I’m a veterans wife – like many of us I’m a mum, wife, carer, pa, taxi, therapist – a superwoman who’s expected to “stay strong, keep smiling and keep things together” I’m one of many who with a plastered smile tries to juggle everything – I’m young , not prepared fully for married life with someone who’s former self is crumbling away, I’m one of many mums who mourn a “normal” picture perfect family life –to go out and enjoy ourselves amongst families -we don’t do any of these things as they trigger my husband and my child’s dad -we can’t go into crowds , strange places -we have to plan ahead any visit to an empty spot in the park ,or a simple visit to a doctor.
It’s not how life should look like- I wake up (that is if I get any sleep at all), dress my husband, then wake our daughter – she knows what to do and prepares herself for school while I sort breakfasts and coax my husband into eating it – so I know his stomach is lined with food before his morning medication -as he takes quite a lot of tablets I do worry about him taking them on an empty stomach – meal times worry me, he usually say he feels sick and cannot eat so even though I know it sounds petty this worries me, especially after him being hospitalised through weight loss.
Then the school run – after we get home and if there isn’t any doctor’s appointments I get on with the house work, take our dogs out –I get a phone call of my frantic husband “where the f*ck am I” all images of me getting hurt going through his mind at that time – I run back from the nearby park with our 2 dogs, thinking how the hell I’m going to calm him down. I construct my words carefully the last thing I want to do is make him more frantic – I love peace and quiet and since I met my husband – peace in the house got his value in gold.
Once calm my husband might fall asleep from sheer exhaustion, he knows I’m awake and the dogs are there to keep him safe and he kind of relaxes more.
What I do then – well I’m just sitting there quietly drinking another cup of coffee, trying to sort out anything that needs to be done. Doctor appointments, forms to be filled any bills and debts that need to be sorted (that racked up during my husband’s previous relationship ) because things like that only agitate my husband even more and he usually runs away from it all.
Most likely my husband will wake up with a scream and a panicked look on his face saying he couldn’t wake up he tried by he couldn’t – I need to calm him down -we have a doctors appointment in an hour. I remind him that we need to go, we can’t risk him cancelling another appointment, quick coffee and we are out in the car. The hospital car park is full, we drive around and I can see by my husband face that at any minute he will snap. He is starting to swear saying that there isn’t any space and he wants to get home -and he knew it would happen. We go home, on the way I’m phoning the Doctor to letting them know about situation whilst my husband shouts in the background.
Once he’s had some sleep I tend to circle around asking what he would like to eat for dinner, the answer is always the same “nothing I’m not hungry” I go shopping, usually stays in the car with one of the dogs –it’s safer that way for both of us, but I need to be quick because he will phone me again like he did this morning.
Once I pick our daughter up from school her father doesn’t interact much with her -it’s not because he doesn’t love her, its because he can’t focus and gets agitated with simple stuff, my daughter is now a little older so I suppose she’s got used to how daddy is – she says “Mum don’t worry, daddy is ill but he’s alive”
Bedtimes are hard, his nightmares often wake him up – and it’s harder to calm him down at night. I’m lucky if I get 4 hours sleep, he takes a large amount of comfort from our dogs and having them gives him a little sense of security. I say a little as we sleep with a baseball bat under the bed just in case someone breaks to our home.
I’m not sure if I’ve expressed myself well here but basically living with someone who suffers from PTSD and bringing up children its tough! Nightmares and day mares affect everyone in the house, panic attacks, mood swings, depression it’s hard to live with. You might say here why don’t you just leave him – like my mum who lives 1000 miles away often say – it’s simple because he is worth saving.
Imagine your family life. You go out to parks, holidays, cinema or out for food – simple things like teaching your child to ride a bike or going on family walks. This is something my family don’t have unless the place is deserted we can’t just sit and relax. My husband often cries that he isn’t a good husband and father but he simply cannot do it without blowing up – this is what PTSD does to you – once you’ve finished your service to the country and you are affected by PTSD it slowly destroy your and everyone in your life.
Homelessness, drugs, alcohol, prison sentences for violence or petty crimes – it’s all my husband knows first hand. He said I saved him while his country left him in the gutter – but did I? I cannot help him to get better, I’m yet to find a way.
Sarah unlike many charities (those who I volunteer for) does not expect me to stay strong and keep smiling she simply asks “how can I help?” This is what many organisations are lacking. Sarah is there for me whenever I want to cry or need to talk to someone day or night – sometimes I would love to walk out, close the door but I know I can’t and Sarah is there to give me some strength , friendly advice and a shoulder to cry.
GG also learned about the condition of our garden which was a mud patch on a large slope – no place for a disabled veteran and child. For 7 years we couldn’t use it! Sarah stepped in and within 3 days our garden was transformed into not only a magazine worthy garden but a safe and tranquil environment that we all can enjoy.
Watching my daughter ride her bike around the garden for the first time brought tears to our eyes. As a mum, seeing my daughter enjoy this simple pleasure warmed our hearts
My husband interacts with our daughter in the garden – they both call it a “holiday at home” and this amazing act of kindness has helped us to spend some time in the fresh air -something this simple that changed our lives as a family. We have picnics, bike rides, blow up our paddling pool and finally seeing my child smile and husband relaxed has changed our lives
And for that, me and my family will be forever grateful.