Monday, September 9, 2013
Secondary PTSD is todays latest buzz word. Where a few years ago it was unheard of, today, it's becoming more and more common for spouses and children or other loved ones to develop.
A year ago, I hadn't even heard of it. The next thing I know, I've agreed to go on a radio show to talk about what it is like to live with someone with PTSD from a spouses perspective. The person who was on the show first was discussing it in part. I listened and understood. It made sense to me. We are fighting a different battle at home, but a battle none the less.
The stress of living in this environment is one I have trouble explaining. I often feel I am fighting a losing battle. I am in a no win situation. I am on egg shells, I am tiptoeing around not sure what will set him off today.
This evening, my husband and I began to fight. It's a fight we've been having off and on for a few weeks. I talk and he doesn't even acknowledge I spoke, he walks away like I'm not there. He is having memory issues, which is common with PTSD. But he won't admit it. He won't admit that he forgets in mid movement what he was doing to begin with. So we fight.
We fight because he changes the rules right when I think I have them figured out. Because he forgot he changed the rules and is mad I'm doing something different. Or simply because he is angry today. He bullies, he belittles, he tells me he understands what I'm saying while simultaneously glaring and showing me that he is mad I dared speak up.
When you live in a house filled with land mines, it's no wonder spouse and children are developing a form of PTSD related to living with a service member.
Many of the symptoms are the same as PTSD. And I can't help but wonder if, after all these years living in this environment, if I don't have some of the symptoms. I've been noticing little things. But I can only guess. And even if I did, what am I going to do?
Sadly, the environment will be like this for a lot longer still. And me talking to someone has always been a source of my husbands wrath. It seems hipocritical of me to tell you to watch for signs in yourself and your family, when I myself and not following through.
But I will say it anyway. Watch your family. Watch for signs that they (or you) might be being effected by your situation. And seek help if you notice anything. Anything at all.
Secondary PTSD is becoming more and more common. Don't be surprised if you start seeing more and more groups talking about it, or even advocates urging you to get help. And really, I'm not surprised considering what many of us are living with.
(I am in the process of writing another bit about Secondary PTSD and what to look for)