It’s not easy- we know. I once had a chance of chatting with a husband of a woman who has been suffering from PTSD for almost five years now. He mentioned how hard it was for him to see her breakdown every now and again. He said that in a year, she usually has three to four major breakdowns when she is basically unmanageable- when she does not even want to go out of bed because she is somehow afraid of everyone. Small breakdowns involved panic attacks when they are out on a date because she gets paranoid that the man who once attacked her is just roaming around.
I asked him, when you married her, did you know about the PTSD?
Here’s his response:
She was very careful to tell me everything about her past and about the PTSD issues she was suffering from. She asked me to go and find another one who is not as broken as she is; and that she did not want me to go through the same hell she has to deal with everyday…
I asked for a day to think it over because I knew this was a serious thing. I knew that if I marry her, I really have to accept her- all of her, including her broken parts. Then I realized, I did not fall in love with her PTSD, I fell in love with her- and I would not choose any other life without her in it.
Did you ever wish you have decided differently?
Honestly, no. If I was given the same choice in another time, I would have still responded the same. To be realistic, it is not easy, not just because I have to attend to her the whole time, especially that we have a daughter. The real pain comes from seeing her struggle and to wish that I could do something more to ease her out of the pain- to set her free from the past, but that I cannot do anything else but attend to her basic needs and to understand her plight.
I remember being frustrated during the first year of our marriage to the point of going up and beyond to get her out on dates bring her to parties and get out with her in the mall- only to know that my efforts have been agonizing for her.
It was very helpful of her psychiatrist to tell me that her good times should be spent doing the things she is most comfortable with- and that if I do that, perhaps we could prolong the length of her good days.
So I learned and adjusted, and realized that her good days are best spent at home with our daughter, playing around and cooking home made dishes and pastries. These moments are what I treasure the most.
What sacrifices have you made for your wife?
I had to ask my administrators to transfer me for home based position. It paid a much lower pay grade but I would not trade it for anything else because it gives me the chance to stay with her and our daughter and I think that when I started staying at home full time, my wife became a lot more relaxed and secured.
She was finally able to do her chores more regularly, she was smiling more and her trust issues with me when I hold her lessened dramatically.
My wife has been raped and she developed trust issues against men in general so she has hard time balancing herself when I hold her. It’s a good thing we even had a child. I knew she did a lot of sacrifice to give me a child and I appreciate it so much.
I know she is a brave woman- it is just that the past won’t let her go.
What was one of the most memorable moments you shared with your wife recently?
I remember watching the movie Frozen with our daughter. We were all seated in a couch, me in the middle, my daughter at my right and her at my left. When Olaf said “some people are worth melting for”, I hugged her a little bit closer and I guess she got the message. She cried and hugged me back; it was a long time ago since she held me as sincerely as she did that night- as if assuring me that she appreciates what I do for her and our family.
She enjoys long talks especially when she feels that another breakdown is about to come and when she does ask for such time, I give it to her…
How do you see yourself, your wife and your family in the next five years?
Wow! Five years is long. I try to appreciate every waking morning when my wife is herself and ready to face the day. But if I may, I would love to think of our family to be at its best state then. I would love to see my wife and my daughter getting along well. With my wife being her mentor in becoming a strong woman, I envision my lovely daughter to be as loving and sincere as her mother is. I would love to think that I am able to protect my family from anymore decaying memory that could crush them.
It is not going to be easy, but I am up to the task.
Again, Sir Alvin, I would like to say thank you for sharing with me your story. It was surely an inspiration to all. Thank you for letting us see that as PTSD survivors , there is still hope that someone is out there ready to understand us and give us the support we need to live our lives again.
And to those who continue to put up with us and our bad days, whether you be our parents, our brothers, our sisters, our friends and our therapists as well, thank you for the efforts. We may not be able to tell you about our gratitude time and again, but please do know that we appreciate all your efforts and sacrifices just to make sure that we are able to live as normal as possible. Kudos to you all. Thank You.