It’s been almost 2 months since I’ve posted anything meaningful.
A lot of it has to do with feeling detached and emotionally numb.
That’s not to say I don’t feel anything. I cycle through extreme joy, extreme sorrow and then extreme NOTHINGNESS.
Sometimes, I think that I feel so much that there’s a switch that my brain turns off for me. My physical body just isn’t allowing things to set in completely.
It’s very Vampire Diaries.
“Just turn it off!” a la Damon. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pop culture reference.)
It’s probably for the best. I’ve had debilitating panic attacks before. When that happens, the day is a wash and I can’t seem to pick myself up and work.
Are army wives dismissed?
One of the toughest things about this equation is my role in this debacle.
When I first sought support for myself — I came across some of the most hateful and difficult people.
One of the common themes I’ve found is that a lot of people discount what family and friends go through when a veteran returns wounded.
I will be the first to tell you, I’m not that brave. I’m not that selfless.
Unless it involves my kids, you’ll probably never see me running towards danger.
I can’t picture myself being the person who throws their body onto an improvised explosive device, in order to save the lives of their fellow comrades.
It’s not because I’m selfish per se. I’m simply not that brave.
I’m afraid of pain. I fear suffering even more.
I’m not saying my journey is somehow more honourable or more important.
On the contrary. I always have and will always honour those who serve.
But, some people feel very strongly that we shouldn’t recognize the journey of spouses who DIDN’T serve — particularly wives of servicemen — because it takes away from what the veteran went through.
Pardon me but, that’s bullshit.
One of the things that’s now being recognized in the DSM-V is secondary PTSD or complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD can usually be traced to a specific event or events. CPTSD emerges from long-term exposure to a stressor or stressors over time.
A good example would be an adult suffering CPTSD after undergoing years and years of child abuse and/or neglect, versus a person who develops PTSD after being in a serious car accident.
Over the weekend, I met people from Wounded Warriors. I shared with them how I am the wife of a US Army Veteran who’s institutionalized in the United States.
I have, in the past, and continue to, in the present, go through some very, very difficult challenges — most of which I’m tackling alone. A lot of which, I’m currently choosing to tackle alone because of what the system did to me over the years.
As you all know, I’m Canadian. Jason is American. I’ve received barely any kind of support from Canada or the US, from Ohio or Ontario.
If you call the VA, they say, “We’re here for the veteran.”
If you call the general mental health lines in Canada, they don’t know what to do once you add service to the equation. Sorry, but they really REALLY DON’T.
Everyone to blame and yet no one to blame
The other side of the coin is blaming everyone and blaming no one, at the same time.
The system failed.
I don’t think you’ll find a lot of people — I haven’t found anyone — who would disagree that it failed us TREMENDOUSLY.
As is now FEDERAL LAW, anyone who may be exhibiting any kind of mental illness during service in the American forces, needs to undergo assessments and psychiatric treatment, before they are discharged (the military version of getting fired).
Jason had two referrals to psychiatry — both WHILE in Iraq. He had another incident on base in Fort Hood, Texas. After that, he was just let go. Sent packing. With ZERO tools to bridge the gap from service to civilian life.
When he moved in with me in Canada, he went to see the doctor after every major episode. This is going back several years. There are police records, doctors records, crisis line records, Children’s Aid records, hospital records — explain to me how for several years, he was NEVER REFERRED TO PSYCHIATRY.
Social workers failed. Doctors failed. The police failed. I can’t help but sometimes feel like I failed.
But the things I went through — things I would never publicize — most people will never know. I was in it alone and I was made to go through it alone because the system didn’t believe me, didn’t see it or flat out refused to help.
You’re not alone….
If you are the spouse of a veteran who, for whatever reason, didn’t receive the help they needed and were exposed to episode after episode after episode, over several years. YOU’RE NOT ALONE.
If you’re still going through it and you feel isolated because frankly, you’re surrounded by people who don’t understand, YOU’RE NOT ALONE.
I really think if you take anything away from this post it’s that YOU’RE NOT ALONE.
I don’t know what the future holds.
I’m kind of stuck at this fork in the road. I’m indecisive.
I fear taking one side and ending up back in the same situation.
I also fear going another road which seems rosier, maybe more promising, but possibly, just trading one problem for another. Plus this fork in the road has forks in it. Fork after fork. Decision after decision.
So, I’m frozen. You may be, too.
Again, YOU’RE NOT ALONE.
Don’t internalize the haters. Keep out those who seek to dismiss your journey or your part in this equation.
Whether you’re the wife of a serviceman, an EMS worker, a dispatcher, a doctor, a nurse, a police officer, someone who witnessed something horrific — whoever you are.
Also, don’t let others pressure you into a decision you don’t whole-heartedly feel, or let others mold you into something or someone that you’re not.
Sadly, life doesn’t have a pause button but, you are not required to be the same person you were a month ago, a year ago — or even 15 minutes ago.
There’s no wrong decision.
If you’re like me, going through days mostly numb, I hope you choose to believe, like I do, that things will get better.
It can’t possibly be any worse than what we’ve already been through or are going through right now? Right?