June is PTSD Awareness Month and though we live it 365 days a year, I realize that unless you know someone with this “disorder” you may not know very much about it.
I’m going to try my best to explain in bits and pieces throughout the month what my family goes through on a daily basis; I can only tell our story though. PTSD (I loathe the D for “disorder”-it’s actually a very normal response to trauma and we need to stop making people feel bad about this) is different for each person.
In our case, Mr. Wonderful came back with his souvenir from fighting in the OEF wartime theater. That’s Operation Enduring Freedom. This means he saw bad things he doesn’t like to talk about, has a certain amount of survivor’s guilt for coming back when some of his buddies didn’t, and had to flail about on his own with no treatment for nearly thirteen years.
PTSD has taken on different forms at various times in our family:
-disconnection and lack of empathy
-rage and misplaced anger
-suicidal thoughts and tendencies
This is just the tip of the PTSD iceberg. There is no cure, no one medicine, nothing that will permanently end Mr. Wonderful’s suffering.
But we press on. And we press in. To our faith and each other. We work on managing the symptoms as best we can. We attend doctors appointments, do therapy, and try to instill healthy coping mechanisms and lifestyle choices in ourselves and our kids.
We fall down. We get back up. We try to use gratitude a lot: it’s hard for negativity to exist when you’re being glad about something. And we know what works (mostly) and what doesn’t.
Our journey over the last three years, especially before we got the PTSD diagnosis, has not been easy.
But we have been learning how to celebrate in the midst of the storm, to throw up our hands and dance in the rain and wait for the promised rainbow.
(Photo credit Heathershelpers.org) ©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015
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