We all the time hear stories about the trials and difficulties of living with someone with PTSD. It is true that PTSD makes life more of a struggle than it would normally be. Not only does the one who has PTSD spend their days dealing with their inner demons, but their loved ones and most especially caregivers deal with them too, including their own. You can't live with someone who struggles that way and not have it effect you in some manner. I would know as I have been my husband's Caregiver since 2005 and I know I've been marked by it.
The thing is I don't want to talk about my husband's struggles this time, you hear about those enough. I want to talk about what happened when I was struggling.
I have seen so many times where the Caregiver, the spouse, the fiance, the girlfriend are having a bad day. They need their own support. They need their man to understand they are feeling pain themselves. They cry, they yell, but they do it alone because their veteran isn't in any shape to be there for them the way they wish them to be. One thing is certain, life taking care of an injured hero can be a lonely one. I have been there, trust me. I still get there at times.
I recently started going to the doctor again. It was one of those things I kind of neglected while making sure my veteran was being taken care of. While there I decided to address some issues I was having, constant fatigue, sensitivity to cold, things like that. This lead to some blood tests that found my thyroid was reading abnormal levels. So, I was directed to go to an endocrinologist for further evaluation.
Some more blood work, an ultrasound, and a thyroid scan later it was discovered I had a couple of lumps. Of course we have been taught in this World that when someone has lumps they should be tested for cancer and that means a biopsy.
It is funny how despite the doctor telling me that there is about only 20% chance of it being cancer, it didn't stop the dread that began to fill me. In fact I took a month to debate whether to even bother with the biopsy. I have gone years where outside of a handful of stitches as a child and two child births, I didn't have much to do with hospitals. Now I was being told to go through a procedure there they will stick needles in my neck, it took everything in me to not panic.
Yet, in a way I do believe I was still panicking.
See, despite outward appearances I was a storm of emotions inside and every so often that storm would leak through causing quite the lightning and thunder display. I didn't initially think much about why I was a jumble of emotions, but my husband who was oddly calm did. It was he who mentioned the anxiety I was most likely feeling due to needing the biopsy.
This is where I began to feel ever so thankful that I have my husband.
If this had been a few years back I don't think Sean would have been in the state of mind to provide me the support I so desperately needed. At that time he was struggling enough to keep up with himself. There were days upon days where he would sleep or be detached to the things going on around him. I can remember how I was sick a few times back then and still had to fight through to keep up with the children because Sean couldn't handle everything. When I was bouncing from antibiotic to antibiotic trying to clear up the awful chemical burn to my face and learning how poorly my body takes to antibiotics, I still had to fight through the painful itchy rashes, violent vomiting, stomach pains, and heel pain to make sure everything was taken care of. Anytime Sean would try to be of more help he would become frustrated, angry, overloaded far too quickly.
I have to say that I did appreciate his efforts to try then. I know how much it pains him to not be able to be more helpful. I know that watching me suffer and not being able to do anything was only adding to his inner struggles because the guilt ate away at him. Trust me I have heard the constant monologues of "I'm worthless, you deserve better", I still hear them even. The point is I just know if these recent events had occurred a few years back I would have been dealing with my anxiety and fear alone.
Instead my husband, who has come to learn to live with his PTSD better was able to be there for me. He was by my side during the biopsy, rubbing my foot to let me know it was alright. He held me as I cried during the week leading up to the results. He was my calm in the storm. The strength I needed to get through my own medical troubles. He showed me that because I stood by him all this time while he struggled, that he wanted to do the same for me.
The act alone meant the World to me!
By this point it did not matter what my results would be because I knew he and I would get through it together. He assured me of that! It was the fact that even though we still lead very unpredictable lives where bad days can turn into bad weeks or months. Where his PTSD can take over and we will be back where we were a few years ago. Where I will become the person in the relationship to keep us both strong and moving forward. The fact that he was able to come out of his shell of darkness long enough to show me the support I needed, helped remind me of what I have been fighting for all these years I have spent with him, that he is worth it!
He showed me that there is thriving in this World of PTSD and not just surviving. That hope is still there for all of us.