Friday, July 23, 2010

Magic 8 Ball of PTSD

I got this email yesterday and it somewhat bothered me. I felt it was important enough to share with you all because of my answer. 

"Dear USM, I have been following your blog for some time now and I have to say it really hits home. I find myself hoping you will write every day because it feels like you are the only person who understands the life we live with our PTSD soldiers. My family does not understand and my friends think I should just leave my husband and forget about it. Some days your blog is like reading my life on screen. I wanted to thank you for providing answers and for your strength as it is giving me the motive to keep pushing on. I wish I had the strength and courage you have in dealing with all of this and hope one day I can find the same peace. Bless you for bearing it all. " ~Anonymous

As promised, I left your name off and with your permission I will write this response to your lovely email.  I do write from the heart and try to bear it all because I know there is someone looking for the same things I am writing about and not finding it. Sex, infidelity, lack of romance, being the proverbial punching bag and the list could go on are items that the Mayo Clinic's definition of PTSD did not have. I write it out because that is the only way I can get it off my chest and find some comfort knowing that there are others out there who are going through the same thing. Finding spouses close by who are dealing with the same issues is not an option for me because around here, its as if the word PTSD is suddenly interpreted as Leprosy. I really didn't have many options for help for myself and really never thought anyone would read my blog!

I am not as strong and as courageous as you think I am. There are days where I really want to sit down in the middle of the floor and contemplate my options for walking away from my husband and never look back. There are days where I am so freaking down in the dumps all I can do is cry. Other days I am so mad I can't see straight and wish that my husband wasn't like he is because I need a rock in my life. Occasionally the comments of "I didn't sign up for this shit" is uttered under my breath and "I can't do this by myself" is repeated in my head over and over again. "This isn't fair. What have I done to be punished like this?" is a regular comment when I am in the self-pity mood.

It helps me because I do see a therapist and I read everything I can get my hands on like I have some stupid addiction to PTSD. I find that the more knowledge I have, the more I have to fight PTSD and help my husband. The more I know about PTSD, the more understanding I have because I promise you, two years ago I was ready to throw in the towel. There are days Anonymous, where nothing I have read in books, or advice given to me helps in any way. There are days where all I can do is batten down the hatches and hope that this storm passes. I have moments where a bottle of wine can't pacify my sorrow over my losses for my family and there isn't enough anti-depressants to mask the depression I sometimes fight.

I try not to administer advice and I always remind everyone that I am not a professional or counselor. I just simply call it as I see it in my perspective and in my experiences with my husband. Some of it I have learned after the fact because I made mistakes and don't want anyone else to do the same. Some of it comes from reading and studying and some of it comes from just my intuition as a woman. Most of the time when I get emails, its like I must pick up a Magic 8 Ball and shake hoping that the answers suddenly pop up. Occasionally an email or comment will pop up on either or blogs and I must re-read it a thousand times before I can get the first word typed back in response.

I don't want anyone to think of me as courageous, strong or that I have all the answers because the truth is, I really am not nor do I know it all. I would not want to disappoint anyone or let them down, or have someone come back and say "it may have worked for you but it didn't for me!" I can only state what we are going through as a family, what my husband endures daily and what I am going through as the spouse and main caregiver for the whole lot of them in my family. If anything comes from this, its the strength I get from knowing there are many more out there besides me. It's the bond that is naturally set up when someone comments and says "I have been there and done that".  I would not want anyone to get the false impression that I am some PTSD guru because I have never claimed to be and just like all of us, I hurt every day and feel the pains of PTSD.

I wish I did have all the answers because then PTSD within our Vets and soldiers could possibly disappear with an easy fix. I wish there was a penicillin on the market that could cure it within 5-7 days. All I can do is be honest and tell it like it is, and hope that someone finds solace in that. Am I at peace? No and nor will I ever be at peace with our situation. I wish I could say that I was but I am not saint and there will be days where I really just want to scream and give up. There are days where I resent my husband for giving up on all of us.

I guess what I am trying to say is, Anonymous, is that you are finding your own strength. It doesn't come from a blog or from me, it dwells deep down inside of you. I don't have all the answers or advice, but our situations are somewhat similar so I can empathize. This way we can find comfort in each other and build a friendship, even if a virtual one.  I don't want you to give me credit for giving your strength or motive because you have had that within you all along. You just found a way to pull it out from you. I appreciate you reading my blog and hope you will continue to do so. Thank you so much for the beautiful email and for the kind words of support. I am learning just the same as all of step at a time and day by day. It is all we can do and I hope that we all can find comfort and be at peace. Blessings and hugs to you.

   Wishing I had a Magic 8 Ball,


  1. I concur with anonymous! I feel totally "at home" here (mind if I put my feet up?).


  2. Thanks USM

    Everything you have written is spot on as usual. It DOES make a difference to know we are not alone, even if we will never meet each other IRL.
    The excessive spending, infidelity, alcoholism, constant cursing and blaming and major shift in the bedroom, and now, huge weight gain and lack of motivation, to name a few have always been difficult and confusing, but what made matters worse was the lack of understanding of those who love me.

    They want to see me something besides miserable, so they try to convince me that my husband was always this way, I just did not know him well enough before OEF and OIF (not true, 6 year relationship prior to combat) and that I need to leave him like yesterday.

    I have instead detached with love and have begun focus on myself to improve my own mental health and wellness so I can fulfill all of my hopes and dreams on my own, but still at his side and cheering him on as he chooses life, even if it is a long hard wait.

  3. I agree it is very lonely and the family def. has never understood. It breaks my heart that you all are going through this. It is exhausting mentally and emotionally. It never seems to end but at this point I am starting to have hope for myself and for you all as well. Just stick it out I think it will get better.

  4. I think it makes it harder when you don't have the family's understanding. No matter what you say or try to explain, they only take it at face value. You feel unsupported and sorta shafted. It makes it harder to face everything alone as well because in most cases, let's say a serious illness, the family would have your back. I am keeping the hope that things will get better and that I will find what I am seeking. LOL @ PPatty, sure girl...come on it and take a load off!!!!

  5. USM, humility is also an enduring quality you have and one needed in a Combat PTSD Home. A battle of attrition has an enormous cost and a Combat Vet is the best at this.

    A battle of who is right is not always about, what is right and that has to give way many times. I know that meant for my significant others to defer to me, this I have come to learn has been what I inflicted on my family years ago. We bring it home and we hurt the ones we love the most and still don't know how to turn it off. We can learn, educate and share to move past most of the negative effects o f war given possibly many years.

    A shared reality, we all have a common bond, you might as well been with us in combat. We bring it home and wreck havoc with it and then we check out because the fallout is to great.

    We leave it to you, the spouse and caregiver of a shattered mind who once was the love, to clean up the mess. Do not think that this goes unnoticed, when we have those lucid moments when we 'come home' and share with you our deepest being, where we reside on the inside of this shattered mind.

    You're not crazy for thinking that different people show up in the same man or woman you loved before war, we are still in there, but we also brought home the monster war made us. And sometimes we do not know how to turn it off when we first come home. This is who we are, the Combat PTSD Vet. Thank you for being who you are Combat PTSD Homes! By ourselves we can move a pebble, together we can move mountains.

  6. Hello and thanks for all you are doing.

    Since your last visit to Gift From Within we've added new materials. I was not you knew about our new PTSD webcasts. Here is the link:

    Warm regards, Joyce


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