Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bobby D.

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 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.


  1. I'm sorry you're all having to deal with this difficult time. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel or will your husband always be in this dark place? It must be terribly difficult to cope with. My thoughts are with you and I hope you and Bob can get through this and be there for eachother.

  2. Thanks so much. There is progress, so that is the light. He is getting better, but it is SLOW going. But patience is what I will apply. He is doing MUCH better than a year ago, so it is moving forward. He really is a great guy, and worth waiting for. Thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot.

  3. having a husband who is a life long friend of "Bobby D" Oh how we wish those of him who know him now would have known him way back when, my high school and early married years are filled with such great memories of both the DeGrees, know we still love you and are here for you

  4. You write so well. I am so impressed by both you and Bob. So many couples throw in the towel and get divorced over minor things. It's inspiring to see you both working together and supporting each other in your efforts to recover. The fact that you've stayed together for so long is truly an amazing testimony to you both.

  5. Thank you Kimberly. I appreciate that. I think it is worth it.

  6. Really have been enjoying reading your blog. Thanks for your honesty.

    1. Thank you for the shout out on your blog. Super kind and I appreciate it. I'm new at this and don't know proper etiquette about these things. But I'll start with thank you!

  7. I've spent a couple of hours reading your stories, and I just wanted to say that you are a beautiful, amazing, and extraordinary soul. I believe that anyone who is recovering from addiction is a hero, but to be able to honestly share your struggles and your achievements, as a recovering addict AND your other roles in life, is something that makes you stand out in a whole different way. I have 4 kids also, and I was addicted to opioids for a few years. My husband and I used together also. I've tried to explain to people who don't understand my addiction, that it can result in the same consequences that meth addiction does, and it absolutely did for me. An overdose that should have killed me combined with the realization that I was missing out on my kids lives is what woke me up. I came clean to my entire family (accountability is extremely important for me) and started methadone treatment 3 years and 10 months ago. I know that it isn't right for everyone, but it has worked for me. This past year, I started lowering my dose and it's going great. It scares me to set specific time-related goals, not so much because of my fear of failure, but my REACTION to that failure. But I am working on getting off of it. I'm scared I will relapse when I stop taking methadone, I'm scared I will end up trying new drugs, I'm scared of this, that, the other. But I'm taking it one day a time, one challenge at a time. You have no idea what reading your blog did for me tonight. I will definitely be reading it often. Your transparency is refreshing. Always know that what you are doing here is relevant, in both writing about it and living it. I have no doubt that you are already saving lives, beyond your own and those of your family. You may never know how many people will read this and go on to get sober because something you said hit home. Or how many people who are on the verge of relapse found what they needed here to make it one more day. Maybe people who have just tried drugs for the first time, or are about to, were convinced by your story not to go down that road. I imagine that there were many lives you had the potential to ruin by letting your addiction win, but you refuse to let that be the end of your story. You turned what could have been a tragedy into an opportunity to save lives and make them fulfilling. And just think about the domino effect that will have! I can't believe I actually just used an exclamation point, but I can't help but be excited and inspired by you. :) You have the ability to help change entire families for generations to come, starting with your own. I think you will make a great addiction counselor. You have been given an incredible gift to reach people. You are a great role model for recovering addicts like myself. I'm so glad that you are taking care of yourself first, so that you can help others. I'm excited to keep reading about your journey and where it leads!

  8. Wow, that might be the best thing anyone has ever said thank you so much. That helps me a great deal. That's what it is all about.

  9. Well, just so you know, I don't read a lot of blogs, and comment even less. But every once in a while, something hits me in a profound way, and I think it's important to let the person know. I think we're going to be great friends. :)