PTSD-R Resilience

Resilience:

  1. the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
  2. an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

(Merriam-Webster online edition, © 2022 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated)

How does one become elastic and return to the person he/she was before a traumatic change?  Does one return to the exact shape, form, and mentality? 

I have survived bits of personal heartache throughout my life, as has every other human being on this planet.  From near death with my asthma to dealing with a personal stalker whilst grieving my father’s death, and more, I’ve been there.

I grew up with a dad who had been wounded during WWII in the European theatre and a big brother who served in Vietnam, a big sis who married when I was 7 (I missed her), and a mum who put up with all of us.  I married a man my brother’s age (almost a generation older) who served two tours in the jungles of Vietnam. 

For my dad’s era of veterans, the post-war anger, depression, distance, and malaise, were simply called ‘battle fatigue.  Even when my big brother returned home (my 1st year of primary school), Mama simply said my brother was just very tired.

Years later, I met and eventually married my husband.  I could not fathom some of his traits, preferring to work in occupations that took him away from home, finding it to be a massive struggle to convince him to take vacation days and attend family events and school concerts. 

Quite by accident, I found a pamphlet about PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I kept it out of sight in my Bible and referenced it when I worried.  My husband did not want to hear about psychological problems.  Knowing his reasons, I tried to keep my mouth shut (something I am not prone to do) and learn as much as I could about the beast called PTSD.  The library served as a sanctuary.  I read as many books as were available.

A couple of decades later, several military-related health issues emerged for my veteran.  We became acquainted with the services of the Veterans Administration.  Several months later, we met the professionals in the behavioural health division, and The Interview occurred.  In the 11 years since that eye-opening day, my husband has attended classes, and group meetings, and now talks to other veterans about his journey.

He encourages others to explore the available resources and not bottle up the feelings he had for decades.  Hubby was instrumental in getting me to talk to a counsellor about my own undiagnosed trauma from my stalker.  Like his, my counselling came years after the horror.

We have not returned to being the same people we were, nor would we want to be those past personas.  Cured?  Not by a long shot.  Coping skills and management tools have surely helped us survive.  Our private nightmares do not cease, and there is no escape from the truth of the past, but teamwork, tears, and tenacity allow us to survive.  Resilience is facing reality.

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