Sunday, February 26, 2012
Venting ala Blog...
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!
Proud wife of an OIF Veteran
Founder of FamilyOfaVet.com - an organization dedicated to helping heroes and their loved ones survive and thrive after combat with real world info about PTSD, TBI, and more!