Expect the Unexpected

As a caregiver, we always have to plan and expect the unexpected to occur. No matter the injury, or health challenge two plans have to be in place. You need a safety plan for yourself, and a safety plan for the one whom you are giving care. Let me explain by sharing a personal story.


The night before his Cognitive Processing Therapy appointment's are hard enough, sleep wise, without extra unexpected help. He finally turned off the t.v. at 1:00 a.m. after he had channel surfed for an hour and a half (it doesn't usually take him that long to settle) to try and sleep. I wrapped my arms around him and we were both drifting off to sleep when, he jumped out of bed. He ran to the balcony door, flung it open, and ran outside.


Lo and behold, there was a grown man, stark naked, walking down the middle of the street, yelling and screaming. Three police uni's and one para bus later, the man was taken to the hospital with a two uni escort. We started off back to bed. We finally fell asleep sometime after 4 a.m.


There is no way we could have planned for something like that happening. The unexpected is going to happen. It is important as a family member and caregiver, we accept the fact that the unexpected is going to happen. There are going to be things, incidents, and situations that throw a stick in our spokes. Therefore, it is important that we have a plan for our self, to address our need during these times and a plan for our loved one.


As humans, two of our most basic and greatest needs are sleep and nutrition. It is essential in order to deal with the aftermath of the unexpected and things that will certainly affect our sleep and mood to triage our self and asses our mood. Chances are if your mood is negatively impacted, the one you care for will be too. I can't emphasize enough, that you and your emotions are the barometer for everyone in your home.


It's okay to think in terms of "what do I need?" You don't always have to act on it, but you especially need to think in these terms when the unexpected happens. The more you can to address your needs and maintain a balanced mood in times of crisis, the more likely, your loved one will too. Your loved one will also be more receptive to your help and suggestions you may have for helping them cope and thrive in the aftermath.


Today, we don't have the luxury of sleeping all day while our kiddos are at school, because our older son has a promotion ceremony. However, I am allowing my loved one to sleep in this morning, and I will take a fifteen minute power nap before the ceremony to recharge my batteries. Later, there is a variety of ways we can cope with any mood alterations we face due to our seep being disrupted or the anxiety triggered being pulled out of sleep by a naked, angry, hostile male walking down our street. For me, I will utilize some of our play dough to knead and pound out my release. For my husband, it could video games, playing with the dog, doing some woodworking, painting, etc. The last piece is nutrition. I need to ensure that we both eat a balanced diet to fuel a balanced mental health.


I am not a Doctor or medical professional. Above is something I am learning and learning to practice through my own personal experiences with PTSD and as a supportive spouse. Again, what I am learning: 1) it is important to expect and plan for the unexpected. 2) When the unexpected occurs triage myself and asses what I need in order to cope and help my loved one cope through and after the unexpected. 3) Triage and asses what my loved one needs to help them cope through and after the unexpected.


~Angela Ross

Wives of Veterans With PTSD

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