Are those with an OSI/PTSD the only ones who need support?
Family & Friends need support too
Being the caregiver or support for someone with OSI sometimes means facing battles of your own. Feelings of isolation, lack of support or understanding are common traits often shared among family members. Just as it is important for the person with OSI/PTSD to receive the supports they need to heal, it is equally important for those in a caregiver role to also receive support and resources.
We often hear caregivers say they are not the ones who need support, it is the person with the OSI/PTSD who does. When someone in the family has an injury, the entire family is affected and therefore may need support of their own. Sometimes it's about taking care of yourself so that you have the capacity to help them take care of themselves. We are not suggesting you get help instead of them, however, if they are not yet ready to reach out for support, it may be necessary for you to gain these skills for your own well-being in the hopes they do reach out.
The role of the caregiver is not a singular role as it would be in a clinical setting. The caregiver is also potentially a parent, financial earner, has a home to take care of, and is part of a team when their partner is injured. Even if life before your partner was injured came with fewer points of stress, that has probably changed and responsibilities that were once shared may now be yours alone. That is its own type of stress and comes with understandable struggles.
Getting help for yourself as you help someone else allows you to have the resiliency to withstand the challenges you will all face together as you move through recovery. In recovery, your partner will most likely be able to take back some, all, or different responsibilities as they are healing. However, since this is a time of challenge for EVERYONE involved it is in everyone's best interest (partners, children, teens, family, close friends) to seek out whatever support is right for them whether they have PTSD or not.
Now just to be clear, it is important when considering your own health as a Caregiver, to understand what the other person is going through. OSI/PTSI can occur when a person directly experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. It can also happen with repeated exposure to traumatic events and details as with OSICAN’s target group; military, first responders, 911 dispatchers, corrections, tow truck drivers, and all public safety personnel. But while that person is going through an OSI like PTSD, you as a caregiver cannot ignore what you need as it is just as important for both of your recoveries.
“The spouse or partner of the person with OSI (Operational Stress Injury) is usually the first one to notice a difference in their behaviour or changes in attitude. It is important for them to understand what their loved one is going through, of course, but the most important is for them to get the support they need. This has been a huge missing piece so far. We help give the tools necessary for the self-care they need while being of assistance in the recovery of their loved ones with OSI.”
– Julius Brown, Provincial Director for OSI-CAN
We offer understanding, hope, knowledge, strength and encouragement.
For Further Detail:
Read up on PTSD or OSI in the OSI-CAN Manual
Our family and friend group’s target demographic: The spouses/partners, family members and close friends of former and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Allied Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Frontline Protectors --- which include Municipal Police Services, CN Police Services, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Protection Services, Wildland Firefighters, Hospital Trauma personnel, Nurses, Social Workers, Animal Control Officers, Coroners, Indigenous Emergency Management, Victim Services Personnel, Emergency Communications Specialist, Corrections Officers, “Volunteer” First Responders, Conservation Officers, Aboriginal Emergency Services personnel, Tow Truck drivers who clean up accident scenes and their spouses/partners. This demographic was chosen due to the commonality of experiences they share through the service they provide to the country and community. We have a special interest and support volunteer first responders as they are not eligible for programs such as Workers' Compensation.