Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Give healing PTSD as a Christmas Gift this year

Give healing PTSD as a Christmas Gift this year
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
December 12, 2012

This morning I opened an email from a woman telling me of her life with her Vietnam Veteran father and what the family went through. Her Dad ended his own life committing suicide days after September 11, 2001. He became part of my greatest fears coming true. Her Dad was one of the reasons I self published my book For the Love of Jack, His War/My Battle because by then I knew what was coming for Vietnam Veterans and their families. The book was finished and I spent over a year trying to find a publisher, but PTSD was not big news and few cared about Vietnam veterans.

When was finished, I was not thinking about troops being sent into Afghanistan or Iraq because 9-11 hadn't happened yet. All I was thinking about was families like mine. They needed to know what I learned just as an average person trying to keep my husband alive and my family together living lives too many others suffered in silence with believing no one else could understand.

By 2002 the troops were in Afghanistan for several months yet the government had not prepared for what combat would do to those we sent or to warn their families ahead of time so they could prepare for homecomings all over the country. I revised the book to add in 9-11 and the troops in Afghanistan along with talk of sending them into Iraq.

A few years later I released it for free on my old website so that no one had to pay for it. Back then I had a paycheck from a job and was doing ok financially. Plus the goal of the book was not to make money but to make families heal. That is still my goal but since I have a non-profit few people offer financial support. That doesn't bother me as much as the fact I am contacted too many times by families after their veterans have committed suicide and face writing another book about something that didn't have to happen.

In 2007 I started this blog and tried to warn families of what was coming.
When war comes home, battle begins for spouse

"When they come home from combat with the horrors imbedded in them, it is often up to the wives or husbands to begin the fighting. We have to fight for them to get help at the same time we fight them to understand they need help. Denial is the first battle. The mood swings and detachment plant the idea it's our fault in the backs of our own minds as we try to understand what's happening. Short term memory loss and poor judgement skills turn us into parents having to watch every move they make. This is what happens when they come home with wounded minds. Can there be any wonder why so many of these marriages fall apart? Most of them crumble like burnt toast when the facts about PTSD are unknown to them. A lot of marriages with Vietnam veterans ended because of this and because so little was known when they came home.

As much as I love my own husband, as much as I learned about PTSD over the last 25 years, our marriage nearly fell apart more times than I can even remember. The frustration of it all becomes too much too often even now. Our marriage license is in half English and half Greek. I tell my husband the adoption orders are on the Greek side of it when I feel as if I am no longer a married woman but a parent to a child 8 years older than me. I was a single parent in all the years of taking control, making sure the government took care of their responsibility to my husband. This is our job.

We become caretakers, nursing their wounds, holding their shaking bodies, comforting their broken image of themselves and trying with all our might to reassure them they are still loved and needed. We adjust to daily prayers of healing as Jesus instantaneously healed the mad man; for patience; for restoration of compassion when self-needs get too strong; for the right words to use when logic is not enough to combat illogic; and above all for the ability to be reassured the person we love is still in there beneath the stranger we see with our eyes.

As spouses take control, we also face financial disasters while claims are "being processed" only to be turned down and appeals have to be filed within the deadlines we have to live with but the VA does not. Employment for these veterans is sporadic at best, but bills are constant. Then there is the astronomical cost of the self-medication they turn to with alcohol and drugs. We loose time at work when they were up all night with nightmares or to take them to the VA for appointments because they cannot bring themselves in the beginning. We loose time at work when we have to take them for hearings and to see the service organizations helping with the claims because they cannot manage to get themselves there without us.

All of this at the same time we have to try to keep hope alive in them, reassure them that truth will win and their claim will be approved so that we can at least keep our homes and pay our bills. We also loose income when their jobs are lost. The income they get from the VA, if and when their claims are finally honored, is a lot less than they would make, along with our own loss of income. We had to have several mortgage "forbearance" arrangements to keep our house, borrowed from family, at the same time I had to work more to keep the roof over our heads. This was a lot of fun when I had to worry about our daughter and my husband needing constant supervision. A tiny crisis left him unable to think often. One time a toilet was overflowing. He called me at work in a panic, not knowing what to do, instead of just shutting off the water flow to the tank and using a plunger, which he had done often before. It was just one of those days for him to face.

We are a huge Army of love, fighting for those who risked their lives but forgotten behind the battle lines. Each day is a new experience. I tell my husband there is never a dull moment in our marriage because I never know what to expect. Sometimes he even surprises himself. Most of the worst days are far behind us. We have adjusted to our own sense of what "normal" is and most days, they are good days. We still have times when my frustration reaches its limit and we have a huge argument, but over the years, they happen a lot less. I learned to deal with the fact he has to recheck the door I just locked and the repeated questions I've already answered twelve times before.

We had our 23 anniversary last month. Marriages do not have to end if the tools are available. That's why I've been working so hard all these years. I'm positive that if I didn't know what PTSD was, there is no way I would be able to cope with any of this. Life does not have to be about existing day to day, but living lives with tiny blessings. It can be about holding hands wherever we go because we held onto our hearts. Yes, we still hold hands!

(Honesty time; I get a little mean every now and then. His short term memory loss opens the door for a little mind game I play every now and then. I will remind him of a conversation we really did have and then toss in something we never talked about. We've gone out to eat a lot because I convince him he promised to take me out. While we're eating, I admit what I did. He laughs and then hands me the bill.)

If you are dealing with a combat veteran with PTSD, learn all you can about it and welcome to this Army of love. The war we fight for them now, will never end, but battles can be won and peace can be declared within our own homes."

In October of 2007 news came out that 148,000 Vietnam Vets sought help in last 18 months
Back then my PTSD videos were on Google and YouTube.
I started doing videos in February of 2006. Is this a coincidence? From the emails I get, it is part of it. It was the goal anyway.

When War Comes Home PTSD
views 2418

Veterans and PTSD version 1
All time views:14,283

Wounded Minds Veterans and PTSD version 2

Wounded Minds PTSD and Veterans version 3

PTSD After Trauma on Google

End The Silence of PTSD on Youtube
Views: 2,919

Hero After War Combat Vets and PTSD on Google
Views: 1,772 on Youtube

Coming Out of The Dark of PTSD on Google

Coming Out Of The Dark-PTSD and Veterans on Youtube
Views: 4,304

Death Because They Served PTSD Suicides

These videos are all available on Great Americans at the above tab.

When I think of what was known so long ago emails make me cry because I know the pain all too well but I also know the joy of living with a healing veteran once the darkness of PTSD has been defeated. He is not cured but he is healing and we've been married 28 years. This month marks the 30th anniversary of my work on combat and PTSD. Over half my life has been dedicated to this cause.

If you know someone going through this, give them a Christmas gift that can help them heal. Let them know they are not alone. The price is only $10.00 so that people can afford to buy it.

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