There was once a time in my life that PTSD were just four innocent letters of the alphabet.
Put together, my medical books told me these letters described a condition called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The textbooks explained the nature of psychological injuries. They described the ensuing depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, hypervigilance, and substance abuse. They outlined the basic foundation of treatment, consisting of medication, cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy.
But then in 2011, after my husband had been wholeheartedly dedicated to his paramedic career for more than ten years, everything began to fall apart around us. A medical professional made his assessment and handed us our sentence.
PTSD. And just like that, those four letters now belonged to us.
My medical books didn’t lie – my husband ticked every box they listed. Perhaps they didn’t lie, but I quickly discovered that they didn’t even begin to tell the full story. There was no mention of the explosive anger that would reduce me to tears and cripple my morale, the sleepless nights, the dark clouds that would linger for weeks on end. There was no talk of the unpredictable disappearances and the destructive binge-drinking, and no warning of how PTSD can push a family – and a marriage – to the brink.
My husband may be the one with the diagnosis, but our whole family lives with PTSD.
It doesn’t matter what the exterior looks like; a veteran, a police officer, a first responder, a doctor, a paramedic, a fire fighter, a journalist, an emergency service worker, a lawyer, or an adult who is still guarding a broken child deep inside. It doesn’t matter, because PTSD doesn’t discriminate. It will rain down on anyone, anytime. And once it has someone in its grip, the result will always look the same.
If you are here, reading my words and following my journey, then I know that PTSD belongs to you too.
You also live with PTSD, as your own diagnosis, as a partner, as a spouse, as a parent, as a brother, as a sister, as a child, as a relative, or as a friend. Just like me, you are worried. You are tired, and you are scared. You are sick of walking on eggshells, every moment of every day. You are sad, but only when no-one is watching. You are pushed to your limit. You are lonely. You are lost.
You’re looking for answers, but more than that, you’re searching for others who understand firsthand what your life has become. Because your friends don’t get it, your colleagues don’t get it, and even your family doesn’t necessarily get it. You’re looking for people on the same journey so you can take comfort knowing that you’re not as alone as you feel. And you’re searching for hope.
I share my stories because I want you to know you’re not alone. You are not the only one who has ever felt this way, you’re not the only one who has had these thoughts.
And I believe there is hope in this dark world of PTSD.
But although PTSD impacts on our life considerably, we are still just a family. And I am still just a mother. I choose to write about and share these aspects of my life too, because I strive to not let my husband’s PTSD define us all.
These are my stories.
My writing can be easily found through the ‘WORDS’ tab on the menu, but the links below will help direct you to some of my most popular pieces.
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POSTS ABOUT PTSD
What is it Truly Like to Be “Married to PTSD”? – unless you’re living it, no-one can know what it’s really like to live under the shadow of PTSD, but this is my experience.
Bracing Our Children for a Lifetime of PTSD – how will my husband’s PTSD affect our children, and am I strong enough to protect them from the worst?
You Never Wake from the Nightmare when PTSD Haunts You – coping with sleepless nights and nightmares when they’re not even yours.
Dear PTSD, This is My Promise to You – all I want to do is support my husband, but all I find myself doing is battling a demon.
What I Tell My Children About Their Father’s PTSD – trying to explain any illness to a child, but particularly mental illness, is difficult – especially when it’s your own child.
The Real Truth About What PTSD Can Look Like in Our Home – these episodes are largely unpredictable and always rattle me to the core.
Where Does the Mental Illness End and the Marriage Begin? – adversity can strengthen or cripple a relationship, but mental illness has the power to do both.
How I Became “Married to PTSD” – a brief introduction about how PTSD entered our life, and a link to my bio.
POSTS ABOUT HOPE
I Couldn’t Heal My Husband’s PTSD, but I’ve Found 10 Ways to Heal Myself – self-care is not selfish, it’s the most important thing you can do when you also care for another.
The Three Reasons Why I Choose to Stay Alongside PTSD – they may be the same reasons why you stay, or they may be the reasons you choose to walk away.
Recognising the Difference Between Enabling and Supporting Someone with PTSD – it can be difficult to know if your actions are enabling destructive behaviour or supporting recovery.
Recovering from PTSD Can Only Begin with One Person – although the shadow of PTSD affects entire families, there is only one person who can control a recovery.
Accepting How PTSD Can Cripple a Relationship – recognising the damage PTSD has caused my marriage was the first step in seeking the right professional support.
No-One Can Run Away from Their Problems, so Why Are We Packing up Our Life? – we are moving across the country to find a new and quieter life, but is it the right thing to do?
POSTS ABOUT MOTHERHOOD AND FAMILY
How Ignoring Your Child Can Improve Their Happiness – I am a mother, not an entertainer, and I need to be prepared to encourage my child to find their own happiness.
5 Things I Wish I Could Have Told My Pregnant Self – becoming a mother for the first time was nothing like I expected, and nothing like what the books had led me to believe.
Making Memories in the Tasmanian Wilderness – nothing makes me happier than unplugging from modern life and spending time with family.
When I First Became the Mother of a Mother – I quickly realised that I was entirely unprepared for the depth of emotion that comes with being the mother of a mother.