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PTSD and Holiday Season Triggers

This week I decided since it was almost Halloween that I ought to get out my Halloween stuff out and see what I have so I can decorate before the day completely passes me by. Not that the kids would allow that….

I pulled out the totes I had in the garage marked “Halloween” and realized I didn’t have much at all. Perfect excuse to go shopping right? To my surprise when I got there, I think there was more Christmas décor than Halloween, and it isn’t even Halloween yet. I had a mini meltdown right there in the aisle. I am NOT ready for all that. The holidays are supposed to be an enjoyable time spent with friends and family, but in all honesty, PTSD and holidays don’t always mix well together.

My husband is not the greatest at showing positive emotions, so instead of being able to make the stress worth it in his mind like it is in mine, it just causes him to get more angry and frustrated, and want to hide out. We are learning slowly how to deal with all this. We don’t travel during the holidays; way too many people to encounter. Instead, we open our door for friends and family to come to us so that if my husband gets uncomfortable he is in his own environment. He has even been known to disappear until everyone is gone. While that is an option, I certainly do not encourage it. I am very open and honest with those who choose to come over about things that tend to trigger him, and what his limits are just in case an issue was to arise. I don’t make my husband go shopping with me. Instead, we shop online and decide what gifts to get as a team, and then I go out and get them, or we just order them.

We choose to watch parades on TV as opposed to going to them, and we stick to our normal routine as much as possible so there is no adjustment period before and after the holidays. It might sound boring to some, but having our own traditions gives him something to look forward to, and sometimes just having them is all he needs. We pick and choose which other events to attend (if any) by carefully weighing the options. We ask ourselves if environmental triggers will be present. What will the crowd be like? Will they understand if there is an episode? What about an escape plan?

I know it sounds a bit ridiculous, but this is our life, as real as it gets. We have lost a lot of friends, and even some family members have chosen to distance themselves from us because of the these things, but in the long run we are better for it. We have been given a unique perspective, we no longer take all this for granted and that is a beautiful gift in itself. For those of you who are living with, or have a loved one living with PTSD, what things have you found to help you get through the holidays?

About Kristle

Kristle Helmuth is a 26 year-old Army veteran, wife of a wounded warrior, and mother of two children. She is currently working toward her B.S in Communications and digital media. Kristle is the author of http://www.forgetthedognotthebaby.com, a blog that chronicles her journey through healing and self-discovery. Kristle has used her broad skill-set to increase awareness of the issues facing our nations wounded heroes, share resources, and provide hope for Military Families. Kristle is always there to offer support, encouraging words, and a kind open heart to all Military Spouses.