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We don’t often hear from PTSD caregivers, those who live with a PTSD loved one and bear the burden of trying to understand, anticipate, placate and support a family member who is struggling with PTSD symptoms.
I wish we heard from PTSD caregivers more. I think their stories are important. I think their struggle to balance their lives with ours is a subject that deserves recognition. I think that, just as those who suffer with symptoms of PTSD deserve support, so do PTSD caregivers.
Beginning next month, Heal My PTSD will begin offering FREE monthly support to caregivers of PTSD. Structured in the same way as our complimentary monthly PTSD survivor teleseminar, the Heal My PTSD Caregiver Teleseminars will be designed around the thirty-minute presentation of an important PTSD caregiving topic, and then include thirty minutes of group discussion where participants can ask questions, express challenges and receive one-on-one coaching from me to help them learn to better take action to bring change.
Today’s guest post author is the daughter of a Vietnam War veteran. Her story about what she experienced is, sadly, all too common. But the strength, courage and bravery she developed in order to care for herself – one of the major challenges for PTSD caregivers – shows how necessary it is for family members to keep themselves safe even while they strive to understand posttraumatic stress.
The word “difficult” is not big enough to describe how tough it is to divulge my deepest pain. If my book WAR DAD wasn’t going to help thousands of women and girls that are affected by soldiers with PTSD coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I would have never told my story.
Currently more than 100,000 American troops are in Iraq and Afghanistan. An estimated three hundred thousand are living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Nearly a third of our soldiers develop serious mental problems three to four months after coming home. Many soldiers live with PTSD, amputations, mental and emotional instabilities in silence. About one-third of children of deployed American soldiers are at risk for developing psychological problems, mainly due to high levels of stress experienced at home. Many wives of veterans report experiencing more acts of family violence. This proves that there is secondary trauma to the family, especially the children. I was one of them.
When my “WAR DAD” came back from Vietnam, he was violent, angry, volatile, psychotic, a drug addict, a woman beater, a womanizer, a criminal, and a danger to me, himself, and, most of all, society. It’s ironic how we never hear about this stuff on the evening news.
At a young age, I knew my life was not normal. I knew that I was going to have to overcome this trauma or it would destroy me and my life. Although it wasn’t me suffering from PTSD, I still had to learn how to overcome the pain that is associated with being a daughter of a sufferer. There was a point when I had to cut ties with my dad for my safety and sanity. I had to search deep down into my soul and discover the strength that God offers each one of us. And through that strength and constant reassurance that everything was going to be fine, I survived.
The good book tells us that we are all deserving of a great life. A life filled with joy, peace and wonderful things. I believed that and I had to get it. There was so much in life I wanted to do, so much I wanted to see and experience. I knew that if I hung onto the past I would be crippled for life. I’ve seen it happen to so many people. So I decided to take control. I made a choice to erase the past and take on a new way of thinking. I wanted to reach out to others in need and in doing so, be filled with happiness and joy in my heart knowing that I was not useless. No one is promised a long life. I’m here to say that we should stop swimming in our own sorrow. We should get out there and help the poor, the needy, and the kids who don’t have parents or who need mentors. We should go anywhere where we can bring hope.
All the turmoil I experienced has made me strive to be better than what was expected for me. I refused to be a statistic! I know so many people who have always had everything they have ever wanted since childhood, and now they take life for granted. They live their lives making excuses for not achieving their goals. They always blame someone else for their mistakes and misfortunes. We need to believe that we are entitled to a good life, and we should strive to reach that goal. You will never forget what you went through or the pain you felt, but you must live each day unaffected. Erase it from your thoughts! You cannot allow yourself to go there. Don’t carry any baggage during your journey here on earth, especially someone else’s! Fix your eyes on the good in this world. You must live each day as a winner! A survivor! Each day, you must march forward. And no matter what happens, don’t ever look back.
I may not know all things about life, and there are many places I have not yet been and opportunities I did not have, but, regardless, I am sure of one thing: There is an inner strength that God provides for all who want it. It is real and it is what saved me!
JUJU SANDS is a motivational speaker and author. She has spent years providing one-on-one spiritual counseling and concentrates on teaching and coaching women to live an amazing life. JUJU is currently reaching out to teens in junior high and high schools and bringing her message of hope through a new project called, “The Be Amazing Project” created specifically for the young which motivates them to think bigger and set expectations for themselves. She is also reaching out to women of all ages and sharing her story of hope in order to create motivation in women to live the life they deserve.
She lives in Southern California with her husband of 20 years, two children, and two dogs.
Visit JUJU SANDS at: www.jujusands.com
The ideas contained in this post solely represent the perspective of the author. To contribute to ‘Survivors Speak’ contact Michele.
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