Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Plot Thickens

When I started this blog Jay was just beginning his journey thru this disorder. I knew very little about PTSD but I knew that WE were madly in love and that whatever IT was, it was not enough to tear us apart. I was given advice from doctors and therapists on how to keep our marriage strong. I listened to what they said and I read all the books and pamphlets they gave me. I read how to deal with selfishness, rage, and all the other brutal side effects that this disorder can dish out. But, in my heart I felt that THAT advice was for other people. My Jay would never be difficult or mean or rude. My Jay was sweet and kind and loved me more than air. In truth, it was the fact that HE was so great that we were not only going to make it thru this, we were going to thrive.

But, PTSD alters the way the brain functions. When the average person is faced with something that causes fear: a stranger at the door, speaking in public, etc., the brain creates a fight or flight response. A pretty simple concept. We get a rush of adrenaline that lets us either run away or stand up against whatever the stressor is. We might get sweaty, our muscles might tense up, and according to what I've read we might get tunnel vision and our hearing becomes more sensitive. All of these things are survival mechanisms. We face the stressor (or run away) then our bodies go back to normal. A person with PTSD is in that heightened state ALL the time. It never shuts off. Sweating, muscle tension, and certainly in Jay's case, VERY sensitive hearing, NON-stop. His body ready to fight or flee at all times.

So far, Jay has been able to experience all these things every minute, even while sleeping, and not let it affect the way he treats me. That is, until he started yet another medication this week. Last month Dr. W put Jay on a medication that's aim was to eliminate the zombie episodes. It worked. But it turns out that Jay's frequent violent outbursts (followed by almost euphoria) meant that whatever was causing the zombie-ness was also still stirring around Jay's brain. So, he put him on another medication to stop the rage before it destroyed Jay's life.

I haven't gone into Jay's anger all that much. I get so little time to sit and write that I tend to not want to focus on the negatives. But the truth is that he is so very angry now. And since his brain doesn't function like it used to, he misunderstands things very easily. This means that simple little arguments can lead to major breakdowns. During his rages he has destroyed a few of his tools and punched screwdrivers into the garage wall. A few days ago he got upset about something trivial and when he read his garage's digital thermometer and saw that it was 105 degrees he picked it up and smashed it on the floor. I asked him why he had done it and he said that he didn't need to be reminded that he was hot.

He constantly spews profanity. I'm no prude, but I rarely cuss. For no other reason than it just sounds silly coming from my mouth. Jay's cussing is out of control. It's not like he just tosses out a curse word when he stubs his toe. His profanity actually hurts my ears. He throws out words that are violent and nasty and hateful- not to us, but to strangers on TV or people driving by (who thankfully cannot hear) or at inanimate objects that have not worked the way he thinks they should. It's so unnecessary and so undeserved that I'm having trouble letting it slide. I've warned my children that this isn't ok behavior and they understand that Daddy's different now because of the boo boo on his brain.

This new medication, which is supposed to curb this anger, is doing something very nasty to my husband. All week he has been different. Not quite the zombie state from his first week home, but he's slow moving and his eyes are so odd that he looks high or very drunk. His movements are as if he is in slow motion and he doesn't look at me, he looks thru me, like he's not quite focusing. He has stopped initiating conversations with me. We have had some serious fights because of his misunderstanding something I've said. Thankfully, I have been able to corral my own emotions to see that it's all the disorder and more likely the new medication, that is causing this personality shift. So our fights are not actually battles but more my trying to convince him that I am not the bad guy.

When I started this blog, the 'love story' part was effortless. It's easy to love someone who is kind and gentle and who obviously loves you back. It's easy to love someone who is hurting when he holds you and tells you that you're the only thing saving him. It's easy to love someone who WANTS to be loved.

It's turning out to not be so easy to love when that person is bitter and angry and hurtful. It's not easy to love when the other person resents you because you've become the care-giver and he's become the cared-for. And it's especially difficult to love when the other person has pulled away and gives you no reinforcement that all your efforts to make his life better are even appreciated.

I guess if this were a fairy tale this would be the point where the lovers are tested. PTSD has managed to turn us against each other. So, in our tale, the brave prince has been put under a dark spell that makes the princess believe that he no longer loves her. But, I believe in happy endings to corny love stories so this is but a twist in the plot. The princess will remember that, deep down, the prince's heart can't beat without her and that he needs her now more than he ever has. She will persevere and find a way to lift the horrible spell. And of course, they will live happily ever after.


  1. Several years ago I had an emotional breakdown, it was bad and not something most of my family knows about.

    Those were very dark days in our marriage. Looking back I can see now how hard my husband was fighting for me and for us. He knew something wasn't right, that my behavior had changed so rapidly and dramatically that it could only be mental. I was so angry at him. So angry at his perception that my brain wasn't right, and angry that he wouldn't just give up (why shouldn't he? what was I really worth?)

    But he would say things like 'I promised you for better or for worse... I'm not giving up now.'

    I think that him holding on to me and not giving up like that has really changed our relationship. I trust him more than I ever would have before. I KNOW he loves me, because only a person who truly and unconditionally loves a person could have stuck around through all of that.

    It was a very, very hard road. One we rarely talk about, except in simple phrases like 'Thank you for loving me so much.'

    The kids were young enough that they don't completely understand, they talk about it like saying 'Remember when mom went away because she needed alone time.'

    I still take medication for depression and anxiety and he still reminds me every day to take the medicine (so it isn't all fluffy clouds at the end of the tunnel) but I cannot begin to emphasize how much stronger our relationship is.

    I guess what I'm trying to tell you is hold on. In the end he will know without a shadow of a doubt that you love him, because you have stayed through the 'worse.' And when the world is as dark as his is right now... that really matters.

  2. I am so glad you can see the good in people, especially your husband when he is under all those drugs.

  3. Cannwin, thank you for sharing such a personal story. I WANT to be that girl who sticks thru to the end. I WANT to believe that this will all end someday and that it will all be worth it. This just hurts soooo bad that I can't get thru to him. I can see that he can't stand me right now.

    You said that you were angry that your husband saw that your brain was messed up and you were angry that he wouldn't just give up on you. I mentioned to Jay last night during a big blow up that I thought those very things were going on. He told me I didn't make any sense. But I believe there is a part of him that's pushing me away just to see if I'll stay.

    Of course, I'm staying. But I really hope the 'for better' comes back around, because the 'for worse' has just about beaten me down.

    Justine, thank you for your sweet comment. I'm trying to see the good, but believe me it's getting harder and harder. Actually, right now there is little good to see. You've sparked me to think that I just need to REMEMBER the good instead. That will be much more helpful to him.

  4. Women rarely make any sense to men. I had this conversation about a leaking pipe with my husband and tried to explain to him what I thought was wrong. He just looked at me like I was some silly girl who didn't know anything about plumbing.

    Then a few days later a guy friend of ours said exactly the same thing I did but in different words and my husband is like 'That's probably it!' I instantly reacted, exclaiming that that's what I'd said and he was like 'Well obviously you didn't communicate that correctly'

    ::rolls eyes:: Obviously.

    As for you and Jay, with all the help your getting from doctors and such are you guys seeing a marriage counselor together? I think you need to do that.

    Do you know that the odds of a marriage surviving increase nearly 30% when the couple see's a counselor?

    If you ever need some moral support you can email me at wifeof6 (at)


  5. Cannwin, actually we are not seeing a counselor together. I think that it's getting to the point of being critical that we seek outside help, though. But, Jay is in therapy every morning, has weekly sessions with a social worker, and sees a psychiatrist once a month at least. There is little hope of dragging him to yet another session.

    Our marriage could use that extra 30 percent chance of success. I'm stubborn and will ride this thing out til the end. But, the educated perspective from a counselor would certainly make things easier.

    Thank you for the offer of your moral support. It means a lot to me.