I finally realized that as a caregiver of a veteran with PTSD, I am affected by «athazagoraphobia»: the fear of being forgotten, ignored or being replaced.
It sounds good to have a scientific name to explain my situation: «Hello, my name is Jenny, I am the spouse of a veteran and his caregiver. Oh! By the way, I also suffer myself from athazagoraphobia but don't worry, it is not contagious. What? You already forgot the name of my mental challenge? Don't worry: nobody cares anyway. And it's not really important because I live with someone with PTSD and his condition is much more important than mine. Would you care for more coffee and a good ear to listen to you?»
There. How's that? Nice introduction, don't you think?
I'm sorry for my sarcasm. It has nothing to do with my husband. It has nothing to do with the veterans as I am aware of their own challenges, their own reality. Please, allow me this little rant without being too much offended.
It's just that sometimes, I get angry hearing so many people saying the words «veterans and their families», knowing that it is more BS to look and sound politically correct. In reality? In French, their an expression that says «Une diarrhée de mots dans une constipation d'idées» or if you want: «A diarrhea of words in an idea constipation». I'm not sure if Google Translation is making a good job.. but you get the idea about the fact that it's a shitty situation.
This athazagoraphobia thing is very handy to describe my concerns, like, for instance,«being replaced». As for being forgotten and ignored, I must sound completely crazy, but I feel like VAC is a good teacher when it comes to such little ignorant details. After all, I am just a damn civilian being told by my province that «I am a federal matter» and since my war is not my husband's, the federal doesn't seem to know that I exist.
Oh. That's not true: they know I exist. In fact, a case manager told me «You are there and you are able to do the job, right, Madame Migneault?. It happened when my husband, who has a fractured spine, asked for the VIP service and this is the reason he gave me to explain the denial of the request.
I only had a house to take care of .. snow and leaves included.. a full-time job, 4 children at home and a husband with PTSD. Of course I could take care of the grocery shopping, the meals, the lunches, the doctors appointments, the school meetings... the fights to calm down... the nightmares to attend...Thinking about it, VAC always thought of me and considered highly the contribution I am making into our fortress.
But being «replaced» is another story. If my husband decided to divorce me, I would end up on welfare. What can I say? My mental illness makes me imagine all sorts of improbable scenarios and I ask myself ridiculous questions like: what would happen to me if he decided overnight that it was over between us? How could I provide for my son?
1) There is NO WAY I could go from «caregiver» to a 40 hours/week job instantly.. Can you imagine what it would be like for me to go back into «normal civilian life» after being at home for 8 years 24/7 with a veteran with PTSD? Sorry people, I would need a couple of months to get a grip on my life before I could have the capacity to keep a job without ending up in a burn-out after a couple of months.
My life is all about my husband's PTSD. The psychological impacts are real, you know.
2) I used to have a job with a «fairly good paycheck».. at least enough to be financially independent. Gee, do I remember those good old days where I could put my own money into my own RRSP...Now, if an employer asked me what I did the past 8 years, how would they look at it? As a vet's spouse told me tonight, «it would have less value than raising a child».
Would I get another job that would pay me as much, with the benefits, that I used to have? How much time would I have to create for myself a financial situation that would allow me to believe I could have a retirement that makes sense?
This brings another important question:
3) What will/would happen to me after I'm 65?
Suffering from athazagoraphobia, when living with a veteran, is a challenge. It makes me feel ignored in many ways.
I have no medals on my t-shirt to show the world that I had a rewarding caregiver career. «So, you survived a 6 months episode of paranoia? Good Caregiver! Here's your medal, congratulations and thank you for your service! And you, how many punches did you receive while he was having night mares? 6? Sorry, that's not enough to receive a medal but keep up the good work! You can do it! And you? Oh! A fractured jaw and a broken nose because you tried to wake him up while he was sleepwalking and he was making his «check» through the windows and now, you sleep in a separate room because you're afraid? Yes! Here's your medal!»
Even a «service dog» is identified...Everybody loves service dogs. They study the service dogs. They train service dogs. People advocate for service dogs.
My husband could replace me with a service dog.
Damn athazagoraphobia. Can you hear it in my words as much as I can hear paranoia and hypervigilance in my husband's words?
What can I take to relieve me? An Advil?
I guess you'll have to agree with me: If I failed my family by being unable to keep us together, If i failed my husband when he needed me the most, if I failed my mother who misses me everyday, If I failed my friends by becoming so distant, let me reassure you of something:
I am succeeding at being an excellent athazagoraphobic...
And that, my friends, is the reward of the day!