Thursday, August 22, 2013

Losing compassion for the person closest to me

Not bad for only four years of service.

I will update you on Bob today.

As you may well know, he is and has been living here for the past few months.  When he left in November of 2012, I was certain I was getting a divorce.  Even when he moved back in May, I was certain of the same thing.  My plan was to finish school, get a job, and get a lawyer. I was never so sure of anything.

He has started a new therapy the past few weeks.  For fuck's sake, after three years of misery, the VA has decided about an aftercare therapy that actually has a plan.  Not just 1/2 hour with a new, young, just out of school therapist.  And not only throwing drugs down his throat.  Although they still do that, and he's on more medication than a man of 42 who isn't terminally ill should be on.

The only problem with this is that it is only 12 weeks long.  I am not sure what they have planned after that.  But he is on Medicare (or Medicaid?) now. So maybe we can finally go outside of the VA and see some people who have more time to help him, not just medicate him.

He's doing exposure therapy (again), where he repeats the terrible events over and over. I was totally against it at first. I think living in the present is more important. Let's start trying to move on!   But I guess sometimes we have to look back to move forward. Even if it takes a bunch of reviews. Difficult shit.

One of his assignments is to listen to his therapy session (and yes, there is an app for that) during the week.  The first week, he listened to his session, he asked me, "Do I really sound like that when I speak?"

He was referring to his slurred speech and the slow way that he speaks due to all of the medication.  He runs out of air before his sentence is over.  Something I've been telling him for months...years even.  Not that I'm trying to say "I told you so," but he has never believed me until now. He thought I was just being mean.

So he is slowly beginning to believe the meds are not always working FOR him, but possibly against him.  We actually decided together (without his VA doctor) that he would go down on the medication that has the most side effects. This is also the medication that they have told him will keep his intrusive thoughts at bay.  And they have.  

He has gone down one milligram (he's on four) and it has been this way for four weeks.  He has had no problems with his thoughts, no problems with anything.  But it hasn't stopped any of the bad side effects such as restless legs, rocking back and forth, his jaw is always pushed out, his speech is still slow, and he's exhausted.  BUT, his intrusive thoughts haven't come back.  That is amazing.

He will stay on this dose for a few months and then we will drop down another milligram.  If we can get rid of some of these drugs, and do this type of therapy, go outside more, go to some therapy outside of the VA, and he has the support of his family (me), maybe HE can come back.  By that I mean, the real Bob.  

The last appointment with his psychiatrist, they wanted to UP this medication another milligram. Each time they do this, they say "the side effects at this dose can cause permanent damage."  Meaning he could forever have restless leg syndrome, rocking back and forth, his teeth get stuck at an under bite position or Tardive Dyskinesia.   No thank you.

While listening to his story at home as his assignment, I heard his story again, the one that caused his most extreme mental trauma.  I would never tell this here, as this is private and personal.  But I decided at that moment, that I cannot forget to have compassion for him.  Regardless if we last forever, or divorce in a year.  He, more than anyone in my life, deserves my compassion.  The longer you hold on to trauma (in his case, eighteen years) the harder it is to deal with when you start dealing with it.  And his is big, bad and ugly.  But he is a good man.  And as long as he is willing to do the work to get better, I can have patience to see where we end up.

All of my other gripes still apply.  But I bet I would have some of these gripes anyway.  I could use a maid, cook, a nanny and a driver.  But the real world isn't going to afford that.  So any help he can provide is better than nothing.  And the kids love having him here.

So I see that as progress. And that's all I want for Bob. So am I divorcing him when I'm done with school? Will our relationship ever be like a married couple again?  Sleep in the same room?  Go on trips or even a date alone?  Is he going to sweep me off my feet?  Be in love like before?  I have no idea.  But I really have felt more compassion for him than I have in a long time.  Progress.

I change like the wind. 


  1. My cousin's husband was badly damaged from some things he saw and did while in the air force. He returned with debilitating PTSD. It's been horrific. This is a serious, serious problem. We have more military members dead from suicide than from combat. That is a real statistic. We need MUCH better support for these brave people. My heart goes out to all of you.

  2. My dear friend's husband is so young( 40's) and cant work now. He has crippling headaches, sensitive skin like it hurts to have a fan blow on him, has blankets on his legs during 105 degree weather, and more. The VA wants to shove him with drugs and all he wants to do is sleep. They have 3 kids and she is the bread winner. She did the same thing you did- she cant live with a zombie and they cut back on some meds and it helped. This is truly a travesty that our military comes home and then is crippled physically and emotionally and monetarily. I am so proud of you and your progress towards Bob. XOXO

  3. Finding that sweetness of compassion is so critical. Depending on the therapy modality they are using with him, it might be helpful to investigate EMDR. Our family has really found a lot of inner peace collectively and individually using that. It has been shown to be super successful with trauma addition to our anecdotal evidence :) I wish you the VERY VERY best :)