Thursday, May 29, 2008

Join the Army.
See the world.
Kill yourself.

Army suicides highest in nearly 2 decades, study finds

Is anyone shocked by this? If so, someone is not paying attention.

Shocked? No. Outraged? Hell yeah! Betrayed? YES.

I have not shied away from sharing the hell we endured as a result of dh's PTSD.

It is awful. There is not nearly enough treatment out there. Even when it is available, it's often very difficult to access.

Trying to help someone with the disorder is hell. It is the most difficult thing I ever had to endure. I remind myself often that my perspective was on the outside looking in. I can't even imagine what it must have been like for dh. I suffered trying to help him. How could I ever imagine how he suffered?

Imagine a zombie. I'm not talking about the typical depression where one pulls away. I'm talking about a completely different personality. One way to describe it might be to say they seem to have no soul. The man who used to randomly come up and hug me and who never once raised his voice to me in all the years were were together was replaced by one who screamed at me one moment, but ignored everyone around for the most part. It seemed as though everything gentle and loving about him had died. My husband was a zombie.

I've thought a lot recently about how glad I am that he is in my life. I love him dearly. What's more, I like him. All these years later, I still like him. I enjoy being around him. Whereas my friends are always eager to get their husbands out of the house when they've been home for an extended period of time, nothing would make me happier than to have dh around all the time. I spent a month home with him and loved it.

The only time we ever seriously discussed divorce were the two times he endured PTSD. The last time, I even had a plan. I had a map in the glove compartment with directions to a friend's house out of state. I did not for a minute want to leave the man I loved, but the black hole that he had become was sucking the life out of both of us.

I'm glad I stayed. I'm glad we fought it together.

Although, I won't lie. I've realized lately that I still don't have my husband back completely. I've adjusted to this man. I love this man, but he is not the same man who landed in a combat zone years ago. To be completely honest, I would love to have that man back. There was a time when I got glimpses of who he was, but that wasn't consistent and it hasn't happened in a while. I miss it. I miss him.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but when he came home last time, I told dh (when he refused to acknowledge that he had a reoccurance) that I did not like who he had become. Now, I can say that I like who he is and I love who he is, but I can still see the PTSD in him. I liked the pre-PTSD version of my husband better.

PTSD is not a cold from which you can completely recover when you let your body heal itself. It's not like an illness where you can throw drugs at it and then you're good as new (although, the military does so like to throw copious amounts of inappropriate drugs at it [and I'm not just talking Motrin]). It's not even like a broken bone which is never quite as strong. A weak limb may give you an unusual gait, but you remain you. PTSD lingers and it can reoccur. Sometimes, it doesn't completely go away. It forces you to become someone else.

Dh stopped in at his old (military) office last week. One of his friends there commented on the large number of recent deployments. He said something like, "They all come back, but they come back messed up."

I've been thinking a lot lately about sacrifices made for freedom. On Memorial Day, I heard a comment about how those who died in combat are not the only ones to make sacrifices. It's on a far smaller scale, but my husband did sacrifice. He didn't give his life, but he gave years of his life. He gave memories with his children that he never had a chance to make. He almost gave his marriage. He gave a portion of his sanity. He gave a portion of his soul.

He's not alone. There are so many others sacrificing, some in far more torturous ways than my husband ever had to endure. Combat takes their soul and they take their own lives. We owe them. We owe them so much more.

4 comments:

Phyllis Sommer said...

Amen.

Robin said...

Thank you, and I'm sorry, and so very much more.

Zoe said...

man. i don't even know what to say. my husband works in the prison system and that has changed him totally. i can't imagine how he would be in war.

Hyphen Mama said...

I cannot imagine. Cannot fathom what must happen in their minds that flips a switch to become the zombie. It must be the only way they can cope with what they're experiencing.

I have a cousin in Iraq now, serving his 2nd tour. He is SO messed up. My family has discussed getting him treatment outside what the military provides (which is completely inadequate) at our own expense. When he gets home this time. But he won't go. We can't force him.

My husband has a dear friend who served in the 1st gulf war and this one, and his personality has changed and it's affecting his relationships.

It's not okay that we expect so much from these men and women and then just bring them home and say 'thanks for that'. We owe them every bit of support they need for the rest of their lives. We OWE them. We OWE you, the spouses and the families.

Thank you. Thank YOU for all that you've endured and continue to endure.