Friday, October 26, 2012

How Do You Balance Life With PTSD?

Finding a balance in life is hard, regardless of what you do for a living, your stresses or any other factor that might cause things to spin of kilter.  But when someone in your life suffers from PTSD, finding a solid balance can be an even larger struggle.  How do you deal with the stress of being a caregiver, the stress of life, your job, kids if you have them, and everything else when you home is no longer your sanctuary?

I work a job that is, by it's very nature, stressful.  There is nothing I can do to alleviate that stress short of quitting.  Trust me, the thought has crossed my mind.  But leaving a job I love and my co-workers and friends hardly seems like the best option.  The fact is, not everyone is able to have a single income, and if your spouse is unable to work due to PTSD, leaving your job is even less so an option.

My job is my escape, stress or not, it's a place I can go and be good at what I do.  I don't have to deal with my angry husband or any of the other stresses at home.  My home is not a sanctuary, it's not a place I can go to get away, there are no bubble baths in my day and no time to read a book alone in my room.  So I have a job. But that job is interfering in my ability to support my husband and something is going to give.

I had applied to change shifts, but didn't get it.  We had been relying on that shift change to be something to help our present circumstances.  We had hoped that it would give us the time we need to continue to work on things.  But now, I am staying where I am at and we are having to face this off balance life with no plan.

There is no one solution that will work for everyone.  But what I know is that when your spouse has PTSD, it often feels like your whole world is clouded by it.  The place that was once your quite, safe place in the universe becomes a battle ground, and suddenly work, friends, and generally being away from that home turns into the only way to distance yourself.  But if you aren't careful, that will imbalance your life even more.

I love my job.  I have strived to not leave it.  I don't want to give up all the hard work I've done.  But at some point, I have to find a way to balance this place that has turned into my escape with the need to be home supporting my husband.

The most important advice I can offer is to communicate.  When I told my husband I didn't get the position, he shut down.  He was disappointed.  He didn't want to talk to me.  But we HAVE to talk about it.  Life is full of disappointments and things you have no control over.  The most important thing to come back together and create a new plan.  Discuss the needs you both have.  It's ok to need to be out of the house, it's ok to need an outlet and it's ok that he needs you there.  Whatever the needs you both have, talk about them, prioritize them, make sure that you are both aware of what is most important to each of you.  Then create a new plan.  A lot of this life is trial and error.  You think this might work and it doesn't, so you move on to a new plan.  The same goes for balance.

Communicating what you both need and discussing the options and ideas to ensure everyone is getting their needs met is the only way to continue to strive for the so called balanced life.


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