When PTSD entered our life and home in March 2010, I was aware of its presence, but did not know who or what it was.
When my husband was diagnosed with PTSD in January 2011 it was like finding Professor Plum in the library with the candle stick.
I knew he was not the man he was 10 months ago and there had been so many clues, but nobody told me I was part of a mystery. I had mistaken these clues for other things and what they were telling me. I hadn’t heard of this monster called PTSD. I wasn’t aware it liked police officers because they were unprepared and an easy target. This made us naive and amenable opponents to its grasp.
As I educated myself and my husband advanced in his therapy we both began to understand his behavior in different terms.
He wasn’t disinterested in me and our girls but withdrawn, so he didn’t have to feel the unbearable.
He wasn’t neglectful and unwilling to spend time with his family but exhausted, from lack of sleep because the images, smells and fear wouldn’t let him.
He wasn’t short of temper and quick to yell but agitated, because he was trying so hard to keep it together.
He didn’t have strange sudden irrational behavior but was avoiding, places or things which might trigger the unthinkable.
He wasn’t dumping the load of our life on me and no longer willing to be a partner but overwhelmed, putting on a brave face was all he could muster.
He wasn’t too full of himself to care and show affection but numb, because he had shut down to block the scenes of violence and gore which now included his family.
He wasn’t such a grump that he couldn’t even manage a smile but empty, because feeling meant having to feel the intolerable.
He wasn’t secretive and evasive but coping, because his survival instincts told him to.
We know now what this monster is and what it is capable of but knowing before would have made us a less desirable. Knowledge and preparation is the key to escaping its grip. Even if it does get a hold of you a quick and comprehensive response can spare you its full intent.
The lasting effect of being taken into the unknown mystery of PTSD is always looking for clues. Believing things are what they are is the unnatural now. Always wondering if there is a double meaning or under lying clue. I am learning to believe and trust life is just what I see it to be.
By Lori Wilson
Founder of FAmilies of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness