Our Lives With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury

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Choose to be Happy

What a week – check out my post on my personal blog!

http://chaosandclarity4.blogspot.com/2012/06/choose-to-be-happy.html


Amor Vincit Omnia

Amor Vincit Omnia

I wanted the readers to know that today is my 12-year wedding anniversary with Jason. I wanted to talk about something positive today and share a little bit of us with all of you. We spend alot of time (both of us) talking, writing, disecting the difficulties we go through with PTSD and TBI. But, we are also a real couple who has good times, great times, and a lot of love. And sometimes through all the heartache that is hard to see and even harder to remember to feel.

Tweleve years ago I had no clue that I’d be where I’m at today. I was 20, Jason was 19. All we knew was that we loved each other so much and wanted to be together forever. We wanted to move to California and start our life together, our family. There was no conflict existing at that time. Marines weren’t in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. A few short years later, our lives did change. I wish that I could lift some of the pain from my husband’s heart and mind. But, that is the only thing I wish to change. I wouldn’t give back one moment of our life together because it’s brought us where we are today. Amor Vincit Omnia which means Love Conquers All in Latin. I truly believe this. (Big thanks to my baby sister for sharing her love of the quote with us!). I believe that I am still here, that Jason is still here and that we are still together today because LOVE CONQUERS ALL. We never gave up! Happy anniversary to my one and only love.

Some of my fave pics in this post through the years that I thought the readers would enjoy. We do have good days :)


Music – my coping mechanism

Throughout the last year I have found myself in very deep, dark places. It’s hard to get out of bed and it’s hard to put one foot in front of the other, everyday. And my spouse is the one with PTSD, not me. But, as you’ll find reading this blog from the different perspectives, PTSD affects the entire family. Day in and day out. We all wake up not quite knowing “what kind of day it will be”.

One of the things that I like to do to deal (or not deal as it maybe) is to listen to music. Really loud music. Either in the car, or on headphones. However, it works best. Some people like loud, crazy, drowning music. I like country. I like self reflecting songs that make me think. My husband calls it sappy crap. And yes, it makes me cry (they aren’t all sappy!). But, it’s what I need to get through that day or moment. Some of these songs have gotten me through some really bad days and reminded me why I’m still here. I think each of us needs that “something” that gets them through the dark moments. What you have to understand is being on the spouse side of a military marriage is sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes we have to keep our feelings, our pain, our emotions to ourselves – because our spouse cannot deal with it. I know in my situation Jason has/had so much pain inside of him that he can’t deal with mine. He can’t watch me cry, he can’t listen to what hurts me, and he alot of the time he can’t comfort me. All of this is getting better, each day. But, learning to self soothe and to “deal” on my own through music has helped me alot. It gives me that release of negative feelings that I think we all need.

Some of my favorite lines, ever. And yes, I play these songs over, over and over. So much so that my 3-year old knows the words to all of them (and sings along!).

Remember When – Alan Jackson (my all-time fave! so so true)

I was young and so were you. Time stood still. Love was all we knew. You were the first, so was I. Made love and then you cried. Remember when. We vowed the vows and walked the walk, gave our hearts. Made a start, it was hard. Lived and learned, life threw curves. There was joy and their was pain. Remember when. Old ones died, new were born. Life was changed. Disassembled, rearragened. We came together, fell apart. Broke each other’s hearts, remember when. The sound of little feet was amusing, we danced to week to week. Brought back the love, we found trust, we vowed to never give it up. Remember when. Thirty seemed so old, now looking back it was just a stepping stone to where we are and where we’ve been. Said we’d do it all again. Remember when. We said when we turned grey, when the children grow up and move away. We won’t be sad, we’ll be glad for all the life we’ve had. And we’ll remember when.

I Won’t Let Go – Rascal Flatts

You think your lost, but your not lost on your own. Your not alone. I will stand by you, I will help you through. When you’ve done all you can do and you can’t cope. I will dry your eyes, I will fight your fight. I will hold you tight and I won’t let go.

I’ll Be There for You – Bon Jovi

I’ll be there for you, these 5 words I swear to you. When you breathe, I wanna be the air for you. I’ll be there for you. I’d live and I’d die for you. I’d steal the sun from the sky for you. Words can’t say what love can do, I’ll be there for you.

Unanswered Prayers – Garth Brooks

And if he’d only grant me this wish I’d wish back then, I’d never ask for anything again. Sometimes, I thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember when your talking to the man upstairs just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care, some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

I’m Gonna Love You Through It – Martina McBride

When your weak I’ll be strong, when you let go I’ll hold on. Take my hand and together we can do it, I’m gonna love you through it.

HelpMe Hold On – Travis Tritt

Help me to hold on to what we have, once our love was strong . It can be again. You said it takes two to make love last. You were right all along, so help me hold on.

I Drive Your Truck- Lee Brice

People got their ways of coping and I’ve got mine. I drive your truck, I roll every window down and I burn up every back road in this town. I find a field, I tear it up till all the pains a cloud of dust. Yes, sometimes I drive your truck.

What Hurts the Most – Rascal Flatts

What hurts the most was being so close. And having so much to say and watching you walk away. Never knowing, what could’ve been and not seeing that loving you is what I was trying to do. It’s hard to deal with the pain of losing you, everywhere I go. But I’m doing it. It’s hard to see our old friends and I’m alone.

Shattered – OAR

But, I’m good without you. And I’m good without you. Yea, yea, yea. How many times can I break till I shatter? Over the line can’t define what I’m after. I always turn the car around. Give me a break, let me make my own pattern. All that it takes is some time and I’m shattered, but I always turn the car around.


A Day In the Life…The Spouse Side.

Melissa and I talked about doing “a day in the life” post….a few days ago. And it took me a few days to get here and write it out. It’s hard to analyze what a day is “really” like, especially a bad day.

We get up 6:45ish so the kids can get out the door and get ready for school. Some days Jason doesn’t get up when we do and sometimes he’s up and getting ready for work at the same time. I get the kids breakfast and in less than 10 minutes of being up, we’re usually in chaos mode. I don’t know what it is about morning time but the kids argue non-stop. Jason and I both end up irritated. I put one on the bus, come back home and get ready to take the other one to pre-school. After drop off I come home and work – and then back out to pick up my little one from pre-school. More work in between and usually laundry at the same time.  Our boys get home around 4:00. We almost always have some activity after school. Jason doesn’t participate in the drop off, pick up, etc on these activities – because he just can’t. One of the biggest issues we’re hoping to face once he gets his service dog! We get snacks, do homework and are usually out of the house by 4:30 – off to dance class, football, doctor’s appointments. Whatever it may be. Sometimes I feel like a non-stop taxi. And it’s hard to do alone day in and day out. When we get back home we have to eat dinner (which Jason usually makes and I’m thankful for!), bathe and get the kids to bed. And then try to wind down, get some rest and start over the next day.

This probably doesn’t seem like a lot to do to most people. But, doing it alone every day wears on you. I work a full time job, take care of 3 kids full time, and run the household too (groceries, laundry, dishes, bath time, cleaning up). I’m not saying Jason doesn’t do any of those things, he does. But, for the most part I do the majority of them. It definitely is a fight-starter between Jason and I quite frequently. Sometimes I just want his help. And it’s hard that I know he can’t give it. We used to be pretty equal in our duties with the house and the kids. We are both hoping to get back there once he has the service dog, feels more confident and can deal with the crowds at the kids events.Hope is all we’ve got to go on…


Sometimes all it takes…

Sometimes ALL it takes is just one person to understand where you’ve been and what you’re going through.

I have known in my heart so a long time that my husband was suffering from PTSD. Did we call it that? No. Did we address it? No. Did I try? I think I did, on some level. But, looking back over the years and all the deployments and periods of change or re-adjustment I continued to chalk his behavior up to different things. I blamed it on moving, or new duties at work, stress, a new baby, college, pre and post deployment. Jason always agreed with me on the different reasons that things were wrong. After this last deployment, I could no longer deny that PTSD was the root of all the issues we’d struggled with since 2004. I picked apart each and every incident day in and day out.

Initially, I felt alone. Really, really alone. We have a lot of military friends, we’ve lived many places and been around the Corps a long time. But, none of my military friends were going through this same thing. It was so easy for other people to say “just leave him”, “what’s wrong with him”, “why would he do these things to you” or my favorite “my husband/boyfriend has been there just as many times and he’s not like that”?  And on some level they were right. I started to branch out and read things on the internet about PTSD and join groups/blogs on Facebook, etc with other military families going through exactly what I was going through. It finally clicked with me – Jason has PTSD, he has to get treatment. And I finally stopped feeling alone. I spent hours reading this stuff and it was like the people posting in these chat groups were living in my house. The oddities that I felt we were experiencing were the norm for those with PTSD. Isolation, anxiety, depression, waves of anger, insomnia, lack of emotion and feeling about things that should generate some response, disconnect from your spouse and children. It’s taken me about a year to accept that the root of all the evil in my marriage comes straight from PTSD (and TBI as well in Jason’s case) and we have to take steps to survive. We’ve made it this far. I never gave up on Jason….I have wanted to I will be honest, but I never have.

Our marriage was at a breaking point and branching out to these groups saved what was left of us. I convinced Jason to start reading – we don’t really post in the groups, but we learn. I learn as a spouse that this is happening to members of our military all over the world. It’s heartbreaking, it’s painful and it doesn’t go away. Most importantly I learned that we will get through this, we will work hard everyday to overcome this as a family. Jason learned that he’s not alone, that strong, hard-working, dedicated members of our military suffer from the same things he does. And that’s it’s okay to talk about. It’s okay to say – we need help! I’m so thankful that other people opened up their lives and their hearts. I later found out, that I do in fact have friends with spouses in the same siutation, they just never talked about it. Just like we didn’t. And I’m thankful to new friends who have opened PTSD doors, literally and helped us get through the day to day. I hope through the blogs that I to have helped someone who needed it.

Sometimes all it takes is just one person to understand…


Happy to be here

Thank you to Melissa for inviting me to be an author on this blog. I hope to offer a different perspective on living with PTSD and TBI -the spouse perspective.

My name is Elizabeth and I’ve been a military spouse since 2000. My husband, Jason (also an author on this site) is a Captain in the Marine Corps and has been diagnosed with PTSD and TBI. We’ve been married the entire time he’s been in the military, so we’ve done and seen it all together. Jason has done 3 combat tours (Iraq and Afghanistan) while I stayed home and handled the family side of our life. We have three children ages 9, 7 and 3.

I hope that I can offer encouragement, support and an open mind to other spouses, families, friends or loved ones of a military member going through the same struggle my family does. PTSD is not an easy thing to live with on either side of the spectrum – the military member or the spouse. But, I believe you can find a way out of the darkness and find ways to heal together as family. Education, understanding and support – are only the first steps. My family istrying to do just that.

I look forward to hearing from all of you!


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