PTSD Hospital Treatment: The Family in the Wings (week 4)

Since my husband was admitted to the PTSD psychiatric ward, it took him a week to firstly move out of the headspace that was clogged with the stress of our battle against his employer’s insurance company.

It then took him another week to settle into the routine of living in a hospital ward, surrounded by crisp white walls, systems and procedures ready to be allocated and processed, other traumatised patients, and a lack of responsibilities.

His third week found him ready and emotionally prepared, with the help of his various specialists, to begin peeling back the many layers of his PTSD.

And now this fourth week finds him vulnerable and raw and hurting and exposed. It finds him stripped back. Honestly, this is truly a wonderful state. He is now ready take the first steps towards recovery.

 

MONDAY 4 SEPTEMBER

Hello again. I’m not sure how many days it’s been since I’ve written to you, and I’m not entirely sure about how I’m feeling.

My husband is still on the PTSD ward. My new job has still been tiring. Life with three little kids, winter illnesses, and last-minute book week costumes has still been wondrously hectic.

But each day, no matter how full, I’ve given myself some space. And I’ve made myself some time. I didn’t need much, but I did need to stop.

Is my house now beautifully clean? No way…
Is my garden freshly groomed? Not a chance…
Is my home clutter-free? Hardly…
Is my life back on track and stress-free? Nowhere near…

On the outside, everything looks much like it did two weeks ago. But on the inside, something has shifted. And with a little bit of time, and a little bit of space, the mess inside my head has finally started to clear.

There are still times when the anxiety grips my stomach. Times when the tears cannot be stemmed.

And that’s okay.

Healing takes time, even for me.

And that’s okay too.

 

TUESDAY 5 SEPTEMBER

Three weeks into my husband’s hospital stay, and his psychiatrists are now telling me to expect a discharge date of 12 September.

One more week.

The boys are both excited, already organising his welcome home party. Because a month drags on forever when you’re still so young.

My daughter, though she said the “right” words, even without looking at her I could sense the hesitation in her heart.

Which daddy will be coming home?

I know her hesitation, and I feel it, because it’s my hesitation too.

He will have had a month of intensive treatment from the leading specialists in PTSD. Still, the question will gnaw away inside me every day until then…

Which husband will be coming home?

 

FRIDAY 8 SEPTEMBER

After a long week of sick children, disturbed nights, busy work shifts and a general lack of motivation, tonight is simply about this moment. Right now.

It’s about the juicy orange I’ve just peeled for supper, the steaming herbal tea I’ve just brewed.

It’s about the smokey woodfire that I’m slowly coaxing into life, the two black cats that have curled up on the couch.

It’s about the three slumbering children in the bedrooms nearby, and it’s about me; safe, calm, and at peace.

 

Since my husband was admitted to the PTSD psychiatric ward, it has taken me a week to release the pool of repressed emotion that I didn’t even realise I had bottled up. As I let the tears flow out, so did much of the hurt, the anger, the fear, the resentment, the anxiety, the hopelessness, and the pain.

It was during the second week that I conceded that no one person can do it all. That no single person should ever feel the pressure to try to do it all. I let go of trying to control my situation, and I handed our fate over to those who are best suited to support us.

And although my burden had lifted somewhat, the tears continued to stream. I knew I wasn’t a failure, but I still felt like I had failed in some way.

The third week finally gave me the space I had been craving for years. I took off the heavy cloak of guilt I had been wearing and I began to learn again how to be kind to myself.

And now this fourth week I can finally feel the tide shifting. I am, at long last, sleeping without medication. The nightmares about my husband’s alcohol abuse have all but stopped. I am feeling safe and secure, loved and supported. I may have a house full of sick kids this week, but we are connecting again as a family should.

This week, my children finally have their mother back.

 

 

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