Sometimes ALL it takes is just one person to understand where you’ve been and what you’re going through.
I have known in my heart so a long time that my husband was suffering from PTSD. Did we call it that? No. Did we address it? No. Did I try? I think I did, on some level. But, looking back over the years and all the deployments and periods of change or re-adjustment I continued to chalk his behavior up to different things. I blamed it on moving, or new duties at work, stress, a new baby, college, pre and post deployment. Jason always agreed with me on the different reasons that things were wrong. After this last deployment, I could no longer deny that PTSD was the root of all the issues we’d struggled with since 2004. I picked apart each and every incident day in and day out.
Initially, I felt alone. Really, really alone. We have a lot of military friends, we’ve lived many places and been around the Corps a long time. But, none of my military friends were going through this same thing. It was so easy for other people to say “just leave him”, “what’s wrong with him”, “why would he do these things to you” or my favorite “my husband/boyfriend has been there just as many times and he’s not like that”? And on some level they were right. I started to branch out and read things on the internet about PTSD and join groups/blogs on Facebook, etc with other military families going through exactly what I was going through. It finally clicked with me – Jason has PTSD, he has to get treatment. And I finally stopped feeling alone. I spent hours reading this stuff and it was like the people posting in these chat groups were living in my house. The oddities that I felt we were experiencing were the norm for those with PTSD. Isolation, anxiety, depression, waves of anger, insomnia, lack of emotion and feeling about things that should generate some response, disconnect from your spouse and children. It’s taken me about a year to accept that the root of all the evil in my marriage comes straight from PTSD (and TBI as well in Jason’s case) and we have to take steps to survive. We’ve made it this far. I never gave up on Jason….I have wanted to I will be honest, but I never have.
Our marriage was at a breaking point and branching out to these groups saved what was left of us. I convinced Jason to start reading – we don’t really post in the groups, but we learn. I learn as a spouse that this is happening to members of our military all over the world. It’s heartbreaking, it’s painful and it doesn’t go away. Most importantly I learned that we will get through this, we will work hard everyday to overcome this as a family. Jason learned that he’s not alone, that strong, hard-working, dedicated members of our military suffer from the same things he does. And that’s it’s okay to talk about. It’s okay to say – we need help! I’m so thankful that other people opened up their lives and their hearts. I later found out, that I do in fact have friends with spouses in the same siutation, they just never talked about it. Just like we didn’t. And I’m thankful to new friends who have opened PTSD doors, literally and helped us get through the day to day. I hope through the blogs that I to have helped someone who needed it.
Sometimes all it takes is just one person to understand…
Thank you to Melissa for inviting me to be an author on this blog. I hope to offer a different perspective on living with PTSD and TBI -the spouse perspective.
My name is Elizabeth and I’ve been a military spouse since 2000. My husband, Jason (also an author on this site) is a Captain in the Marine Corps and has been diagnosed with PTSD and TBI. We’ve been married the entire time he’s been in the military, so we’ve done and seen it all together. Jason has done 3 combat tours (Iraq and Afghanistan) while I stayed home and handled the family side of our life. We have three children ages 9, 7 and 3.
I hope that I can offer encouragement, support and an open mind to other spouses, families, friends or loved ones of a military member going through the same struggle my family does. PTSD is not an easy thing to live with on either side of the spectrum – the military member or the spouse. But, I believe you can find a way out of the darkness and find ways to heal together as family. Education, understanding and support – are only the first steps. My family istrying to do just that.
I look forward to hearing from all of you!