I am more than fortunate to have a husband who allows me (yes, this is the correct word: «allows» like «to give a permission») to talk as freely as I do. It's not always easy for him to see some of his demons exposed to the rest of the world. The impacts that are described remind him that his PTSD is the source of a number of pain in our fortress. As much as I can, I remind him of my own choices, my own responsibility and most of all, the help we didn't get as a couple: the system contributed to a lot of our pain.
Veterans Affairs, you will never know what you did to us. Case Managers who didn't return his calls, who completely ignored him, who didn't do what they were suppose to do. Conflicting information.Refusal. Denial. Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting with anger, desperation. Waiting in suffering. Day after day after day after day.
Time is a silent killer.
A veteran once told me: «Each suicide is a hidden murder». At first, I thought it was a little radical (aren't all veterans a little extreme, at one point?) but thinking about it, I now believe it makes sense.
Yes, when a serving member or veteran commits suicide, it's a hidden murder. He was let down, period. He was abandoned, ignored, misunderstood.
When a caregiver commits suicide, where does she fall? Who abandoned her?
Is the question bothering you?
You'd be surprised to find out how many caregivers thought about suicide too. You'd be outraged by the number I personally know of who actually ended up in the hospital after they tried taking their own life. I know in my case, thinking about suicide even became a real plan not so long ago.
But don't worry and forget about it: anyways, there are no statistics to confirm what I'm telling you so just put it on «the drama queen attitude».
I never really talk about the true stuff that is happening, except for when it's time to explain why I decline my friend's invitation or when my mother tells me -once again- that she misses me. I then choose to be as honest as possible. But being honest gets tough because the reasons are always different but similar. It's always the mental prison that keeps me inside.
Without knowing it, I have given a lot of power to my husband's PTSD over the past years. Too much, way too much.
I know I keep repeating this, but I wish I would have been supported differently when I truly needed it. I wished I had a wake-up call before so I could have been a better wife, a better mom, a better person.
It's not only the social life that is gone: it is the desire to have a social life. It's the protective bubble that I developed that is now a thick protective shield. Thank God, I have my writings to free me and create some kind of a bridge with the exterior world. Others quilt, knit, sew, paint..anyway is good to relieve the pain, the loneliness..or just to cope with the solitary life many of us end up living.
Solitary life and loneliness.
What is the difference?
I guess it's how you feel inside. In my case, I had to accept my loneliness...and I came to convince myself that I am a solitary person: it's true that I don't have the feeling of missing anybody, I don't believe I need «anybody» and I rather examine the world from the exterior: human nature stopped deceiving me, almost.
A couple of years ago, I stopped waiting for my husband. I'm the one who always wanted to eat better food in the house...nope...wanted to do outside activities.. nope...I listened to everyone of his refusal, just like VAC.
And it was making me angry. «Delay Deny and Die»: my husband applied the same rules.
I was angry at him, for not realizing that my «demands» were also for our own good. I was angry to be deprived of what I was convinced was the best. I've heard so many doctors telling him to take care of himself; I've heard him so many times say «Yes, I will», perfectly knowing that it was Rambo answering.
Rambo doesn't give a shit about nice little advice. Rambo didn't give a shit about my efforts to convince him to move on.
Until I began to have morning sickness. No, I was not pregnant (Thank God!) but I started to vomit every morning. Of course, my husband, concerned, started to put some pressure for me to go see the doctor.
It made sense but I had a little problem: I couldn't imagine myself visiting the doctor about a stomach problem without trying to correct the situation first. I believe that taking pills to cover up a problem and to pursue the same lifestyle is absolutely ridiculous.
My pride is a powerful source of motivation.
I started to change the food I was eating..started walking..2 km..then 4... then 20. I started to lift weights. Saw my body changing.Muscles appeared. Physical pain never felt so good, so rewarding.
Power over my own life! It was the first steps toward my own empower.
I lost 65 pounds. Went from a size 16 to a size 4.
I now run.
I feel good about me. Is it a shame to say so? Is it ego? Self-accomplishment?
Never the less, I never vomited since then.
I had to be physically sick myself to realize that I had some choices over my life...That my husband's PTSD didn't have to be the master in every single aspect of who I am, what I want for me.
To be a caregiver, you have to be a Phoenix and raise from your ashes.
It's called..survival in a solitary loneliness.
Life into the fortress.