Why am I fighting for veterans and spouses/partners/caregivers? Do you know what PTSD is? Well, neither did we. Nor do we know how to live with it. Except to learn trial by fire, if you will. First, not all veterans have PTSD. And there’s no way to predict who will “get it” and who won’t. There is no training manual. So we figure it out as we go. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong…and then it sure does feel like everyone loses.
And pardon my rant, but I wish more people differentiated between combat-PTSD and other types. The PTSD that combat veterans struggle with is not your civilian or non-combat PTSD. And now many of the symptoms for combat-PTSD are being used with non-combat-PTSD and it doesn’t even make sense. Take for instance the avoidance of crowds. The avoidance of crowds is not associated with all trauma. These combat vets experienced trauma directly relating to crowds because that’s where suicide bombers, snipers, IEDs, etc., could be found. To a combat vet, a crowd can very quickly equal death, and if not, it certainly equals a high alert situation. So, if the trauma doesn’t relate to a crowd then the PTSD symptom shouldn’t be crowd-related, but rather related to the type of trauma that was actually experienced. Anyways, PTSD is becoming all the rage and a rather trendy diagnosis. The thing with combat vets is that they experienced trauma and being on guard for months and months at a time. It was not typically an isolated incident or two. I get so mad when people claim to have PTSD because it feels like it waters down the combat-PTSD that these veterans face. And yes, I judge people who claim to have PTSD. I shouldn’t, I realize, because I probably don’t know their whole story. But when you live with combat-PTSD and a veteran you get a little jaded about these things. I probably should work on that, but I’m not making any promises…just add it to the list of things I need to work on…down at the very bottom…right underneath, get through the freaking day without yelling and without a meltdown from someone in the house.
Ok, rant over. I don’t suppose anyone is going to re-write any official diagnosis or definition, but at least you’ll know why I use the terminology of combat-PTSD.
The reality is that these guys can’t go to war and not be changed. No one would argue with that.
And the other reality is that those of us who were here waiting while they were at war are changed too. Some of us spouses/partners/caregivers…came along after the war experience was over…and bless them, they can be even more in the dark than those of us that walked through it with our soldier.
While he was gone I hated putting on my shoes. I’d get ready in our apartment and prepare to face the day. Finally, when I’d done literally everything possible to do, I’d sit in front of the closet with my shoes in front of me and just cry. I knew that when I put on those shoes I’d have to walk out of that apartment and pretend like life was normal and that I was ok. I’m not sure I’ve been ok since. Some seasons better than others, but it always seems to be a roller coaster.
We all have a different story, a different struggle, a different path to take. Walk along with me as I try to find my way. And hopefully the way will lead to freedom and healing and peace. I’ll need to lean on you along the way. But I’m here for you too.
This is for me, for us…my veteran and my house and your veteran and your house…and those of you cheering us on.