I'm trying to think of words to describe life when lived with a combat vet who has PTSD and a TBI, phrases that come to mind are "walking on eggshells", "waiting for the other shoe to drop", "living on borrowed time","the walking dead"....because thats what it feels like.
You wake up and ta daa your husband is in a good mood, he has energy, he wants to accomplish things and he is affectionate...thats when you are living on borrowed time, you know it won't last so you try to put all other thoughts aside and just live in the now, just enjoy the time that you have....soon, when he has been in this mood for longer than average you are in the "waiting for the other shoe to drop" phase, still trying to enjoy your husband and his good mood, he is almost the man you married, you get glimpses here and there of him anyhow...eventually you start to feel the weight of the other shoe dropping, it hasn't hit the ground yet so you are walking on egg shells, hoping that the good mood will come back, hoping its just a dip in energy but then BOOM the shoe hits the ground and you are living with the walking dead again..the other guy is back...yup that guy that came back from war in your husband's body....we are not fond of this man, this man is rude, mean, lazy, judgmental, critical and at times absurd. You never know when he is going to show up or how long he is going to be around so you stay in your walking on eggshells phase because the walking dead is among you. That might sound harsh-the walking dead- but its how I feel, when the other guy shows up it reminds me that part of my husband died over there and some days its just his body walking around, he isn't in there....so you cope, you get the things done that have to be done, you try to push away the loneliness and sadness, you wonder how you will endure the rest of your life like this, you wonder if perhaps the other guy is here to stay this time, perhaps your husband isn't going to come out of this one.
When my husband goes into one of these moods I try to get him out of sight, I know that sounds harsh but hear me out. I try to get him to go into his man cave and just stay there, usually all he wants to do is sleep anyway. Once he is out of sight I pretend he is deployed. Its much easier doing it all on your own when you truly are all alone-at least for me, I get resentful if I'm doing it all and I see someone else with equal responsibility doing nothing....
I think that the hardest part is not the bad-walking dead times, not the walking on egg shell times either...I think the hardest part is when he is truly your husband and you are living on borrowed time and you allow yourself to think even for a second that perhaps this time the other guy won't come back at all, perhaps the nightmare is over....that little glimmer of false hope is the hardest part for me. Not to say that thing won't get better, I pray that they will but I know that other guy won't let go of my husband, not completely.