I am often told I am strong, I am brave by anyone who finds out that my husband suffers from PTSD. Most of the time these comments are coming from people who have no idea what the realities of day to day life are like.
I know those comments mean well, as cliche as they seem to be. It is like when someone dies and we grasp for just the right words to say. We don’t know- so we fumble along with the feeble attempts at conversation and a slight bit of compassion.
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I have been told some off the wall things. From my husband needs to just get over it (I wish it was that simple!) or he needs to get help. Don’t they think he already is?
Then there are others who seem oblivious. The ones that see my husband, who retired from the Army at 39 years of age, as a perfectly healthy veteran. They don’t see the invisible scars because PTSD is the elephant in the room that everyone has heard of but doesn’t want to know about. They don’t understand his physical and mental limitations, they don’t see he is in constant pain, and they have no idea he just popped some pain pills to ease the pain from something as simple as walking.
What is living with PTSD like?
PTSD can have an extreme affect on relationships. Loving someone with PTSD means that we have to adjust to their moods constantly. You can have plans to go somewhere, PTSD be triggered and plans be canceled within a moment’s notice.
Sometimes we have to leave events. It isn’t anything personal, something within that event is setting off triggers and so we need to remove ourselves. It isn’t that your food was bad, the party a flop, or your outfit clashing. It just became overwhelming for my wounded warrior, so we leave.
When we’re invited to events that we know will trigger a PTSD or anxiety episode, we must decline decline the invitation. Again, it isn’t personal. It isn’t that we don’t want to spend time with you or support your event, we just can’t. Our Wounded Warrior can’t. So we just say no.
We aren’t trying to be outcasts, we truly do appreciate every invitation. We also don’t want the invitations to stop just because there are times we have had to decline.
We want you to understand that sometimes we may attend events without our warrior. It isn’t because he doesn’t want to be there, he just mentally cannot. It isn’t that we are having marriage problems or that he is just a jerk.
Sometimes it is like being on a roller coaster that just won’t stop or a hamster wheel that keeps going in circles.
Sometimes I just can’t talk and people don’t understand that. I can’t talk because I am mentally exhausted. I can’t answer one more thing because I have given and given to my family and I am so tired that one more thing can send me into tears from sheer exhaustion.
These reasons and emotions are exactly why some people don’t know what it is like to live with PTSD. They don’t want to know that a simple act of running to the grocery store or even a date night concert can bring on a trigger that can last for days. They don’t want to hear that praying it away, or taking this or that, or contacting this place just won’t fix the hell on earth that sometimes is the face of life living with PTSD.
Why do we stay? The silent ranks, the wives? For so many reasons that goes beyond PTSD. It can simply be broken down to this – Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for another. That isn’t always just about death, but about sacrificial love while on earth, too.