Someone told me after Marc’s tragedy I was going thru PTSD. Maybe you or someone you know has come back from Afghanistan or suffered from a violent attack? On Memorial Day I re-read some early entries I wrote after Marc was murdered. I also listened to stories of how Vet’s recovered from their tours in Iraq, Afghanistan. Yes, I had a type of PTSD, and still do at times!
PTSD makes you have unreasonable fears! Fears invade your sleep, your waking. I was fearful to enjoy normal things in life, like cooking or music …. many things reminded me of Marc, or made me fear I might be attacked at any moment too.
At work I’d be suddenly griped with fear in the middle of a good belly laugh with a child! If a little boy reminded me of Marc I’d tighten up and remember my own precious son. I was afraid to have emotions. I was feeling guilty about being alive and confused cause I wasn’t sure it was okay to want to feel joy with others in the midst of longing for my son!
I was reminded at times that I’d had like a death wish over my sons, thinking I could never live without them if one had died before me. I never dreamed such a heinous thing could actually happen to me, that I could lose a child. The enemy tried to rub it in that I was without Marc and told me sometimes I was doomed like he was. I remember thinking one night early on, after getting only one hour of sleep, ‘well, I guess this is the way people die of a broken heart …. they never sleep again and just get so worn down they can’t function and slowly shrivel up and die?’
Vets tell you they have to shut off emotions in the war, so they can stay focused. I did that at first as I had to be strong for Marc, his case and family. It’s crazy how you can operate well enough with others during the day and then when alone the loss hits you hard! But my blog grounded me and helped me stay focused on his case, it helped me look ahead in hope. I couldn’t ‘feel’ God but I knew He was there, I saw the good things coming out of the case and the people in Portland. If it wasn’t for the constant support from different sources my shell of terror might never have been broken down.
PTSD is also dealing with flashbacks! Those are greater at the beginning but at any time something can trigger a memory and whoosh, you’re back on the floor again, lost in pain or a sense of utter disbelief about what happened to your precious child! Flashbacks are a way though of sorting thru memories and helping you to identify who it is you really are and how you want to live the rest of your life.
Vets talk about not feeling safe at home and always needing to be on guard against an attack from snipers or whatever. After Marc’s murder I had that feeling in Portland or L.A. for many months. I felt afraid when getting out of a car in a parking lot, I needed to look around at who was in the cars around me. I felt this huge fear of an attack when I’d go into stores, and need to look down the street to see someone looked suspicious. It was similar to flying in a plane again after ‘9/11’ …. I’d board a plane, look around and take a deep breath to get my nerve up.
You have to arm yourself with info and reach out to people to get thru PTSD! Some people lean on alcohol, drugs, etc to numb the pain, but I was lucky to have my journal/blog …. and people to support me thru the worst times. I still find myself needing support, the pain is always there, but now I can ask for help.
Maybe a loved one of yours has gone off to war and come back changed? Even the best of men may deal with death, terror and develop a different attitude over there just to get by. It’s not all about going off to war with lots of noble ideals, it’s about huge sacrifice and suffering too. People are stretched emotionally during violent times, or after violent acts, in ways they never thought they’d had to deal with. Be patient with victims of violence or returning vets …. encourage them to share!