How to stay in balance

Dear Bloggers,

The happiness season is on our doorstep again and this will be the second Christmas with my spouse who is suffering from PTSD. Our family is dealing with the situation and our eldest daughter is together with me the ones that give informal care. I have had a couple of comments come to me about “balance”, and a few made me realize that there is more to talk about regarding this subject.

First of all I have to add my note here…I am not a doctor of any sort or in any medical field, the information I bring to you is based on our personal experiences, opinions, and what we have learned along the way in this life journey. I am simply a spouse and a caregiver of one with PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks and other medical conditions… that brings awareness and support to others through our personal lives.

Balance is a word that I want to use a lot. Okay, more than a lot, more like all of the time, it’s extremely important to me and more than just a word, it’s a part of life. It’s a word that in reality years ago I did not even think about, and sure had no need to use that word as everything was running smoothly (so I thought), I did not realize that it was even something that existed when it came to “life”… or was needed. When I heard others use the words “balance” and “energy”, was another, I just tossed them to the side, “What? I don’t need those!” I was one of those people just like many others that just loved life, and life was something you just lived. So why would I need this thing called “balance” ? It was just another word, that back then, I myself dismissed. I was working like a mad man some days about sixteen hours and always with a smile.

After PTSD and other mental conditions became a part of our lives, I learned really fast what “unbalance” was! That foot-loose, carefree, just love and live life to it’s fullest person I was, changed! All of a sudden everything in life became serious, things happening brought an urgency, and along with that came worry, anxiety, panic, discomfort, fear, emotional hurt, and the list could keep going. That’s what I myself was experiencing, and I’m not the one with PTSD, my spouse is! None of these things were me, they hurt, and I had to find this crazy thing called balance again. Then, take all of those things my spouse did like cleaning house and paying bills, taxes and making phone calls to companies that messed up their own administration. For those who never done this kind of tasks, I can tell you it is a lot, NO, that’shoukd be overwhelmingly a lot!
It took a life experience, okay we had many experiences to the point it seemed like we were in total new period in our life and it was on the dark side of it, for me to realize and start understanding that life does indeed NEED a kind of balance. It does not matter if your life is great or your life is like hell, that term “balance” and putting it to use, can really change things.

Let me back up for a second, I used the term “hell”. I do not use or say that word very often. So if you hear it, it’s serious and here’s my view of what that means. It is the deepest, darkest, no view of a way out, You've been dropped in a black hole, you will fall in where no matter how hard you struggle it will bring you to your knees. There’s no light, there’s no hope, and that place will push you to want to give up. A place lacking balance. Okay, that’s “hell” to me, you get my point. Thank God, I am an old army guy and theres only one way even your wounded partner needs to go there and that is going forward.

I was recently told, “I’m glad you found and have a balance in your relationship, wish we had that…” I stopped what I was doing when I heard that, and I really sat back and thought about it and the way it was used in this particular sentence. I did not take it in a negative way, but the way it was said was a little misleading of a thought to what balance is for us. As well as what it takes and what comes with it.

Balance is not something that you get or find, and then it just stays there. Balance takes constant work, a lot of energy and time, effort, it takes a “give and take” when it comes to the relationship, which is difficult with someone having PTSD it is a real part of life. And there are times, many times, that balance is not present and we have to work to get it back, or some sort of back that we can manage and live with, for whatever length of time it remains.

Then there is still the fact that I am in a caregiver role, My spouse has very real life mental conditions to where I have to help as there are a lot of challenges, which means there is not and will not be an equal balance in our relationship. Again we had to find a balance that was comfortable for us, and continue working on balance itself. I had to let go of what was our balance or normal before the mental conditions. The brain and the way it functions now, does not allow for an equal balance, it’s something we continue to work on. That acceptance is what helps us have a balance. Living with mental illness is tough enough without adding to the burden of illness the pain of rejection and stigma.

At the moment there are no high expectations, or an expectation that things will be equal again, the only expectations at hand are that we can make it work together. It is a constant effort, as well as neither of us giving up on each other or giving in to PTSD. Balance is not something that comes easy, it does take hard work and effort, as well as keeping in mind that her brain does not function like it used to. Which again, is something that we continue to work on because there is always that chance it can always be better than it is today, only time holds the answer to that.

Then you have personal balance. Now, this one I have pretty much mastered, if there even is such a thing. However, I am human and at times I will lose my self balance for a moment (just like anyone else). That’s when I have to reflect on myself, who or how I truly am, whatever experiences or situations were at hand, use my coping skills, take time to think, then approach and talk about what happened… address the situation or why I became unbalanced.

I learned that pointing fingers gets you no where good, excuses are not a part of this process it’s about explaining so you can move forward together and understand each other, repair the unbalance, as well as the relationship with whomever is involved. And at times it is just simply me that lost focus, or just simply having a bad day. Accepting and admitting without dwelling on self blame or with guilt, along with everything else I did, mentioned above, when a human unbalance comes, is how I find my balance again. Again, it takes effort, work, as well as reflecting on yourself… and either person can learn to do this.

I am a firm believer that there is always something else that can be done, it may take time to find what works or to understand how, but never lose hope, there is something. We know that PTSD does not just go away, some may be able to place it in a box, but the reality is it is still there and only takes one trigger to bring it back out. Life changed, for each of us. PTSD is there for life and you only can make the best out of it. Happy holidays and enjoy what you have got, live life and think about having some balance in your life.

The Old Sailor,


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