Welby O’Brien loves her Veteran husband as they face the daily challenges of PTSD. With a Masters Degree in counseling, she leads the LOVE OUR VETS PTSD Family Support network. www.LoveOurVets.org
Posted 9/3/17 at 7:58 PM | Welby O'Brien
All around us we hear more and more of those we care about threatening, attempting or committing suicide. Many of which are our own loved ones.
I recently awoke to a shocking comment under one of our Love Our Vets – PTSD Family Support posts. It said, “I was done…ready to quit. END IT ALL. And then this post came across my feed. THANK YOU for giving me hope!” September is “National Suicide Prevention Month,” and September 10 has been set aside as “World Suicide Prevention Day.” Test YOUR awareness with these facts from www.suicide.org:
Q: How many people attempt suicide each year in the U.S.?
A: Approximately 750,000.
Q: On average, how often does one person die by suicide somewhere in the world?
A: Every 40 seconds.
Q: Are people who die by suicide weak?
A: No. Most people who die by suicide are very strong, but they have untreated depression. FULL POST
Posted 7/1/16 at 2:50 PM | Welby O'Brien
Independence Day and other patriotic holidays are a blast! Party time! For many. But for others, this “blast” propels them right back into the heat of battle. Physically and emotionally. How ironic and gut wrenching that the very soldiers who sacrificed so we could celebrate our freedom may be the ones who struggle most on this day.
So what can we do to help those who may be veterans, or may have Post-Traumatic Stress from other traumas? And what can those who battle PTSD do to successfully make it through? We cannot delete the day on the calendar, nor should we deny ourselves the privilege of celebrating these events with gratitude (and fun!).
First and foremost, we need to remember that we cannot fix it. Although there are many resources to help PTSD (see www.LoveOurVets.org), it will always be there at some level. Rather, as friends, family and loved ones, it is our privilege to care and support in any way we can.
Some of the typical signs of PTSD might include flashbacks, avoidance, numbing, putting up walls, withdrawing, hyper-vigilance, irritability, easily startled, memory blocks, sudden bursts of anger or other emotions, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, fear, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and other addictive behaviors, difficulty holding a job, relationship problems, and suicidal thoughts or attempts.
If you are new to PTSD, a good place to start is to learn more about it and how it affects those we care about, as well as those of us who love them. The best way I understand it is that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can affect anyone, resulting from exposure to a severe life-threatening trauma. At that moment, the whole person gets locked into emergency mode – fight or flight or freeze survival – which will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Physically, emotionally and mentally. 24/7 they live as if that trauma, crisis or a fatal attack could strike at any moment, overwhelming their ability to cope. When something triggers them, they have no reserve with which to handle it in a healthy way as others might.
The potential triggers this time of year are everywhere. One wife relates: “We were in a department store and they had fireworks blasting away on all the TV’s! Five soldiers hit the floor – along with mine! It took hours to calm him down. People just don’t realize. And it’s not funny.” The crowds that go along with official fireworks displays can also be a source of triggers.
Bottom line? The person needs to feel safe and be safe.
As the wife of a veteran who has struggled with PTSD for over four decades, I like to share from what I am learning personally, as well as from the input of many others (see LOVE OUR VETS: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD). The good news is that many of us are learning and growing successfully in spite of the PTSD. Here are some tips that might help you and those you love to feel safe and be safe on this upcoming holiday:
*Surround yourself with good people, perhaps other veterans or family you know and enjoy.
*Pet lovers – stay close to your furry friends. They don’t like fireworks either!
*Treat your body with good comforts such as a soothing massage, your favorite music, closeness with the one you love, and great food.
*Many find it helpful to leave town, or go somewhere quiet.
*Others turn on loud white noise, watch a good movie, or crank up music to drown out the sounds of the fireworks. Maybe a good pair of earplugs at bedtime.
*Stay sheltered indoors, far away from loud explosions and lights in the sky, and do not even drive that day if you can help it.
*And for the loved ones, you may want to just sit quietly with them, listen when they need to talk, and always respect their space when they need to be alone.
*As you do what you can to help them, NEVER stop living yourself, but do what YOU need and want.
Finally, I encourage all of us to be respectful of those who may be doing all they can to just survive. Then let’s make a point to stop and THANK anyone we know who has served and sacrificed for our freedom, the reason we can celebrate, with or without fireworks.
Welby O’Brien is crazy about her Veteran husband, and together they face the daily challenges of PTSD. Holding a Master’s Degree in counseling from Portland State University and a teaching degree from Biola University, she has authored LOVE OUR VETS: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD (www.LoveOurVets.org), Good-bye for Now (grief support), and Formerly A Wife (divorce support)(WingSpread/Moody). She is also a contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery, Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America, as well as Shepherding Women in Pain (Moody). Welby initiated and continues to facilitate the spouse and family support network known as Love Our Vets – PTSD Family Support, LLC. Join Welby and thousands of others on Facebook: Love Our Vets – PTSD Family Support, LLC on Facebook.
Posted 5/25/16 at 5:22 PM | Welby O'Brien
PTSD Casts Shadow on Memorial Day Celebrations
By Welby O’Brien
More than just another day off and the segue into summer, Memorial Day and other patriotic holidays are a time for reflecting, supporting and giving thanks for the sacrifices our heroes have made for us. However, what looks like a three-day-long weekend of fun, parties and picnics to some, looks like a nightmare to others.
What most people don’t realize is that many of our honored veterans of all ages will continue to sacrifice and struggle for the rest of their lives with the invisible wounds of PTSD.
As many of us know, patriotic holidays can trigger PTSD symptoms in the same way as trauma anniversaries. As I share in the book LOVE OUR VETS: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD, even if our vets don’t realize it, these holidays stir up feelings that may aggravate symptoms of posttraumatic stress. For some, these dates and their nightmarish memories are clear, horrific and devastating. For others, there’s a gloomy fog hanging over them that they just can’t identify. And many of our beloved veterans are plagued with survivor’s guilt – the haunting question of why did I come back alive? These feelings wreak havoc for both the vet and all those around them. Including you and me. FULL POST
Posted 12/2/15 at 2:38 PM | Welby O'Brien
Winter is off to a brutal start this year for many of us. And just the mention of the holidays and the Christmas season can send chills up our spines! Along with guilt because this SHOULD be “the most wonderful time of the year”… or so they say. Add to that the imposed assumption that people of faith should NOT get stressed about anything, let alone one of our most quintessential days of celebration!
Unfortunately, we are human. Christians or not, this can be a very hard time for many. Cold stormy weather, darkness, power outages, holiday hooplas, excessive special events, family stresses, increased financial pressures, painful memories, extra obligations, overloaded schedules, junk food galore, lack of exercise, more crowds, less space, emotional upheavals, etc.
I received a desperate message from a young mother reeling from a recent divorce:
"There’s no way I am going to make it through this year!” FULL POST
Posted 11/9/15 at 11:42 AM | Welby O'Brien
The hottest LONG OVERDUE tribute to Veterans is sweeping the country! Hundreds of thousands are responding to the campaign “Green Light a Vet!” And on our LOVE OUR VETS - PTSD Family Support Facebook page we are also seeing tremendous enthusiasm to this much deserved tribute! (Just one of which is the photo you see here.)
According to the campaign website, “America’s veterans are some of our nation’s bravest, hardest-working men and women. However, it’s hard to show them the appreciation they deserve when, back home and out of uniform, they’re more camouflaged than ever. Greenlight A Vet is a campaign to establish visible national support for our veterans by changing one light to green.”
“Change one light to green in a visible location-on your porch, in your home, or at your office-and keep it glowing every day as a symbol of appreciation and support for our veterans.” FULL POST
Posted 11/2/15 at 10:13 AM | Welby O'Brien
Veterans Day and other patriotic holidays can really catch many people off guard. Ironically, the one day of the year set aside to honor our veterans is often one of the most difficult for many of them. Especially those with PTSD. And the sad thing is that most people do not get it. So how do the millions of those with Posttraumatic Stress and their loved ones best survive this time of year? And how can others convey long-overdue appreciation?
I got a real shock the day I was looking for Veterans Day cards at our huge local super store. Three complete aisles and four end displays of greeting cards, including rows and rows of Halloween cards (that in itself would be another blog another time). Could not find the Veterans Day cards.
So I asked an employee (who had worked there for 15 years). She had not even heard of Veterans Day! What? Excuse me??? FULL POST
Posted 9/16/15 at 10:25 AM | Welby O'Brien
I recently awoke to a comment under one of our Love Our Vets – PTSD Family Support posts. It said, “I was done…ready to quit. END IT ALL. And then this post came across my feed. THANK YOU for giving me hope!” September is “National Suicide Prevention Month,” and September 10th was designated as “World Suicide Prevention Day.” Test YOUR awareness:
1. How many people die by suicide worldwide in a year?
2. On average, how often does one person die by suicide somewhere in the world?
a. Every hour
b. Every minute
c. Every 40 seconds
3. How much have global suicide rates increased since 1970?
According to www.Suicide.org, if you guessed “c” on all three you are correct. If that is not shocking enough, try imagining just ONE of those as YOUR son or daughter or brother or sister or spouse. Or YOU? No one is exempt. FULL POST
Posted 9/1/15 at 9:32 AM | Welby O'Brien
It was bedtime as usual on the night of September 10, 2001. Little did we know that by the next morning, countless Americans would NEVER again be the same! And maybe you and your loved ones are more impacted than you realize.
Since 9-11, an astounding number of people have been afflicted with or re-activated by PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder), a condition that can affect anyone who has been exposed to a traumatic or life-threatening event. It has been described as a “normal reaction to an abnormal event.”
I just received a desperate text from another wife of a veteran who battles PTSD. She said, “Welby, I’m not sure I can handle another 9-11 anniversary. Last year my husband was triggered so badly not only did I think he was going to end up as one of the suicide statistics, but I found myself struggling with PTSD symptoms too and just wanted to run away! Why is it that our warriors are so drawn to war movies, and horrific news, when it actually makes them worse??? He won’t turn off his newsfeed on Facebook, and stays glued to the T.V. and all the replays of the disasters. What am I supposed to do?” FULL POST
Posted 8/11/15 at 10:52 AM | Welby O'Brien
We all wish we had a definitive answer to this age old question! And as the great debate continues, millions (just in the U.S. alone) – along with all their loved ones – struggle with the relentless battles of Posttraumatic Stress. PTSD can affect ANYONE who has been exposed to a traumatic experience, whether or not they served in the military. Is there hope or not?
A brave young veteran recently shared with me that SHE herself has it from Iraq, her FATHER had it from Vietnam, and her GRANDFATHER from WWII. He may have been one of many who was locked up in an asylum and tortured with shock treatment “therapy.” FULL POST
Posted 7/27/15 at 1:44 PM | Welby O'Brien
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is rampant, plaguing millions in the U.S. alone, along with all their loved ones. The urgent need is rapidly rising, and needs to be addressed by churches and ministry leaders.
When my veteran husband and I first started seeing each other, he divulged, “I’ve got PTSD and I’m all screwed up.” Totally clueless, I devoured everything I could get my hands on. I wept for the horrors our trauma survivors have experienced that haunt them day and night. I also learned that it was NOT ME. And I could not fix it. Now years later after much counseling, prayer and support, I thank God for the privilege of loving my warrior and being loved by him. It IS possible to thrive in spite of the PTSD!
From my own life and the input of many others, I’d like to share 10 things that those with PTSD and their loved ones desperately need from those around them. FULL POST