Our families struggle with PTSD

Our families struggle with PTSD

*WARNING: This story discusses struggles with depression, suicidal and homicidal ideation, military service and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) *


My story wasn’t over… but God wasn’t done. 

This post picks up where the last left off… I was diagnosed with a treacherous rare autoimmune disease. I was in pain, partially deaf, dizzy, suffering from severe brain fog, and now, due to the medication over 40 lbs overweight with hair loss, acne, and a dwindling self esteem. I would like to say, the END! The story is over I was saved by God’s grace and everything is fine… but that would be too good to be true now wouldn’t it. The story continues with more heartbreak, changes, loss and trips through the proverbial hills and valleys of life… but there is hope, hope that even on the other side I can look back and say that God had by back, he was along side me through every twist and turn I encountered. 

The year 2018 came only weeks after my official diagnosis. My family rallied around us for our son’s first Christmas (in 2017) and his first birthday in 2018. The day of his birthday party I had an emergency Saturday Morning doctor's appointment to try to manage my pain, which left me taking 160 mg  of Prednisone (nope, that is not a typo).  If you have never taken prednisone or heard of its side effects… let me tell you… they might just be the worst part. Body aches, pains, hair loss on your head, and hair growth (everywhere)  extreme weight gain, the rounding of your face called moon face, loss of sleep, hot flashes, night sweats, bone deterioration, uncontrollable shaking hands… the list goes on. Thankfully my family set up my son’s birthday party, we arrived just in time before all of our guests. Looking back I honestly don’t know how we made it through the day with smiles… it had to be our little boy. That night, my family wanted to sit down and talk about what the doctors said… the news wasn’t good. My strong loving supportive husband was cold, and distant, he shared the facts with my family, I remember my dad being so confused. The next few weeks seemed tense in my house. My husband was exhausted, overwhelmed and struggling, but in my own pain, I just didn’t see it.

Then my world came crashing down… on Friday, February 1st during the last period of the day I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize, the caller ID said it was from the hospital in Columbus, so I answered. It was my husband, telling me he needed me to get a ride home from work today, he wouldn't be there to pick me up… because he was in the Emergency Room and was being transferred by the police the Veterans Hospital’s Psychiatric Ward. He would not know when he would be home, but he did assure me he called his brother asking him to make plans with his mom to pick up his car. Then the call ended, just as quickly as it began.  I racked my brain. I knew he had a meeting with one of his doctors today. What happened in that meeting. Why is he being sent there?  What was going on?

I will give you a little backstory here… my husband joined the army when he was 19. He was part of an infantry unit that did a tour in Iraq. He didn’t speak much about it, but before we were married he decided to go to the VA Hospital and was diagnosed with PTSD. This is not something new, many of his friends had dealt with similar issues. Throughout the years he attended counseling sessions, and I even went with him on numerous occasions. Memorial day and veterans day were always hard for him, they would bring on floods of memories he would rather not recall and a few days of mood changes, depression and sometimes even drinking would ensue… but my husband was always the strong one… he would always bounce right back… what was going on now, what did I miss. After getting a ride home I started calling all of his doctors, it was a new year and with a new year always came new consent forms… one which my husband hasn’t signed yet- so his doctors were only allowed to tell me much of anything. One loving doctor told me “Mrs. Williams, I am so sorry I cannot tell you any more, but your husband is a sick man and for the sake of you and your son you need to get all of the guns out of your home, I did not need to pink slip (forced hospitalization, also known as the Baker Act) him he went with the officers voluntarily”. I was flabbergasted. Shook to my core.

The next few days were a blur. Blessed yet again by my family, my in-laws stocked my fridge, helped care for my son and my parents jumped in the car and drove the 1,149 miles to my house to stay with me. They drove me to work and physical therapy and my dad even taught me how to drive for the second time in our lives. Think about that for a moment… having to learn how to drive twice. My poor dad. They helped me, they gave me strength so even though my husband was not there to take care of us, I could do it. I was scared. After almost two weeks they left. My husband was still in the hospital. I was scared. There were nights I would just sit on the back porch covered in blankets in the middle of February and cry.

Many new things came to light in the following weeks. My husband was having Suicidal Ideation and Homicidal Ideation. He hated seeing me in pain. He was in pain. And he did not want either of us or our son to live in a world with so much pain. Little did I know that for weeks my husband was caring for everyone, doing everything, while he was struggling so deeply inside. He tried to cope with the pain by drinking. This information was like a shot to the heart.  By the grace of God he went to his doctor's appointment on February 1st and agreed to get help. I remember one night feeling like I couldn’t go on, falling to the ground in my kitchen while my son was eating cheerios in his highchair…. It was almost as if God sent his angels to lift me up and help me keep pushing on… that my friends is the grace of God. God gives us what we need exactly when we need it. When I needed help; he sent our family, when I needed wisdom; he sent me the best doctors and counselors,when I needed encouragement; he sent me the best friends and co-workers,  and when I needed strength… he sent his holy spirit, his spirit to lift me and help me push through.  That is God… a father who is always there…even in the darkest times. A father who loves his children and no matter the pain (because we live in a fallen world) will never leave us or forsake us.  Just a little spoiler alert… my husband received treatment and clung to God and has his own “saved by grace” story (...but that’s for another time).  And today… our family is whole, strong and thankful for God’s saving grace! 

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1 comment

Reading this brought back memories and tears. While I hate what you both went through I am so grateful for all you have accomplished and overcome together and by God’s grace. I love you!

Brenda Watterson

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