You have found me because PTSD has found you

You Have Found Me Because PTSD Has Found You

There was once a time in my life when PTSD were just four innocent letters of the alphabet.

Put together, my medical books told me these letters described a condition called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The textbooks explained the nature of psychological injuries. They described the ensuing depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, hypervigilance, and substance abuse. They outlined the basic foundation of treatment, consisting of medication, cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy.

But then in 2011, after my husband had been wholeheartedly dedicated to his paramedic career for more than ten years, everything began to fall apart around us. A medical professional made his assessment and handed us our sentence.

PTSD. And just like that, those four letters now belonged to us.

My medical books didn’t lie – my husband ticked every box they listed. Perhaps they didn’t lie, but I quickly discovered that they didn’t even begin to tell the full story. There was no mention of the explosive anger that would reduce me to tears and cripple my morale, the sleepless nights, the dark clouds that would linger for weeks on end. There was no talk of the unpredictable disappearances and the destructive binge-drinking, and no warning of how PTSD can push a family – and a marriage – to the brink.

My husband may be the one with the diagnosis, but our whole family lives with PTSD.

It doesn’t matter what the exterior looks like; a veteran, a police officer, a first responder, a doctor, a paramedic, a fire fighter, a journalist, an emergency service worker, a lawyer, or an adult who is still guarding a broken child deep inside. It doesn’t matter, because PTSD doesn’t discriminate. It will rain down on anyone, anytime. And once it has someone in its grip, the result will always look the same.

If you are here, reading my words and following my journey, then I know that PTSD belongs to you too.

You also live with PTSD, as your own diagnosis, as a partner, as a spouse, as a parent, as a brother, as a sister, as a child, as a relative, or as a friend. Just like me, you are worried. You are tired, and you are scared. You are sick of walking on eggshells, every moment of every day. You are sad, but only when no-one is watching. You are pushed to your limit. You are lonely. You are lost.

You’re looking for answers, but more than that, you’re searching for others who understand firsthand what your life has become. Because your friends don’t get it, your colleagues don’t get it, and even your family doesn’t necessarily get it. You’re looking for people on the same journey so you can take comfort knowing that you’re not as alone as you feel. And you’re searching for hope.

I share my stories because I want you to know you’re not alone. You are not the only one who has ever felt this way, you’re not the only one who has had these thoughts.

And I believe there is hope in this dark world of PTSD.

But although PTSD impacts on our life considerably, we are still just a family. And I am still just a mother. I choose to write about and share these aspects of my life too, because I strive to not let my husband’s PTSD define us all.

These are my stories.

–  Lea

 

 

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10 Comments

  1. This is so much the story of my life and so many other Vietnam Wives. We have walked on
    eggshells for 50 years and still do as life living with PTSD is always unpredictable. To survive
    you need to find a way to detach as best you possibly can, ……when you can!! Life can be very lonely when other people do not understand, especially extended families in denial and therefore sadly there is no contact, love or support from these families. . Will never be Understood!! Has been and still is a long journey of struggles in more ways than one for Vietnam Veterans, Wives and Children
    even after all this time.
    Not Understood:
    We go along assunder our paths grow wider as the seasons creep
    We marvel and we wonder why life is life ……..and then we fall asleep.🌹🌹

    • Thank you for your comment, Jacqui. Your journey has been even harder because so much less was known about PTSD when your husband returned home from war. I hope he is getting the right professional help these days, and that you also have support too. And I love the quote at the end, just beautiful.

  2. I am so glad my husband found your post. You have accurately described the scenarios in our house. Although my husband was just diagnosed 10 months ago, we have been dealing with PTSD for more than 8 years( just didn’t know) . It has affected him not only emotionally and mentally, but physically and spiritually as well. The isolation, drinking, the avoidance of me and the kids has become normal. Then the guilt that he then feels compounds the problem. I cried as I read your words. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Thank you for your comment, Cathy. It’s such a lonely journey, but reaching out really helped me and I’m sure it will help you too. I hope you and your husband both have good professional support in these early stages since his diagnosis. Take care.

  3. Yours are the words I find comfort in when the silence of my spouse’s PTSD shuts me out.
    You help me remember that this time will also pass. Thank you so much for putting words to what I experience and reminding me that I’m not alone.

  4. Thank you Lea for your support. I read your articles and it helps me deal with my ptsd from the 1990 Gulf War. You open my male eyes to what I put my ex-wife through, also, my current wife and kids.
    Certainly helps me understand what I have done to others over the past decades.
    I ask permission to share your writing with my Canadian Veterans at our next ptsd group coffee?
    I have learned so much in so little time and wish to help the next ptsd person/family.🐶🐾🐾🐾🐾

    • Thank you for commenting, Russ, and I’m so glad that my posts have helped you as a PTSD sufferer, particularly with how spouses and families also become affected. I’m more than happy for you to share my work with others who may find it helpful, I only ask that you credit me as the author and note where my writing/blog can be found (https://awaywithherwords.com). Thanks!

  5. Oh my – yes, not enough is said about those living with and supporting those they love who have PTSD. Thank you.

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