Deployments,  Marriage,  Parenting,  Self-Care

PTSD, as Told by a Veteran and a Military Spouse

My name is Annette, and I am the mother of two teenagers. I am also a military spouse of over 20 years and a Retired Army Combat Veteran. What some may not know is that I also suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression. I’ve been living with this since 2009.

Some days are better than others. Some days I want to hide and not go out into the world and be with people. At one point I attempted suicide. I hit rock bottom. I didn’t think there was a way out. After some therapy and some Prozac, I thought I was ok. Fast forward to 2016. I had to make a hard decision to retire early. It was devastating. I was so done. 

After months of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to start writing. I wrote for myself and didn’t want anyone to know the pain I was going through. After about a year, I decided that if I wanted to be there for my kids through high school, I needed to wake up. That is when I started my blog.

The more I wrote and spoke to people, the more I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to share my story so that I could help others. If I could save one life then it was all worth it. I knew that somehow someway this is what I was called to do. God saved me and now it was time for me to try and save others. 

Writing was my place. It is what gave me peace.

My writing has led me to want to do more. I share my story on several social media outlets. I even write for other online platforms. To see the comments from complete strangers, literally makes me cry. Sometimes I doubt myself and question whether I am truly making a difference. There are so many other people out there who have blogs and podcasts, why is mine any different?  

It’s different because it’s MINE.

It’s my story to tell and no one else has the exact same thing. We all have our own experiences and are able to resonate with different people. With writing, I have been able to get out of my comfort zone and feel like I am making some kind of impact. It has helped me be more open. I have even been comfortable enough to do live videos and talk about real life and not just on a computer.

I am no longer ashamed to say that I am hurting. I am no longer afraid to say that it is ok to not be ok. We all have those dark days. Sometimes it takes a leave-me-alone day to get back up and start again. As spouses, we need to be able to be patient and understanding of those off days. When I was at my lowest, my husband and kids didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t until I started sharing my story that I was able to sit them down and explain what I needed when I had those days. From his perspective, he knew I just needed space. That is one of the best things you can do. Give them room to breathe. Sometimes you just can’t fix them or the situation. Give them their space and be patient. Understand that sometimes it is hard for those living with PTSD to voice their feelings. There are certain triggers that are hard to explain. Begging them to talk or giving an ultimatum is not the answer. Arguing until the situation is resolved is also not the way to get them back to that happy place. 

I would suggest a happy medium in which you try and just love them. Be there physically and emotionally. That is what we need the most. PTSD doesn’t just go away. It is something that takes time to heal. 

As a veteran, I encourage you to never give up hope. You are not alone. There are party lights and the end of the tunnel. They are waiting for you. You can do this. 

As a spouse, I also encourage you to not give up hope. You are a caregiver and a blessing from God. You are strong and resilient. You, as the caregiver are a support system.

Sometimes it is difficult to see the rainbow during the storm, but I want to encourage you to keep fighting. I don’t have all the answers, and everything I am saying may be easier said than done. All I can say is that I am a trauma survivor and a suicide survivor. As someone who didn’t think it could get any worse, I made it. I woke back up and realized that this was much bigger than me. It was about my family and everyone else out there who is suffering. 

You are resilient. You are brave. You can do this. 

Annette is a Retired Army Veteran, mom, and military spouse. She loves photography, writing, and singing in the car like no one is watching. She has four dogs whom she swears talk back to her. She also is addicted to all things farmhouse and Rae Dunn but may need a bigger home to store it all in. She is also a minimalist (or trying to be) and loves donating (in order to buy more Rae Dunn) to charities that support veterans. 

You can read more about Annette's journey on her website at www.awildridecalledlife.com. You can also listen to her podcast,  A Wild Ride Called Life, on iTunes and Podbean. 
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