It comes and goes.
I notice it.
But I don’t say anything because I don’t know how to address it. Or even, what to say.
He sits in the house all day and all night. He does not come with me to family outings or even the simplest of errands.
For me, it starts off ok and I don’t notice it much because when I come home from work, I just don’t have the energy to go out anymore (fibromyalgia is kicking in full-time now). I just want to stay home and do nothing. But he’s been doing that all day every day when I’m at work and TheBoy is at school. I know he needs to get out and do something. So when he’s in the mood to go out, I suck it up and charge on.
Then I start noticing that he stops going with me to the grocery store, or when he says we need to go get the supplies so we can take care of the yard (or anything we ‘need’ to do) it gets pushed back. I always see him sitting on the couch with that pained look on his face and feel so horrible. Guilt because I want him to go with me; but I know that he’s in pain so I let it slide.
Then, when he can’t get out of bed to take our son to the bus stop, I start to wonder. Is it really this bad? His pain levels increase in cycles I’ve noticed. I wonder if the depression feeds the pain, or the pain feeds the depression. But then, I rationalize it. He’s receiving Botox every 3 months and we are in the latter part of his last set of injections and it always wears off before the 3 month appointment for his next round. So, I deduce that this is part of his pain, that every morning it’s harder and harder for him to get out of bed and I may have to take our son to the bus stop for school sometimes.
The next thing I notice is that I come home from work and he hasn’t gone outside to get the mail in 2 weeks. I can still see the pain behind his eyes. But is it physical pain? Or is it the emotional kind? Probably both.
He starts cancelling appointments (or won’t make the calls to make the appointments at all), next. This is the frustrating part. I work full-time so I cannot be there 24/7 for him, to make him go, to drive him all the time. His fear is that if I take off work every time he has to go, that I will lose my job. He doesn’t want that. Neither do I. But, I am his caregiver. My boss knows this and is ok with it. It’s just not comforting to him enough to allow me to leave work every time he needs me to drive him. He usually can do local, but even that now has gotten too much.
He feels the guilt. He feels like a burden.
And now he tells me that he doesn’t want to go outside anymore. It hurts. He panics. Just going to the mailbox now throws him into a full on panic attack. Driving makes him panic. It’s not so bad when I’m with him, but it’s getting worse. And if he drives with me and TheBoy in the car, it is insanely worse, especially over water. And we have a lot of water around here. He used to be ok if he took his anti-anxiety medication before we left. That doesn’t seem to be working anymore.
So now what do I do?
He’s told me he doesn’t want to go out of the house anymore because it causes him undue anxiety. Has he developed agoraphobia; I guess because of his pain and lack of social interaction? Or is there something deeper going on? I know that this is another symptom of PTSD, along with anxiety, obsessive compulsion, and paranoia.
I cannot help him. I cannot fix him. I can only be there for him.
I’ve at least got him to agree to therapy again. He’s been through two different sessions with two different therapists through the VA over the years. He was not too keen on them. And they pretty much got to a point where they could no longer help him with his mental issues until he got his pain under control. How can they get his pain under control? It’s been 15 years and it just gets worse! He sees a VA Psychiatrist, whom he likes a lot, but only once every 3 months. The VA has offered him another therapy session, but they want him to go 3 times a week. It’s an hour and a half drive one way. He’s definitely not up for that drive three times a week. And he doesn’t want me to take off work for it, either. And if they schedule him for a time frame that interferes with get TheBoy to and from school, it is an inconvenience for sure. So, he has declined the VA’s help with that.
There are a lot of things I know I don’t know that’s going on in his brain. He’s told me that when he goes to talk he doesn’t want me to go with him because there are things he doesn’t want me to hear. He’s told me he doesn’t want to make me worse so he keeps it all to himself. But then my brain kicks in and I start wondering if it’s me that’s causing all this depression. If I can’t love him enough, then I’m failing. This is my brain. I ruminate. I start listening to those negative voices, my self-doubt, my insecurities, which then brings me down. I’m doing all I can to combat them, squash them, and put them in their place so I can focus on a more positive outlook, and inlook.
I know he’s protecting me from his demons. He feels guilty for not working, for not helping around the house, for not being a better husband and father, for not doing anything. He feels like he’s a burden and that he is the reason why I have to see a therapist now. I keep telling him that my vows said, “For Richer and poorer, through sickness and in health.” I love him with every part of my being and I will do everything I can to comfort and bring him some joy. I know I can’t take the pain away. NOW I know I’m not the cause of his pain, either.
I wonder, if sometimes, he punishes himself for the things he feels guilty over. And that he is keeping himself in a place of darkness as that punishment. He doesn’t realize that the more he hides from those demons, the more they eat him up. The more I see them chomping away, not knowing what they are, and not being successful in helping him see some light, the more he gets sucked in and I fear I will one day lose him completely.
Which would be worse? Becoming a statistic? One of the 22 veterans a day to lose their battle with their demons? Or to lose all sense life, the want and will to live and love, while all those around you watch your soul shrivel inside your shadowed shell? I think it would be easier for the one going through the torment of PTSD to end it all. Those left behind would be the ones who had to deal with their own demons forever after.
And then the question arises, which would be better for those left behind? To have your loved one physically gone forever? Or mentally?
I cannot answer this.
Nor do I want to.
I’ve been going to my own therapist locally since January. I’ve enjoyed him very much. He understands the military life. He understands PTSD. He understands my caregiver stress. It is very rare to find a therapist who can relate like that. I’ve been to a few before and none have been very helpful in that aspect. Ever since I started with him, I’ve been talking about him with TheHubs and reinforcing the fact that I think he would enjoy talking with this guy. My therapist has also been trying to get me to get my husband in to see him. After constant probing, and with the admittance to me that he no longer wants to leave the house anymore, I think I’ve finally got him to agree to go to my therapist. I’m now just waiting on a call back from the organization who will be setting it up and paying for it. (They’ve been under snowstorms all last week.)
Because I’m learning how to deal with the ebb and flow of things, trying to understand him better and possibly help my emotional health out as well as teach this all to TheBoy, I’m doing my best not to get back to the rumination I always seem to fall back on. Yes, I worry. Yes, my brain thinks of all the things that could be wrong, could go wrong. But I am doing my best to see the hope that is there, too. That he really does mean he will NEVER go back to that place where he wanted to kill himself again. But living in constant pain, fear of everything around, and the depression that ensues because of all this, he still tells me he doesn’t want to live anymore, that he’s a burden, that he’s useless.
My heart aches so much when he says this. My heart aches so much when he says nothing. Because that speaks volumes over words. I don’t know how to help. He has to want to change the way he thinks in order to stop listening to those negative voices. And I really hope we are on that path right now.