinking in the back of mind that really what interesting things so I have to write about? And then all this just started pouring out.

When I look back over 2014 thus far...I could focus on the frustration of all the health effects from the toxic mold in the Tennessee house and how much money we lost remodeling it--or I could realize all the wonderful memories that were made there...like building an awesome flagstone patio and pergola (like this one from ana-white.com)  with my children and my husband.

Here are the plans: http://ana-white.com/2014/05/plans/ryobi-commercial-pergola

I could focus on my husband disappearing to his best friend's house in Carthage, Missouri (9 1/2 hours from where we lived in Springfield, Tennessee) after telling me he was heading to the store to get buns for dinner...thus inducing a state of panic and horrendous fear in the lives of my 3 children and myself. Or I could focus on the outpouring of love and assistance that came from the friends I've met literally and only through Facebook because of Battling BARE.

I could focus on this crazy move to Missouri that we hadn't saved for or planned because I knew my husband needed to be "back home" where he grew up...close to family and friends. That resulted in our financially struggling for the past few months, my daughter and I's precious Pomeranian, "Chewie" getting killed on the road in an area he didn't know and my massive emotional break down because of all the memories of my 1st marriage that resulted in a double homicide Christmas Day 2004 being triggered because Carthage, Missouri is where my 1st husband and I went on our honeymoon  (Odd the way life comes full circle, eh?) and the 30 pounds of weight can that resulted in all the stress...did I mention that when I am stressed I bake...and let's just say I've been baking A LOT!

Or I could focus on this big, beautiful home that my entire family loves! Here is the front of the house:
--and that has a REAL DEAL laundry room! Here is part of it:
(I gotta let my geeky-mom self out for a sec there!)  a huge great room:
 And a functional kitchen that allows my love of all things culinary to go WILD:
Our new precious Pomeranian, "Reggie". The fact that my oldest 2 kiddos were so excited to be in Junior High and Middle school here in Carthage where they would have still been in Middle and Elementary school back in Tennessee. The amazing recipes that I found to feed my "stressed out baking habit" and have made several times over because of the financial strain forcing me to get creative with what I made my family for dinner.

Like this crazy-amazing pizza crust that we now make once a week for Pizza Night on Friday! YUMMY! (Here is the Recipe: http://feelingfoodish.com/the-best-new-york-style-pizza-dough/)

... and the fact that I have an amazing friend, Lori Harder, who got me involved with her busygirlhealthlife.com workout group and I have amazing support through a group of women who have all "fallen off the wagon" a time or two in their journey to a rock-hard body.

This is Lori...I love her...and just have to tell you I met her at a conference in California. She was walking into the women's potty in front of me and I blurted out, "Girl! You have the nicest butt ever!" Yeah...I have no filter sometimes. *laugh*

Life is nutty, my friends. Life is anything but perfect--and I know none of you really expected me to be perfect...I just put that idea in my head. So here is to having realistic expectations and being open and honest with everyone.

Here's to this blog being a window into my crazy life in the hopes that you will see you aren't alone in the chaos that is having a family affected by PTSD...and that your perspective will shift so you see all the things to be grateful and in awe of in your life...instead of all the B.S. that will always be there no matter what.

So, I think that is enough "mind dumping" for my first blog post in over a year.
Make today amazing, friends!

And remember to:
Love with PASSION!
Live with PEACE!
Dare to DREAM...for you are worthy of everything you desire and so much more!

-Ash Wise

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Good Morning Battle Buds!  This letter was posted on one of our state pages by a fellow buddy and it touched our hearts.  We had to share with all of you.  Heather has described what each of us goes through - what we all want to say to PTSD.  Know that each of you are NOT alone!  Thank you Heather for giving words to all of our feelings!  Battle On!!

Dear PTSD,

Before you came into my life, I had heard rumors. Back then, no one really spoke about you unless it was in hushed whispers. No one knew for sure what you looked like- but I heard you did unspeakable things... that you crept into bed with husbands and seduced them away from their unsuspecting wives. I also heard that you drank. A lot. I heard sometimes you could be two places at once- physically in one place but mentally elsewhere. It was also said that you were a liar, home wrecker, careless and violent... that sometimes you would take your mounting anger out on walls or whatever or whomever happened to get in your way. You left shattered picture frames and broken memories in your wake. There have been songs written about you... yet they don't even begin to do justice to just how evil you are. In fact, there has been talk of you being a murderer. I can't say that I'm surprised. I wouldn't put it past you. I believed those rumors and I certainly never invited you into my life.

But you came anyway.

And you were relentless.

It was four and a half years ago when you crept into our lives- an unwelcome guest. I'm not sure if you were in his med bag on the plane or if you quietly crept in through an open window one night making him awake in a state of panic... but once you came, no matter how much I begged and pleaded, you just kept finding ways back into our life. Persistent. I still can't believe the cops were never called when you would be banging down the door just to prove you were still there, still providing him the thrilling "alive" feeling I couldn't... At first you were just a nuisance... doing stupid things like ruining our sleep and tracking your sandy footprints all over our home, leaving shattered glasses, like a disrespectful child never cleaning up after yourself... leaving your mark to let us know you were still there...then you started turning up and interfering with his job. Distracting. Leaving us on edge...but you proved to be a stealth, well-trained machine... incognito even. We knew you were there but no one else admitted to seeing you- some might say you were a ghost of sorts. Eventually, we thought maybe they were right- that maybe you weren't there to stay.... So we tried so many times to go on pretending we had moved on... but you are like the ex we avoided yet managed to bump into on the fourth of July at the fireworks, causing him to hide under the nearest table so you don't see him and have to wax nostalgia about all of your memories. Those trips down memory lane were always too much to handle anyway.

But we were wrong. And you were angry. Angry that we wished you away or that we ignored you - I'm still not sure which but you sure let us know it. Quite the elaborate production. You make quite a scene, don't you? You followed us everywhere we went. Proof of your existence began popping up everywhere but, like us, others knew of your bad reputation and hanging out with you started to get him into trouble at work... and then at home... You once left a hole in the wall at the top of the stairs...and I read the elicit text messages between the two of you... you sure were proving all the rumors true.
The last straw was when you began attacking me for trying to pull him away from your allure... your antidepressant induced numbness ... All I wanted was to go back to being a couple but everyone knows, PTSD, you're a dirty, dirty whore. You weren't ready to let go yet. You had greater plans... the ultimate sacrifice was number one on your list. You wanted his life. And you tried to take it. You probably would have won if I conceded defeat that day but, unlike you, using him for whatever thrill... I love him. So I saved his life. I'd heard you'd been violent before, or in instances like ours, cowardly, disguising yourself as miracle pills that would end the suffering you've caused. Some might say you are the snake to Adam and Eve. Even the experts trained to recognize you, they were so afraid of you and the implications of your existence that they concocted an elaborate cover up and sent us on our way. Maybe you are just bloody brilliant.

I've been reading in the news lately about how good you've gotten at tricking the military into believing you aren't real and I gotta say, I'm impressed. But I'm not buying it. At all.

I've been talking about you, PTSD, and I have about had it with you in my life. The few bruises, the tears, the fear, the insecurity, anxiety, infidelity, deceit and the broken heart.... I'm over it and I want my husband back. I bet you feel real big... that uneasy feeling you leave in the pit of my stomach never goes away anymore. Empty promises don't ease my pain. You have even stooped so low as to bring my children into your little shenanigans and that is just crossing the line. They aren't babies like they were when we first met. They're perceptive. They've witnessed our arguments. They've seen how terrible you are to me but I'm strong. I'm a fighter and when it comes to my children, I always show them that...but you're expertly trained and certainly know how to subdue your victim until they concede defeat.

This time is different, though. You have me so close to waving the white flag to protect my children... but I know once you put the pen in my hand to sign away the relationship I committed to, you will only find another home to ruin. It is for that reason that I will let you win this round. I walked away... No, I ran. In fact I fled. Hundreds of miles. Too tired to fight... but I'm regrouping. Preparing. Training. Filling my arsenal. More focused and driven than before. I'm sure you've heard the phrase that Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned. If you won't go quietly into the night and leave my family be, you need to know I'll never give up. And when you come at me again, I'll be prepared. This time I have a ton of women who have my back. We will tell everyone what you do. I won't let you have him. I want him back. And I don't care if you have to rot in hell but you will lose. I hope you're ready. PTSD, I hate you...

Heather Goble,
-wife of a United States Navy Service Member
2003-pending PEB

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hey, all you Battle Buddies out there!  We will be starting to add new content to this blog every few days or so.  The purpose will be to inform and hopefully start discussions to help you and your family understand what is happening in your home as well as open the door for healing.  The following two 'articles' are from one of the proffessional counselors on our team.  Be looking for more to come! 

Is this “normal”?

My Soldiers always tell me to “break it down Barney style” to them about what exactly PTSD is.  One said, “Sesame Street that for me, doc!” After I explained that I am NOT a doctor, I broke it down for him.

What is trauma?  A “trauma” is any event that a person experiences that they perceive to be traumatic. (I know, never define the word with the word. So for the sticklers, Webster defines trauma as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience”.)  Trauma can be different things for different people.  Two people can experience the same event and react to it two different ways.  On September 11, 2001 hundreds of thousands of people experienced an event and reacted thousands of different ways.  Don’t be surprised if an entire platoon experiences an event and they all react differently.  That is the nature of the human brain.

 What is a “normal” reaction to trauma? (I HATE the word normal, so whenever I use it, you’ll see it in quotes.)   It’s “normal” to feel frightened, anxious, sad, angry, depressed and disconnected after a traumatic event.  As the days turn into weeks after the event, this should fade.   If it doesn’t fade…we could be looking at PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - or in English - “after a traumatic event I do things I never did before” can be complicated.  It can look like different things in different people.  (I’m not going to put the DSM-IV list of criteria for PTSD in here- you can Google that.)   When a traumatic event threatens your safety or your life, it can really change you.  It can make you glance behind you more, it can make you sleep lighter, it can make you stop trusting people…and it can do a lot of things that you never thought YOU would do. As a wife of a Soldier with PTSD, you might be thinking, “this is not the man I married”, and you’re right.  He’s not the same man.  He is a hyper vigilant, hyper aroused, paranoid guy.  Those things kept him alive in combat.  That’s why he’s still here today.  The only crappy part is he can’t “shut off” those Spidey Senses.  And now, he won’t go into a crowded Wal Mart with you, he has a lot of anger and he might even break things or hit walls.  There is help for this.  It’s not an easy process.  It is a LONG process. It can be an embarrassing process for your husband—it shouldn’t, but it can be.  It can cause you to be traumatized too (more on that in an upcoming article). 

Utilize the Battling Bare state page groups (http://battlingbare.org/State_Group_Pages.html). Utilize other online support groups.  Talk to your friends.  Chances are their husbands are experiencing it too and go hug your husband -- don’t sneak up on him, but go hug him. 

Saturday at the Mall- a great day for shopping
or a nightmare come true? 

One of the hardest things for people that don’t have PTSD to understand is how everyday activities suddenly become threats to those that suffer from PTSD.  A lot of times, this is misdiagnosed as depression- your husband suddenly doesn’t enjoy the things he used to.  That IS a symptom of depression, but it’s also a symptom of PTSD - "avoidance”.  There are whole clusters of avoidance behaviors that take place with PTSD, but in this article we’re looking at “normal” places and things that now cause fear in someone that suffers from PTSD.  Some of these come straight out of the mouths of Soldiers and Airmen that I’ve worked with.

The Mall

You see: A great place to do all of the shopping in one place, save some money, eat lunch, give the kids a chance to burn off energy in the play area and scope those earrings you really want for your birthday (hint, hint, hint).

He sees: A crowded, chaotic place with too many people, not enough exits, an unsecured area with the potential for bombs, weapons of mass destruction and full of people he doesn’t know and doesn’t trust.

The 4th of July event

You see: a patriotic celebration of America, fun for the kids, socializing with friends and a great place to have some barbecue, ribs and beer!

He sees: reminders of the ones that didn’t come back.
He feels: guilt and shame for being one of the ones that did.
He hears: the sound of gunfire and artillery-like explosions coming from the fireworks.

The Movies

 You see: an awesome date night

 He sees: a dark place where he can’t watch everyone’s movements, too crowded, not enough exits, and possible plot lines (war, love themes) that will make him feel uncomfortable.

The kids playing in your slightly cluttered house

You see: your children having fun, playing and being kids
You hear: the shouts, whines, laughter and “Mooo-ooom” that accompanies this.

He sees: the clutter…one more thing he can’t control.
He hears: the noise of the kids, combined with the possible TV in the background becomes almost a high pitched whine (similar to white noise, just very annoying) that blocks his ability to hear possible threats and often gives him a headache.

A welcome home event or just a large family gathering

You see: friends and family that are proud of your husband and want to thank him, a great chance to see everyone in one place.

He sees: A large amount of people, some he trusts, some he might not.
He thinks: “I hope they don’t ask me about the war”.
He feels: guilt and shame.

The hard part about this aspect of PTSD is the person suffering might not know that the reasons listed above (or similar reasons) are WHY he is avoiding the event.  He just knows he is now uncomfortable with the thought of going to the movies, out to dinner, or large events.  When you push him to go to these things, thinking it’s a good way for him to socialize, his anger comes out. He can’t explain WHY he doesn’t want to go, he just knows he doesn’t.

We will have more information soon about how you can help your husband to slowly start going out again.  It involves a lot of compromising and patience, but it can be done!  Don’t give up hope!  And Battling Bare will be here to support and encourage you along the journey.

~Joanna Nunez MSW, LCAS, LCSW
(A little more about Ms. Nunez:  Joanna Nunez, MSW, LCAS, LCSW received her Masters of Social Work from East Carolina University.  She specializes in the treatment of PTSD, substance abuse, co-occuring disorders  and children with behavioral disorders.  She has previously worked with agencies serving prenatal and perinatal substance abusing mothers; active duty military with PTSD, substance abuse and other mental health issues; and children with ADD/ADHD, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and adjustment disorder. Joanna is the daughter of two career Army Veterans and married to an Air Force Veteran. She believes that PTSD is a chronic problem that is just now starting to get the attention it needs in the United States. She currently works with Active Duty Military, their families, and Veterans in and around the Ft. Bragg, NC area.)

***The above information is intended to be educational and informational.  Information contained in this article cannot substitute for consultation for or treatment of a medical condition by a physician or other qualified healthcare provider. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider before making any choices about your healthcare needs. Never discontinue treatment or medication without first consulting your healthcare provider. This article is not meant to nor can it replace face-to-face, individualized mental health services provided by a professional. The information contained in this article is intended solely as general guidance on the use of the service, and does not constitute therapy, counseling, or other professional advice.***