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1001 Tips for Military Families – #421

PTSD: What to Avoid – Tip #421

There is a lot of information out there about what PTSD looks like, feels like and strategies for how a person with it can try to cope but there isn’t a lot for family members, friends and colleagues who are trying to support a loved one.  Here are my top ten tips to try to avoid.  They are easy pitfalls and I really believe just knowing what they are will help you.

1) Avoid criticizing – it may be constructive but they hear judgment, lack of understanding and dissatisfaction

2) Avoid making a joke out of it or labeling – doing this will only cause them to be further withdrawn or disconnected with you.  Even if they are laughing at the time this is not a reflection of how they are truly feeling.  Nothing about PTSD is funny when you are going through it.  Find things in other areas of your lives to laugh about.

3) Don’t compare – each person experiences PTSD in very different ways and for different reasons.  Comparing will only lead to frustration.

4) Don’t try to be a doctor and work it all out.  Your job is to offer encouragement and support – don’t try to tell them what you think is wrong with them.  Would you want someone sitting down with you and pointing out all of your issues, faults or problems?

5) Avoid setting time limits – Everyone will have a different pace to their recovery and they need to be able to set it themselves and not feel pressured or held to a particular date and time.  It will only sabotage their progress.

6) Don’t be bossy – This one is in my nature and a tough one but it doesn’t help!  They have been coming from a setting where they had very little they could control and need a chance to feel in control of their lives and in the driver’s seat.  If you are always telling them what to do they never have a chance to establish a new sense of control.

7) Don’t Push or Pressure – If they tell you that they aren’t ready, it will not help if you keeping asking or demand it of them.  Give them an out, time to think and accept decisions that wouldn’t be the ones you would make or that you think are right. They will do things when they are ready.

8) Don’t agree when you really don’t – Placating or telling someone something that they want to hear isn’t going to help either.  You need to be you, stick to what you believe and be honest.  No one wants to live or be a in relationship with someone (for long) that isn’t honest or just says what they want to hear and you won’t be able to keep it up for long either!   Be who you are so that you are able to give them time to recover and be who they want to be.

9) Never give up – Avoid doing things like raising your hands in the air and walking out, leaving for awhile, avoiding them, etc.  When you are willing to stick it out you will also teach them the same thing.  Your perseverance will one day be theirs.

10) Talk about your problems too – Your life doesn’t stop because you are living with, working with or loving someone who has PTSD.  One of the best ways to engage them back into your world is to share your worries, stresses and strains.  Don’t avoid talking about your life because their life is hard and this should also be a motto they follow too!

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to:  www.WhileYouWereAway.org


3 Responses

  1. wow very helpful..parents and spouses with those diagnosed with PTSD (like my son was) or just coming back need to read this..educate yourself about the mental status of your loved ones coming home..a warrior may NOT be diagnosed offically with PTSD but as a mom of a solider, I can tell you re-entering the world back here is a very slow and gental process..be patient and as I said educate yourself..many people want to know what they saw or did.. they will eventually tell you but it has to be on their timeline..when the conversation opens up, let them talk or vent…lots of hugs and love needs to be given once the warrior starts talking..remember, when they do start talking, they are mentally re-living that incident in their mind, the smells. the feelings,the emotional turmoil..do NOT tell your warrior you know how he feels, or to get over it because you never will..just give hugs and tell them that they are safe..also getting back to your religious beliefs helps you and your warrior tremendously.. remember getting back to the world they may begin to doubt their actions over there..they were and may still be in survior mode..and most of all if your warrior needs help, encourage them to get it…and remind them it is not a sign of weakness..if your warrior had a broken finger..medical attention would be rendered…this is the same, except it is not visable..also remember they are coming home to a NEW NORMAL..it won’t be the same as when they left..may God keep your warrior safe and give those left behind stregnth

  2. very good I was in Korea and I truly think some of us came back and experienced PTSD at a later date, with no help and a lot of problems, anger, booze, and relationships , divorce’s etc. .. so it was not easy..I am in the VA a few days a week and see some of the kids with PTSD at all levels, and they are getting a lot better help now , it is just getting them to come in and get the help it is there so God Bless

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