PTSD is something that happens to service members that go off to war…. Right? The ones that deal with the constant stress, the loss of loved ones, the constant fear, and most of all the aftermath. They are our “heroes”! The ones that sacrifice it all so that we may live free! So when they return we try our hardest to take care of them. The ones that seek help at least, to those that finally break down enough and know there is no other choice. Men like my ex-husband. Men that are so broken, so wounded, so ridden by survivor’s guilt that they contemplate taking their own life daily. I remember my therapist telling me months ago “You have PTSD” and I remember laughing and thinking “No, no…. that’s my EX not ME! Reread your file lady” I remember thinking, I suffer from Anxiety, NOT PTSD. I’ve never suffered trauma like that, I was a lucky child and young adult.

FAST FORWARD-A week after this conversation, I recall being woken up at 3am, covered in sweat, screaming….. the look on my boyfriend’s face….. Startled, confused, and worried. It was then he asked “what were you dreaming about?” my response… “I don’t know just a nightmare.”  The truth…. I was having a nightmare like the ones I’ve had many times before… My Ex-husband…. Dead. Him giving up on life, survivors guilt won… he’s lying on the floor of the bathroom… shot. Only this time, in this dream, he decided to take my boys with him. But how could I tell him that? How do you tell someone who loves you that you are so far gone and crazy and scared of the dark thoughts in your head for no reason. Or worse…. You now fear that this plague that has caused the loss of your entire family has now plagued you as well. Where does this end? When does the fear go away? I return the next week and tell my therapist, I’ve been having nightmares, but I minimize it. Because denial is a nice place to be, it’s comfortable here. So how do you develop PTSD without ever going through trauma of your own? Easy. 7 months go by, you answer ever phone call, you watch the news, you mail packages, and you spend day and night worried you will get a visit or a phone call saying “He’s gone…” And then when he finally comes home, relief right? HELL NO. This is the beginning of your nightmare. Now you will spend your every night listening for his every move. When he gets up, when he checks the doors, windows, when he checks on your kids. Every movement means DANGER. And when once you had no fear, the world is now a scary place. If the man who is your family’s protector, your rock, your place to lean on, is scared of the world… then I guess I should be scared to. So he “prepares you” he teaches you how to shoot a gun, how to come up with a safety plan in case something happens…. How to load and reload quickly…. And most important “DON’T YOU DARE MISS YOUR TARGET” but wait….. What am I scared of? Hell at this point you don’t even know anymore. And so your life begins to change….. Ever watch a loved one slowly die? Well imagine living every day thinking this is your husbands last day on earth, and tonight or tomorrow you will have to tell his children that they no longer have a father. So you begin to prep your speech… and his obituary. Only the day never comes. So you live day to day waiting for your loved one to take their last breath…. Can you imagine that?

And that is how. That is how you catch this plague called PTSD.

Love you all,

-A

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