My husband, Bob, has PTSD. He was in the Marine Corps from 1989-1993. He was stationed in 29 Palms, CA and was deployed twice. Once to the first Gulf War, and once to Somalia. We were married the third year of his enlistment, before he deployed to Somalia.
Fast forward to 2010, when we were both addicted to meth and any other drug you had. I had no idea anything terrible ever happened to him while deployed. When he went to the VA for chemical dependency treatment, they started poking around into his past. When they did that, he revealed some pretty horrific things. So here I was, married to a man for 18 years, and I had no idea He has been hospitalized and in and out of treatments for PTSD, through the VA numerous times since. Sometimes gone for 3 months at a time.
I thought he only suffered from good old-fashioned drug addiction. This makes dealing with addiction alone, look like a picnic.
For a minute, I didn't believe him, because it was so serious, and came about after so many years. I don't pretend to understand what it is like to go through ANYTHING like that. But I don't understand how he could hold on to that for all of those years. It answered a lot of questions about him.
My kids didn't know him as a Marine, or have to live through his deployment. So why was daddy suddenly a war veteran, who was always at the VA? This was new to them and to me. We don't live around a base, a military life, or do my kids know any other kids who have parents who have these types of problems. He has always isolated and been introverted. I just thought that was the way he became. But really, he became that way after the military.
What PTSD symptoms look like for Bob are these. He has intrusive thoughts that are unreasonable. An example is he will bring up our past, and ask a ton of weird questions. To the point where it can get scary. Going over and over things that are unreasonable. He begins to hate authority. He wants to fight the police. To the point where he would purposely swerve and get pulled over. I am so grateful he never wanted to fight past that point, because he could have gotten himself hurt. He became agitated, irritated, he had insomnia, but laid around all of the time. He acted like he HATED me. Every time he spoke to me, his lip snarled up. He became increasingly irritated towards just ONE of our sons. It was a lonely, scary place for all of us.
As I mentioned before, this is what it looked like after they made him deal with his trauma. I question if it was even a good idea to dig around in all of that horror. I can say his quality of life has decreased terribly since that first treatment for drugs two years ago. His quality of life as a meth addict may have been better. THAT is how bad it has been. But he probably would have relapsed on drugs if he hadn't started dealing with the PTSD. I am not sure what the answer is. I know that PTSD and addiction are very closely related to each other and they are a tricky hand to be dealt. I know that people with both illnesses have to work very hard, because their success rate is low.
Bob has had some drinks since that treatment two years ago. But he has learned that he can't do that responsibly, and he has been completely sober for over 90 days. He tried drinking 6 times. Starting with two beers, ending in not coming home at all. Pretty quick progression. It scared him enough. Thank goodness.
He is heavily medicated with anti-psychotics and anti-depressants. The meds make him tired, he has gained weight, and he rocks back and forth when he stands. He has tried to go off of them, because he hates the weight, and within days, books from Amazon.com showed up like, The Little Black Book of Violence, and How To Take a Man Down in Ten Moves or something like that. Back on the meds for Bob.
Let me make clear, his medication quiets his brain and he knows to stay on them. I can tell when he is off and if he is living here, he takes his meds. So everyone is safe.
He often isolates, and he doesn't want to leave the house much. He doesn't keep his friendships up, and really says "no" before he does anything. He is in a sad place. But he is in therapy, we are in therapy and slowly, he might be coming back. He does try. He really does.
Some days, when I am swamped with the kids, housework, school and life, I wish so bad he was normal. I wish he wanted to clean the garage, start a project, wanted to go for a walk, or talk to me. But he really has to struggle to do any of that.
When we go to that retreat at Project Sanctuary, he changes for a bit. It breathes life into him. He sees other people suffering from PTSD. He doesn't feel alone. It is hard for him to reach out. But there is still hope for him.
We never could have gone to that retreat had we not been sober. I know that using isn't the answer. Not dealing with Bob's PTSD isn't the answer, since they seem to believe it is important for him to deal with it. But things are stable now. Stability is something we aren't used to. But I will take it!
There ain't one thing funny about this post. I guess this is a real one.
Please share this with anyone who might understand or need to hear it. Or if you have any suggestions for him, we are open to everything....just about.