January 11, 2017

PTSD and Beyond

It's hard to believe that in a few short weeks it will be five years since the traumatic incident at work that led to my husband's PTSD. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Calling it a "disorder" isn't really right.  I think disorder implies that it's something that can be put back in order at some point, but five years on I'm really having doubts about that happening.  Perhaps it should be called a "syndrome".  Actually, it's really an accumulation of things. 

In the beginning he was...quite literally a raving lunatic.  He didn't eat, lived on coffee and cigarettes, and didn't sleep.  It completely messed with his circadian rhythm and his Diabetes!  Our family doctor was out of town and the local hospital (which actually has a mental health unit) was less than useless.  He saw someone - not a doctor or psychiatrist - who took notes for over an hour, but finally just handed us a business card of a local mental health counseling clinic and told us to call them on Monday.  I didn't have to call the clinic because I work in administration for the clinic's head office.  That clinic is mandated and funded to deal with serious mental illness only.  That means they work with people with schizophrenia, etc.  While I believed my husband had a serious problem, he had yet to be diagnosed with anything.  We got him to our family doctor finally and he got us hooked up with a psychiatrist and a counselor. 

While I started to see some improvement over time, it was a slow process.  As an adult I can accept and understand what was going on.  Our young son, however, had a hard time with it.  He sometimes still does and since he's only now 12 years old, he's had to deal with this almost half his life.  It's been hard for him not having his dad in the way he used to.  The fun-loving, easygoing guy was gone.  Is gone.  May not be back before our son himself is gone off to university and the start of his own life. 

Sometimes is hard for me to remember how it used to be before depression, anxiety, anger, apathy, and a whole host of other fun things became our way of life.  And if that wasn't enough, the contradictions are difficult to manage too.  If I cry over something, I'm being emotional, but when I manage to not be emotional over something, I'm heartless.  I try not to take it personally.  What is fine today sometimes sets off an angry tirade tomorrow.  It's a juggling act and a balancing act rolled into one. It's like I've got my husband, but I've lost my husband.  His essence is fundamentally changed and may never be the same again. 

We've all said at one time or another, "I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."  My truth is that this is good enough for my worst enemy.  I would not have a problem with my worst enemy being forced to live with someone with PTSD. 

My wish for 2017 is greedy.  I want more improvements in my husband.  I want to see him laugh freely, embrace adventure once again, and express his love for his family and life in general the way he used to.  Hold your loved ones close and make sure they know they are loved because life really can change in an instant. 

Live long and prosper!