Amy and Joe have been living with Joe’s PTSD for many years. They try to re-enforce the positives and ignore the negatives, working hard together, which at times is not easy.
Their message is simple:
as bad as this illness is, with determination and support, we can come through it as a family.”
In our house PTSD is not my husband, it is a third party, an uninvited guest we all need to keep in check. The children know about him and they know it is not daddy. It is a disorder, an injury of the brain we are all working towards re-wiring, re-enforcing the positive links and pathway’s, and ignoring the negative.
For several years it has been all consuming. If I don’t take this time or effort or energy, if I don’t pick up on when things are taking a turn for the worse, notice if Joe is struggling and don’t step in in time there are consequences for all of us.
“We are critical to Joe’s recovery; he needs us there every day to support him.
I simply didn’t have time to think about myself.”
When he is doing well we all rejoice and enjoy him taking part in more but it is a very narrow edged sword as very quickly the extras, putting out the bins, reading the children a bedtime story can become overwhelming and tip him over the edge. I am then left juggling the demands of four children confused and upset at daddy’s outburst. The mother bear instinct kicks in to keep them safe and defend them from PTSD.
Sometimes all Joe needs to resolve the issue is a hug, some kind words and then several hours downtime to discuss what just happened and talk through strategies for next time. Because there will be a next time. I am realistic.
I still do not know if a full recovery is possible or what that consists of but what I do know is that we get better at managing the symptoms of PTSD. The tough times come when I take my eye off the ball and do not give him the time or consideration he needs. Since his diagnosis, the main thing I miss is someone to look after me. Joe used to do that. I could keep the household running, through deployments and house moves because he would support me and look after me.
Therefore, charities such as the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and The Ripple Pond are so important. They have given me respite, helped in times of crisis. The Ripple Pond offers support daily. With meetings, online or in person and through social media. It is a place I can offload amongst people who understand whilst positively supporting others. I tend to go on when I am feeling good and try to spread positive stories as that is what we need, and I find it therapeutic.
To me The Ripple Pond is the only organisation that has really been there daily to talk to, to listen, to signpost and for peer to peer help. The feeling you are not alone or on your own. When you feel you are failing at juggling everything there are others who understand.
I remember my first meeting introducing myself when I heard of others who had been living with PTSD for 10-20 years. It hit me like a brick. We were in the depths of crisis and had been for months, I barely knew which way was up, there was no way I could see this situation continuing for twenty years!!! But as the shock wore off, I realised these people were living with PTSD. It had not gone away, their status quo had not changed. There must be some equilibrium that can be reached that can be sustainable in the long term. These were strong people who had suffered a lot but had overcome and whilst they had bad days, they got through them. And with The Ripple Pond they did not have to get through them alone.
I have made friends, some who live locally, who I can meet and even share jokes with about living with PTSD.