June 16, 2010

Combat Vet and Wife Realize the Weight of Duty to Family

The Straight Jacket Realization

My husband and I watched the movie Shutter Island, which to say the least, was pretty weird but somewhat interesting. After the two hour flic, we went outside on the porch to catch the fresh cool mountain air. We talked about the movie and the criminally insane. This led into treatments and an explanation of what a lobotomy was because my husband had never heard of that term. As strange as our conversation was, it seemed one topic would lead into another. We started talking about PTSD and all the things I have been reading about and learning. I told him that I found an online book about PTSD and that it was called all these other terms such as "Soldier's Heart" and more familiar "Shell Shock" and various treatments. The book had references made all the way to the war of 1812 with soldiers with a diagnosis of "Soldier's Heart". Interesting although some of it was more historical than anything.

So this led into the conversation of treatments of insane asylum patients and then of course, PTSD. I told him I read that electro-shock therapy was often used back in the day, thinking that would be a cure all for symptoms of insanity. This same treatment option was also used for patients suffering from PTSD symptoms way back when and still used in some patients today. Although the same method is much more humane than our past ways of doing it, still the thought of having shock treatments is strange to absorb. Lobotomy's were also used in treatment of PTSD in hopes that it would cure flashbacks in which were interpreted as hallucinations/delusions by psychiatrists. My husband asked me "What did they do with some of these people?" I said "I gather from what I read, a majority of major sufferers were put into mental hospitals and died there. If they had gone over the edge, and no one would care for them, they would lock them up and throw away the key."

My husband chewed on this last statement of mine while watching the stars and lightening bugs, and quietly he asked "Do you think I will get that way? Go over the edge?"

Lord, did my heart drop into my stomach and did it drop hard. I looked at him and said " I won't let you go over the edge". 

To lighten up the stillness, I did turn to him and told him if he kept giving me shit all the time, I would perform a full frontal lobotomy on him myself ! We chuckled and went back inside to go to bed.

That one statement really ate at me all night last night. I guess more so, because I didn't realize how worried he was about himself. Possibly worried if he got worse, would someone be there to care for him? Does he think that someone would lock him away and throw that key into a forgotten place? Does he think in his mind that I could do such a thing to him?

I think it was more of a realization last night than anything. I realized that my husband depended on me heavily, a lot more than I give him credit for or even myself for that matter. Not just to pay the bills, or to wash his clothes, make sure his meds are refilled and remind him to shower and shave when he tends to lose focus and zone out on me. It's more than that. The role of caregiver is daunting to say the least, but it must have been the way he said that statement, that made me realize no matter what.....

I was in for the long haul in our marriage.

So strange as this must sound, a weird movie about a man, played by Leonardo Di Caprio,who suffered from possibly PTSD and lost his mind; somehow found my husband and I on the same ground for once in a long time.

Thanks Hollywood,

Uncle Sam's Mistress


  1. Caregiver, I am so happy that you and your Combat Vet have each other. It makes a world of difference when we do not have to face this alone. I don't know how I have for 20 years without ending it. You both (crying and bawling) must know of the love and trust you share has no comparable test of time.

    He could not of come home safely without you, now that you realize this you will find strength in this deeper understanding, a resonance if you will, the rings true between you two. It manifest from an instinctual and universal understanding of each other in the context of your lives. The plain term is soul-mates.

  2. What a beautifully written post. I don't know what to say beyond that... through the tears I can't see my keyboard to type!

  3. thanks...It was like talking to my "other" husband, strange how I think of them as two different people these days. That night he was calm, and very talkative...then it went right back to the same old him as he has been since coming home from war. It was just weird how one little movie, as weird as that was....brought him forward just a little bit. I keep thinking one day......he will come back out and never go back. Wishful thinking I suppose.

  4. He will keep coming home a little a time...thats the whole key...its hitting me as I am telling you, this is my story...but 20 years ago...GOD I keep balling every time I come here...shit.

    The man you saw that night is the man you love and he is still there...he has been shattered in a sense of totality. But, he will return given enough unconditional love.

    I cry in remembrance and reverence...because I still return home every day. That is the deeper resonance I was talking about the other day. In my reality...in my sense of what is real. I must be able to utterly trust someone to be able to do what is called reality testing.

    We all do it, everyone at one time has had to ask themselves if this was real (what just happened). Imagine if you had to do this everyday, now all day...it will take time.

    He will keep coming back. I cry because it has taken me 2o years to come home.

    I'm home.

  5. So what you are essentially saying Scott, is that he testing the waters of the reality? Maybe coming up for air to check and see "yep she is still there?" For some reason, your post makes me feel a little bit more at ease. Albeit you and D are killing me on the tears!! I cry if others are crying dammit! It's frustrating though because I saw him...as he used to be. No emotions hidden, no vacant eyes, just him. Then as quickly as he was there, poof! Gone again. I want to shake him and say "you were just there!!!" Now I feel more alone than I did before I think.

  6. Mistress it is as you just said, you are not insane to think that he was there and then gone. You are absolutely unequivocally correct. Poof, just like that. He is testing the waters of reality and when it is so overwhelming to us our mind will cease to be our own. We become the thing we became in combat, we become that thing that we feared the most. When we are gone and come home to see that the beast has terrified our family we fear again and that again triggers the whole process again. This cycle began ending for me when I started talking to Positive and my sons about it. Now, culminating in this thread is my healing...the first true healing I have felt, ever. I have been in therapy for 5 years...

    I have been balling for three days now. As I read this and comment here in this thread I HEAL, I am healing more than I ever have in such a grand fashion and it is on the backs of your realization that solidified my ability to ADMIT to reality testing. I know who my people are who have done this for me for the last 30 years and they said "Well yeah, duh. You just now figured this out?"

    Two days ago, I was the most me I have been since 1991. I cried today when I explained to Positive how when I looked her in her eye and told her she was crazy for telling me the things she said I did. I told her that I told her that because I was not there when it happened, my mind had been taken over by the thing that war turned my soul into...the Beast.

    The animal part of the warrior...we had to become that animal to get our guys home. If we did not do it then the guys who made it home would have been in way fewer numbers. That primal need in combat, turned inside-out is what we do to turn the beast on ourselves at home and we need that unconditional love to return home to when we have those lucid moments.

    Two days ago, I had my most lucid day in 19 years. To explain it in plain English...I'm home, my God I am finally home.

  7. Thank you so much for alll of your outpoured emotions. I am so new to this but learning more and more everyday. I'm glad he and I are both getting help early on. He told me that I was the only one who told him to his face that he was sick. It seemed as though that really made a difference for him in being able to trust me. He said it during one wonderful evening we had together whle he was "home". He really spilled his guts to me that night and made me see that there is a chance I haven't lost him. He is in there somewhere and just like deployment leave I make every second count. I have vowed to stand by his side forever and be the positive light in his life that he can always see in the darkness.


Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee