PTSD and Relationships

60secThere are plenty of resources that address the many dynamics of how PTSD affects intimacy when it comes to relationships. What we hear from all the different PTSD communities though, is there aren’t very many places to turn to for actual day-to-day realistic ideas. Well here you go. Our “What Can Be Accomplished In 60 Seconds” is what you’re looking for.




There are cruel twists for many that leave us, or our partners, genuinely struggling to extend even minor acts or expressions of the heart. For some that’s rooted in medical or physical conditions, for others it’s a matter of emotional trauma taking a toll, and for some the struggle is grounded in how well their physical brain is capable of actually cooperating with the heart.

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A thank you to Nurses, Docs and Midwives

This past week, ZARZAND had the privelege of being invited to address a gathering of some of the NW’s finest Neonatal Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Doctors and Midwives who came together in order to discuss the care of our nations more fragile infants and their families. ZZ addressed several obstacles faced by drug affected infants as they mature, that to include their relationships. It was an honor to also be able to support and share some encouragement with the hundreds of attending professionals in juggling and prioritizing their personal relationships at home. A major shout out to these circles, we have a huge amount of respect for you.

The Day After: Here Is What You Can Do!


Yesterday’s bombing in Boston changed many lives. Someone made a decision that-without asking permission to sign them up-made no small number of people official members in a lot of “clubs.”


The “club” for people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and their partners just grew.


The “club” for individuals who will struggle with ongoing depression and their partners just grew.


The “club” for those who must now learn to live without a limb and who will need prosthetic devices and their partners just grew.


The “club” for people who now need wheelchairs, house modifications, accessible vans, lifts, and ramps to access their homes as well as the homes of friends & family and their partners just grew.


The “club” for individuals whose private, intimate body parts were lost or altered and their partners just grew.


The “club” for people diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) who can no longer think or process at the same level as they did prior to yesterday and their partners just grew.


The “club” for couples where one member was elevated to the position of caretaker just grew.


The “club” for those who’ve been widowed just grew.


The “club” for parents who’ve lost a child just grew.


The “club” for first responders, counselors, social workers, pastors, other faith leaders, and everyone who provides official care to those in need and then burn out and become unemployed and their partners just grew.


The list goes on. Again, they’re not groups for which anyone opted to seek membership. They’re not familiar with others who may be in them. They may not know how to connect with anyone else in them. They may fight wanting to socialize with anyone in them.


Are you asking what you can do to help those impacted by the blasts? Are you a member of one of these groups at any level? Could you consider offering them company, counsel, empathy, encouragement – even if how they got their membership card is different from how you did? Step up! What you know is valuable. What you may be able to offer could make a HUGE difference in how their path can look verses how yours maybe did. If you GET what they’re going through on any level, step up!

Fort Hood, a little perspective.

From this widow’s perspective…

My husband lost his battle with his disease and has been gone now for a little over nine years. Nine very long, very short years during which I’ve had some exceptional friends.


Kelly, you let me joke with you about your still having a sex life. I can make humorous comments to you or tease you about “getting some” and my not “getting any,” and you know just when to laugh with me, and when to just say, “Yeah,” when every so often in the midst of our laughing I say how much I miss it. And you don’t shut either of those moments down.




Kimi, you and I have this accountability pact and I count on it. You have no problem throwing down Larry’s name when you think it’s worth using to call me on the carpet in an arena where you say LARRY WOULD NEVER let you….  You remind me to not think as a single just because I am.  And you knew him so well. I love that. (most of the time at least lol)


Maryl, you still talk about Larry with me. You use his name. You don’t walk around always concerned that mentioning him might make my eyes water, or yours. Its been 9 years and you never assumed I needed a break from hearing his name.


Suecito, even though we rarely get time together, you have so graciously allowed me to crawl into your husband’s arms when I just need a hug that I can fall apart or rest in. If the hug lasts for more than five seconds, it endears your husband to you, and blesses you for my sake. It says SO much about your marriage.


Louetta, you lived years and years as a widow too, and you affirmed in me the fact that I am perfectly fine not dating and that telling people I have no desire to date isn’t a commentary about me or the men in my world, or a poor reflection on my last marriage. AND THEN, you had the balls to let those same convictions change in your heart and world for yourself without letting anyone question if you’d been being honest about all those years prior. You fell in love again and you let that be okay too without letting it change your tune towards me.


Jorja, you’re that someone I can sit with at weddings or hang next to at social events who doesn’t feel compelled to talk to me about my future.  You offer to go to memorials services with me without judging, second-guessing or commenting on how I should or shouldn’t be. You bring Kleenex for me, and you hand me your used tissues just when you think I may be loosing it to help me gain control if I want. Both help.


And Queen Lynn, THANK YOU for being who I give myself when I don’t like myself or my life or my outlook. You are the Queen of my new normal, over and over and over again. Its nice having someone who laughs at me.

PTSD and Incontinence

by Guest Writer


alone in darkness


There are a handful of aspects of PTSD that are rarely if ever, discussed. Though it is not a symptom that everyone in the PTSD community faces, arguably, one of the biggest can be our inability to maintain bladder control.


I am a combat veteran, a seasoned EMT, and most importantly; I am a survivor.


I remember losing control of my bladder during a horrific nightmare about a year ago. I had a girlfriend at the time, her little girl who often joined us under the cover of night, and a puppy that slept at the end of the bed. I shot up from that nightmare similar to the others that I had suffered from, but never having the feeling and emotion that I did sitting up, realizing what had just happened.


In fact, I don’t believe that there was ever a time where I wished that I had not returned from the Middle East, more than in that moment. There was so much emotion and fear from my night terrors that it was hard to imagine how it could be any worse; and yet in that instant, this new reality made it far worse.


That’s when my girlfriend woke up, the bed wet with urine, and an impending PTSD “moment” that I was not wanting to address at 3am. I did the first thing I could think of. I blamed the dog. I had never felt more shallow than I had right there. But it had to happen a few more times, before I accepted the realization that I had a problem, and that it was not the dog, who no longer was allowed on the bed.


Incontinence series quote 1


I didn’t know how to deal with it. This was not something that you talk about, even with your loved ones. So as with many of my other PTSD symptoms through the years, I bottled it up and withdrew, just hoping that it wouldn’t happen again.


This was not only ineffective, but damaging to the progress that I had made in my treatment. I began to rationalize it so I could have a better understanding as to why this was happening. Think about your trauma and the effects it has on your body. Those symptoms of fear that we experience are very much a part of the sympathetic response, better known as fight or flight. One of the symptoms of a sympathetic response is the release of urine.


So…what’s this mean? It means that your body is doing exactly what it is suppose to do, and that is a good thing. As with other avenues of treatment, the incontinence is not the issue, its what is causing it.


Talk with your doctor. While it is your discretion as to whether you want to discuss this with others, a doctor can help you work out your fears and hopefully mitigate those fears and nightmares that cause the sympathetic response.


You can help yourself by using those grounding techniques that you have learned in other situations. The soft music, activities that calm the nerves, meditation, yoga, exercise, and breathing techniques can all help in calming those brain waves that cause the problem in the first place.


In my case; I had to stop blaming the dog, or anyone else for that matter. This is not something that gets assigned blame. That kind of behavior and rationale is what prevents it from getting better. As with so many problems, knowing there is one is the first step.


Tell your loved ones; especially those you share a sleeping space with. Chances are good that we have this built up in our heads to be a major meltdown scene, but it is more than likely going to help you cope and eliminate the fear of doing it. In fact, the fear of incontinence and getting caught often contributed to the accident.


You are not alone and this is an issue that is common. You are a survivor, a warrior, and symbol of strength. You will continue to be, even after this. Reach out. There are many people in PTSD awareness groups that will listen. Utilize your resources and carry on! We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for.



Intimacy Is Not Reserved For Perfect People…

Guest Writer Kail Walker

Kails Collage-1

“I love you anyway…..”  That is a message that many of us struggle to hear when we encounter it.  Our ability to experience intimacy with others is directly linked to our ability to believe that we are someone worth being intimate with.  Unfortunately, too many of us maintain a carefully groomed list of the reasons why we don’t qualify as a partner.  The specifics of those lists differ from person to person but certain themes are common: guilt we carry from our past, our perceived limitations as a lover, and the harsh words spoken by others that we have we come to believe as truths about who we are.


So what do we do with our list when someone in our lives decides to take a chance on us and love us in spite of our flaws and our scars?  How do we respond when someone tells us, “I love you anyway”?  The answer is we try.  We try to set our list aside and don’t argue our eligibility.  We try to get out of the way and let them. Perhaps slowly and just a little bit at a time, but we try.


The fact of the matter is that our lists have lied to us.  Our lists have told us that the trauma, the scars, and the hurt that we have been subjected to set us apart from the rest of humanity.  The fact of the matter is that nothing could be further from the truth.  To be human is to be broken.  If there is one single trait that unites all of mankind it is that we are all, every one last one of us, damaged goods.  Some might read this statement as discouraging but it is not – it is freeing.  If we understand that there is no standard, no prerequisite of perfection, for us to qualify to be worthy of love and affection then we come to understand the reality of the situation:  we are damaged, broken, and hurt and so is everyone else.  This includes the person reaching out to us and saying, “I love you anyway.”


This is the real, honest truth:  the people who are reaching out to us are damaged too.  Their experiences may not be mirror images of our own but that doesn’t change the fact that life has taken a toll on them as well.  We need to realize that when we cut ourselves off from intimacy we are hurting those who are trying to care for us even more than we are hurting ourselves.  We may think that we are saving them from the inevitable disappointment of finding out how screwed up we really are, but what we are actually communicating is that we don’t trust them to see who we are and not run away.  With that in mind, let us call a spade a spade – do we really think that they don’t already know?  Few of us are very good at hiding the truth about our wounds no matter how hard we try.  If someone has been around us enough to care for us and want to reach out then they probably have some idea that we are flawed, hurting, and need to heal; just like them.


Intimacy is not reserved for perfect people in perfect circumstances because those people simply don’t exist.  Instead, intimacy belongs to those who share their struggles with others.  Intimacy is experienced by those of us who are messed up but still allow themselves to care and be cared for by other imperfect people.  True intimacy is a process of growing and overcoming together. 



Given the amount of time and energy that most of us have dedicated to collecting our list of shortcomings it is unreasonable to expect the influence of our lists to disappear in an instant.  That being said, we absolutely must believe that it is possible and it is attainable to live beyond our lists.  By lettings others take a chance on us, we take a chance on them, and we take a chance on ourselves. A little at a time, step by step, we begin to become more than our hurt and our list stops ruling our lives.  As that happens, isolation is replaced by freedom, connection, and intimacy.

For Caregivers: How do I bring the intimacy back.

I’d been married for a few weeks when my husband and I made a trip to visit his parents up North. We loaded the car with his wheelchair, the o2 tank & nebulizer and no small amount of meds and off we went. As his folks showed me around their ranch, a place Larry had done a lot of growing up at, including hearing his Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, I was genuinely enjoying hearing the stories and looking at some truly beautiful scenery.


Because his chair couldn’t make it around the whole spread, Pops and I explored for a while on our own. That’s when he turned to me and looking me straight in the eye asked, “My son’s a great guy, but I know he can’t be intimate with you. So why did you marry him?”


And there it was, point blank thrown down in as black and white a question as anyone would ever pose it to me over time (and more than one person did…).


I had an already rehearsed response because Larry and I had shared the same conversation. We had come to a mutual understanding prior to our agreeing we wanted to be Mr & Mrs. And we would have it again, and again, and again before his passing.


Intimacy would be his agreeing to kiss no less than 10 places on me good night every night before we went to sleep. Even if I had to bring what parts he asked me to into reach as his body continued to loose mobility.


Intimacy would be my lovingly touching his more private parts even when he could no longer feel me doing so, and me talking sensually to him about why I loved those parts. Why I was glad to be allowed to interact with those parts.


Intimacy would be his making up romance stories where he and I were the main characters and without pretending away our details, he would one chapter at a time, spin wild and wonderful tales of our love life happening all over the world or in some novel place somewhere in our local area.


I had to explain to my new father-in-law that romance and intimacy might not include sexual intercourse, but that the word intimacy and what all it could or should entail was ours to define and live up. Yes, I was now his caregiver as well as his wife, but THAT was a two way street. He would promise to take care of me just as surely as I was taking care of him. That we had agreed that had to include the bedroom and our sexual needs. Even if we didn’t know what that commitment would fully entail straight off the bat.


Over time, because circumstances necessitated it, we had to rescript what all that would require. And some days, we had to come back together and revamp A LOT… Kick ourselves back into gear.


Intimacy is each person agreeing to pay attention to stroking the emotional parts of your partner. It may mean some revamping of what romance and your more private times and needs have to look like. But revamp. If you want to rekindle, revamp. Make it clear to yourselves that it’s a matter of declaring that THAT part of you being a couple GETS to matter. And it’s not a matter of sexual stimulation as much as it’s emotional stimulation. Gosh knows it can certainly intertwine. Even if it’s that’s just one of your facts and not both partners.


But the EMOTIONAL stimulation is what carries true intimacy, and that’s always a two way street. No medication needed to get THAT up or aroused, just a decision to say I’m going to take the time to remind you that I’m thrilled to be allowed to touch you and your heart in a way that solely is mine to do. And it’s a privilege I choose to take seriously and with pleasure.




Steffany Baker

President & Co-Founder ZARZAND Inc.


ZARZAND is a one of a kind website dedicated to addressing several of the unique needs experienced by millions of singles and couples whose relationship, romance & intimacy lives deserve to be acknowledged as “more complicated.” By combining the experiences and inspirations of multiple individuals and groups who up until now have addressed their people’s needs only within their inner circles, ZARZAND is creating a new community that allows for:


  • Exchange of solutions already working for those who share similar dynamics to their struggles with relationships, romance & intimacy but who’ve had no catalyst or opportunity to interact until ZARZAND’s formation.


  • Brainstorming new ideas that will make dating & romancing less complicated for those who’ve been unable to find resources even within their own circles of peers or organizations. REAL day-to-day activities modified on multiple levels to be clear, uncomplicated and financially realistic, while STILL being both reality based & romantic.


  • Supporting professionals and organizations working daily to meet the medical, emotional and informational needs of it’s focus group, but who often find it equally as difficult and frustrating to find material to help satisfy their clients requests for MORE resources.



We’re committed to being all of this, and more.