Saturday, July 31, 2010

Times like this week.......

So it's been a very eventful and stressful week for me. My unit's annual Family Day is next weekend and of course, things start to fall apart right about a week or two before. Due to our geographical challenged locations of our FRG members, it left most of the work to us two leaders, and more so on me because the other who helps me, works. Trying to get approximately 400 people fed, provide entertainment in forms of competitions, games and let's not forget 73 children, has taken its toll on me this week. While I am curled up in my metaphorical mental fetal position, I have endured severe migraines on top of everything else. I figure it is from stress and trying to get things done before our deadline. The one thing I didn't need this week was an irritable husband giving me hell. I have literally been waiting for an outburst, mentally preparing myself so I would not get angry with him for giving me grief, and pretty much banked on him adding to my stress level.

However....that hasn't been the case this week. I was quite surprised to see my husband in a really good mood all week which is few and far between. He volunteered to go with me and help me pick up over a 1000 drinks from area bottling companies who donated, tried to keep the kids entertained while I had to run in and out of businesses who donated to us, and most of all...was sympathetic to my mental breakdown I had this week when things started to go South. He was very understanding and sympathetic when I didn't cook supper and stumbled to the phone to order pizza while the nuclear warheads were exploding in my head, helped me with the kids and putting them to bed, and listened while I bitched and fussed about the problems I had going on.

I didn't realize until yesterday when I was feeling a little better, how he seemed to tag along and just be normal. There hasn't been any "incidents" or angry blowups which has literally floored me. Now of course, he still acted strange, got lost or confused, and had the patience of a two year old, but I can't blame him as I was probably the beast this week. The thing that I noticed the most was he called me Baby. Not just once or twice, but every time he talked to me or relayed information on the phone. He would ask me if I took my medicine (which is a switch) for my migraine and let me rest while the kids played. I can't tell you how much I missed hearing these endearing terms and how they kept me going this week. Even when things went sour, he would say " I love you Baby" and things just felt tolerable. While talking to me or saying something, he would end with Baby....and well, it was just a nice change of pace for once.

In the back of my mind though....I always wait like this is the calm before the storm. I hate to be that way, but sometimes when he is this way, there is always a backlash that is coming up in the future. You know what though? I really don't care right now about what will happen if it even does....I am just going to relish and wallow in this good mood of his and enjoy it for once. I know it won't always be this way and I haven't had much time with him that is like this, so just going to close my eyes for a bit and enjoy the ride..........

Love you too Sweetheart,

Monday, July 26, 2010

Family, Friends and the Army

I woke up in a funky mood this morning. Stayed up too late again and so I begin my coffee drip through IV while writing this. Lot of thoughts rolling around this mind of mine last night and for the life of me, just could not clear it to go to sleep! I guess I was trying to think of a new post I could add here as nothing as been worthy enough around the house or with my husband to write something interesting about. So I decided a topic I haven't discussed is family, friends and the Army.........

I get a lot of comments that family and friends just don't understand. I completely understand that and can empathize. I don't have much family left on my side at all, so I am not really having to worry about them as much as I should I guess. My side of the family went through the Vietnam War and my uncles all passed away due to Agent Orange related cancers. I don't remember them ever exhibiting signs of PTSD but do remember them as alcoholics for as long as I could remember them. One was heavily into prescription drugs and my dad used to complain about how that was the coward way out. It probably was, but after knowing what I know could be possible that my uncles had some serious issues. I don't have any relatives on my mother's side and after she passed away, that was it.

My grandmother on my dad's side never made it past the 6th grade of school and married young. Had quite a few children which her world revolved around and from the hills of TN, she really didn't experience much as far as gaining worldly knowledge. Her world revolves now around who is sick, how she is the sickest of them all because she has the same thing you had, and what you had for supper. I love her, but I find her to be so sheltered within that Tennessee mountain life that such things as PTSD just means they are "crazier than an outhouse rat". That is after you can get her to past the four letter word, PTSD, which you must repeat incessantly.

When questioned about my husband and his issues, VA disability and so's suddenly like I am some circus freak standing on the stage alone and facing these onlookers who are shocked that I could say something like PTSD. I know portions of it is due to ignorance on the subject, but it embarrasses me.  I suddenly get embarrassed for/of my husband, myself and well, let's just say we no longer talk about that subject. The question of "so is he just going crazy?" Uhhhhh no. I could rattle off a whole lot of terms and definitions, but they still look at it as being a mental case. It disappointed me so badly, that I don't go home very much to see whats left of my family because the ones who do, really don't know me that well nor do they even try to understand what I am going through. I feel guilty about being embarrassed and it shames me to even admit that I am....but I guess anyone having to deal with all this would feel the same way.

My husband's side of the family is in a totally different world of their own. We don't have much to do with any of them except maybe once a year at Christmas. You know, the whole "let's plaster a fake smile, give hugs and kisses and tell each other how much we love you" kind of deals. I walk away and think well, if you loved us so damn much why don't you call us other than at Christmas? My Mother in law doesn't fully comprehend my husband's issues and most of the time, thinks that its all me. She doesn't get why he does the things he does, nor does she help us with anything in regards to PTSD or TBI. I sometimes resent that because it is her son and she lives in this fairy tale world that one day he will "get over it".

Friends we have none left. Now sure I know plenty of active duty wives online which has been wonderful, but literally all my friends live inside my computer. Wow, Is that really hard to admit. What few friends we had as a couple have taken a run for the hills due to my husband and their lack of loyalty. I say that because had the situation been reversed, I can honestly say I would have stuck by my friend in her times of need regardless of her husband. I guess sometimes in life you just learn that some people still haven't learned the value of friendship or what loyalty means. We have a mutual friend together who has stuck by both of us, but really I don't have anyone I can just pick up the phone and say, "You know what? I want to run away and scream bloody damn murder and join the circus!".  I don't know anyone near here at all that I could befriend that would understand besides the few I have met here online. Most of all, I don't have anyone to say "yeah I know...what time's the train leaving? Meet ya there."

The Army. (sigh) Now most of my soldiers in our unit know I am very outspoken about PTSD although they really look at me like I should not say things out loud. When at training opportunities sponsored by the Army, I sometimes challenge those who talk about PTSD by asking questions. Now I don't know if they just go to these things casually thinking that no one will ever ask or challenge their resources, but they sure as hell do a lot of back peddling. I know the Army is trying to push PTSD and TBI now a little more and they pretty much have to. With the rate of suicides and issues that have come out in the past such as the Ft. Hood incident, they have no choice but to focus on these topics. I just sometimes get frustrated because as an FRG leader and as a spouse, the resources given to me have not worked nor are they there for us to utilize. I can go up before my unit of 200 men and women and stress the importance of PTSD and TBI screenings, but all I get is this blank looks and you hear crickets in the background.

I don't get why the military placed such a stigma on our guys and then expect a few articles or a few resources is suddenly going to correct years and years of sweeping it under the rug. I want so badly to put my faith in the military and boy, do I ever bleed red, white and blue. Just sometimes Uncle Sam and the Army disappoints me so badly that I lose my faith and trust in both. It's a shame and now that I see more and more of the "new" Army trying to fix past mistakes, I think to myself, "can you ever go back and wipe the slate clean?". The VA has some good workers who care and, then you have some who don't. I know my husband mentioned to me one time he was embarrassed to admit he has PTSD and TBI. Why? Why should our veterans feel this way or be looked upon as if they are any minute, going to go insane and start shooting? Having a VA worker make a comment like "so you weren't injured, you just have mental problems?" Just? Must be nice to sit behind that desk of yours and make an assumption such as that when you haven't served nor seen anything traumatic. I hear remarks that are degrading such as that. Some like "so he couldn't hack being over there huh?" or "Man, I didn't have any problems when I came back home". These coming from two men who never had to carry their weapon, sat behind a desk in Kuwait and pushed papers all day. Well, I am sincerely happy for them and I make sure I tell them that. However, I am quick to remind them that even they aren't safe from PTSD symptoms and I know several who just got on the plane, never saw any action and still had problems.

I guess I am just rambling. Some days I feel really really isolated. It's probably because I live out here in the middle of cow pastures and mountains, but really alone in dealing with all this. It's so frustrating and hurtful when everywhere you turn thinking "they are family" or "she is my best friend" and they turn their back on you. When you go before the Army and have to fight to get help or plead that we need more resources and get told you need to go back and concentrate on baking cookies for an FRG bake's somewhat defeating. I remember when my husband re-upped and how proud he was to serve. I know he was saddened by the thought of leaving us for Iraq, but man did he go proudly. He didn't balk, or run out on the Army.....I just wish sometimes the military would repay that favor in return.

I know we are in a category of our own as spouses of Combat PTSD veterans and some things will never change....but it doesn't mean we can't occasionally fuss about it right? I know that the VA Department of Veteran's Affairs has "re-tweeted" me, so they are reading what I write. Good, I hope they see that the system is failing us and that we are virtually alone. We are essentially segregated from the military, are families and our friends. I just want one day to stand and say "My husband has PTSD" without looks, maybe someone standing up and saying "mine too" and the Army says "Hey, I got your back". Not too much to ask for is it? Eh, it gives me something to go on when days are really yucky and that's all that matters.

Living Alone with PTSD and TBI,

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Mistress VS the Lazyboy Recliner

R&R from Iraq 

Ding Ding Ding!

In one corner, The Mistress weighing in at *** pounds (haha didn't think I would put my real weight did ya?) in the red, white and blue trunks. In the opposing corner, Lazy Boy recliner standing in at 50 pounds donning all black leather attire. Opponents face each other and knock gloves! Let's get ready to RUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMBLE!

I could only wish. What I would not give to have me vs the dreaded armchair thief in a boxing match! Perhaps me with a chainsaw and an open field. How about riding down the interstate with no ropes holding the chair on the roof? Dropping it from an airplane at 20,000 feet or throwing it overboard from a ship only to sink promptly to the deepest darkest depths of the water. I am personally leaning towards using it as a punching bags on most days, but I would only hurt myself!

So what's my beef with the recliner? Well, as you can see from the picture above, it is just a chair. A chair that his mother and I saved for months. A chair that we were so freaking excited over because his old one was literally falling apart at the seams. The old chair I could not wait until we got rid of it being his bachelor days had obviously taken its toll on it. So we saved every dime, went without things, and bought the biggest chair Lazy Boy made for my 6'5 husband. This chair rocked our boys when they were babies, and comforted me when he was gone because it just seemed to retain the scent of him. My favorite thing about this chair was the many times my husband would pull me down onto his lap and we would talk, laugh or just sit and watch tv.

Now the chair has become an albatross in our marriage............

Since Iraq, the chair has now become his primary habitat while he is here. During football season, the chair is the main stadium seat in front of our television. Now I don't blame him for the football, because after all he is a man. I do however, resent him for sleeping in the chair rather than coming to bed. I can't even remember the last time we actually slept together a full night in the same bed together. Often times, I wake up at 4 a.m. and he is sneaking in under a medicated fog and tumbles in. Most of the time, I go to bed with the last statement of "I'll be there in a minute" only to find the next morning that he has slept all night in the chair. I don't understand why he waits to take his medicine so late at night when the trazadone (medication to combat nightmares) knocks him on his butt so badly. I have often times tried to stay awake late at night so I can remind him to come to bed, only to get up early the next morning with the boys to find him still in the same spot as I left him. 

We have, because of the sports, placed an additional television in our bedroom so I could watch what I wanted to when the main one was otherwise occupied. I have explained on many times that he could take his meds, watch football in the room, and fall asleep in a normal manner. He claims that its because he needs to unwind and before he knows it, the meds kick in and he doesn't mean to. I know I should not worry too much about it but the damn chair plays havoc on our bedroom life! It's not just about sex...its about the snuggling up to the person you love. We are "spooners" and I just sort of feel lost when he isn't there. I have brought this up and he does say he is sorry, that he doesn't mean to, but it never changes anything. 

I feel like I get a couple of hours when the kids go to bed but that is it. There is a void besides the small table in between the couch and the recliner, that I can't seem to cross over. I miss the closeness I feel and security when I am snuggled under the covers with my husband. I wish that the recliner came with an automatic "dumper" so when the time to come to bed is near, it just automatically dumps his ass out and he will then come to bed. 

Until I can find a way will be me sitting here looking at this black mammoth and pondering how many ways I could destroy it.  It saddens me deeply that a chair I was so proud of working hard for, has suddenly become the object of my resentment.

Death to the Lazyboy,

PS. My son wasn't that chunky, he was just so squished up in daddy's crook on the arm that his face was pushed out, giving mommy the reason to take the picture so I may embarrass him in front of future girlfriends. Many thanks to WT for my snazzy new signature!!

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,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Questions to the Mistress (Take Two)

In response to some of the emails, the ones I have gained permission from I will be posting for others to see as I feel they are really important and relevant to many of us spouses. Thanks to the senders for allowing me to post these! 

"You mentioned that your husband has spending habits that are causing issues. My husband has spent, spent and spent to the point we are maxed out on our monthly income. How did you get through all this? I am starting to resent my husband as it's becoming a major argument with him all the time and he doesn't care! I am scared that it will get worse. Any suggestions?"
AT, Kentucky 

AT~ I wish I had all the answers but I am learning as you are. My husband has been a big spender since he came home from Iraq and at first, I didn't think too much of it because it wasn't that big of a deal.  I figure he was the "bring home the bacon" provider in our household, and deployment money was earned with literally blood, sweat and tears. Who was I to say no to a few extravagant purchases? As his PTSD progressed and got worse, I noticed an increase in his spending habits. Going from one that was very conscientious about money and being a tightwad, my proverbial Mr. Scrooge went to Mr. Money bags without a care in the world! 

It's not big things, just a pile up of smaller items. Occasionally newer large ticketed priced tools show up in our garage, although he never uses them since he has been home. I would and still get upset with him as we have three boys who are eating me out of house and home. With school, birthdays and not too far away, Christmas....I get so frustrated with him because he doesn't think! I am not sure why PTSD veterans do these types of things. I read on several sites that the reason behind spending is due to dealing with the guilt, trauma they endured, and with the losses they have suffered.  I guess it would be like us girly girls who have a bad day or a bad breakup and go shopping at the mall to pacify our sadness. This "spending" habit does fall under PTSD in the categories of Addictions, Self destructing/Unhealthy Behavior/ and failure to cope.

How to stop it? I have no clue. It has helped since he sees a counselor and finding other coping skills besides slapping a few dollar bills on his unseen wounds. You need to be sure though that a therapist or counselor knows PTSD. If you are utilizing the VA system, find someone else. Reason I say that is, you are looking at how many veterans walking through the door? Most spouses I have encountered and hearing their stories, some therapists/psychologists are really only concerned with self destructing behaviors like sex, drugs and alcohol problems. One therapist I talked to stated I am lucky to only have money problems and my Vet not be doing drugs or leaning towards being an alcoholic. Didn't make me feel better although he had a good point. I should be grateful, but does that make bankrupting us any less of a serious issue? No.

To be honest with you, it has come down to the point where I have had to hide money. Pay checks come, I move money into a savings account. Through our local bank, I can bank online with a variety of security measures and passwords. I have two accounts one that is joint, one that is personal and one that is savings. Once the pay check comes, I don't dilly dally about paying bills because that just leaves "extra" money in the bank he thinks is still available. I have all our bills for each month which rarely go up more than say 20.00. I immediately remove the money and put into a savings account so I can pay our bills. I budget our grocery, gas and amenities for the month and also set that aside. If there is more than three hundred dollars left, I move what I can to the savings account for emergencies. What is left, is what is left. If he wants something, he asks. If we don't have the money, or it's too much...then of course I nip that in the bud.

It has come down to the point of lying to him to save us from being broke. Now we live modestly and check to check some months. Hell, we are homeowners now and that means we will be broke for a while! lol All credit cards have been surrendered and hidden. He does have a bank card but our accounts are set up that if the money isn't there, he can't go over. Now we try to have "pouting" money as we call it here, or pocket money for the occasional drinks, McDonald's sweet tea, or his can of Skoal he buys. This allows him to have some spending money and once it's gone, then it's gone. Credit cards are now being paid off and I hate that I must treat him like a child. However, the sane part of him that surfaces occasionally understands and why I must do what I do. That may not help you any, but it's what I was forced to do in our situation. I know how you must feel and in today's economy, being broke is down to the level of being "not enough 0's in the word POOR" for many of us. It may be treating him like a child and teaching him to save his allowance, but sometimes I have to do what I have to do to keep this marriage and family afloat. Hope that answers your question..........

"I noticed that you have TBI on your blog title and in some of your blogs, you mention your soldier has TBI. I have been following your blog since March and haven't see you talk about it much. I just wondered why as I believe my husband may have the same thing. We are going to the VA for other things but when I mention it to the doctor's, they just act like I am one dumb wife. Thanks. "
CD in AL

Been there and done that with the VA! Let me give you a brief "what happened" with my husband. My husband was injured from an IED blast with knocked him backwards, knocking his head pretty severely. I noticed when he came home along with the issues of PTSD that he was exibiting symptoms that didn't fall under PTSD or what most sites give you as guidelines. TBI is not one of those things that was actively discussed three years ago. Upon demobilization, the standard "let's hurry up and get you on through so you can get the hell out of our way" questions were asked our returning soldiers. "Are you suffering from suicidal thoughts or feel you are a threat to society?" This is their idea for screening for PTSD and yes I know, nosebleed right? "Were you severely injured in an IED explosion causing head injuries reported by Medical while in Iraq". if you look at both questions, what are we missing here? A TON! Number one, not all soldiers exhibiting emotional issues or signs of PTSD think of killing themselves or someone else immediately upon returning home. If they did, how many are going to say "Uh yeah, that would be me". Second, the TBI questions are not asked specifically or given situational examples as you can get TBI in many different ways. Being in an IED explosion and being hospitalized is going to make some soldiers say "No. I was never severely injured". However, TBI can come from many things other than just that. This was a way to push this many men through the system and left many soldiers undiagnosed with the condition. 

In our case, I noticed my husband was suffering from dizzy spells, headaches, sometimes severe headaches with numbness, stumbling or tripping over his own feet, problems with comprehension in reading or solving basic problems. He used to be a Duct Tape McGuiver. You give him a pocket knife and some screws, and the man could build you a mansion. His memory loss was what concerned me the most and was so bad that he would forget where he was, or sometimes he would drive and just get lost. The Army sent me to FRG training and there, was a doctor from the VA. At this time, they were discussing TBI and completely skipped over PTSD which really made me irate. However, that training gave me some insights to this mysterious TBI subject and suddenly I started connecting the dots. He matched up with many of these symptoms. The biggest thing was when the doctor stated sometimes they don't screen for TBI upon demobilization and often symptoms get lumped into PTSD. 

You better believe when I got home I dragged my husband back to the VA for a screening. First you need to call the VA and ask the operator who you would need to talk to, to get a screening. In our case, we were connected to the correct department and they asked him some fairly simply, direct to the point questions. This is called a "Pre-Screening for Traumatic Brain Injury". Here my husband passed this first test and they set up an appointment. Go through your PCM or psychiatrist even though they are giving you crap. You can let them know on the next appointment you attend that you are concerned that he may be having signs of TBI and that you feel it's necessary that your soldier be screened for this. It is still recorded in their files that this has come up. They need to be aware that you feel you are being ignored in your concerns. If you choose to call the VA and do the pre-screen, we didn't have to worry about going through psychiatrist or PCM for my husband. 

After the pre-screen, they then set him up an appointment for him to be asked a million questions. Our appt took about an hour to go through. This you NEED to be there for. Reason I say this, is because you live with him. You know the differences and changes in him. You also know when something is wrong. I will tell anyone that if you can attend with your soldier, do so. We notice the slightest of changes and often times our soldiers don't remember or just don't realize it. Mine simply forgets. There were many questions in that exam that I answered that my husband didn't know about. Once you get through all that, they will do an MRI and Xray. (Again all in our case) After that, they will set up an appointment where the Vet must go through around 6-8 hours of a series of tests. Most of which is written and graded. We had an appointment just recently stating that he had mild TBI, but yet his scores on  some of the tests were so low that the Polytrauma Doctor could not grade them.  We have an appointment that was set three months after his diagnosis in May to discuss care plans for him and treatments. 

I do occasionally mention TBI in my blogs or make reference to his memory loss. However, we are relatively new to this other unseen wound and  I don't feel comfortable in giving advice on a subject that I don't know much about. I am learning as you are about the whys, the how's, and the treatments of Traumatic Brain Injury. I can say as much as I get tired of Family Readiness Group training, I was ever so happy to been lucky enough to go and discover all of this. If I had not, it probably would not have been diagnosed. My husband was involved in several explosions, one that knocked him back a good ten feet; another the concussion of a nearby blast knocking him down. There are several incidents where TBI could have occurred, but he was never in a humvee or truck that rolled over an IED. Make sense?

I came across this article from Veteran's Journal in reference to TBI a while back and bookmarked it. I really like the laid back explanation of TBI that doesn't require you to have a John Hopkin's Medical degree on your wall to understand. There is also this on Wikipedia . I hope this helps you somewhat on answering your questions and there are several spouses who we all comment on each other's blogs. One, PTSD: A Caregiver's Perspective (her site is currently on the fritz temporarily but you can find her in my list of blogs) is familiar with TBI and Wife of a Wounded Soldier also I believe, is going through this. As I learn more, I will discuss it more. As for any issues that you see in your war Vet, take note, listen to your gut instincts, and fight for the screening and treatments! 

Thank you for all the emails,

~Uncle Sam's Mistress~

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Story that makes me go Hmmmmmm......

I came across this story while getting my daily fix of the internet day before yesterday and it disturbed on a whole new level. The story......

Army suicides hit record number in June

Thirty-two soldiers took their own lives last month, the most Army suicides in a single month since the Vietnam era. Eleven of the soldiers were not on active duty. Of the 21 who were, seven were serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said.
Army officials say they don't have any answers to why more and more soldiers are resorting to suicide.
"There were no trends to any one unit, camp, post or station," Col. Chris Philbrick, head of the Army's suicide prevention task force, told CNN. "I have no silver bullet to answer the question why."

Last year, a record-breaking 245 soldiers committed suicide. The Army seems on track to surpass that number this year, as 145 soldiers have taken their lives in the first half of 2010.
Tim Embree of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America testified Wednesday before the House Veterans Affairs Committee that many soldiers fear seeking help.
"The heavy stigma associated with mental health care stops many service members and veterans from seeking treatment," he said. "More than half of soldiers and Marines in Iraq who tested positive for a psychological injury reported concerns that they will be seen as weak by their fellow service members."
He pointed out that the statistics don't include the number of veterans who end their own lives. That figure surged 26 percent from 2005 to 2007, according to the Veterans Affairs Department.
The Army has a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline, and has videos and other resources on its website. The Army's new suicide prevention video features a soldier talking about his own failed suicide attempt after his wife said she wanted to divorce him. The rifle he used to try to kill himself didn't fire, he says, and he later found out his comrade had disabled it because he was worried about him.
Is anyone else alarmed at the high statistic of suicides of soldiers they have reported for last year, and so many already for this year? No one seems to understand why this is happening? Obviously what is in place for prevention, treatment and help for families with coping and helping their soldier isn't working!  The fear of a stigma attached with such problems is because the military MAKES one and has made one for many many years. Stories like this just absolutely makes me want to bang my head against my desk and gives me a nosebleed. Just the thought of this many of our soldiers serving heroically, coming home and tragically ending their lives just literally makes me sick.

Wake up Uncle Sam....what you are doing isn't enough!

Heart Sick,

~Uncle Sam's Mistress~

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Patsy Cline, Chardonnay and Dusty Lingerie

There is a place you can touch
a woman that will drive her crazy.
Her heart~

It must be due to hormones, lack of sleep and lack of sex that has made me a little sensitive these last couple of days.....not that I am remotely grumpy, or hateful to anyone in my family....just little things irritate the piss out of me.  I have been somewhat saddened by my husband's latest comments in regards to ending his fight of PTSD. Well, to be honest, it scares the hell out of me. I have been drifting around the last couple of days in sort of a funk and not really sure the direction I need to be going. Taking my own advice, I have tried to concentrate on the past and what made me fall in love with my husband to begin with. I try to remember all the positive things albeit they are slowly drifting away from my memory as PTSD eats away at them.
So a few glasses of wine and fifteen Patsy Cline songs later...these are the things that have bothered me the most the last couple of days.

We have two elderly families right next door on the left, and one single lady to the right. Now the elderly families are very sweet although every time we work outside, here the gentlemen come a' running. The only time we have it safe is at 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday when Judge Judy is on in the afternoons. Sometimes it's ok when my husband is in an alright mood, but other times it can be very frustrating because I stand there hoping to detour any negativity from my husband. They are sweet, wise and friendly guys who dearly love their spouses. One regularly eats out on their covered porch together in the evenings. His wife is not doing too good health wise, so going out sometimes is not an option. The other couple always walks hand in hand with the other to check the mail or just around their yard. I know right? In unison: Awwwwwwww.
My husband: "hell, it's too hot to be eating outside".  While looking at the couple holding hands as they walk down the way to the mailman: "hmmmpf".

Single Lady next door seems to have an influx of boyfriends rotating out every couple of months. Once we get used to seeing one regularly, she gives him the boot and a new one comes in to play. Humorous I know, but at least she has some type of love life going on. Last night, we had just put the boys down to bed and were outside picking up toys that had been left behind. Outside, Single Lady and her new beau were on a blanket out in the back talking and looking up at the stars. She was lying down, he was laying beside her propped up on one elbow gazing down at her. My husband: "Can't freaking people do that crap in their homes? I can't wait till we get our G%$^^&&*^%$## fence up so I don't have to look at the slut next door all the time". First off, I kind of stared at him for this outburst and said "well it's not like they are having sex in the yard and I think it's romantic. We used to do that stuff all the time". Him: " Get off my f^%$#*&^ back". This hurt me a little because I didn't feel I was on his back in any way, and that one moment of romance witnessed was shot all to hell by my husband.

My husband was never a romantic, or made a huge show of loving me. What he did give me was enough during the dating period and throughout our marriage. Deployment made a huge show of love letters and phone calls of  love talk......those helped me thrive in my single life of turmoil while he was gone and gave me something to relish until he came home. Every Christmas found a small piece of jewelry from "Santa" with a lovingly written card professing his emotions and heartfelt love for me. Small things were enough for me and satisfied me in ways I could not describe to my past relationships who showered me with meaningless items.
The last three years have left me with an empty heart filled only with bitterness, hurt and anger. Gone are the days where rose petals were scattered on the floor that led to the bedroom with candlelight. No longer are birthdays recognized, holidays are filled with animosity and humiliation, and if lucky, the few cards for Mother's Day or some other special occasion leaves me to open it finding only a lone signature of my husband. Lost are the days where every little minute spent you could not get enough of each other and sex was something that meant something and the wants and needs could never be filled. Gone are the days when newly married you called each other Mr and Mrs for days because we just couldn't believe we were married. Completely lost are the sincere "I love yous" and just hearing "baby".

My husband yesterday grumpily stated: "We need to get away for a couple of days-like when we went to Florida". Me: "that would be nice". All the while in my head I am thinking of all the things that happened in Florida. The angry outbursts in public because we ran into a non-English speaking, Middle Eastern looking group at a restaurant. Having to leave a sudden busy place because he is going off and acting out. Humiliated and hurt because he cussed me and yelled at me enough to make me cry. The solitude of walking on the beach with no one and watching him walk out in the tide on the sand alone and staring out. I thought back to the moment when I realized I was utterly alone in fighting whatever plagued my husband as I watched him. I had to guilt trip him into taking the photo of us together for which he summoned a smile. He was happy....I was not. 

We don't have the extra money to go on such a trip because he is working less and less. Our savings which we invested in so eagerly for such trips or even a family trip to Disney Land. That savings account and one another has been depleted so low to make up for loss time and earnings. Such a trip for us would be like winning the lottery....ain't gonna happen. Then I have to think....would it be worth it to go somewhere alone together? Would it be worth the hassles and the heartache of disappointment? 

Today as I was going through my closet in search of a lost t-shirt that I have been looking for and came across some lingerie shoved towards the back. It saddened me to see a fine layer of dust (which I believe is probably construction dust in a brand new closet but nevertheless dust) on top of the sleeves and pretty hangar. The story of my life I do believe. I could not remember when the last time I had this outfit on, or when my husband had purchased it. Hell, I can't even remember the last time I had my hair done up or wore lipstick. 

I crave attention from my husband. When Veteran's speak about PTSD and this "adrenaline rush" they need often after coming home, they say we as spouses can't understand. I beg to differ. I would compare this to the little butterflies in the stomach when you see your husband suddenly turn around and smile or the rush of passion that you feel out of the blue for no reason for each other. The only difference is, is that I am not self-destructing in seeking my rushes because I would not know where to seek to begin with.  I used to think that his negative attention would be sufficient enough but now what I miss the most is just the romance, love and nurturing you have in a relationship within a marriage.

Out of all the issues, the symptoms, and the topsy turvy world we live in as Combat PTSD spouses, this has to be the hardest parts of it one must endure......One site stated that "you must grieve for what you loss and move on". How does one do this, really? Do you ever get used to not being loved in the same way? I just wish I could have my husband back, who will come to me and hold me when times get bad. There are days where I just am not strong enough for the both of us. Grrr....I hate days like this where I feel the need to hear Patsy Cline's mournful songs and shame on me for too many glasses of wine. Occasionally though, it must be done for my sake. Better to let it out than keep it in......

Knocking The Dust Off The Wine Bottle At Least,

~Uncle Sam's Mistress~

New Adventures-Living the Army Life

I would like to proudly announce that I am now a contributing writer for Living the Army Life! My first article was posted today, Living with PTSD and TBI: Welcome Home | Living the Army Life. This blog was created by owner of and is made up of twenty military spouses to help guide today's military families. Not sure how much guiding I will be doing as I am learning myself, but having that voice out there that is reflecting the truth about PTSD/TBI is nice to have! I am more excited at the opportunity that our voice as PTSD spouses will reach many others at a worldwide rate and that my friends, is what is needed to gain some resources! There will be another spouse, "Jessica" who will also be writing about her experiences with PTSD which will give a different point of view. I am hoping that utilizing these three blogs I write on will open more lines of communication for spouses dealing with these issues. The hopeful outcome would be that someone in the military would read our words, and do something about it. I will not be holding my breath though or betting all my money, but it would be a nice thought!!!

If you are or have a friend that is still a military spouse in the Army, do check out or pass on the links for and Living the Army life. Each of these I have had posted in the tabs above. I find that sometimes real experiences are better than any user manual the Army gives you. There are different categories ranging from PCS Moving, Military Traditions, Deployments and well...just offers a little bit of this and that. I would like to thank the owner, Stacey of Married to the Army, for inviting me to participate in such a blog. I will still be of course writing here and as a part of the "Coalition of Combat PTSD Bloggers" for Scott Lee on his site PTSD: A Soldier's Perspective.

So in thanks, I raise my coffee mug this morning to all of us who are persevering here at home with our Combat PTSD Veterans, and toast to a new adventure for all of us!! If you have subjects that you feel needs to bring up for discussion, let me know! Sometimes there is so much to write about, you often leave out things and I want to make sure we talk about it all! For those sites who felt I wasn't uplifting or positive enough about PTSD to contribute on their sites after their invitation, I say to you, your loss. Many thanks to Scott Lee who felt my voice was important enough to be heard and for constantly encouraging me to keep going. For PTSD Caregiver who always answered my emails and supported me, and to Kurt for always making me smile and being our cheerleader......sometimes just having each other, although we have never met in person, makes some of this we deal with much more tolerable. Here's to all of us this morning who are surviving hell and still here to talk about it!!

~Uncle Sam's Mistress~

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Blind Eye to Suicide

Before a serious situation with a dear friend of mine, the concern about suicide never really was a thought in my mind. Of course, it is always a possibility with our Veterans with PTSD...but of course, you never really think as a spouse, that it could happen to your family. Add in the symptoms of TBI with it, this can lead to severe depression in which the meds don't seem to have much affect on. I have read about suicide, tossed the astounding and staggering statistics around in my head of military related suicides and yes, even knew a soldier who killed himself once returning home. Still to this day I often wondered why his family didn't know anything prior to him taking his own life. I didn't fully understand because he seemed like he was doing so much better after the readjustment period/struggles ended.

As a spouse, do you ever really want to face that harsh reality that your soldier is that depressed? I thought as the primary caregiver in my home, that I knew it all when it comes to my husband. I can detect mood shifts, have learned the signs to it being a bad day before it begins, and noticed every little change about my husband down to his bathroom habits. As a caregiver, you really focus on every little thing and every little episode, because it may mean another change in medication, another question for the doctors, or lead into serious situations at a later date. Our most serious situations include black outs, drinking, and volatile emotional outbursts that usually does damage somewhere in our home. Suicide never really was one of those things I saw signs for so wasn't an immediate concern for me when it came to my Vet.

Last night I hopped online to check on my friend as I felt so horrible about their situation. I was concerned about him immediately, but wanted to make sure his spouse was ok as I worried about both of them all day long. Guilt ate at me because had I known that she wasn't aware of the situation immediately, maybe it would have helped him some more. I know that it probably would not have, but I feel guilty and sad because I wasn't able to say "hey have you seen this?"  I felt sick to my stomach because I skimmed parts because I was busy with a screaming two year old and didn't realize the seriousness until after she posted something about it. My husband who was sitting next to me near the computer asked what I was up to. I told him about such and such event today and wanted to check on my friend by sending her an email. He didn't really react to the story in the way I thought he should. Maybe an "Oh no" or perhaps "I hope that it goes ok", just something positive. Instead he looks me straight into the eyes and says "I understand what he is going through. I have thought about it many times". WHAAAAAATTTT! Immediately I jumped up and demand that he fully explain himself.

Now most of the time, my husband is the "pod" person or the Mr. Hyde (or is the other one-never could figure out who was the nut job of those two!) and I have become accustomed to this new stranger's methods of thinking, lack of feeling and moods. Every once in a blue moon though my old husband surfaces to test the waters of the real world to have a fairly decent conversation with me and maybe, I like to think, just check in on me. Last night's conversation threw me for a loop because it was neither my husband or my pod person.

I literally panicked and still today my heart is rolling around doing serious flip flops in my stomach due to last night. I asked him what did he mean, and he just had this sick smile across his face. Well, maybe not sick...but just a wry smile that gave me the willies. "I understand what he is going through. I have considered it many times and I still think about it". I looked at him probably as if I had just seen Elvis's UFO landed in my backyard with mouth hanging open, and said "But but but you haven't been that severely depressed...... Have you?" He said "I hide things very well". Me "have you talked to your psychiatrist about this?" Him "yep every time". YEP? I mean really? "Why didn't you tell me?" Him "It's not your fight".

Just great. I really didn't know what to say to him! I didn't know what the appropriate answer or reply to that statement there even a proper way to say HOLY SHIT! I stammered, I stuttered, and I just broke down crying. I can deal with a lot of things, but suicide? Have I been so blind here since he has been home? I told him that yes it was my fight, otherwise I wouldn't be here. I can handle anything he puts on me, but I can't handle that. I told him "you really honestly would leave me that way? Honey is it so bad that you want to take that road out?" He said "some days it's everything I can do not to think about it".

I don't understand it....I mean, here I am trying to help others by blogging, I am researching myself sick over anything and everything pertaining to PTSD and TBI, given other spouses some tips that I use to cope with our situation, and now I have failed miserably with him! I don't know what hurts most, him admitting to me that he has suicidal thoughts, or me acknowledging that I have turned a blind eye on what should have been right there in front of me. I mean, it's not that they give you a handbook on this stuff! I am learning just like most spouses how to cope and just be able to function as family with a Combat PTSD vet. He doesn't exhibit any major withdrawal than he normally has, hasn't tried to hurt himself in any way...and more so, anything he does that would hurt mostly directed at me. So what in the hell am I really missing here? Obviously a ton......

I made the call to take him back to the VA and speak with the psychiatrist. I don't know how much help that would be because the heffer already knew this. After the initial shock and heartbreaking discovery, I got freaking pissed to the max. If a psychiatrist or counselors are seeing our vets on a regular basis which for us, isn't that much because our VA is overloaded....and the Vet admits to suicidal thoughts...shouldn't something be done for crying out loud? This is what frustrates me as a spouse and upsets me more than anything. We as family members get sent home strangers, we must deal with all the issues, the problems and heartaches without any help what so ever from the government. We only have the VA doctors for our Vets to depend on and now I feel as if my trust and faith in that doctor has been completely shot all to hell.

I want to walk in there, grab her by the collars of her white crisp doctor's jacket and literally shake her brains loose! Amidst all the brain rattling, scream and say "WHY DID YOU DO NOOOOTHIIIIING!!!?"  I understand that they can't violate patient confidentiality, I understand they can't talk to us about our Veteran's and what goes on behind office door number 3352...I really do. However, could they have not sent him somewhere? Admit him into the psychiatric ward at the VA? Talked to me and say, we really need to utilize such and such because your spouse is exhibiting suicidal tendancies? I GOT NOTHING.

It's not just my's all of our soldiers. How many are we really as Americans, turning the blind eye too? Are we this busy or ignorant that we can't see the signs in front of us? Are the psychiatrists that are at our VA here that busy they can't find five seconds to do something about such a person and his thoughts? Do they even matter anymore? My friend made a comment that she didn't know what to do....what choices or options do we have? I am very thrilled that Obama decided our Veterans with PTSD deserved a break and now don't have so much red tape to climb through to get their deserved disability and treatments...however, in my mind I have a spouse that is sitting here admitting to me that suicide would ease the PTSD as he just can't keep living like this, and I have no clue what to do with him. The bringing down of the red tape barrier doesn't mean crap Mr. President. Yes it will help others because they won't have to prove so much...but the rest? Doesn't amount to a hill of beans to me. I know what the VA does and how that system works. Yes it may be easier for our veterans to get acknowledged but you will just find somewhere else under Title 38 32.9987 to hide another excuse as to why you can't give them their disability. Different rules, same damn game.

In three years, this VA has been responsible for my husband's treatment and now he is talking about killing himself? I am less concerned about the fact Obama is allocating more funds to the Vocational Rehab and college funding for disabled veterans than I am about the facts that we are losing so many soldiers per year at an alarming rate due to suicides. Vocational Rehab and College, means the VA won't have to pay out as much disability because you are not that disabled to keep you from going to work. Do our Veteran's not matter anymore? Is it just another social security number passing through the psychiatric floor of the VA hospital? How do these doctors sleep at night?

Now I feel I have failed and am sick in my heart....I am worried now that one day I won't be with him or he will go off somewhere and never see him again. Is my love, hard work and care not enough to keep him from doing such a thing? That would be the question that would haunt me for the rest of my life.......I'm sorry honey if I haven't done enough....I will do better because I don't want to stay behind without you.

Keeping My Eyes Wide Open,

Uncle Sam's Mistress

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sticks and Stones

~Sticks  and Stones may break my bones,
but hard words will never hurt me~
(1894) G.F. Northall

This question was asked on one of my posts and felt it needed to be addressed with a longer answer than my comment section would allow.

How do you deal with the outbursts? The name calling? The verbal and mental abuse? How do you deal with that? 

This is probably one of the hardest questions to answer! I don't have an answer because I don't know myself to be honest. I empathize with you because when the "beast" rears his ugly head you can't help but want to run away and never come back! You begin to resent him, lose faith and trust in not only him but yourself, and most of are dealing with a mountain load of hurt. How can someone you love so much and they be this way?

My husband can be really really NASTY. Sometimes it really just appalls me on how he can be so mean and the words he uses is not only demeaning, but disrespectful. Now I have a card catalog of cuss words, and not afraid to use them if the need for them arises...but being the southern lady I am and of the old fashioned upbringing I had as a child, his "episodes" can make a sailor blush and really stick you in the heart. My paltry amount of foul language can't come near the terms he produces. It can get so bad, that it really physically hurts and I find myself thinking "why the hell am I putting up with this crap"?

The thing I have learned as a spouse of a Combat PTSD Vet is:

  • Learning what sets him off. With mine it can be as simple as stubbing his toe, dealing with someone with a serious attitude, and encountering moments during the day where it triggers a combat related experience he had. I try to cushion as much as possible but let's face it....we can't keep the world out and even if we did....something else would set them off! I don't give my husband bad news unless I absolutely have to, I take care of mediocre and major tasks so that nothing can irritate him or more so, frustrate him and I learn to lay low. That sounds really stupid but I do. You can pretty  much tell with them right off the bat what kind of day it's going to be. Keep them preoccupied, keep a low profile and don't egg it on. I used to knock heads because I get yelled at or started in on making me want to get in a stance and fight back. Don't. It just makes it worse. Hey, never said I was a saint! He is really bad about bringing up the past and so am I. I learned to lose my mental notebook of things I can whip out in a heartbeat and that the past only makes the fight worse. It's a hard habit to break but it can be done.

  • Learn to cope with the fact that he isn't a husband anymore but a child. Harsh reality, but it's true. I myself haven't come to full terms and I buck the system from time to time. The point is, somewhere along the way we lost our spouse and if you look at it....they can be as much of a handful like a child can be. I can literally count on my hands and toes the times I can compare my husband to my pre-teen 13 year old. I have learned that yelling at them isn't going to help them but make things worse. I found the best way to deal with the emotional outbursts and cussing fests to simply take a stance, count to ten, look at my Vet directly in the eye, and let him know how it is. I will say softly, "this behavior is NOT going to be tolerated. Your behavior is unacceptable right now.Until you can calm down, I am going to my room and you can come to me when you feel like talking in a normal manner. When you can talk to me like my husband, I will listen to you all day long, but until then, we need to stop and walk away." Yelling and getting mad at them isn't going to add up to anything in their minds and they just have no emotions left to make them feel sorry for their actions.

  • Coming to Terms: You have to realize this isn't the person you married yelling at you, this is PTSD speaking. Most of the time, they don't even realize they are being so harsh. I have learned to look at my husband as two different will see Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde switch back and forth all day long. Does it make the outbursts and emotional abuse any less hurtful? Absolutely not. I have to stop myself from absolutely walking out the door and tell myself, it's not him over and over again. I never could understand the psychological babble and scientific jargon that's in the books, but I try to look at it this way. You have to think about what they went through, what they saw, and what they endured. THEN you have to think about the fact that mentally they are facing not only a zillion neurons constantly firing off in their heads, but the constant roll of emotions. They can't sort what is up and down, why they feel the way they do, or the frustration of what they are dealing with. They lost just like we lost as spouses. I like to think, or maybe it's more of a peace of mind, that my pod person is yelling at me and going off because a part of them which was our old spouses, still is there and knows that they can talk to us about anything. They can rant and rave, and we still love them. Does that make sense? Only difference is they just can't sort out their frustrations to have a normal conversation when something sets them off.

  • We have bad days too: As a woman, I have the infamous Aunt Flo comes to visit and since having my tubes tied, no birth control pills to help regulate my hormones. So once a month, I have a nice long week of the boo-hooies, the moodiness and the ice cream binging. I try to compare that situation to my husband which is surprisingly the same. I can be mean, emotional and have an occasional "snap your head off" moment. At that time, we really don't apologize and we don't really give a shit right? Aunt Flo takes over us, but just leaves us as fast as it came. It's a fact that a man's testosterone level can surge one time a month giving them the moodiness and bitchiness like PMS. Strange but true. PTSD is somewhat similar to our monthly issues but just never goes away. We can purchase Midol, tampons or fancy smancy pads with butterfly wings. We can pacify ourselves with our favorite candy, or a good cry or whatever we crave. We can say "yes I know I am being a heffer, but I am PMSing and that's that:". Our Vets can't do that. They don't know how to help themselves, they don't know how to pacify themselves nor do they understand what they are doing let alone control it. 

  • Hardening of the heart: I know it's easier said than done, but its very easy to wear our hearts on our sleeves when dealing with our vets. We are already psychologically damaged from all the changes, on top of dealing with our pod people every single day. We are easier to get hurt because we are dealing with so much crap all the time. We have fights, name callings, and all this can eventually just wear you down to the point you are past the exterior to the most vulnerable parts of our soul. I know it's hard as hell to ignore them but as I said before, they are like children in the throes of a tantrum. It's hard not to take offense to the insults, the screaming and hurtful words but sometimes you just have to let it go and mentally put your fingers in your ears while screaming "lalalalalalal I can't hear youuuu". 
To sum it all up dear Anonymous...I don't deal, I just cope. I ignore what I can, focus on his positives and less negatives, and I deal with him like I do as a parent. By telling them softly, hey you are hurting me when you do this...eventually it just sorta sinks in. I was surprised in the middle of marriage counseling that my husband made a comment in reference to this. He said "Sometimes I get so pissed off that I lose it. I scream at my wife, I yell and call her names, but I don't really realize I do it until she tells me that my behavior is not acceptable. I feel sorta stupid when she treats me that way, but if I do get that upset I don't mean to take it out on just happens. She is the only lifeline and place to go to when I can't find my way anywhere else". This was a major breakthrough not just for him, but for me. Because then I understood that its not him and he doesn't mean it at me...we as spouses are just are the scapegoats. I have come to terms that I would rather deal with him myself, than have him do this at work, in public, or to family.

There is no cure, no answers, and you will find your own way I promise. See if you guys can get into counseling as a couple. Sounds sorta cliche, but it will give you a chance to hear his side and this will I promise, help you see a lot more than this angry and screaming person. When another person is there, our Vets seem to focus a little more which is good for you because then they listen to what you have to say. You don't have to worry about them rearing up and bucking against you because you have the mediator in the room. It really does help and you can do this through the VA or the Vet Center for free. You really need someone that understands or is familiar with PTSD. I have tried outside help, but unless they are military oriented, it's not much help.

You don't have to be mean, but you can tell your Vet that you just can't keep going. Do it on a good day when they are relatively calm and not so viscous. Keep in mind that your spouse is still in there somewhere and they do come to the surface and test the waters. Let him know how much you love him and say we both need help with this. I want to fight with you but I need a little back up. There is no shame in doing that. It won't be easy especially if he isn't receiving regular help now...but it can be done.

I usually walk away and take a walk, read a couple pages, blog...anything to keep  my mind focused off the hurt that I feel. After three years, it's not as bad as it was, but trust me....the days still come. I cry, and cry....until I just don't think I can cry anymore. However, after a while, you just sorta toughen up and really most stuff doesn't bother me anymore. I have learned how to calm him down and redirect his anger. I will say hey, I know you are upset but let's stop for a moment and take a walk. Or let's go out to the garden and putz. Sometimes though, there is no way to do this and I usually just have to batten down the ole hatches and hope I can pull through it.

Make sure you are taking care of yourself. Do things just for you. Having something to fall back on for emotional purposes is a good thing. Find something to redirect your anger, frustration and hurt. Use this as your coping mattress so it pads those times when those days hit. Think of the reasons you married or with them in the first place and hang on to those thoughts. Find an outside source to get involved with so it eases some of the pressure off of you. See if you can find a local support group or talk to social workers at the VA and see if they have any resources. If you run into serious serious problems, walk away for a little while. I know there are many like me who have separated as it became the only solution in a volatile situation. While I try to work things out and hang in here....sometimes you just can't. There is no shame in that either.

I hope this helps you some. I know not the answers you seek but it is all I have. My email is always open if you need to vent or talk. Keep your chin up, there are many of us who are walking in the same shoes as you honey.......For the others, please feel free to add anything you wish in the comment box. Perhaps there are others who have different coping skills and most definitely point of view!

Uncle Sam's Mistress