Monday, 28 April 2014

PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife / The War Within

"We want to know whether the universe simply happens to be what it is for no reason or whether there is a power behind it that makes it what it is."               ~ CS Lewis

Today, I pose a question ... WHY do you stop to READ my blog? Are you living in the shadow of PTSD as I once lived? Are you a writer looking for insight? Or simply curious? Readers from seventy-four countries continue to SEEK my blog. What are you hoping to find? 

I can only guess. You want ANSWERS. Yet all I can tell you is what happened to me. And SHARE what I'm LEARNING ...  

SOCIETY markets the idea that happy thoughts and fresh flowers on the table will BRIGHTEN everyone's day. Pursue the GOOD in people and not the bad. Do random acts of KINDNESS. Lighten up. Enjoy life and the people in your life. It sounds IDEAL, but does this work?

Maybe for some, but not for the hundreds of thousands who are living in the uncertainty of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ... the aftermath of war. No one knows these demons unless you've lived with them! We can't ignore their existence or the impact of this disorder on our warriors and society as a whole. We can't hide them in the cellar like they don't exist.

I care deeply for these brave men and women caught in this nightmare. I know their plight. I lived in that menacing shadow too long not to. But how can one woman make a difference? How can I reach them?

That's why I MUST continue to SHARE where I've been and what I've learned. Even if I reach ONLY ONE person before it's too late ... 

Progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road.  ~ CS Lewis

As some know, I began to write Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, three years after my husband, the love of my life and a Vietnam vet, committed suicide. There. I said the word. I hate that word and what it does to families. My husband left a hole in my heart the size of Texas. He suffered with PTSD for eighteen years before he LOST the battle. A brave warrior. But I couldn't help him. His counselors thought Prozac was the answer, but mixed with alcohol it was deadly, 

Public Awareness of PTSD is my mission! My memoir shares not only the love and laughter in our relationship, but the heartbreak of this disorder woven throughout. I share LETTERS my husband wrote describing what was happening in his mind. I later learned I had developed PTSD during our fifteen year marriage, through association. The reader will relive my experience much like a fly on the wall.

Two million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA estimates 1 out of 5 suffer with PTSD due to so many going back for a third, fourth and fifth tour. The Veterans Health Administration has been overwhelmed with PTSD patients. Now, with the help of two new therapies thousands of veterans are in the process of getting their lives back.  
                 Psychology Today - November 26, 2013 

My research revealed an article in Psychology Today entitled Two New PTSD Treatments Offer Hope for Veterans, which later viewed on a 60 Minutes broadcast. The treatments are called "Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT).

This DISCOVERY is long overdue and the FIRST positive results I've seen since PTSD stepped into my life. It's not a cure but it offers HOPE to those willing to fight back. A MUST SEE for anyone living in the shadow of PTSD. If you have time to watch the 20 minute episode, you can decide for yourself ...  

Click here

Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy works for many people who have experienced trauma. According to the VA, there are three main components:

  1.  Breathing - Controlled breathing is a skill that helps you relax to manage immediate distress.
  2.  Real world, "In Vivo" exposure - Practice approaching situations that are safe which you may have avoided because they are related to the trauma. A veteran may avoid driving since he experienced a roadside bomb while deployed.
  3.  Talking through the trauma and replaying the tape - Talking about your trauma over and over with your therapist, "imaginal exposure." Talking through your trauma will help you get control of your thoughts and feelings about the trauma and helps make sense of what happened.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

The VA is offering this second experimental therapy. This therapy begins by writing an impact statement to share with the group in which the veterans talk about how their lives are still "held in the grip of war."

Participants seem to bond and recreate this sense of camaraderie with other soldiers in a safe environment.

Through CPT veterans begin to consciously make sense of the trauma and 'face the dragon head on' instead of trying to avoid thinking about their memories. CPT makes it easier to cope with traumatic events and get back to living their life to its fullest.

According to the VA, there are four components to CPT:
  1.  Learning About Your PTSD Symptoms
  2.  Becoming Aware of Thoughts and Feelings
  3.  Learning Skills
  4.  Understanding Changes in Beliefs

By CHOOSING to approach your experiences in a NEW and DIFFERENT way, you will be able to decide how your past affects your future ...

Conclusion:  If you have PTSD, "Don't Judge it." Reach out and ask for help.

Across the United States, 77% of vets who go through the program will see a decrease in PTSD symptoms. Though it's a start, it is not a cure. "We have to teach people that they can live with this and live a valued life, a life they want," Dr. Reeder concludes ...

If you, or someone you know, is a veteran suffering from PTSD, please talk to your VA health provider about getting Prolonged Exposure and/or Cognitive Processing Therapy. A list of Veterans Affairs facilities can be found online at: VA Facilities Locator.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, of which have the potential to turn a life around.
     ~ Leo Buscaglia

If you or a loved one seems overwhelmed by PTSD symptoms, please remember, there are many resources available to you. If you need immediate help, please GET IT NOW! PTSD does not go away on it's own ... and will only get worse left unattended.

Below I've listed the number of The Veterans Crisis Line. Please check out Veterans Crisis, even if you don't think you need it now. Get familiar with the resources available, and save this information for easy access.

PLEASE call ... my husband, the love of my life, never had this option.

The Veterans Crisis Line is a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs resource that connects Veterans in crisis and their families with qualified, caring VA professionals through a confidential toll-free hotline and on-line chat.

The new VA suicide prevention hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), recently reported that it's received more than 55,000 calls, averaging 120 per day, with about 22,000 callers saying they were veterans.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.   Jeremiah 29:11


  1. Thank you for speaking out about this issue. We need so many more people out there like you in order to educate the masses. We should never shove them our veterans, our mentally ill, in a dark closet and pretend they don't exist. The only way to combat the PTSD is to admit we have these issues, it's ok to have these issues, and here's how we can treat these issues. I've been dealing with my husband's issues now for 15 years and recently I had my own mental breakdown. I started my blog to talk about my feelings because I thought I was alone. Now, I know I'm not. But sharing helps me and hopefully others. Thank you for your blog.

    Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
    Caring for My Veteran

    1. Lady Jai, Thank you for your gracious words, and more than that, the love and compassion you are showing to one of our warriors, your husband. It's so important for them to know there is "one person" who loves them unconditionally, after what they've experienced. Those families living with PTSD are my passion, as well as the veterans battling this demon living within them. That's why I donate a portion of the proceeds from my book to Pets for Vets. These dogs are sometimes the only love these warriors can let into their lives. My heart breaks, but I'm praying the VA will turn around with the right personnel in change to help our men and women step forward to a more normal existence. Delays in help have been the norm, but fighting back may have finally made a dent in needs to be done. Talk of new people is taking hold and prayerfully, it happens soon. I'm going to stop by your blog ... God bless the work you are doing. Warmest regards, Nancy

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