Thursday, January 13, 2011

Where Did My Son Go?

We received this story in the last few days. So often it's incredibly hard to get a "rough & tough" soldier to admit that he or she has a problem. PTSD is sneaky like that... the very reason they need help is also the very thing that convinces them that they don't need anyone.

For our family, the first step in the "right" direction was getting my hubby to check out the local Vet Center (CLICK HERE for info). They are less daunting than normal VA facilities and are committed solely to individuals with combat-related mental health issues. If your veteran is struggling, you may want to call your local Center and find out about their programs and ask if they have anyone on staff who served in the same war / conflict as your Vet. Sometimes that "common ground" helps break the ice and makes it easier for your Vet to take the first step toward help.

Here's the story we received...

I start out to say, that just trying to write my story is giving me great anxiety. I was so proud of my son when he joined the Army. He was eighteen then and new that since it was war time he would surely be called to action. But this did not stop him. He was a proud soldier and we, proud parents. And the Army was glad to have him.

His first tour was to Iraq. I would sit and watch every news cast and read every article I could find - only to make myself go crazy with worry. Thank god he came home safely.

But then tragedy struck our family when his 16 year old sister died of a drug overdose. The Army only gave him a few days leave, before having to be back on post. Sadly it left him no time to grieve with his family. Then within a few months he was off to Afghanistan and then he was stationed in Italy. So for a while we had no physical contact with him.

We started counting down the months to July as that was when he was due to process out of the Army. But then we got the crushing news that he was put on stop loss and sent back to Afghanistan. He survived the first 2 tours pretty mentally unscathed, but our family had a bad feeling about this time.

He would call seldom, but more calls to his girlfriend. When we did talk with him he was depressed at times and then other times seemed to be on cloud nine. We had a daunting feeling that he was using drugs. When he came home on R&R he was a little different . He checked into a hotel and slept for days. Then we noticed he was drinking a lot, not following through with plans and unable to sit still long enough to watch TV or visit. He assured us everything was okay. Then, at the end of his leave, it was back to the war.

During this time we could feel him slipping away. Not caring about the army or himself or anyone else for that matter. Finally came the best news - they were letting him leave the military on Christmas day. What a grand gift... or so we thought.

As his mom I could tell right away that things were very wrong. Even though he has only been home for a short time, the change has been startling. The drugs and alcohol are spiraling out of control. He doesn’t want much to do with his family, only with his girlfriend (which oddly enough she was his little sister’s best friend). He needs people to always be around to drive him places because he is too drunk to drive. He has turned down all the material things that he has had us collect for him during the years, so as to be able to set up a house hold. His words were, “I don’t want any of it. I will take it to the dump if i have to.” He wanted to get into his own place, but was unable to conduct business properly so I offered to help. At first, he was angry with me for butting into his affairs, but then decided to let me help. But it was difficult because he kept changing his mind as to what he wanted. At one point he said living on the streets was fine.

Thank God we finally found a place, only to find more opposition over what he wanted in the apartment first it was nothing then may be just a futon, then he let me go and buy a few things he needed just to get by. It was a strict list. His girlfriend is living with him, but has made it clear that he wants no one else there.

He has changed from a kind and gentle man to a mean and confused man. It is so heart wrenching, especially since family was once everything to him. As a family we think he may be suffering from PTSD. The more I research the more I think he is. The problem is he shares very little about the war but bits and pieces tell us it was not good. And, as a 28 year old man, he refuses to admit he has a problem. So how are we to help him? We are totally at a loss. My heart is breaking for that funny, happy boy I used to know. I live in fear every day that something bad is going to happen. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Shattered Dreams

We received this story today from a loved one living with a Veteran with PTSD & TBI. I know many who will completely identify with her heartache. Much of what she is experiencing can be attributed to Secondary PTSD. It is so important (and often so difficult to do) for us to take care of ourselves while we weather the storms caused by PTSD and TBI. If you find yourself in need of counseling, check out They offer free counseling for veterans and their loved ones in many locations throughout the United States.

Prayers and hugs to this writer and all who love an injured hero...

My boyfriend of 3 years has TBI and PTSD. We were once engaged, bought a home together and I thought we would have a white picket fence. I knew when we I met he had TBI and PTSD he had just been diagnosed. I could see clues of the affects but blew them off as it will get better with time. It didn't get better - it got worse. His depression is so bad I have become depressed at times. Living with this man has damaged my soul. He is emotionally detached from me most of the time but when I talk about leaving he cries and says he's sorry. I do love him very much but I'm now damaged.

I can deal with the loss of speech, the numerous doctor appointments and all the affects of the injury but the emotional side is leaving me drained. I have become the financial advisor, the decision maker, and his mental punching bag.

I love this man with my heart and want to stick by him and care for him but now I feel like this is my injury. I'm so alone and hurt all the time. He has given up on life and at times me. He doesn't take care of himself often goes days without a shower or shave.

As I said we bought a house together after a year and half in one of his fits of rage he threw my children and I out with nothing even though most of the belonging were mine. After a month or so and me getting my own place he came and said how sorry he was and that I knew how his head was. I agreed to take him back because he was suppose to go to a clinic for TBI In January. Once they sent the paper work this place sounded like a nut house, homeless people, drug addicts, etc. Now no clinic and emotional abuse all over again. Because now he has the stress of not having the money to pay his bills. So under stress comes headaches then anger and I become the mental punching bag again.

I have read every forum, books, all I can on TBI and PTSD but none of them tell the loved one's the hell they are headed for. They tell you to be patient, don't argue, do not cause stress, remember what they have went through. I do and respect him for his service but tell the loved one's what they are in for, give them support because we don't take the medicine or feel the injury but we feel the emptiness of lost love, lost dreams, and the guilt of feeling selfish for often wanting to run away.