As in the past, I am going to do my long overdue "Mailbox Time" for this post. I am getting a lot of emails and try to answer as many as I can each evening. Some I feel are interesting enough to bring up on the blog so others can see, especially if that same question is one of their own. Names have been left off for anonymity.
USM, thanks for describing my exact feelings in so many ways through your blog. I find myself hoping you will post again and again just so I can see if what I have been through is something others are going through like you. I belong to a counseling group and it's ok, just seems like there is never enough time to really talk and release your frustrations. I wondered though, did you guys ever go through drinking spells or your husband have a problem with drinking? We are currently in this mess and no way out. He is getting help through the VA but not telling them he is drinking. I am somewhat ashamed to say anything to the counselor we see but it's getting worse........
Thank you for the kind words and compliments. I am glad that my blogging about our experiences is helping others feel they aren't alone, and in the process, it's letting me see I am not alone either. First off, good for you guys on getting counseling at the VA! I do know what you mean though on the counseling time and not having enough time to release all of it. Once a month just doesn't do us justice, does it girl! I was also in a group at the VA with Vietnam Veteran's wives, and man what a difference in generation. Never before have I felt out of place as I did with them in this counseling group. Second, let's give a pat on the back to your husband for getting help. That is the hardest part and at least we have a portion of his issues under control. Now to the drinking. This was actually going to be my next post but will address it now. Yes my husband had serious drinking issues, especially when he first came home. Now we are social drinkers most of the time, meaning we might have a beer or margarita while grilling out in the summer. Never throughout our relationship did I ever see my husband remotely tipsy or drunk.
When he came home, it started out as a few beers in the evening which he was defensive about although I never really said anything. That led to booze like Jack Daniels. He would come home and sit in front of the house and down a fifth before he came inside. A few times, he would be so damned drunk it took me and three others to get him out of the car and talk him down. We lived in a town home complex at the time, and he was staggering all over the place and peed on our car's tires! I was so embarrassed not just because of him, but for him as well. However, I will say this.....his drinking led to a lot of rambling and major conversations which enlightened me about the reasons why he had PTSD. I gathered the alcohol somewhat numbed him as well as gave him that high....After a while though and being put on medications, he just stopped drinking. Now he is on a ton of meds and I had expressed my concerns on the drinking with his PTSD doctor. Made my husband madder than hell, but it had to be done. What his PTSD doctor does is make him pee in a cup every time he is up there to check for alcohol. If he is caught with it in his system, bye bye medications and treatment. My husband realized that this guy meant business and just stopped. He eventually got over being mad at me, and I see a huge difference in him after treatment and counseling.
I don't have much advice in this situation especially for those whose soldiers/veterans drinking; I really wish I had the magic answer for you. I can only say if you are concerned, put your foot down. If you feel that you can say something to the doctor, then do it. I would not want to do it if your soldier exhibits violence or physical abuse. Bringing it up in counseling though would be the way to do it though with a mediator in the room. Because I took over the banking and checkbooks etc, my husband is given an allowance per two weeks. He learned really quick that I was not going to give him more money if he blew it on booze. With mine, I have really had to treat him like a kid in some ways because that is exactly what he acts like in some cases. If it were me, I would talk to my own counselor in your therapy group or talk to her/him privately and see what options they have to offer or maybe have a way to bring it to light. Sending you many hugs.....
I am so angry all the time, do you ever stop being so damned angry?
Dear Anonymous, I am angry every day. I can't remember the last time I wasn't angry about something. I think it's a very healthy and normal reaction to feel in our situations. I am angry about the fact I lost my husband and this person came home and lost all his fight. I am sometimes angry because this strong, rock of my husband wasn't mentally strong enough to fight whatever was going on in his head while overseas. I am angry everything fell in my lap, angry I am now a single parent with no help, angry that we are watching every penny because he just about broke us, and more angry that I have no one to talk to, share or be around that knows what I am going through. I am angry with my family, his family for not supporting or understanding. Angry at the military and the VA for not doing right by our Veterans. Some days I just wake up pissed off and not sure why or at who. I have become so bitter and one big walking ball of anger that I don't recognize myself anymore. I think it's normal for us caregivers to be angry, and although ashamed of myself for being so angry and resentful, I can't help it. If it was me, find someone to talk to. Whether it be a therapist, psychiatrist, someone. I don't have those options here, but if I could...all you would see if ass and elbows running out the door to blab it all to someone who could analyze it and make me feel better. I need that time to vent.
I wondered about your tabs you have on your blog-Are these things you have used?
Thanks for asking that! When I come across something that I find useful, relevant to PTSD or TBI....I immediately add it to my tab section up top. Things like the Physical Evaluation Board, which for most of us newbies that haven't experienced this process, I found it extremely interesting. Any organizations I find that I can use myself or has information that I think is pertinent is added. Some of those tabs are linked to me in a different aspect like Married to the Army, Caregiver Retreat through Wounded Warriors, or I have had experience with. Double HH Candles is my non-profit organization that I run most of the year making candles for military members and their families at no cost to them. Married to the Army sponsors my site and is a dear friend of mine. I also am a guest writer on her new site Living the Army Life. I know in the beginning I could not find anything four years ago except Family of A Vet (tab is there) which was really interesting and useful for me. Anytime I come across something that I think is helpful or provides some type of actual help...I will add this to the tabs above. Some of these are chat forums for spouses and ones I have signed up for. Sometimes its nice to be able to go and chit chat with others who are going through what I am. Basically it's just a hodge podge of links and resources I have either signed up with, used or found items that have helped me in other areas. I would not automatically put a link up that someone emailed me without fully checking it out and finding it helpful.
Do you know of any support groups for me to look up?
I got seven emails pertaining to this same question this week alone! I can't give you specifics in your area because I can only give you information based on my experiences. I wish I had the answers to this very important question because I am sure it echoes in many households with PTSD. I can only give you suggestions that I have used.
- Check out your VA-They usually have a support group in place for spouses to join. If not, find out from your spouse's care manager or call the Mental Health Social worker there. They should have some type of resources for you or know which direction to send you.
- The Vet Center- Most large cities have these especially in conjunction with the VA. These centers are pretty resourceful and helpful. My husband sees a counselor there and we were doing the coupling counseling they offer for free there. They might know of some local groups that you can join as well. Never hurts to call them and just ask.
- Operation HomeFront now has a Wounded Warrior Wives organization. This can be for mental wounds and not just physical. I just signed up not too long ago and thrilled with this group so far. Although fairly new, I think this group will do many things in the near future. They have a chat forum which you can find me there as well and you can talk to other spouses that are going through a variety of issues. http://www.operationhomefront.net/www/. The chat forum is: http://forum.homefrontonline.com/eve/forums. Once you have signed/registered with this group. Look on the forum and find a moderator, email/message them for access to the private WWW section of that board.
- Another Forum is: NotAlone.com which also has some resources and chat forums you can sign up for. http://notalone.com/Dashboard/custom/splashpage/index.html. Another is Veteran Caregiver: http://www.veterancaregiver.com/
- If you have health insurance and it covers portions of mental health, you can always go privately and not even fool with the VA system. A few other spouses have told me that some mental health programs have PTSD coping classes for spouses and family members. Now most of these are NOT military related, but may help you none the less.
That is what I have on my list and maybe some of the other spouses can help me with listing resources for help. You can also always go to a minister/pastor of your church as well. Contact your unit's Chaplain. These guys/gals are awesome and have a ton of resources in and out of the military community. I hope this helps all of you in your search of the elusive support groups. I wish we had one closer for me but looks like everything I have is going to have to be online. It's kind of sad when that is all that is available and me having to admit that the only spouses I know going through this, are all inside my computer.
Always Welcoming Questions, Resources and "Just to say Hi emails",