Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Momism: Taking Care of You

Dealing with the effects of a beloved veteran's PTSD and/or brain injury can take a lot out of a person. Dealing with our own emotions can, too. It starts even before PTSD, any injury. It starts when our loved ones have the orders to go to war.

We live in fear (and faith) while they are in combat. Most of us can't help but watch the news. It's hard to sleep at night knowing that it is daylight over there. While communication has increased greatly since the first deployments back in 2003, it still seems like ages between phone calls, Skype or emails.

Keeping the fear inside can cause it to fester. Some of us may not be lucky enough to have a group we can share it with. Parents often fall into that problem. My son was one of the first in our community to go to Iraq/Afghanistan. It took several years even for some people to say they actually knew someone personally who had deployed.

I was still raising two young children at home, one in grade school and one in junior high then high school. They had enough to deal with as the siblings of a deployed soldier. One slept with his older brother's sleeping bag the whole time. The other hugged the huge teddy bear her “Bubby” had given her every night, hoping he could feel the hugs across the miles.

What did I do? I wrote. In my journal, in spirals. I wrote letters to my son so that he would hear his name at mail call every day, even if it was just a short note. Our mailman called the letters “top priority”. I wrote poems and essays, such as how I spent his 20th birthday, how a phone call from him made me feel, how I grieved over the loss of soldiers I will never have the honor of meeting down here.

By getting it out through writing, I wasn't allowing it to consume me and overwhelm me. Yes, late at night when the kids were sleeping, I admit I had the news on. During my lunch hour, the same. But I was able to write down the fears I was too terrified to say out loud. I even turned some of them into a fictional paranormal murder mystery I am finally getting the courage to let go public.

Writing allowed me to hurt and cry when I needed to and also be there for my other two. I was a cheerleading mom, played volleyball with my daughter and her classmates on Friday evenings. I would go watch my younger son's basketball games.

I wrote during my son's deployment and it helped me with my frustrations. Living with the diagnosis of PTSD and a TBI in that same young man, I continue to write today. For so many of our veterans and us as their family members, the war will never be over, although we occasionally get a little “R & R” from it. Still, we live one thing the same as we did during their deployments...we don't know what the next day is going to bring.

It is OKAY to feel frustrated. No one understands what you are going through if they have not gone through it themselves. Yet, even today, I can proudly say I am adult enough not to wish on someone else the roller coaster ride of PTSD.

You are going to have some rough patches as I'm sure you've already discovered. That's probably what brought you here today. During those times, if possible, take a break and get it out in your own way through a healthy alternative...your own passion in life.

Use whatever your passion is to help you deal with your frustrations. If you like to write or journal, do so. If you like to paint, do so. If you like to walk or jog, play a sport, sing, play a musical instrument, do so. Take care of your needs and it helps strengthen you to take care of your veteran. You will soon see a difference in your own strength and outlook. I know I have.

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