My husband and I were married in 2009 but we've known each other for over 20 years. We were friends, then more then friends, and then back to friends. Then we were friends that lived on opposite ends of the Country and only communicated a few times via the computer and 1 letter, this was long before texting came along and we are not the talk on the phone type people...still aren't phone people.
My friend who would one day in May of 2009 become my husband was serving our Country in The United States Marine Corps and for 8 years I worried and prayed that he was ok and safe. I would watch the news and cringe at where he was and what he was doing and what he was witnessing and I wished for him to come home safely.
While he was fighting a war for our Country, I was here in our hometown fighting my own war. My war was internal and intense and scary. I fought horrific memories and images in my mind and my mind took me to dark places that I couldn't get out of, it trapped me in a tunnel of sadness and fear with the demons inside my mind making it hard to pull myself out of debilitating bouts of depression and crippling anxiety and extremely painful panic attacks that left me clenching my chest praying it would pass as quickly as it came on. My demons are flashbacks and images that replay over and over in my mind, a slideshow of moments in time that haunt me day and night. A slideshow that I can't turn off, because if I could I would in a heartbeat.
This slideshow of traumatic moments forever changed me as a person. It stays with me and it decides when or what it will show me, that is the demon of post traumatic stress disorder.
Some people have 1 traumatic event that takes place in their lifetime, I'm not like some people, I'm different. I've experienced multiple traumatic events throughout my lifetime starting at the young age of 2 years old and just like throwing a dart and aiming for the center, I was the target of traumatic events and eventually I just gave up and waited for the darts to keep coming.
For awhile the darts stopped and I forgot about how bad the darts stung the red center of that of which is my heart and I tried to live my life as best I could, still knowing that at any moment a dart could be thrown my way.
A few years went by without any darts, although the sting of the darts from years before were enough to keep me from wanting any more to hit my red center.
I like many others that suffer from complex post traumatic stress disorder adopted some unhealthy coping mechanisms. Substance abuse and depression are kind of a package deal when you're trying to silence the demons in your mind that keep wanting to show you the horrific slideshow of traumas that you've tried so hard to store away in a sealed box. Each time that box even slightly opens up, the slideshow starts, and you would try and would do anything to make it stop and slam that box shut.
That's exactly what I did!
I kept the box closed by trying to forget it was there, and so yes, I self medicated. It was at that point in my life where I would have my first suicidal thoughts and I would then seek professional help with a counselor and psychiatrist...I was 21 years old
Through therapy and medications I would abandon my unhealthy ways of coping and hurting and I forgot about the box and the darts and I was able to live my life, I had a career, goals, and my friend came home from his war and as fate would have it, we found each other again.
We never spoke of our demons from our wars. Instead we laughed, we lived, and we loved.
The year before we married a big dart came at me and it hit straight on, piercing my red center decimating my entire board. The box in my mind that I had held closed for years immediately broke open and the slideshow was loud and stuck on repeat and I couldn't stop it, because the box was now destroyed and the slideshow was all I saw, day and night, every waking and non waking moment.
Something happened to me, I became physically sick, not like cough and cold sick, this was I lost the ability to walk, drive, hear, I couldn't function and live independently, I was disabled!
I had no idea what was happening, I walked with a cane, my soon to be husband became my caretaker, he helped me shower, dress, walk, he made my meals, and helped me live. He never complained, he never left, even though people told him he should, he didn't.
I was in the darkest depression I had ever been in and I was suicidal. Family urged me to get help and I complied. I was being treated for my symptoms of major depression, anxiety, and panic...but I never spoke of that last dart, that last horrific traumatic event that had me in therapy every week, that had me on multiple medications. I thought that I was in therapy because I was sad, sad and depressed for being physically ill
I had no idea why I was really in therapy and why I was on so many medications. I had no idea that I wasn't really physically ill at all. I had NO idea that I was mentally ill.
You see, I never spoke of the box or the slideshow or the darts to anyone. I did my best to conceal it and hide it from everyone, including myself and apparently I had done a damn good job at it. After that last dart that blew everything apart, my brain did what it needed to do to keep me safe, and for 8 years my brain told me that I had a physical illness rather than a mental illness.
That last dart triggered me to dissociate myself from that trauma all together. I had Dissociation Identity Disorder (DID) for 8 years.
My friend, my husband, he never left and I've never thanked him for that. So here I am saying to you my friend, my husband, right here right now....Thank you for loving me through sickness and insanity and please always know how much I love you for loving me, just the way I am.