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Many veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, better known as PTSD. Sometimes it may seem that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Fortunately, that’s untrue. Here is some guidance on navigating your PTSD.
Don’t push away your loved ones.
As a veteran, you may have difficulty asking for help — after all, you’re used to others coming to you for help. Still, try your best not to push loved ones away. Lean on them. They may not be able to understand exactly what you’re coping with, and you don’t have to discuss your experiences right away, but try to seek the support you need.
Further, if you suffered an injury in battle and have new obstacles to overcome, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your loved ones might be able to gauge what kind of assistance you need, but as you adapt to home life you may find other challenges. There’s no shame in asking for assistance. In fact, your family and friends will be happy to help.
Expect and be mindful of triggers.
Unfortunately, triggers are an unavoidable part of PTSD. The UK’s Mind.org details that triggers can come in several forms: words, sounds, places, smells, certain kinds of films or books, and specific dates. In the beginning, these triggers will sneak up on you. However, as time goes on, you’ll be able to predict them more easily. Try keeping a journal; after each trigger experience, wait until you’re in a healthier state of mind, and then write down what triggered you, how you responded to any techniques that helped, and ways to avoid it in the future.
If you’re the loved one of someone with PTSD, keep a similar journal. This can help you be aware of what sets them off and how to circumvent these experiences. Be patient when an outburst does happen. Your loved one will have little to no control over their reaction, so the most you can do is be there to listen and offer support and love.
Make home your solace and practice meditation.
If you’re the recipient of a purple heart and come home with severe physical or mental disabilities, your home will need modifications. Not only will this make getting around easier, it can help reduce trigger episodes; if you can reduce the frustrations of your daily life, you may avoid outbursts. There are programs to help you out, some of which even build houses specifically tailored to a single veteran’s needs.
If possible, set aside a specific room dedicated to relaxation and meditation. Arrange it with a comfortable chair and relaxing décor. Eliminate as many electronic distractions as possible. If you’re unable to dedicate an entire room, choose a space as far away from common areas as possible and set up there. When you go in to practice your meditations, let your household know so you won’t be disturbed.
Connect with other veterans.
As Bradley University points out, your local Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, offers excellent resources for therapy and other treatment. Group therapy with other veterans is a great place to start. The fact is unless they’ve been through war themselves, your loved ones just can’t understand some of the issues you’re dealing with. Speaking and bonding with other vets can be a healing experience.
The VA also offers family therapy. This can strengthen your relationships with loved ones by having a mediator guide the conversation. You don’t have to share right away, nor do you have to discuss anything you’re not ready to talk about. Simply go, listen, and speak when you know the time is right. And don’t worry if you’re scared — chances are that everyone in the room is.
It’s unfair that the brave soldiers who defend our country come home with major trauma, be it physical, mental, or both. Still, there’s hope. Keep these tips from Asknod in mind when coping with your PTSD and remember that healing takes time. Your loved ones are here to help, so let them be a part of the process.