My head has been filled with so many thoughts lately. So many emotions that I want to get out on paper or in a blog. So many questions, so many things. I cannot shut down my brain at night, so I try to make a list, a “to-do” list if you will, about things to write down, remember, or do.
Yesterday I realized that June is PTSD Awareness Month.
I had to stop and think about all the times that I have encountered PTSD. I get angry and I get emotional. I found a video of Sam transitioning from some of those same feelings in 2016 (I’ll share the link in a bit).
PTSD does not just happen to Veterans. PTSD can happen to anyone. It can do a number on families, friends, and loved ones. PTSD is real, but you cannot see it.
For a long time I hated even saying or typing the acronym PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I loathed the “D” for disorder. People should not be defined by that, or even associated by that, but unfortunately, it happens.
PTSD was something that I knew about from books, lectures, videos, and movies. It was not something I had much experience with first-hand until I met Sam.
When we first met he did not say much about the “P-word,” in fact, it took me a bit to see signs, symptoms, and finally realize that he struggled with this beast.
What I also did not know is that he felt this struggle alone.
Many who struggle with PTSD often have these thoughts, feelings, or emotions. I know these are in our home from time to time.
- Low-Self Esteem
- Sense of Danger
The list could go on.
These feelings can stay silent, grow, and develop over time, damage relationships, cause harm, and make one want to stay quiet, make one feel isolated.
It took a lot of conversations, therapy, and eventually, a discussion to bring a service dog into our home to work on PTSD. We knew that Memphis was not a cure, but rather, a tool. A way for Sam to navigate life, work, and everyday situations with a service dog.
We educated ourselves, our family, and friends, as much as we could. We still continue to work through situations and go to therapy because PTSD just never leaves you or your family alone.
PTSD can be a stigma. Hell, some people do not even know or want to know how they can help because it just seems like too much. Sam has been told to “just get over it,” “move on,” “go forward,” “forget all about it,” and so many more things that are hurtful and just downright wrong.
Maybe that was because people did not understand or know. Maybe that is because it made people uncomfortable. Maybe people thought he looked okay because he has no visible injuries.
Not all wounds are visible.
Not all wounds heal so easily over time.
We (and I type we because it is all of us: me, the kids, Sam) work together to understand and to heal. We have moments where there is frustration and quick to anger words, some triggers, and some tears. Conversations, hugs, and sometimes ice cream help with those moments.
For a person to come forward and admit their struggles, their hard times, and perhaps even share moments of their life they wanted to hide is a huge, huge step. For a person to know they are not alone is so very important.
It took years of fighting, sometimes very isolated and alone, for Sam to admit he needed a little more help. It also took a few years for him to realize he is not alone.
One step forward was key. One foot in front of the other. One commitment to healing.
The journey has been long and it is still ongoing. The journey has introduced us to new people who are now part of our extended family, also fighting the good fight against PTSD. The journey has brought us hope.
Here’s a small glimpse. Here’s the moment where life changed.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.