When “PTSD” Came Home…

By Samantha Smith – Armor Up West Virginia

PTSD is no stranger in my house. My husband and I both have different degrees of it. The decision for my husband to go to an out of state treatment center was a very abrupt decision. It wasn’t anything we had discussed, but we knew he was going to need help.

The waves of emotions began to take over. We had very little time to prepare for my husband to be gone. The idea of not knowing how long he would be gone for was terrifying. The few days leading up to his send off were some of the most difficult days. I kept telling myself to keep a positive attitude, don’t let him see the worry or fear on my face. I knew if he had the smallest hint of doubt about me not being able to handle everything, he would cancel and not go.

It took a lot of reassurance on my part to let him know we (myself and our daughter) would be ok. Looking back, I think I was also trying to convince myself too. My anxiety was through the roof. I was secretly crying.

There was no focus on any task. My emotions were all over the place. I felt relieved knowing help was coming. The fear of being alone at home had all the “what ifs” creeping in. What if something breaks in, trys to break in, one of the dogs gets sick, my car breaks down, or our daughter gets sick. I had to put all my emotions on hold. My goal was to get him on the plane and to his destination safely.

The BIG day came before we knew it. It started off all wrong. The alarm clock was set wrong, we got up late. He missed his flight by 2 mins. Let that sink in, a 120 seconds. It took a bit of work to get him calmed down. The devil was working overtime that morning. I refused to be defeated. I had prayer warriors going and we would not be defeated. Thankfully, with just a few bumps he made it there. That day was very long and draining. Just when I thought I couldn’t be anymore emotionally drained, I was proven wrong.

I had no idea how hard it would truly be with him gone to treatment. The range of emotions were surprising and caught me off guard. I had no idea how to process my feelings. I had anxiety. I felt overwhelmed with every little task. Our house and property are a lot of responsibility. We have a two year old who didn’t understand where or why Daddy was gone. I couldn’t shut my mind off to sleep. The most surprising and hardest emotions were the anger, frustration and fear. I was angry with myself for not seeing the signs sooner. How could I have missed it? How did I let him get so bad and not ask for help sooner? So many questions of being angry with myself for being in denial that he wasn’t that bad yet.

I’m not sure what I was waiting on before I considered it to be too bad. I was fearful of doing it all on my own. I’ve never been one to ask for help. How was I going to manage a house that takes the time of two people while working full time? I was fearful of failing. I was afraid to stay at home myself with my daughter. I was afraid that the program wouldn’t be successful. I was afraid once he came home, that the environment change would undo the progress and success. I was seeing so much progress! I was over joyed and grateful!! How could I see the positive changes and still have doubt? I have had a hard time processing that.

I’m still used to dealing with the man who left on the plane. It’s going to take time for my mind set to change. While he gets help, the family unit is still at home. I’ve struggled with being in the same mindset as when he left. Where’s my “mental help”? I’m left here trying to figure out how to help our child. Where am I suppose to get the time to fix myself? I wasn’t mad at him, but I hated the situation. After everything we have gone through, why this? I was having a hard time understanding or figuring out how I was feeling. I cried and cried some more. I didn’t call to talk to my friends. I had no idea how to express myself. So I cried even more. Some days I went through the motions and just breathed.

No one can quite prepare you for any of these feelings. As I watched and was there for a close friend last year when she was in my exact position, I’m grateful. I can only imagine how much harder this would have been had I not been there for her. The entire process is hard. I’m thankful she saw the signs in us. It’s a true blessing that the help came when it did. The saying is true “you don’t know how strong you are til you have no other option” is true.

If you, someone you love or someone you know needs help, call:

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Or call Shannon Clairemont at 661-466-6352 or Vanessa Stapleton at 304-651-3008