Welcome back to the second installment of Firewives Guide to PTSD. Today, I'm going to discuss the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As Firewives, we may not be on the front lines, so to speak, but no one is better placed to spot and help a firefighter in need.
PTSD symptoms tend to fall into 3 categories.
1. Re-living the Traumatic Event(s) – This can include: flashbacks (feeling as though you are living through the event again), nightmares or night terrors, intense feelings of anxiety or distress when reminded of the event (often called triggers), physical responses such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, nausea, or breathlessness.
2. Avoidance and Numbing – This is can include: a complete of avoidance of anything (places, people, movies, etc.) that remind you of the event, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, feeling completely detached from others (including spouses), extreme distrust, a sense of being emotionally numb or a feeling of impending doom.
3. Hyperarousal– Also called hypervigilence, this can include: a constant feeling of being on alert for danger, sudden and intense outbursts of anger (rages), irritability, inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, or trouble concentrating.
Other potentially dangerous conditions frequently associated with PTSD include: substance abuse, depression, chronic pain, self harm, and suicide.
The symptoms of PTSD can be as varied as the individuals experiencing it. It can include many of these symptoms or just a few. If you suspect your firefighter is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, find help. Contact your FD, union or the IAFF to find out what resources are available to you. Many are low cost or free of charge.
I'm going to let y'all in on a little something. This isn't just a topic to research and write about for me. It's personal. I love a survivor and PTSD sufferer. My firefighter and I have walked some long dark roads and weathered some terrible storms, but we are still here, together. I've learned that love is stronger than any other emotion. So, ladies, love your firefighter and hang on. Love saves lives.
Other articles in the series:
Firewives Guide to PTSD – How to Talk to Your Firefighter
Firewives Guide to PTSD – Treatment Options
Your last line “love your firefighter and hang on” that is the most powerful. That spoke volumes to me. So many get frustrated with those suffering from PTSD and/or depression and write them off. Dont. Hang on…. you’ll make it through to the other side. Hugs and love to you.
This is the hardest right now…. we are extremely new to all this PTSD stuff and honestly ,I don’t know how to deal with it. I feel like some days it is all about his world and this FD…. How do I get past this and learn to communicate with him before it destroys our marriage ….
Are you both in counseling Miranda? It’s crucial you get the help so you can help him and still be healthy yourself.
can I directly email you … not sure about the blog thing
absolutely! val @ wifebehindthefire.com
I agree. Love heals. Hubby went through a traumatic experience when we first started dating and his daughter was an infant. He responded to a wreck where a toddler was killed because her carseat failed. It was pretty awful for him.
The little one’s are always the worst. Our buddy was having a big issue a few years ago. Thankfully his girlfriend talked to me about it and I could pass the word on that he needed some help. He hadn’t been debriefed. Since he’d been in for a few years no one knew that he’d never been on a child fatality before. He was associating it with my son and some issues we’d had come up. It sure takes a village!
My firefighter and I do walk some long dark roads full of pain a lot but in the end I tell him often everyday that I love him and I’m still here. I do my best at trying to catch the triggers before they happen and then try to ease him into them, but there are those times that it comes out of nowhere it seems. Thanks for all your advice. I don’t feel so alone in this fight.
Sorry for your battle Cynthia. I’m glad you are able to figure out ways to make it a little more comfortable for both of you.