Jankov Kynev is a fictional character from my writing. He is dealing with a wife who battles PTSD. As a caregiver, he has to know more about her, than she knows about herself at times. Before I developed his character, I gave him a set of rules for handling his wife, Stephanie. These rules are specific to her personality as well as how she copes with her PTSD. I’d like to lay out these rules but first I would like to say that while these rules are written in a humorous manner there is a more serious reason behind all of them, which I will also explain in this post.
- Don’t argue or yell at Stephanie – the more you argue the more aggressive she becomes. It’s okay to be passive aggressive and shut down any reason she could give in an argument, that works for her. Just do it calmly.
- Don’t walk behind her in her blind spot and surprise her. – You are likely to trigger a flashback of some sort and she may panic. (See rule 3)
- Do distract her – Panic attacks are one of the signs she’s not okay. Distract her, get her to think about something other than what’s got her stress level so high. (Generally used in conjunction with rule 6 but follow up with rule 4)
- Do make her talk – she will not want to talk, and she will fight it every step of the way. At the same time don’t make her talk on your time, let her talk on her own time and be gentle with her. (See rule 1)
- Don’t judge her for crying – Don’t sympathize with her. Don’t call her out on her crying, she hates that and it upsets her more. In fact, just don’t even mention the tears even if it’s to tell her it is OKAY to cry. Just don’t do it. (see rule 9)
- Do remind her that you aren’t going to give up on her – So many people have done so. (Synonymous with rule 7)
- Do keep your promises – she keeps hers even if it hurts her to do so. Return the favor it goes a long way. (Keep in mind rule 6 will be taken as a promise)
- Do know she will lie – Usually it’s to cover up something painful. Don’t chastise her for lying when she cops up to it, she’s already going to feel bad enough about it as it is.
- Do play with her hair – It’s comforting to her, it’s okay to hug her and play with her hair (Even with rule 5 in effect)
- Don’t chase her if she runs, unless you can keep up with her – if you can catch up, don’t let her run herself into danger. (remember rule 2 still applies)
- This is not specific to a raised voice. This rule pertains to becoming angry and belittling her. Aggression is one of Stephanie’s coping mechanism and giving her anything to fuel the anger is detrimental more than helpful to someone dealing with PTSD.
- Stephanie’s trauma leads to this being a trigger for her.
- Distractions to take someone out of the panic should be kept simple. In Stephanie’s case, she can usually be distracted by her dog.
- This pertains more to her personality and how she deals with things than it does any specifics to PTSD in general. Though having someone to listen helps a survivor thrive.
- No one likes being judged and this while part of her character personality is designed to show the fear and stigma of being judged that so many survivors go through.
- Also, lends itself to the character but I included it so that rules three could be put more into perspective.
- This one also deals with the characters personality and history.
- Coping mechanism specific to the character itself. This was built on the basis that the memory of someone coping with PTSD is not always clear. They may not remember something, it comes back in bits and pieces and occasionally disjointed. Sometimes the memories are altered completely. This is by no means suggesting that someone coping with PTSD is a liar, but I wanted to show from an outsider’s perspective what people stigmatize and need to stop believing.
- Everyone has different things that keep their mind settled and focused. This serves as both a comfort and a distraction.
- Fight or flight response – Stephanie just happens to be a fast runner.
When creating these characters I wanted to give outside perspective as well as inside perspective and emotional thoughts and feelings.