My husband has PTSD, so I’m teaching him to crochet.

It’s been forever since I last sat down to blog.  I’ve missed it, but life has been more for living these past years than for writing about it.  (Read that as, I’m keeping my head above water)

It’s been 4 years since Afghanistan.

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Saying farewell for now.

I would like to tell you that I knew, right away, that something was not quite right.  That isn’t true.  There were moments of question, little doubts in the back of my mind, but almost from the moment he stepped off of the plane, life accelerated to light speed.

There were a flurry of emergencies back home in Arizona which resulted in several hurried trips… we didn’t even get reintegration leave.  There was one conversation in which I learned that some of his mental health markers had changed on his return but we were slated to move to Turkey in a matter of months and so it got signed off and pushed aside.  The move was stressful and fraught with theft and then separate travel.  The year in Turkey was dotted with him leaving the country for one sort of business or another, leaving Isaac and I there alone.  The political temperature of that part of the world changed and we were all on heightened alert.  My health problems became too severe to treat in Turkey, and I was sent home, with Isaac, while he returned to Turkey and then went on to another deployment.

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Saying goodbye again.

In the 22 months between Afghanistan and his return from Qatar and Turkey we lived under the same roof and in a normal home environment for 7 months.

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His final return from Turkey and Qatar in 2014.

 

On his return, there was a sudden death in the family, and his reaction shocked me.  My husband and I were preschool sweethearts.  There isn’t much about him that surprises me… we are old friends.  This reaction was the antithesis of his personality.  I can’t describe to you the horrible panic that settled in my stomach.  Suddenly my world was on it’s head and I knew, without a doubt, that something was horribly wrong, and that I should have seen it sooner.

That night, as we lay in bed in the guest room of my parents house, just two feet from the small bed of our sleeping son, we had a whispered conversation.  The things he told me rocked me to my core.  The things he’d seen, the horrors experienced, his difficulty connecting to his emotions, and how utterly lost he felt. I insisted that the moment we settled in Colorado he seek help.

It’s been two years.  The search for good mental healthcare has been extremely frustrating but he’s finally found a program, a plan that seems to be helping.

Two years of flashbacks, night terrors, walking as calmly as possible out of movie theaters, mediating between him and our son when his patience is gone and his fuse is short, conversations he can’t remember, appointments forgotten, and so many other things.

Two years and we FINALLY have a diagnoses.  My husband has Acute Narcotic/Trauma Induced PTSD.  He has been told that progress will happen but that he will never be whole.  He will never be the same.

Let me explain the Narcotic/Trauma induced. While in Afghanistan he had to take anti malaria medication.  He has a medical allergy that kept him from taking the normal medication so they gave him an alternate.  It is not the commonly used medication because in a certain percentage of people taking it the side effects include but are not limited to night terrors and psychotic breaks.  Unfortunately my husband fell within that percentage.  For the entire six months he was there he suffered horrible night terrors, waking dreams, and a few episodes that were scary.

Everything he remembers did happen, but then was reinforced night after night in horrible nightmares resulting in an severe emotional detachment.  The damage is done.

We will never be the same, those golden carefree days are behind us, we won’t be the fairy tale we once were.  And that’s okay.  We’ll work hard together.  For us. For our son.  We will be a Phoenix rising from ashes… in time.  The road before us is long and perilous.

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Our last photo shoot before Afghanistan.

I’ve bought him a very extensive planner so that appointments don’t go forgotten. We have code phrases for use in front of our kiddo so that he is not undermined but doesn’t do damage in turn. I’m teaching him how to crochet because it’s been found to actually heal brain damage.

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@Spin A Yarn 32

He’s learning to chain.  He doesn’t know if he’ll ever get any farther but he’s pretty proud of his nice even tension… it’s the little things.

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@Spin A Yarn 32

I’m so proud of him.  For talking to me, for seeking help, for making changes when he was resistant… I know that, in time, we will settle into a new normal and find our truly happy again.  We have a lifetime to find it.

 

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All my love,
Courtney

P.S. If you or a loved one suffer from PTSD or any other mental health issue, please seek help.  There is so much available!

The stigma against mental health issues of all kinds is so damaging.  My husband is no less a man for self reporting, for asking for help remembering something, for seeking a therapy such as fiber arts to heal, for letting his wife share his story… is he? I believe it makes him a better man and one I greatly respect.

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16 thoughts on “My husband has PTSD, so I’m teaching him to crochet.

  1. You and your husband (and your adorable son) are amazing. A lot of couples don’t break through to light in these situations. Well done for staying true to each other, and holding tight in the darkness.
    I suffer from anxiety. I was taught crochet by my grandmother as a child, and put it aside for a long time.
    I have two boys, and in November 2013 I had a week off work and decided to crochet them a scarf each. Two days later, my Dad (in Australia) was in hospital and I was unable to get there (from Texas). Three days later, my hero passed away.
    Crochet has been cathartic and a real therapy for me. I find when I don’t spend a little time “hooking” regularly, that I lose my grip a little bit. Since then, I’ve taught three people to crochet, one of which also suffers PTSD, and another with anxiety.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are, all three, inspirations.❤️

    • Thank you so much for your comment. I have great hopes that with a little work he’ll be able to stash a skein of yarn and a hook in a desk drawer and if he starts to have anxiety or just needs to breath for a minute he can work a few rows to calm himself. If he never does anything but simple scarves then we’ll donate those to our local VA for other troubled vets. Thank you for sharing your story as well. My best wishes to you and thank you again for your words.

  2. I love you. Thank you for filling us all in on this so we can KNOW and in our knowing, PRAY.

    Now that I’m learning crochet, I will add praying as I crochet for you two—because I’m finding it’s a great combination of activities to participate in. So “funny”, all the prayers you poured into me and mine, through crochet—and now I can do the same for you.

    Sending hugs from afar. ❤

    • Thank you so very very much. It’s so funny how life goes around isn’t it? I never in a million years thought you would be crochet/praying over me!!! I love you too and am so grateful for your friendship all of these years…

  3. I have service connected PTSD also. It is not from battle, but from other service connected trauma. I have gone to counseling for several years now, but it took me to getting to a point where I reached out for help in desperation because I had no where else to turn. My counselor has helped me a lot, giving me the tools I needed to cope with different situations.
    Crochet is my passion, as it helps with diversion techniques when things become too stressful for me. I take my crochet with me almost everywhere that I can.
    I wish your hubby the best on this new experience in his life. I hope it helps him as much as it has helped me. You are very gifted in the work you do, so he has an excellent teacher!

  4. I also suffer from PTSD from an EMS helicopter accident. It’s bee 7 years and some days feel more normal but they are a new normal. Therapy has helped, my dog, and my crochet. Also, coloring helps. Nights are the toughest time, sometimes it feels you are all alone. Hang in there and don’t keep trying.

    • Thank you for your service and story! My father was a 32 year firefighter… so I know that PTSD is not limited to military for sure. I actually got him coloring books too! The upswing in adult coloring has been a God send. So much interesting material now! ❤

  5. This has inspired me to pick up my hooks again after a while away. I’m suffering from the after-effects of a very traumatic birth 6 months on, and maybe this will help… good luck to you and your husband, I hope he can find some peace.

  6. This post so resonated with me. My husband is a PTSD veteran that suffered for years before he was diagnosed. He’s been in counseling for 20 years. There is hope, there is light. It’s a day by day process, with some setbacks, sone stressors can bring them to their knees, but over the years and with his group of the last 12 years, my Marine has gained tools to manage. There are adjustments, you cannot anticipate every eventuality, but the ability to adapt is the best gift you can give yourself. My Marine didn’t crochet, I’m the one with the hook…he did crewel work. Keeping you and your family in our prayers. #partnersinptsd

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  8. Thank you for sharing your story, my husband and I have both served in the army…I have 8 months left and he has been out now for about two years. I never thought I would think that either of us have PTSD for any reason, but we do. Yet, there are many ways that we find ways to heal. I crochet and do yoga and he loves to just work on his cars and build just about anything. I hope and pray that your husband finds himself completely again. Its been hard for both of us, mainly because Im stubborn, and it was very very hard to admit that I had an issue. Its been four years since our deployment, lif is getting to be grand again 🙂

  9. I have tears in my eyes while I am reading this. Definitely – your husband is no less a man because of his mental health issues just like I am not less a woman because of mine. While mine are not job related – they are hormone related – menopause has so much to answer for !!!! But I take my medication and I talk to people about it when I can. My husband is not that open to talking about it – I think he would prefer I didn’t tell people that I suffer from depression and anxiety because ‘people don’t talk about those issues’ which is how we were both brought up. What I have learned is that there are a lot of things we were brought up believing that weren’t right – and this is one of them.
    I think accepting you have a mental health issue takes a lot of courage and talking to people and bringing it out into the open is definitely a step in the right direction. I cannot believe how many people I have spoken to who have not believed I suffered from both depression and anxiety. They don’t see the stress it causes me to go out or to have to deal with people or make a phone call or inter-act with others. I have very few friends I can socialise with because others just don’t get me and it’s too difficult to spend time with them when I have to try to be someone I’m not or put on a happy face when all I want to do is run home and hide under my crocheting.
    My heart goes out to you and your family – I wish you peace and strength to deal with your health issues. Thank you for sharing your story. (kalm20m)

    • Thank you so much for your comment! It is one absolutely amazing thing about the online community, the way it connects us and allows us to find each other. Thank you for your story and for your encouragement. He believes and so do I, that telling people, saying it out loud and being as public as possible with it is the way that this starts getting recognized and that treatment becomes more available and some of that stigma goes away so that others seek treatment. Thank you for being a part of that!!! ❤

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