Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Point of Decision - The internal struggles of being a PTSD/TBI Veterans Wife

We all in life... no matter our path... face hard choices.  We face times where the right choices cost us, where we have to put ourselves (and our own needs or wants) to the side and push forward, where the weight of those choices can seem almost too much to bare.

I think that for those of us that live with and love a hero with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury), those choices often come more frequently... and too often, during difficult times, they come in seemingly endless waves.

Right now our family is in crisis mode.  This time of year (middle of August through the end of February) has "anniversary date" after anniversary date clustered together for my husband.  His PTSD goes off the charts with heart breaking regularity each and every year.  And, each year I struggle in a place somewhere just this side of hell to keep my head above water.

In this place, I want to lay down and give in.  I want to spend my days in bed.  I want to shut myself off from the world.  I want to run away.  I want to scream.  I want to sob.  I want to let my own hurt, anger, and "well, just &#!* it" feelings overrun me.

The problem with that is that I also know that here in this place, like it or not, I am the glue.  If I lay down now, we all come tumbling down.  If I give in to becoming angrier and angrier, more and more hurt, less and less kind, it just fuels the broken places that are trying to spiral out of control.

So, the point of decision becomes how I make my choices in this season.  Not that I am responsible for my husband... or that I can control his attitude or actions... but I can control mine.  I can control them.  I can control them.  Incredibly hard to do, but I can.  So, do I?

Do I respond to shouts with shouts of my own... or simply walk calmly away?

Do I answer grumpiness with my own sullen attitude?

Do I, in those rare times in this place that my husband chooses to reach out, reach back? Or let my own hurt and anger push him away?

Do I keep putting one foot in front of another and keep walking forward, or do I lay down and let this destroy us?

It's a point of decision.  It's my part in this fight.  It's the choice I have to consciously make, minute by minute, hour by hour, in the months to come.

Here I go...

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 Life After Combat!


  1. Brannan, thank you for sharing your truth. <3 We are coming up on some anniversaries too. We are the glue...

  2. Brannan,

    Thank you very much for sharing. Your words echo so deeply the feelings that I have as well. It is hard to be the glue, this isn't for the faint of heart, but as you said, sometimes there is something more important in the world than ourselves.

  3. Well.said. I try but it is so hard. Just last night I snapped back at a snap. It lasted a second but I feel like shit but all I can do is apologize and vow to keep trying. Thanks for sharing your words.

  4. When it we went from a bad day here and there when he first got home, to a bad month, to a bad few months, to an entire bad year, the nursery rhyme verse "We all fall DOWN!" played over and over in my head. This blog post deeply echos and parallels that feeling, the child-like taunt that I have so intimately felt last year. The longest year. This year, as you know Dear Brannan, was likely one of our lowest years as a couple. We started out in the "All fall down" position. I had given in. But, true to Brannan form, true to FOV volunteer "mindset", there was No Man Left Behind, and you made me get up. Without him. I went on. I watched him lay there, so to speak, for the first three months of the year. It was the most difficult, but most important thing I did. He chose to get up. He went for the alternative treatment (see my blog for stellate ganglion block), and then was ultimately prepared to go on. He went to treatment. So even though I felt like giving in again while he was gone, you, and everyone else here, said no. Rather, "No Ma'am" in your sweet southern voice. I went on. Again. Without him. He came home, it was a weird readjusting hell, but kept on, but this time, together. More cohesive. A unit. On the same team. I still see it. The anxiety and ptsd, also compounded by the brain insults suffered from explosions in iraq. The constant vibrations of his truck... PTSD is still very much still "here", we have just adapted, we have changed, and the most important factor in all of this, we have a sh*t ton of people who "get it", who love us, and who support us (excuse my language please). We have learned so much, from you, from other FOV volunteers, from people we help, from treatment, from time.... The overwhelming urge to play along with that nursery rhyme, to sing "We All Fall Down", and then fall.... It just isn't so overwhelming. I love you so much Brannan, and your raw openness and your ability to continue on and keep on loving others as fiercly as you love your husband, well, that, *THAT* my friend, is what a beautiful spirit is. You. Rock. My. World. Now, back to battle :)

  5. Thank you for being so open, very good post

  6. I'm not sure what it is about this time of year... My husband shuts down about now and usually ends up with a stay in the mh at the hospital. I'm so discouraged right now. We have been fighting this going on 6 years and sometimes I just get to a point that I don't know how much more I can take. We always make it, but it seems extra hard this time! The older my kids get, the harder it is to excuse daddy... Thanks for listening. I don't really have anyone I can talk to, and this site offers so much help to me. Brannan, my prayers continue for you and your family, and all the other families of FOV.

  7. This is EXACTLY what I needed to see right now. These last few months all I have wanted to due was give up. I know that with the holiday/ anniversary storm season starting it is only going to get more difficult in my household. All I can do is pray for strength to get through this. My plate is full this year and lord knows I need all the help I can get. Thank you for posting this just knowing that we are not alone in this war at home is enough to make it through the minutes. <3, Staci