Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Loneliness & Living with a Struggling Veteran

Have heard similiar comments from many spouses of Veterans lately about how "alone" or "lonely" they feel as they learn to live with their hero spouse who is suffering from PTSD or TBI (or both).

I freely admit I often feel that way... feel like one woman against the world... trying to figure out how in the heck to keep all of the "balls in the air" while helping my dear hubby navigate civilian life with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Mild TBI.

It's funny, in a sarcastic kind of way, how much our marriage after combat has changed. My hubby and I met in high school (I know it's cliche'!) and spent years together not only as husband and wife, but as best friends. We literally talked about everything... from the mundane daily chores to future hopes and dreams to embarassing moments that we'd never confess to another person. Now, I often feel alone without his willing ear.

I have noticed lately, though, that the advice of my wise friend (a Vietnam Veteran's wife and founder of the Vietnam Veteran Wives organization) about learning to cope with PTSD has helped. She told me almost a year ago that I had a choice to make... PTSD could take me under, make me miserable and destroy my marriage -OR- I could find ways to gain strength and support from others who were facing the same struggles, pull myself up, and decide to live a happy (though different than I'd planned) life with a hero. Somehow, I guess that effort and concious choice has made living is "PTSD world" not quite so lonely. I know now without a doubt that there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who are struggling to support Veterans with PTSD or TBI. I know I'm not alone... even when loneliness tries to creep in.

I think as a "new" generation of Veterans, spouses, and other loved ones, we all have that choice to make. We're going to have to DECIDE to make it... that the battle for our marriages, futures, and happiness is worth the effort. Not saying it's easy, and it's definitely not always fun... but it's worth it!!!!! So, next time you're lonely... remind yourself that you and 500,000+ Veterans and families are all "alone" in this together :) (and I'll do the same!)

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