the real honest facts about PTSD in a family home

The Real Truth About What PTSD Can Look Like in Our Home

It was 22:34 when I arrived home from my evening at book club. My one routine night out, for a welcome few hours of diversion, laughter and friends.

It was 22:36 when I realised the house was silent and still. Empty, but for the slumbering children. No sign of the husband I had farewelled earlier in the evening.

It was 22:39, after I had checked on each dreaming child, that I went back outside and found his car locked up and the front yard deserted. No one in the street. No one next door.

It was 22:40, when I tried to call him, that his phone rang out.The assured voice of his message-bank greeting forever mocking me of a happier time before his PTSD.

I had looked everywhere, now, except the garage.

For anyone else, it may have simply been a casual case of wondering what their husband was up to, never a cause for alarm. But for those touched by PTSD, the reality of how the intrusions, anxiety, and depression can swiftly darken any mood or thought to the extreme, quickly teaches you to fear the worst.

No wife should ever be in the position to have the next thought cross her mind. I desperately wish it hadn’t crossed mine.

Not a single part of me wanted to look inside that shed, but at the same time every part of me knew I had to.

It was 22:44 when I realised, with utter relief, I wouldn’t have to. 22:44 when I could breathe again. 22:44 when I found him, inebriated in a corner of the dark backyard. He hadn’t answered my call because he was asleep. And wet, from the late rain.

At some point during the day, a painful trigger had engulfed him. Thankfully, he had made it safely home, but no amount of drink would ever drown the memories that were haunting him.

It was 00:20 when he finally agreed to leave the solitude of the night and come inside. He was erratic. He was disassociated. He was lost.

And it was 02:37 when he grudgingly quit his inane fidgeting and aimless drifting around the house. He couldn’t delay his return to sleep forever, no matter how many nightmares would be there to greet him. He eventually laid down for the night, but only to appease me.

It was 06:51, after a short night of restless sleep, when I realised that I knew three things for certain.

…. That our family will be living with the after-shocks of this night for days to come.

…. That it will be a long time before I’ll let myself relax about a night out again.

…. And that, even though we’ve been here before, it never gets any easier. Maybe that’s because we also know that it won’t be the last.

This was not an unusual evening. This is what PTSD can look like to us. But I still consider us lucky.

Why? Because today is a new day. A day where I still have my husband, and my children still have their father. As long as he’s here, we can keep exploring our way through this journey of PTSD. And that makes us luckier than many.



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  1. That sounds very very scary! I am just understanding and learning about ptsd. It seems all if the emotions are common with ptsd but i would never use ptsd as an excuse or expect someone else to be understanding if i used it as an excuse to drink. That would be a deal breaker for me. I cannot imagine the fear you must gave then to deal with the fallout for the next few days seems very unfair to your family. I have ptsd but I’m still held accountable for my behavior. I hope he is too. Gosh i hope this doesnt sound harsh i just…feel for you

  2. It is eye-opening to see it from the other side – I am a PTSD-sufferer and although my pain and memories are my own, it’s hard to see my husband and child dealing with the aftershocks, too. Compassion goes a long way.

    • Some people do believe that it’s only the person with PTSD who has to deal with it, but the ripples actually carry on much further. Your burden is not yours to carry alone. Take care.

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  4. Dear Lea, Wow! I have had a nearly identical experience as this. Near identical! I am actually experiencing anxiety just thinking about my experience, yours, and the uncanny similarity, yet we may live a million miles away from each other, in different houses, with different husbands. But are experiencing the same issues. For the last 7 years, I thought I was on this journey alone. It is comforting to know there are others out there wandering this path.

    • Sarah, I’m so sorry that you’ve also been through an experience like this. I began writing to help get this mess out of my head, but it has come as such a comfort to know that others out there understand first-hand the journey I’m on. I hope your journey becomes brighter in time, but in the meantime, take care.

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