Sometimes I can handle everything that’s thrown at me. Sometimes, though, it gets too much. It ebbs and flows. This last year seems to have been the hardest, for all of us, so far. I really hope this is the hardest. I hope I can learn how to cope better and release the pressure valve so I don’t have another nervous breakdown like I did the last 3 months of last year.
Here’s an example of my daily schedule, Monday through Friday consists of the following: 5am Wake up and get ready for work
7am – 3pm Work
4-7pm begin dinner preparation, eat dinner, help TheBoy with homework until he’s done (not only does he have regular school work, but he’s enrolled in upper level online learning through the school)
7 or 8pm try to relax and get some TV time in, or reading. Shower.
9pm bedtime (most of the time, I wake up every hour…getting a very unrestful sleep)
Weekends I still get up early. I can’t seem to sleep past 6am anymore. I try to catch up on household chores. I can’t really run the vacuum when he sleeps. So that goes weeks in between most times. He won’t let me run the lawn mower. He thinks it’s his job. But in reality, he has to pre-medicate. He has severe photophobia which triggers migraines as well. So yard work wipes him out when he does. Going grocery shopping, which I hate, is reserved for the weekends as well. I try to catch up on my TV shows but sometimes that’s not even possible. There are so many things I want to do but can’t.
That’s just the physical toll. I also deal with all emotional challenges. I think the emotional stress is more taxing than the physical demands. I feel more drained after a day on the emotional roller coaster.
I try not to worry about the pain my husband is in. I try not to worry that there’s nothing I can do. I try not to worry that he’s going to give up his fight. I try not to worry. I was overwhelmed. So many negative emotions boiled inside, tossing and turning until it buried me so deep no light, no hope, could shine through.
My sleep patterns were greatly affected, which made my day go all wonky. I started listening to all those negative voices in my head, the ones that said I was unworthy, that our lives would never be any better, that this is how it will always be: stuck in the house, alone, no friends, no hope, always in pain. I started having panic/anxiety attacks, even in the middle of the night. I would wake up having trouble getting enough breath. And then, I started having my own nightmares.
I dreaded the next day, and the next. I dreaded going to sleep. I dreaded our bleak future. I dreaded dealing with all that comes along with caring for a veteran. I didn’t want to do it anymore. It was too overwhelming.
The things that went through my head were not pretty. I spiraled out of control, into a deep dark abyss that was my own depression. I listened to those voices. They rationalized all the negatives in my life. They started making sense. And they killed all hope. I was so overwhelmed with negativity I couldn’t see any way out.
I caved to the overwhelming sense of doom.
I knew what needed to happen. I needed to find a glimmer of hope, a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. But I just couldn’t find it. I was lost, alone.
I tried therapeutic writing. I tried re-reading old journal entries and poems I’ve written.I tried to find a glimmer of positive. Nothing worked this time.
I struck out on my own, determined to find support from women who understood. Every caregiver support group I found, and there were a lot of them, dealt mainly with aging parents with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These people were so much older than me and none could really understand. I felt like an outsider. So, the search continued. I found out about Secondary PTSD and that’s where I found some support through the VA system – The VA Caregiver Support Program. I reached out. I attended a workshop. The emotions flooded through me still; but now, the I had a different kind of overwhelming sensation. An overwhelming sense of belonging. There were other women who are taking care of their veterans. The symptoms were very similar, the emotions the same. I was no longer alone and I wasn’t strange or an outcast.
I’m doing my best to find those little glimmers to get through. When my emotions, my life, gets overwhelming, I’m learning to let go, breathe, and remember that tomorrow’s another day.