Monday, October 17, 2011

Anger, Guilt and Frustration After Losing a Vet to PTSD

As  loved ones and care givers of disabled veterans suffering from PTSD, TBIs, survivor’s guilt, etc. we often find ourselves walking on eggshells and changing everything that we do so our vet is not set off by the littlest thing.  Despite our best efforts, we still get yelled at, told we can never understand what they’re going through and nothing we can do will make them rejoin us in reality.  After returning from war, many of these vets loose sight of reality without even knowing it.  It is almost like they come back with multiple personalities and adapt to make all of those around them happy and return back to “themselves” when they are with the ones they love.  Why is this? 

I know that the preceding is very common among these vets, but at this early hour I find myself outraged at my own situation.  Without giving out too much information, I would like to share it and get input from anyone as to whether they have been through similar situations, if so how they dealt with it and maybe even some advice on how to get through it.

In loving (with all of my heart) and caring for my vet, I gave up my life and everything I once was (very successful and independent) to see him through the VA disability process, his MEB and his divorce from his ex wife who set out to take everything he had.  My vet lost his battle with PTSD and was preceded in death by both of his parents. 

Before I even knew what was happening my life was taken over by VA appointments, medication administration, which eventually turned into medication abuse, alcohol abuse and severe emotional and mental manipulation.  He cheated on me while I was pregnant and to those that barely knew him claimed I had stepped out and she wasn’t his (this never happened; I always remained true to him).  But to those closest and dearest to him he shared his joy, excitement and fear and our plans for the future.  I was with him when he died in his sleep lying in my arms with his beautiful blue eyes wide open.  I always promised him I’d stand by his side no matter what all the way through the end; which was not supposed to be for a long time, we were supposed to grow old together.  It seemed with every doctor’s appointment the news got worse.  But we had made bright plans for the future.  He was eager to get help and get better and I was so proud of him.  I had been working so hard to get him to that point for a year and a half.  It was all at our fingertips when he died.

Where my anger comes in; people in a small community and gossip.  Like many, my vet “misused” his meds and drank heavily to lessen the pains he was living with daily from the war and it seems like everyday now someone different is telling me that he told them our child wasn’t his, that he was planning on leaving me, he already had a “new girlfriend he loved”, he never loved me, he just used me because he had no one else and other horrible things.  We were together every single day and night; with the exception of one month when he kicked me out when his PTSD was out of control.  What makes this so hard is that I knew him well enough to know that he would have said those things.  But why? 

I did everything I could to help him, even at the expense of my own health.  He used to always say that I was dealing with another creature and he was right.  I had no idea how to handle him and his episodes.  I tried to prevent him from misusing his meds and drinking so much but it was a lost cause.  His stories from the war haunted my dreams.  I stayed awake every night watching him sleep through his night terrors until he seemed to be sleeping somewhat peacefully.  I completely lost myself.

Maybe he resented me because I was no longer the person he fell in love with again (we were high school sweethearts nearly 10 years earlier).  Maybe I wasn’t doing a good enough job and he felt better going out and doing these things then coming home and hurting me (never ever physically).  But now I will never know.  I am haunted everyday by these questions: “Did he ever really love me?” “When he said he wanted to marry me was that just something he thought I wanted to hear?” “Was I just not good enough?” “Why did he always reach out to other females to talk to; he could never bring himself to tell them about his true problems and feelings?

My vet was highly decorated and truly an amazing, loving man; a teddy bear of sorts.  I have battled severe guilt over feeling this way about our situation because I do not want to remember him like this.  I have to raise our child never knowing the answers to these questions.  I have to find the faith and courage to guide her through all her trials and tribulations and just let her know her father was an American Hero and an amazing man.  How do I do this when there are so many unresolved issues in my own relationship with him?  Am I a horrible person for feeling this way? Who am I in this community now that he is gone?  Where do I belong?

Thank you to those of you that have taken the time to read my story and many thanks if you can offer up any type of guidance or maybe even your own story.


1 comment:

  1. i am a survivor of ptsd and tbi for over 37 years diagnosis but never treated while on active duty i can assure you the thing that were said, anger outburst,and so many other things that he might have done he did not mean the bottom line is there is not a lot known about long term affects from experience i can assure you things you mention he did not mean it becomes a way of life trying to hold on and not loosing the ones you love the most i know this probably dosen't make since but i have been going through this most of my adult life i am so sorry for your loss and my god give you comfort