But while I will not bare my booty figuratively speaking, I will get “naked” with you by letting you see the reality of my life during what I have to say was the most difficult thing I have ever been through.
You see up until a few months ago my son seemed like the typical healthy 19 year old attending college at Texas Tech University on various scholarships. He had friends, enjoyed the freedom and seemed to be adjusting well. We were finally settling into the empty nest knowing that we had “done good”. And then on Oct 10, 2012 I received the call that no mother wants to get when their child is away… “Mom I’m not ok, I need help”.
Now this wasn’t the I procrastinated on my paper and I need help to meet the deadline type of call. It was the kind of call that brings you to your knees in an instant. In that moment my world crashed in around me, my baby wasn’t ok….he really wasn’t ok. Mom alarm bells were ringing so loudly that I could barely hear myself think, my heart began to race, and everything moved in slow motion. My son no longer wanted to live; we had no idea how he went from our fun-loving baby boy who loved to play and giggle to the young man who had given up on himself, the world and us.
This is the reality of PTSD; it’s the reality of not only our life but the lives of many other military families.
His attempt on his life was with alcohol and prescription meds, but thankfully because of the suicide & crisis center programs on the TTU campus he reached out to us that day and we were able to get him the help he needed (no thanks to Tri-care but that’s an issue for another time).
His diagnosis: ADD, Mild depression, PTSD (as that of a 3 term combat vet), prescription drug addiction and substance abuse as a way to self medicate.
Let me tell you I was blindsided. You see he was home working a full-time job the summer prior to the incident, and there was NO evidence of any type of substance abuse of any kind, no outward clues of anything more than your typical college freshman homesickness. Sure he took his aderal for his ADD but that was prescribed right? OH how little did I know, and I’m a helicopter parent to the extreme (hey I’m working on it 🙂 ) so you can imagine the guilt I had because I didn’t see it, I mean how did I not see it?
The reality is that he didn’t want me too…and like many other PTSD sufferers it is a silent, personal torment that we cannot begin to understand.
I was scared, hurt, angry and what made it worse was that my husband was gone and completely off the grid. Isn’t that ALWAYS the way for us milspouses? Major stuff happens when they are unreachable, not the I will hear from him in a few hours type of unreachable, but the NO phones, no computers, NO access type of unreachable.
Sure I could have sent a red cross message, but I was taking care of things, he was safely in a treatment facility that specialized in treating PTSD and all of his other issues and he wasn’t going anywhere. So I did what many of us do. I made the decision to let my soldier prepare for his pending deployment so he would get the training he needed to come back home to me. I would hold down the fort as I always do.
YES…. whether you acknowledge it or not, PTSD affects the entire family…
For me: The fear, helplessness, guilt and sense of betrayal consumed my thoughts. I examined my life, my ability to be a parent, mom and friend. My identity as a mom was put into question, and I had failed the ultimate test.
For my husband: The regret, sense of failure and self-doubt regarding his parenting skills were at the forefront of his mind. Anger at our son and himself. Confusion and denial that the situation was so bad.
For my daughter: The shock, resentment and bewilderment of how her brother, her friend and her confidant could let it get to that point. “We were raised the same, how can this be” were the center of her frustration.
PTSD has an ugly side and not only for that of the affected…
Sure I saw the risk that my soldier had in regard to mental health issues as a result of his job as a combat engineer. I could see the thousand of service members dealing with PTSD, but my son? How naive I was to think that the incident in elementary school was nothing more than a teacher innocently missing the fact that my son had a learning disability.
Yes PTSD isn’t just a casualty of War….
PTSD not treated can be life threatening, trust me I know this all too well. But it can be treated, it can be dealt with and the entire family can grow from the experience.
For more information about how I along with my son support military families and provide hope in their lives visit: http://livingthrucrisis.com
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of LivingThruCrisis.com, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Risk are go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com