Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Yes, I am a Combat PTSD Veteran's Wife, and a mother, and a...

On National PTSD Day, someone asked me, "Wow, how do you handle being the wife of someone with Combat PTSD every single day without help?"

To be frankly honest, after doing it for 6 years, that's the easiest part of my day!

I get up in the morning and am instantly a mom to our 7 year old son and our 3 dogs. I check to make sure Prince Charming's phone is on the charger, his wallet where I can find it later (without moving it) and his keys in their home along with his glasses. I take care of the house and manage all those "housewife" details I loathe to complete with every waking moment praying for the day I can afford for someone to do it for me. I stink at keeping house. I'm trying - it's a work in progress.

Meanwhile, while I'm juggling life, Prince Charming is slumbering away because he works nights. Lucky him. :)

Mid day I serve lunch, educate my son because we homeschool, and try to get a breath of fresh air while still trying to take care of the house. I make sure we address midday prayers, prep for school for next week, and try to figure out precisely what goo is stuck to my wood floor today.

Sometime in the mid-afternoon Prince Charming wakes up and I have the chance to give him a hug and tell him I love him. He goes out to the garage or down to the basement to work on whatever project his brain is wrapped up in this week.

I mop the floors, scrub the wash, battle soap scum and grime. I grade papers, play fetch with the puppy until my arm falls off (Who wanted a Retriever?? Oh yeah - me.). I thaw whatever we need for dinner, grade some papers, and make a science project in my kitchen.

He takes out his frustrations of PTSD, TBI, and general life issues on whatever he's working on be it one of our vehicles or some other creation he's attempting to keep running this week.

I make dinner, feed everyone, clean up after dinner, and get the leftovers in the fridge. I clean the kitchen, throw the dishes in one washer and the clothes in the other - with any luck in the correct one for the type - and try to shine my sink with FlyLady guilt.

He sits and watches MythBusters with our son.

I go downstairs, get him clean clothes for work, bring them up, make sure everything's ready for him to go to work (cell phone charged, etc.) and tell him when it's time for him to get ready. Once he leaves I quickly vacuum and handle any bedroom and bathroom cleaning since they're next door to each other. Then I get our son ready for bed, read classics, and sing lullabies. More prayer time. Off to bed the little guy goes.

I stay up late for him to call when things aren't going right at work while handling your lovely emails and FB needs. I plan next week's radio show and work on new articles for FOV. I research, I make Power Point presentations, I drink a LOT of coffee.

Eventually around 2-3 AM I go to bed and start my prayers and night time reading. This takes about an hour. I wake up at 8 to start it all over again.

The keen PTSD/TBI wife sees the reality in the above.

Juggling PTSD/TBI in your household isn't something you can stop your life for. You fit it into your day. You make it PART of your day.

I check his phone and find his stuff in the morning because I KNOW later he will ask me where it is. If I check, I know. I don't have to spend 15 minutes looking for it when he needs it in 3 minutes or he'll be late for work.

I wait to do loud cleaning until he's gone so it doesn't agitate his TBI and cause a headache making work impossible. If I want to get sleep, HE needs to get sleep and have a peaceful time at home.

When he wakes up, he's free to go out and work on projects or do what he needs to do - not what I need him to do. If he wants to help he'll stay local - but it's not a mandatory thing. The less I push, the more often he IS available.

His "quality time" with our son is watching tv. That's OKAY. It's better than no time at all.

One of the biggest keys to making PTSD and TBI work is to WORK AROUND it. Stop trying to make him fit the mold and fit the mold around HIM. It really does make life so much easier.


  1. totally agree with everything said above. My husband has been diagnosed with both TBI & PTSD however, the level or % of it, I don't know. But your day (minus) the FOV & radio show kinda sounds familar. All the way down to the "he needs sleep & do NOT interupt that" - he too works the 3rd shift 9pm-5am),7 days a week. so, I am basically a sinlge parent of a 2 yr old & 6 yr old, no dogs, kids are enough! He takes care f himself & helps out when asked but most times its just me - doing everything!talk about tiring. I do, also understand the "fit it into your day" I don't ignore it, I just work around it. We deal with the headaches, not as often as when he first came back from Iraq but they're still there & they're still bad when they do come around. I hope things get better for you & your family. I trust me, there's always a connection for us wives, too. We have a common bond no one else will understand...
    God bless you

  2. You're right SD - there is a bond between us others can't possibly understand.

    I often get the comment, "Why don't you get a divorce?" Ummm...because I LIKE him. Because I married him. I said the words "For better or worse, in sickness and in health" - and I MEANT them. I still do. :)

    Hang in there and know you are never alone. We're all here fighting similar battles and waging the war in our homes....

    ...and on the days when it seems impossible and you just can't do it another day, know that I'm here. And I do care. :)

  3. My husband has PTSD and severe depression - I think he's bipolar but it's been a while since he told me what all he's been diagnosed with. He's retired Navy and out on disability with the Post Office.
    My days are different from yours in that my kids are all grown, although two of the 4 have returned home due to failed marriages - they are 19 and 22. The 19 year-old has a baby boy that, thank God, actually helps the King's moods.
    But therein lies the problem. His moods swings can come on in an instant but be a few days in between. They come without warning and can last a few days. He can wake up with it or it can raise it's ugly head half-way through the day. The trick is to be out of firing range with his ugly, mean comments or not say something to set him off. My therapist, yes I see one now - he won't - says that I didn't make a vow to be abused.... That's true. But the way I see it, after 27+ years of marriage, this is our life. Our marriage. Our love. On the days when I don't feel particularly love, I look into the eyes of my grandson and know that somewhere, deep inside my PTSD Dragon, is the sweet prince I married. I live for the good days and try to survive the bad the best I can. I am just finding out I'm not alone. I'm not altogether ok, but I'm getting there. Thanks for all you do. Thank God I found support.
    Terry C.

  4. Traditional therapists are often not trained in how to help someone cope through the stressors of a PTSD marriage. It's so sad but I was also told the same thing by multiple "professionals" in the field.

    No, we didn't sign up for abuse. But our spouses also didn't sign up for abandonment in their hour of need either.

    I have always, in my marriage, defined PTSD as one thing and abuse as another. If he and I can talk about it afterwards and work together to develop a solution of some kind and try to find some healing, it's PTSD. If he blows me off, treats me callously and rudely, and refuses to discuss the issue, it's abuse and I'm about to call his doc and tell him he's escalating.

    Yes, I've done it before. I've demanded he go get treatment because of the exact definition above. It hasn't happened often and usually he does it by himself but it DOES sometimes happen.

    I KNOW my husband loves me beyond his PTSD/TBI. I see it in how he fights to be able to keep a job, keep our family together, and work towards positive solutions for a bright future. It's a struggle every single day for him to do that but he loves our family enough to fight to keep it together.

    How could I possibly do any different? :)

  5. And Terry, I'm so sorry I forgot to mention this above but my STS gets me on rants sometimes and today would be Thank you so much for your comments.

    I'm glad you found FOV too. It gives purpose to us to be able to help you! :) So thanks for making me feel useful today! :)

  6. I feel that this post needs to be out there for everyone. Mr. CombatVet (Mr. CV)between episodes or meltdowns always asks how I put up with him, as do multiple friends that see different things. I always explain - I never ever put up with him. I love him just the way he is. PTSD does not define a person, the person is not PTSD - the reactions to things cause PTSD. Very different indeed. I feel that this post is speaking to a lot right now, as there is something in the air. The country's unrest, the lack of accountability - the fact that they may not get paid in August is triggering a lot. Hang in there ladies! We'll all end up on the other side better for it.

  7. Hi ladies, I am a wife of a retired CG combat veteran. I don't even know where to start. I just need to share my thoughts with somebody or someone who understands where I am coming from. I met my "love at first sight" seven years ago. We dated for four years while I was in college and then shortly after I graduated we became engaged. We planned a wedding for the following year. We have been married now for three years. Everything seemed relatively normal in the beginning of our relationship, but then I started noticing the issues. Granted, I didn't know him prior to him going over seas. So I fell in love with him after he came back from Operation Iraqui Freedom. I noticed in social situations he would get up frequently to go outside to have his cigarette. No big deal right? Then we went out to dinner he had to have a table close to the door, and always where he could "see" his surroundings. Going to the movies with him was an interesting experience as well. He would get up every five-ten min's to go outside, he just didn't seem comfortable in a movie theater. Around certain dates, he becomes emotionally detached, if I drop things while cleaning in the kitchen I've seen him hit the floor. Night terrors are intermittent now, now as frequent as they used to be. He has a quick temper and is very moody all the time. He drinks frequently and smokes like a chimney. I believe in for better and for worse, til death do us part, but sometimes it is sooo difficult to be married to a combat veteran. I wish I could take away his anxiety,fear, anger, pain, frustration, and depression. I pray to God everyday for my husband, all Combat Veterans,and all of the families/children that have to go through this.

  8. I am not a veteran wife. But my love is bipolar. He does have his fears and concerns. What makes my life happy with him is him going for therapy twice a week. He himself knows how to deal with the situations.
    I wish the way we have good therapists for other stuff, there were good therapists for PTSD. And all veterans could afford to go to them. Cause all of you girls deserve a happier life, you are so brave, strong and wonderful women.

  9. Is this a place where I can get support and conversation from other women dealing with the same things I am? Hopefully so, I am 21 years old and committed my life to a 26 year old Navy Combat Vet with PTSD. I need a place where I can talk when he won't. he's my best friend of 4 years, and I know he's my soul mate, but this isn't easy, as I'm sure you all know. thank you for your response.


  10. I know the pain all too well, I have been married to my husband for 25 years now the first 6 years were odd, we hardly even saw each other and I raised all 3 of our kids alone he was in the service, when he was medically retired is when life as I knew it changed and the monster my husband became moved in! We fought I got my self beaten up quite a few times, I tried to hide him from everyone and our kids suffered growing up watching him treat me like this! I became his whipping post! He attempted suicide so many times I have lost count, I have had him put in the hospital numerous times because of it and no the VA didn't help and still hasn't! I chose to stay because I said through sickness and health and I made a promise to my Dad that I would make my marriage work and so I am here!
    My husband made me a promise about 10 years ago that he wouldn't try committing suicide any more if I would stop pulling myself further away, I couldn't allow myself or our kids that kind of pain any longer, I stayed but in my head I checked out. Things were tolerable for a long while until about 5 years ago then the severe abuse came back the awful comments came back and the obsessive behavior came back, 3 years ago we had to move back to his home that he grew up in to help take care of his grandmother and mother, they passed away and we are now living in his childhood home he says he has gone full circle and now he can die and it wont matter! Today he actually looked me in the eye and said " nothing in my life is important enough for me to be alive" Our Children are all grown but one still lives with us (she and her husband) and she and I do a lot together because if she didn't I would be all alone, my own husband wont do anything at all with me, holidays don't matter, birthdays don't matter, even our wedding anniversary doesn't matter! So my question is... Am I here for a reason, do I help at all other than cooking for him and cleaning up his messes, paying the bills and buying his groceries? am I really a wife to him or a maid/ punching bag? do I deserve this? How far is too far?
    He does see a Dr. and I have been told by these VA doctors that I am not doing enough for him!!!!!! No one wants to hear my side, no one even cares!
    Thank you for letting me get this off my chest, returning back to the shadows so he wont see me crying.

  11. There's a fine line between enabling and being supportive.

  12. No Comment..hope the spieling was correct..Probably not..I am soo stupid...