Tips for briefing family on what PTSD is

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Policy Enforcement
Hi there

I guess it’s quite a rolling thing, but how do you speak about our condition to the people who are close to you? Are there books or things that you think are better to recommend? In my country PTSD isn’t that much a thing and most people are totally ignorant of it. I remember trying to explain to a friend and she told me I was exaggerating. I’d like to have a way to brief my family too, so far I told them but I could see it made no sense to them. So I thought maybe a book, or a leaflet? Because I feel like I’m nuts when I try to explain what it is.

How did you cope or manage this (when at least a part of your family isn’t responsible of your trauma)?
So I thought maybe a book, or a leaflet? Because I feel like I’m nuts when I try to explain what it is.
Start small... speaking as someone who has been given too many books by well meaning people thay I am neeeeeeever going to read

((for many many reasons; the two most common being that, whilst the author clearly speaks to them? I can’t stand the tone/layout/quality of info/etc & have sources I like far better, easily at my disposal, that I can read in a fraction of the time. Or, 2 it’s a crap resource; mumbo jumbo and bullshit. <<< That will be many people’s response to just about any genre of source. Academic, religious, layperson, professional, doesn’t matter. If it totally misses the target? It totally misses the target. >>> Which has the exact opposite effect the person giving the book wants. Instead of bringing someone up to speed? It just makes them far more concerned (that you’re taking any of this BS seriously), and far less likely to listen to anything you yourself have to say or ask for.))

Pamphlets, on the other hand, no one expects to be perfect. They’re starting points, to continue your own research (or not) in your own style and time. Pamphlets annoy just about everyone equally.

How did you cope or manage this (when at least a part of your family isn’t responsible of your trauma)?
I don’t. No one in my family is looped into my trauma history, or my diagnosis. I’m just me.
Yay, well. Mine I find have sort of breadcrumbs of trauma that developed in anxiety but they’re super scared by medication and all, especially sedatives. I can get it, but frankly if I hadn’t had them in the acute phase my state would be so much worse.

I parsed a few books and indeed it’s full of that condescending tone and it might trigger everyone by making them alert to symptoms I have not. For the few next months I might be in close contact to my family who has this skeptical relationship towards psychiatry or even therapy in general. Basically when I left my DV relationship, that was crossing several borders and leaving everything behind, several times. So now the mission is to find a good place, not too expensive and all, and go through the work doctors who will assess my capacity or incapacity to work. In that timeframe, I guess I’ll be at a uncle’s house, as he’s suggested. But I’d like them to understand the damn thing a bit better than being scared by it. My symptoms are mild and under control. And I want to heal. I just would like them to understand that yes I can blank out, go unresponsive or super pissed.

I don’t really want them to be involved in anything therapeutic, this I have my plans, I just want them to know they can keep cool and not freak out, even if I’m not okay. And especially not pressuring me because that will make me go awol. Boundaries making and all the stuff. I hope they’ll get it.

Bah I guess it’s more about educating them about myself more than about PTSD. I’ve heard of some people even write their own manuals. Don’t really know what to think of that.
Just to be clear? I’m NOT saying “don’t tell your family”. Family can be an awesome avenue of strength and support. I just don’t tell my family. Because it wouldn’t benefit any of us. For others, it might be a huge benefit. Or 6 of 1 half a dozen of another.
What I understood is that you don’t really go along the books. 😆 I told them I had CPTSD, it’s just they don’t know what it entails. Here I get in the muddy waters!
I would struggle describing ptsd and am hesitant even replying here but (takes a deep breath) mentioning, flashbacks, fear, thought ruminations, intrusive thoughts about the past, anxiety over certain situations, hyper vigilance because of past experiences. High levels of stress. I've only one book by Pete walker.
I remember when my mum told me she had been diagnosed with Microscopic Polyangitis, my first question was "What the hell is that!?"

I definitely didn't mean "Do you have any reading materials or literature that you can refer me to because I want/need all the details of your health condition".

What I meant was: can you give me a rough overview in a few short sentences, and tell me any key details (eg. she needed chemo, or else she was going to lose her kidney that works precisely? Is still a mystery to me - I don't need to understand that kind of detail to support her, and frankly, I wouldn't understand even if she tried to explain it, or had excellent literature that she could refer me to, because, having Googled it, it's pretty complicated).

I take much the same approach when telling people about my ptsd. They don't want, or need, much information. Microscopic polyangitis is a complex condition that can impact many of the body's organs, but for my mum? The big impact of the condition on her personally was that (a) it was impacting her kidney function the most, and that was really serious; and (b) she needed chemo for it, which having told me about, I could help get her through it. Realistically, I ended up needing to know more about chemotherapy than the illness she had.

There's a whole heap about ptsd that doesn't impact me much. There's some things that impact me a lot. There's some things that it's helpful for certain people in my life to know about. So when I tell someone I have ptsd, I base what I'm telling them on "What do I want them to do with this information?"

For example, I told my boxing instructor "I have ptsd, so I have reeeeally bad concentration". I need him to know that, so that when we're training, he keeps the instructions short and simple, and repeats them regularly. I haven't bothered to explain that it's because I dissociate. He doesn't know what dissociation is, and tbh, he doesn't need to know, nor does he need to care.

With my mum? "I have ptsd, so I find places like shopping centres too stressful to deal with". Because I need her to know that when I catch up with her, we can go to the local nursery to pick out plants, but we can't go to the shopping centre for lunch. There's overlapping reasons I can't go to shopping centres, which aren't relevant, and which I can't succinctly explain. The important thing for my mum to know? Is simply that I can't do shopping centres.

If I tell someone and they want to know more? They'll google it. They really will. That's how people get their info on stuff they're curious about. If they're sensible? They'll visit websites of reliable mental health information (which are abundant, and summarise ptsd far better than I ever will!!).

So, for me, what I tell someone is always about "What do I want them to do with this information?" That makes it pretty easy for me to navigate what I tell them, and if I can't think of anything that I want them to do with the information? Then most likely they don't need to know.
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I've found that my people are not really interested in learning about ptsd -- they are interested in learning about what my responses and actions are because of ptsd...if that makes sense? So - they dont care as much WHY I run as much as they care about knowing whats going to make me run. For example, football is a huge trigger for me. Most of my supporters know that football and ptsd are linked, so they understand that I walk out of the room if I can and that under no circumstance will I attend a football game with them. So the action (football is a nogo) is where we put our attention.

January? I"m totally batshit crazy the whole month. Everyone knows it is because of my ptsd. Nuff said. Put some rules in place, say it's ptsd related and poof! They have the info they want. Do they want to know details of what made me this way? Sure, sometimes. But they also know that while I may give them some easy examples there are many things I just wont tell them

Like @Sideways said -- if they want to know more they can find it without my help.
Unless I've been dragged off a battlefield missing limbs people don't look at me as someone who could have PTSD. Most people think you have to be Lt. Dan off Forrest Gump before you earn "PTSD" recognition. That seems to include my family and friends. Often they seem alarmed or frightened when I describe or venture into my PTSD. I don't know if most people are equipped to understand this illness unless they have it.
Rather than search for the rare compassionate soul (good luck), I find that the only people that really care or relate are those in the PTSD community. Wherever you may find that to be. Here is the best I've found.
My family and friends don't really relate, don't really understand, and sometimes are, or have been, part of the problem. And in some cases it's kind of like trying to teach a dog Mandarin Chinese. I often don't understand it well enough to explain it and they really don't think i could really have it, and why don't you just get rid of it, blah blah..... Have you ever seen that look on a dog when they're telling you you're "CRAAAAZY"? I don't like being looked at like that.
Part of my PTSD is the separation it creates between myself and family and loved ones. I say "myself" because I can't speak for you or others - I am not a clinical psych.
Understanding my PTSD; my triggers; discussing it here; listening and learning - it teaches me that there is hope, people who overcome, people who improve, there are great triumphs, happy moments, sorrows.....etc etc. There is no book written that is about me. There is no prescribed path that I have to follow - it is written as I travel. I have to learn from my damaged heart and psyche what little voices inside there are that I need to listen to to write the next chapter in my book. Very very important is that I be patient, understanding, and forgiving of myself. I work on me - and what the family needs to understand about me and my illness seems to take care of itself. I have to let my anxieties about that go and trust that they will learn or absorb facts about my PTSD as time and life allows them to.
If, and when, the time and need arises, I venture down that path and sparingly teach my family a little of that Mandarin Chinese. Usually we look at each other and go on like nothing happened. Then I come here and I read. And most days that is all good.
It is an illness. It is real. Very real. YOU need to understand that. You DON'T HAVE to justify it. Gently, over time, explain little bits and pieces to them. Plant the seeds. It's up to them to nurture them.
On an outing last week I a bit of a meltdown in front of them, not purposely by any means, it just happened . As it turned out, they learned more about my PTSD from that incident than all the explaining I have done to them.

Past that its almost impossible for anyone, even my wife of 34 years who is working from home, where I am, to understand what it is like for me day to day.

That's why I'm here. I read posts that sounded like me, like people who can't get what is in their head to come out on their keyboard. I read kindness, understanding and help to people, community. I realized my understanding is here.

What I need from my family is love and acceptance for who I am.
That's why I'm here. I read posts that sounded like me, like people who can't get what is in their head to come out on their keyboard. I read kindness, understanding and help to people, community. I realized my understanding is here.
exactly! I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't found this site. It's the one place I can come and people just get it.
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