Sunday, February 26, 2012

Venting ala Blog...

So, tonight I'm pissed.  There's really no other way... no prettier way to put it into words (my VERY southern mom hates it when I use that term...).  And, in my typical fashion, I'm going to blog.  Read or don't read... I'm okay with that :)

I live 24 x 7 in a household run by PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury).  I am a full time caregiver of a physically and mentally wounded hero.  I am the mom of an adorable, but very precocious five year old.  I also spend every ounce of the time I have left trying to figure out how to help other heroes and families that are living in households like mine.  To put it simply, my life is stressful.  My days are long.  My nights are never long enough.  And, I do my best.

Today, someone (a random stranger) found the time, after talking to me for 2 minutes in the middle of an extremely chaotic moment, to track down someone I know and completely bad mouth me and my family.  I have no way to address that person directly without pulling the "middle man" into the fray (which I won't), but I thought maybe instead I'd use my frustration to explain a little bit about my family, my life as a caregiver, and why I (and others like me) may not always be in perfect form... no matter how hard we try.

For the past 5 days my husband has been in a sleep cycle that includes 90 - 120 minutes of sleep followed by 6 - 8 hours of being awake.  He's having horrible nightmares (PTSD) and his sleep rhythm is completely messed up (TBI).  As a result, in the last five days, I've had 90 - 120 minutes of sleep a night because as a caregiver and mom, I don't get to "catch up" during his next sleep time during the day.

Not only am I sleep deprived, but my husband's sleep deprivation means his mood swings are all over the map.  Hello, super giddy hubby.  Hello, super meanie.  Hello super giddy hubby. Hello, Mr. Meanie on steroids.  As a result, I'm in full time "management" mode... reducing and anticipating triggers, soothing circumstances, managing moods... for roughly 20 hours a day.

I'm also in "super mom" mode.  Our five year old (remember I said "precocious"!) has to stay busy... c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y during these times or it's a recipe for disaster.  A bored, whiney five year old = a PTSD nightmare... ask anyone.

I've also had a headache of the super-duper form for almost a week, have several (fellow caregiver) friends with their own crises that I'm trying to at least be a listening ear for, have several pieces of paperwork (VA related) that are overdue and I'm trying to get finished, my house is a wreck and we have a VA home visit on Tuesday (36 hours give or take), I need to go grocery shopping, I'm way behind on laundry, there are several household business-related things that I need to address... and the "to do" list goes on for about five miles.

I'm describing all of this, not from a "poor me, don't you feel sooooo sorry for me" standpoint (because, honestly, I'm not a fan of that), but because the life I'm describing is the "typical" life of the majority of caregivers who are living with and loving a Veteran with PTSD, TBI, and/or physical injuries.  We have our "stuff", our hero's "stuff", our kids "stuff", and then about a billion things that a typical person wouldn't even imagine.  Because of this, we become kick "grass" managers, referees, consolers, cajolers, nurses, and jills-of-all-trades... but even with our new found super powers (ha! don't I wish!) we're very much human.  AND, we are very much tired, struggling, frayed, barely-keeping-our-heads-above-water humans at that.

So, the next time you meet a random person in public... or a member of your family who's caring for a Veteran... or are with a friend who is living this life... please remember just how much is hidden in the smile and life of that caregiver.  Remember, try to understand, don't judge, and most of all be kind.  We have enough weighing on us without someone tearing us down, promise.

Thanks for listening!

Brannan Vines
Proud wife of an OIF Veteran
Founder of - an organization dedicated to helping heroes and their loved ones survive and thrive after combat with real world info about PTSD, TBI, and more!


  1. Thank you...thank you for sharing your story. It's all too familiar. I'm so sorry today sucked. :(

  2. I live your life minus the five year old.I met you once in pensacola. I know how you feel there are days I just cant take it anymore. One appointment after another ,ill man who has been up all night and does not want to get up for and appointment. House a wreck because you cant clean while he is trying to sleep during the day.I used to work and have a life. Now i am home with him it seem the only place we go is to va.People think I am so lucky I get paid to say home now.I am gratful that I get paid and can help my husband but I miss my friends the easy days of just going somewhere. But as you know you have to think about will lots of people be there,will it be loud and is it going to set him off.So for the person trying to judge you if only they walked in our shoes for a few days maybe they would understand.

  3. *tear*
    Totally understand.
    I pray you have a better day tomorrow!!!

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  5. Anonymous (#2) -

    I know it would be a drive... but we've started a support group on the Second Friday of every month at the Vet Center in Mobile (Alabama) for spouses. Don't know if you can come (or be away that long!) but it's from 10:00 - 11:30. It's hard when you're doing it on your own!!!! ((HUGS))

    Anonymous (#3) -


  6. People are mean. Until you walk a mile in someone else's shoes you have no room to talk. I know how you feel. My husband has PTSD, though we are at a better point now then we have been in years. He gets more sleep, thus I do too. I also have energetic girls 2&4 and step-sons 9&10, the boys have lived with us nearly 3 years and have their own issues from a mother that abused and neglected them. They also both have ADHD and one is believed to possible have some PTSD himself, if not that bipolar. My life is hectic too. But I am so grateful to be able to have other caregivers to talk to and hear their stories to know I am now alone. I found your sight from a fellow caregiver I met just last week. Thanks for all you efforts in supporting fellow caregivers.

  7. Anonymous (#4) -

    ((HUGS)) Sounds like you have your hands full. So glad you found us and am thankful for your kind words!

  8. We have a 4 year old little man and one little man on the way! I feel every bit of this. Our 4 y/o son has to constantly be busy and moms the one usually in the floor taking care of that while in the back of my mind "i have dishes to wash and put away, laundry to do, beds to make, floors to mop, bathrooms to clean, etc. Sometimes I get really irritated and I know some is from my hormones but I know i've been irritated before! I don't think my husband registers emotions at all. I feel he doesn't understand how I feel and why I feel the way I do. I hate the outbursts he has and me and my son don't deserve it but I know he doesn't mean it. And i've had to tell my 4 y/o that dad doesn't mean to yell. I just wish he would get the help he needs but he has given up on anyone helping him. I sometimes wonder if I recorded our daily life and made hubs watch it if he would understand how much this affects us as much as it does him.

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  10. I was directed to your site a few weeks ago by another PTSD/TBI spouse. She is the only other person in my life, that understands what I go through everyday. Finding your site is like coming out of the darkness. It is so nice to feel like I am not alone. I will be directing all my friends and family to this site. Thank you so much for your courage and dedication!