Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Good Morning Battle Buds!  This letter was posted on one of our state pages by a fellow buddy and it touched our hearts.  We had to share with all of you.  Heather has described what each of us goes through - what we all want to say to PTSD.  Know that each of you are NOT alone!  Thank you Heather for giving words to all of our feelings!  Battle On!!

Dear PTSD,

Before you came into my life, I had heard rumors. Back then, no one really spoke about you unless it was in hushed whispers. No one knew for sure what you looked like- but I heard you did unspeakable things... that you crept into bed with husbands and seduced them away from their unsuspecting wives. I also heard that you drank. A lot. I heard sometimes you could be two places at once- physically in one place but mentally elsewhere. It was also said that you were a liar, home wrecker, careless and violent... that sometimes you would take your mounting anger out on walls or whatever or whomever happened to get in your way. You left shattered picture frames and broken memories in your wake. There have been songs written about you... yet they don't even begin to do justice to just how evil you are. In fact, there has been talk of you being a murderer. I can't say that I'm surprised. I wouldn't put it past you. I believed those rumors and I certainly never invited you into my life.

But you came anyway.

And you were relentless.

It was four and a half years ago when you crept into our lives- an unwelcome guest. I'm not sure if you were in his med bag on the plane or if you quietly crept in through an open window one night making him awake in a state of panic... but once you came, no matter how much I begged and pleaded, you just kept finding ways back into our life. Persistent. I still can't believe the cops were never called when you would be banging down the door just to prove you were still there, still providing him the thrilling "alive" feeling I couldn't... At first you were just a nuisance... doing stupid things like ruining our sleep and tracking your sandy footprints all over our home, leaving shattered glasses, like a disrespectful child never cleaning up after yourself... leaving your mark to let us know you were still there...then you started turning up and interfering with his job. Distracting. Leaving us on edge...but you proved to be a stealth, well-trained machine... incognito even. We knew you were there but no one else admitted to seeing you- some might say you were a ghost of sorts. Eventually, we thought maybe they were right- that maybe you weren't there to stay.... So we tried so many times to go on pretending we had moved on... but you are like the ex we avoided yet managed to bump into on the fourth of July at the fireworks, causing him to hide under the nearest table so you don't see him and have to wax nostalgia about all of your memories. Those trips down memory lane were always too much to handle anyway.

But we were wrong. And you were angry. Angry that we wished you away or that we ignored you - I'm still not sure which but you sure let us know it. Quite the elaborate production. You make quite a scene, don't you? You followed us everywhere we went. Proof of your existence began popping up everywhere but, like us, others knew of your bad reputation and hanging out with you started to get him into trouble at work... and then at home... You once left a hole in the wall at the top of the stairs...and I read the elicit text messages between the two of you... you sure were proving all the rumors true.
The last straw was when you began attacking me for trying to pull him away from your allure... your antidepressant induced numbness ... All I wanted was to go back to being a couple but everyone knows, PTSD, you're a dirty, dirty whore. You weren't ready to let go yet. You had greater plans... the ultimate sacrifice was number one on your list. You wanted his life. And you tried to take it. You probably would have won if I conceded defeat that day but, unlike you, using him for whatever thrill... I love him. So I saved his life. I'd heard you'd been violent before, or in instances like ours, cowardly, disguising yourself as miracle pills that would end the suffering you've caused. Some might say you are the snake to Adam and Eve. Even the experts trained to recognize you, they were so afraid of you and the implications of your existence that they concocted an elaborate cover up and sent us on our way. Maybe you are just bloody brilliant.

I've been reading in the news lately about how good you've gotten at tricking the military into believing you aren't real and I gotta say, I'm impressed. But I'm not buying it. At all.

I've been talking about you, PTSD, and I have about had it with you in my life. The few bruises, the tears, the fear, the insecurity, anxiety, infidelity, deceit and the broken heart.... I'm over it and I want my husband back. I bet you feel real big... that uneasy feeling you leave in the pit of my stomach never goes away anymore. Empty promises don't ease my pain. You have even stooped so low as to bring my children into your little shenanigans and that is just crossing the line. They aren't babies like they were when we first met. They're perceptive. They've witnessed our arguments. They've seen how terrible you are to me but I'm strong. I'm a fighter and when it comes to my children, I always show them that...but you're expertly trained and certainly know how to subdue your victim until they concede defeat.

This time is different, though. You have me so close to waving the white flag to protect my children... but I know once you put the pen in my hand to sign away the relationship I committed to, you will only find another home to ruin. It is for that reason that I will let you win this round. I walked away... No, I ran. In fact I fled. Hundreds of miles. Too tired to fight... but I'm regrouping. Preparing. Training. Filling my arsenal. More focused and driven than before. I'm sure you've heard the phrase that Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned. If you won't go quietly into the night and leave my family be, you need to know I'll never give up. And when you come at me again, I'll be prepared. This time I have a ton of women who have my back. We will tell everyone what you do. I won't let you have him. I want him back. And I don't care if you have to rot in hell but you will lose. I hope you're ready. PTSD, I hate you...

Heather Goble,
-wife of a United States Navy Service Member
2003-pending PEB

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hey, all you Battle Buddies out there!  We will be starting to add new content to this blog every few days or so.  The purpose will be to inform and hopefully start discussions to help you and your family understand what is happening in your home as well as open the door for healing.  The following two 'articles' are from one of the proffessional counselors on our team.  Be looking for more to come! 

Is this “normal”?

My Soldiers always tell me to “break it down Barney style” to them about what exactly PTSD is.  One said, “Sesame Street that for me, doc!” After I explained that I am NOT a doctor, I broke it down for him.

What is trauma?  A “trauma” is any event that a person experiences that they perceive to be traumatic. (I know, never define the word with the word. So for the sticklers, Webster defines trauma as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience”.)  Trauma can be different things for different people.  Two people can experience the same event and react to it two different ways.  On September 11, 2001 hundreds of thousands of people experienced an event and reacted thousands of different ways.  Don’t be surprised if an entire platoon experiences an event and they all react differently.  That is the nature of the human brain.

 What is a “normal” reaction to trauma? (I HATE the word normal, so whenever I use it, you’ll see it in quotes.)   It’s “normal” to feel frightened, anxious, sad, angry, depressed and disconnected after a traumatic event.  As the days turn into weeks after the event, this should fade.   If it doesn’t fade…we could be looking at PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - or in English - “after a traumatic event I do things I never did before” can be complicated.  It can look like different things in different people.  (I’m not going to put the DSM-IV list of criteria for PTSD in here- you can Google that.)   When a traumatic event threatens your safety or your life, it can really change you.  It can make you glance behind you more, it can make you sleep lighter, it can make you stop trusting people…and it can do a lot of things that you never thought YOU would do. As a wife of a Soldier with PTSD, you might be thinking, “this is not the man I married”, and you’re right.  He’s not the same man.  He is a hyper vigilant, hyper aroused, paranoid guy.  Those things kept him alive in combat.  That’s why he’s still here today.  The only crappy part is he can’t “shut off” those Spidey Senses.  And now, he won’t go into a crowded Wal Mart with you, he has a lot of anger and he might even break things or hit walls.  There is help for this.  It’s not an easy process.  It is a LONG process. It can be an embarrassing process for your husband—it shouldn’t, but it can be.  It can cause you to be traumatized too (more on that in an upcoming article). 

Utilize the Battling Bare state page groups (http://battlingbare.org/State_Group_Pages.html). Utilize other online support groups.  Talk to your friends.  Chances are their husbands are experiencing it too and go hug your husband -- don’t sneak up on him, but go hug him. 

Saturday at the Mall- a great day for shopping
or a nightmare come true? 

One of the hardest things for people that don’t have PTSD to understand is how everyday activities suddenly become threats to those that suffer from PTSD.  A lot of times, this is misdiagnosed as depression- your husband suddenly doesn’t enjoy the things he used to.  That IS a symptom of depression, but it’s also a symptom of PTSD - "avoidance”.  There are whole clusters of avoidance behaviors that take place with PTSD, but in this article we’re looking at “normal” places and things that now cause fear in someone that suffers from PTSD.  Some of these come straight out of the mouths of Soldiers and Airmen that I’ve worked with.

The Mall

You see: A great place to do all of the shopping in one place, save some money, eat lunch, give the kids a chance to burn off energy in the play area and scope those earrings you really want for your birthday (hint, hint, hint).

He sees: A crowded, chaotic place with too many people, not enough exits, an unsecured area with the potential for bombs, weapons of mass destruction and full of people he doesn’t know and doesn’t trust.

The 4th of July event

You see: a patriotic celebration of America, fun for the kids, socializing with friends and a great place to have some barbecue, ribs and beer!

He sees: reminders of the ones that didn’t come back.
He feels: guilt and shame for being one of the ones that did.
He hears: the sound of gunfire and artillery-like explosions coming from the fireworks.

The Movies

 You see: an awesome date night

 He sees: a dark place where he can’t watch everyone’s movements, too crowded, not enough exits, and possible plot lines (war, love themes) that will make him feel uncomfortable.

The kids playing in your slightly cluttered house

You see: your children having fun, playing and being kids
You hear: the shouts, whines, laughter and “Mooo-ooom” that accompanies this.

He sees: the clutter…one more thing he can’t control.
He hears: the noise of the kids, combined with the possible TV in the background becomes almost a high pitched whine (similar to white noise, just very annoying) that blocks his ability to hear possible threats and often gives him a headache.

A welcome home event or just a large family gathering

You see: friends and family that are proud of your husband and want to thank him, a great chance to see everyone in one place.

He sees: A large amount of people, some he trusts, some he might not.
He thinks: “I hope they don’t ask me about the war”.
He feels: guilt and shame.

The hard part about this aspect of PTSD is the person suffering might not know that the reasons listed above (or similar reasons) are WHY he is avoiding the event.  He just knows he is now uncomfortable with the thought of going to the movies, out to dinner, or large events.  When you push him to go to these things, thinking it’s a good way for him to socialize, his anger comes out. He can’t explain WHY he doesn’t want to go, he just knows he doesn’t.

We will have more information soon about how you can help your husband to slowly start going out again.  It involves a lot of compromising and patience, but it can be done!  Don’t give up hope!  And Battling Bare will be here to support and encourage you along the journey.

~Joanna Nunez MSW, LCAS, LCSW
(A little more about Ms. Nunez:  Joanna Nunez, MSW, LCAS, LCSW received her Masters of Social Work from East Carolina University.  She specializes in the treatment of PTSD, substance abuse, co-occuring disorders  and children with behavioral disorders.  She has previously worked with agencies serving prenatal and perinatal substance abusing mothers; active duty military with PTSD, substance abuse and other mental health issues; and children with ADD/ADHD, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and adjustment disorder. Joanna is the daughter of two career Army Veterans and married to an Air Force Veteran. She believes that PTSD is a chronic problem that is just now starting to get the attention it needs in the United States. She currently works with Active Duty Military, their families, and Veterans in and around the Ft. Bragg, NC area.)

***The above information is intended to be educational and informational.  Information contained in this article cannot substitute for consultation for or treatment of a medical condition by a physician or other qualified healthcare provider. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider before making any choices about your healthcare needs. Never discontinue treatment or medication without first consulting your healthcare provider. This article is not meant to nor can it replace face-to-face, individualized mental health services provided by a professional. The information contained in this article is intended solely as general guidance on the use of the service, and does not constitute therapy, counseling, or other professional advice.***

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Battling Bare, an overview

Our first blog post :) This will be a basic overview of what Battling BARE is and what our ultimate goal is. NO MORE will we be the "silent support" on the homefront... our soldiers DESERVE the right to be healed and whole! Help combat PTSD!

Our mission is to unite women and children who love a soldier dealing with PTSD by providing comfort in knowing they are not alone, a pathway of speaking out and battling back against the struggles they have faced with their soldier, along with offering support and encouragement so those women will continue walking the path of healing with their soldier.In the process of empowering and encouraging these women and children, we will raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of PTSD while combating the stigma associated with this condition by increasing understanding of PTSD allowing for veteran suicide rates to decrease as the willingness to seek help and healing increases.

Battling Bare--a private organization-- is currently seeking non-profit status and is in it's beginning stages. We may challenge the status quo in what is acceptable and appropriate for a woman to do/behave. I ask that you stop for a moment and hear me out... my husband battles daily with his demons of war. These unseen wounds of Soldiers all over the world, have the names depression, anxiety, night terrors,PTSD, and others. I, and wives like me, have tried everything we know to try to help.

Currently stationed at Fort Campbell--home to the highest suicide rate in the Army-- we've suffered the loss of 30 plus soldiers to suicide in the past few months. To state that soldiers are "dropping like flies" is no exaggeration...a few were husbands of dear friends and myheart is breaking as I try to help them cope. Grief from a traumaticloss such as suicide is truly an animal of its own breeding.I ask for your help and support via prayer or taking part in battlingback. The photo, just as the emotion it visualizes is raw--my heartbreaks and soul bleeds for the pain of each and every soldier--I hopethat the power of this photo inspires more "silent supporters" to"battle back".Searching actively for a way to answer when asked "what can we do, weare just the wives?", the idea for Battling Bare hit me in about 45seconds one night...let's start with powerful, eye catching pictures and let our voices be heard. The purpose is to create an outlet for wives that are at their wits' end trying to help their husbands heal...women who feel all alone in their struggle. Let us unite to raise awareness, battle back for healing, create hope and take awaythe feeling of being alone.

What can you do? 

Photo submissions of support are welcome, please send them to BattlingBare@gmail.com. 

Please utilize the following guideline: Use of tatas and tushies, or photos which could be construed "of a sexual nature" will not be posted. Submission of a photo provides permission to Battling Bare for posting and/or duplication and a release of ownership of photo without expectation of compensation. Editing will be completed, as neccesary, to enhance anonymity or meet spacing parameters at our discretion.

We are also accepting personal stories and testimonials to feature on the blog to inspire and support others.