Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Newlywed Bliss Over-Rated With PTSD

My heart goes out to this Veteran and his wife. Our family was once in a dark, desperate, PTSD hell. Our story was not the same... but I remember the pain of that feeling of being so alone and confused and unsure of what I could possibly do to save my marriage, my family, or my husband. Matter of fact, FamilyOfaVet.com, was started because of that dark, lonely place. It was started to (hopefully) be a beacon of hope and help to those in need. I'll be responding to this Veteran's wife with some ideas and aide tonight and then will post some on the blog tomorrow. If anyone else has some ideas, I'm sure she'd love the help.

Here's her story...

“It's a fairytale!” was how my friend described our love story when I told her how we met. We met ten years ago and at the time I was in a relationship. Nothing ever happened between us then. We kept our feelings to ourselves. Then our paths crossed again and it was like conversation never stopped. But he was in a relationship. So, yet again feelings were kept silent - but your mind and your heart has a way of keeping it in the back, nicely tucked away. We kept in contact for a short time, but it was as if we just decided it could not be. Five years went by and one day he was back.

This time we both decided there was no way we could let this chance get away! We carried on as if we had never been apart – we never stopped talking… endless conversation, laughter. Finally, I’d found my soul mate and best friend. He popped the question and of course I answered, “Yes! Yes! Let’s do it now!”. So we drove to the nearest place where we didn’t have to wait and we got married.

It was the best day. I was on a high that I couldn’t begin to describe without smiling from ear to ear. I couldn’t believe how happy I could be.

Then PTSD began to creep in. It started with anger towards crying babies at the store and being unable to sleep, pain, drinking. Although he was getting help, it was just him saying what he thought they wanted to hear or just enough to get the attention that was needed (band-aid treatment). I encouraged him to really talk to someone, but he would tell me he didn’t want to talk about what he did in Iraq. Then his therapist started with his childhood and blamed his parents. He started working with a work program at the VA and it all started to really go south. He was harassed by two female employees to the point he was watched at all times and no one would help or be on his side. He ended up losing job because they said he had to take care of his PTSD and he had just started taking meds for his PTSD (for nightmares, depression, etc). He lost trust in his doctor because he felt everyone was judging him about what he had shared with his doctor by reading his files.

Then, the VA sent him a letter stating he needed to check in with the VA police every time he came to the VA because of his disruptive behavior. Yet they have NOTHING documented - no outbursts, no threats, no acting out. The patient advocates have yet to give him answers as to what they mean by disruptive behavior. Two police chiefs reviewed the reports and stated it was harassment by these two women, yet nothing was done. In the place that he was supposed to feel like he could get help, he has been made out to be the bad guy. It’s unreal.

So it’s been 6 months since we got married and I feel I don’t know the person I married anymore. He no longer talks. I might as well talk to the wall, because I will get a blank stare or “no,” “yes,” or “I don’t know” for answers. He is forgetful. Sleep is either induced or none at all. He’s up all night watching TV. He might not eat or just eat everything in sight, hiding his drinking then all he does is sleep .

I am so angry I could spit nails and ready for divorce as I feel I am doing it alone. Finances are to the bare minimum as I am the only one with a job. I am emotionally drained. I know it’s not me and all he can tell me is I didn’t mean to hurt you. I have reached out to the military ministry, church yet I can still see how hopeless, helpless he feels. So the blessing I felt when I came up on this site… just to read & vent. Thank you. I could go on and on, but just being able to write has helped me calm down and know I am not alone. Thank you again....


  1. Hi There,

    I want to begin by saying you are not alone in this. I can truly relate to your frustrations, anger, helplesness and this emotional roller coaster you are in. I too also feel this is so unfair.

    Like my husband, I have my good days and bad days, and as the old saying goes you have to take one day at a time.

    Like you, PTSD invaded our lives and has ruined my happy marriage. PTSD turned my husband of 19 1/2 years into an angry stranger. No emotions, quick to snap, and no longer can handle day to day responsibilities.

    He moved himself out of our home, and just washed his hands of any responsibility. I also have contemplated divorce, but in my heart I know I do not want to.

    I do see him when he feels he can handle seeing us, and there are times when a glimmer of the old him comes out - I savor those moments and it gives me hope that the real him is still in there.

    You have every right to greave for what you have lost, you have every right to get angry and see how unfair it is. -But in that same breath you have every right to know he proably cannot truly understand what and how things affect you.

    You can talk, yell, and scream at him, but he can't hear it.

    PTSD has taken him over, and it is truly up to hin to get the help and do what he needs to do to get better. There is no easy cure or overnight tricks...this is going to be a slow and frustrating process for the 2 of you.

    I always keep in mind that I married him for better and for worse (this has got to be the worst). Love is what keeps me going and also remembering that this is one of those things in life that I cannot control no matter what.

    Yes..this is easier said than done- which explains some of my bad days.

    My husband, like yours apologizes, and often questions why I even still talk to him after everything he has put myself and our family though - and simply put I love him.

    I explain to our daughter (she's 15) that I hate PTSD and I hate what it has done to us, but I do not hate her Father, I just hate the situation.

    You have to be realistic and know this is never going away, PTSD will always be with you. But with the right help, he will learn to control the outbursts, he will know his triggers and hopefuly share with you these things so you can work together.

    Right now, you need to take care of yourself, learn everything you can about PTSD - trust me knowledge helps. Find a Wives support group.

    I know in my heart this will be a long journey for my husband and I, as well as you and your spouse,and there is no guarantee that even when he finaly has things under control that he will want me still in his life. But until then I am going to be the support for him whether he sees it or not, Im not going to give up on him and I will always know in my heart that I did my best.....but the healing must begin with him.

    Stay Strong...Take care of yourself, know that anger is normal, and as I started my comment, you are not alone.

  2. Liznosa -

    Thanks for your encouragement to this wife. I made sure your comments were forwarded to her so she wouldn't miss them. You make some really good point - especially about hating PTSD (don't we all!) but loving our vets and giving ourselves permission and room to mourn what we've lost.

    Brannan Vines
    Proud wife of an OIF Veteran
    Founder of FamilyOfaVet.com - a site dedicated to helping heroes and their loved ones survive and thrive after combat!

  3. As I sit here reading this blog I begin to cry as I too am dealing with what I call the Aftermath of War. I will soon be sharing my own story in hopes I can give a small piece of comfort to someone else in a similar place. At least the hell I have been going through has had to be for a better purpose..? For now I want you to know that your feelings are valid, all of them, as I know from my own experience they range widely! You have to remember not to lose yourself completely, as from what I read there is something called Secondary PTSD as we as the “caregiver” to this invisible wound start to take on similar characteristics and behaviors as our vets. You need to find your own outlet and this site is certainly a huge first step. As difficult as it is try and stay true to yourself and take things minute by minute and hour by hour because sometimes even one day at a time can be too much. The big picture is very overwhelming as there is so much out of control and out of your control. You are so much stronger than you even know right now so please take care of yourself so you can be there for your husband in hopes he will take a step to seek some help again. He is the only one though who can work through this which is so difficult because we can’t fix them... Well I felt compelled to write as your story resonates with me on many levels and I truly thank you for sharing it.