Stopping the blame game and putting action behind “Support our troops”

One of the things I try to do is  keep my own political views to myself, at least off my public sights concerning our veterans.  One of the things I always remember my grandfather, and father say is you dont talk about politics (however this doesnt apply to them today, they are just like everyone else, freely speaking their mind about their views).  We all have different political opinions, and unfortunately these types of conversation are rarely kept civil.  Keep in mind, I am a Political Science major.  Not because I want to be a politician, but because I want to “learn the game” to help our veterans and their families, however that leads me to helping them.  The last thing I want to be is a politician, but do want the knowledge of how our system works, can lead me to finding ways to help.
With all of this said, I do want to bring up politics for a moment, but not for the reasons one might think.  One of the things I see over and over again on the posts about the VA scandal is people who automatically begin blaming one political figure, one party or the other.  STOP making veterans about the left or right.  We lose 22 veterans A DAY to suicide.  That is someone’s father, husband, brother, mother, wife, sister, friend.  The number is likely HIGHER than that due to the lack of a streamlined reporting system, and only getting the numbers from 21 states.  Our veterans issues not only affect the veteran, they affect the FAMILIES.  These issues ARE NOT just a republican or democrat issue.  It is AN AMERICAN issue.  Stop trying to make it about blaming one or the other, and come together for the sake of our vets and their families.  We have so many veterans families who are losing everything and many losing their loved one while people are arguing over who is to blame.  JUST FIX IT, and put action behind “Supporting our troops.”

This type of point the blame attitude is the wrong attitude to have, and will not help our veterans.  When we are so divided on this very important issue, very little will be accomplished to help them.

A New Normal

Do you ever feel like you have switched placed with your spouse?  Somehow, someway, you have completely switched rolls, and in some ways, personality.

My husband and I simply put, have switched roles.  My husband at one time was the take charge, take the lead type of guy.  He would make sure business got taken care of, no matter how uncomfortable it was.  Thoughtful and decisive, he made decisions.  If there were bills that needed to be paid, he paid them, even if it meant not having money left over.  He was ambitious, and dreamed of the future.  He was positive, and upbeat, always having a laugh or a smile for someone.  An impeccable memory, he was able to remember the smallest detail.  Anyone could tell you that my husband could also talk forever.  He loved to talk.  It was his “thing.”  Above all he loved to talk to new people, and travel, experiencing a new place, new people, and new adventures.  I was complete opposite of that.  My memory was horrible, although I love to talk, I wasnt one who met friends easily, being more reserved and quiet.  Suffering from anxiety, there were times I stayed at home, not wanting to go out.  Avoidance was a big thing for me, avoiding anything that was difficult, and having little ambition, or dreams.

Now, today, he and I are completely opposite of the way we once were.  He hangs back, lets me take the lead and take charge.  He waits for me to make a decision, or is hesitant in making his own.  Conversations we have are forgotten days later.  Medical appointments, dental appointments, are now up to me to make, and go with him so they are remembered/kept.  I’ve had to help become his memory.  We avoid crowds, and stay home a lot.  When old friends are seen, my husband is now more quiet, more reserved, almost seemingly deep in his own thoughts.  The laughter comes occasionally, but not like it once did.  Some days, he spends his time in our bedroom, away from the world.  Those are the bad days.  Sometimes they come several days in a row, sometimes they dont.  Plans are rarely made, for fear of them being broken.  Invites are politely declined, to the point they are now rarely asked.  Very few understand.

This isnt to say there arent good days.  I see a smile, hear a laugh, and we actually venture out into the world.  He works 5 days a week, which helps with consistency, and purpose.  He takes care of the kids, giving him routine, and there again purpose.  There are days, that I see he needs sleep or help.  I help get our daughter to out the door to school and take our son to school to help him out, even though I will be late to work.  Days where I have had to take off, in helping him, just by being there.  Some days the kids and I have to go out without him, and some days he joins us.  At times, we have several good days in a row.

With all these changes, I’m learning to find a new normal.  Settling into new ways.  Over the past few years, things have been chaotic and all over the place to say the least.  The past year however, since my husband has gotten on a new medication, has been better, and we are settling in a “new normal.”  Our new normal isn’t what I ever envisioned,  but then again, life never is.  I know some days I have to pick up the slack, and on most things take the lead in getting them done.  It isn’t to say he does nothing.  He tries every day.  He tries for us, and some days I can see it is a struggle for him.  It isn’t something I can describe.  Those days if we are able, I leave him alone, and let him sleep.  The kids, they keep him grounded, give him a purpose, and help him through “the darkness.” I’ve learned (although, don’t always abide by) how I communicate with him,, and when to communicate something, and when to wait.  This is the beginning to  our new “normal” life that we are still figuring out.

 

Code Words

code words

Code words.  This is something my husband and I found that works for us.

We came up with a word that was totally random that we could use when he would begin to get into his angry rantings.  This was used to diffuse the situation,  and for him to know he needed to chill out.  He would walk away and cool off.  The word we use is acorn.  We haven’t had to use it in a while.  As the rages slowly went away, we would use it in other ways, if one of us were to go off into a drawn out rant about one thing or another and needed to cool out.  Lately we haven’t found the need to use this code word, as we are both learning to communicate again.  Please note that is an everyday process, and we still don’t have all the answers.

Another word we use is “noted.”  We use it when I am saying something he doesn’t necessarily want to hear, which is usually about getting back into therapy or something to do with his health.  So I know he hears me and understands, but doesn’t want to talk about it, he says noted.  This way I back off, but I’ve at least said what I needed to.  In doing this particular code word, I’ve also had to gage his moods, and know when I can approach certain subjects and when I can’t.

It has all been a learning curve, figuring out what works for us, and what doesnt.  I’m still learning, and at times, adjusting.  I don’t claim to know everything.  In fact I know very little.  I only know what we have gone through, what we have tried, what works and doesn’t work for us.  Everyday it takes hard work.  Sometimes when life is moving so fast you can’t catch your breath, it is easy to forget.  I’m human and I make mistakes.  But the key to that is learning from those mistakes, and changing it so I don’t do it again.

My parents always told me, in life, nothing comes easy.  I never understood that until going through all that we have.  Life isn’t a fairy tale, and it isn’t happily ever after.  Life is about learning and hard work.  Relationships take both.  Love isn’t always enough.  Learning to work together, instead of against one another has helped us.  But it is one day at a time, one step at a time, taken together.  I know there will be misteps, but it is taking from those misteps to try and make sure they don’t happen again.

In Time

There are so many times, that I have things I want to write about, experiences I want to share.

When I sit down to write, it is as if a wall goes up, blocking my thoughts.  I am unable to write down my thoughts, get out the past, and express my fears.

I am not allowing myself to touch these thoughts when I want, not allowing myself to express them.  I can only imagine, how it is for my husband, not wanting to touch what is on his mind.

Consciously or sub-consciously, we sometimes don’t allow our mind to remember the bad, to remember the negative, to remember the nightmares.

I can never imagine what my husband and other veterans have been through, but I can somewhat understand why my husband avoids, why he blocks it away.

Although it doesn’t compare, when I reflect over what we have gone through over the past two years, it is like pulling off a scab, letting it bleed all over again.  This is why I don’t push, and I don’t pry for my husband to talk.  He will talk on his on time, own his own terms.  All I can do, is be there for him, when he is ready. There are so many times, that I have things I want to write about, experiences I want to share. When I sit down to write, it is as if a wall goes up, blocking my thoughts. I am unable to write down my thoughts, get out the past, and express my fears. I am not allowing myself to touch these thoughts when I want, not allowing myself to express them. I can only imagine, how it is for my husban…d, not wanting to touch what is on his mind. Consciously or sub-consciously, we sometimes don’t allow our mind to remember the bad, to remember the negative, to remember the nightmares. I can never imagine what my husband and other veterans have been through, but I can somewhat understand why my husband avoids, why he blocks it away. Although it doesn’t compare, when I reflect over what we have gone through over the past two years, it is like pulling off a scab, letting it bleed all over again. This is why I don’t push, and I don’t pry for my husband to talk. He will talk on his on time, own his own terms. All I can do, is be there for him, when he is ready.

Time

Secondary PTSD

One of the things that doesn’t get talked about often enough is Secondary PTSD.  It is still highly debated on whether it exist, and if it does to what degree.

The VA and DOD do not recognize Secondary PTSD as being real, the last I looked.  I believe that it is very real, and just like PTSD, it depends on the individual on the degree it affects one.

I can tell you when my husband was at his worse, I experienced some hyper-vigilance symptoms, ups and downs of emotion, anxiety, avoidance.  I was also pregnant at the time, and the surge of hormones, as well as the lack of sleep could have been major contributors to what I experienced.  It is a stressful situation when you are constantly looking for mood changes, staying up with him to make sure he doesn’t take off, in self-destruct mode, trying to calm the situation, especially with young children, and lack of empathy from him.  This is very hard for anyone to take.

So please, take care of yourselves.  You will do your spouse no good if you aren’t physically and mentally healthy.  Get into individual therapy.  Giveanhour.org is a great resource and free.

http://www.familyofavet.com/secondary_ptsd.html