When you tell someone your father has PTSD people automatically think in their head "OH! He jumps and acts crazy at loud noises? He's some crazy mumbling in the background about the war?". The truth is different for everyone affected with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome but the reality is its nothing like that. Sure at times my father was easily startled, sure at times he couldn't handle loud noises, sure at times he was very withdrawn and just wanted to be alone. The reality though of daily life is sooo much different. My father had PTSD as long as I knew him the problem is none of us even suspected that our issues as a family was because of PTSD. We never even got a diagnosis for his PTSD till well after he started to get sick long after I moved out of the house.
I think for most part our family either turned a total blind eye or thought we were making it up. My dad rarely if ever talked about it with anyone but me and usually then only very late at night when he couldn't sleep. The symptoms were so painfully obvious once we figured out the problem and progressively got worst the more ill he became. When my father was younger he was incredibly well spoken, intelligent, very even tempered and otherwise a very well liked man. Though people at his work often referred to him lovely as Little Napoleon (he was barely 5'1) I've never heard ANYONE speak an ill word about my father. As a child I was totally a daddy's girl (and still to this day am without question) but he wasn't around that often and always traveling for his job.
We moved often when I was growing up, sometimes as often as every six months and rarely lived anywhere longer than a year. I once had to list every location I have ever lived at for a security clearance and the list was so long it went on for page after page. I was commonly asked as a child if my father was in the military and my answer was always "he does military construction" which somehow was supposed to answer the question but certainly now that I look at it never really made any sense. My dad rarely raised his voice or got upset but the few times he did he would fly so wildly off the handle it was shocking and explosive. Most disagreements even at a early age in my life with my parents were handled through me. I was kind of like a mini messenger and mini counselor at times but honestly they were very rare. Honestly all in all I was VERY lucky as my parents were both married twice before meeting each other and my dad would often tell me "The third time is the charm!" and they stayed together for 38 years until his death late in the fall of 2015.
His PTSD diagnosis came shortly after getting ill and though I cant honestly remember it was at least 8 years before his death, I will revise this later with more info. He was working in Hawaii and was on a business trip alone. He was suicidal (not something we talked about openly while he was alive but I will discuss it with you guys in more detail as this blog unfolds as I think people need to hear this.) and he climbed up onto the railing of the balcony of his hotel room and attempted to jump. At that point he says he saw his mother and she talked him off the ledge. Shortly there after he was diagnosed with PTSD. Turns out all along all the moves we did when I was growing up was because the moment things started to get "good" with his job or life he felt guilty. The guilt was so overwhelming he would basically rip us up out or our lives and start over. I'm not so sure if it was always conscious and it wasn't a topic we broached often as he felt very guilty for constantly moving me growing up.
This is one of those topics I could go on for ages about and never hit the bottom but I wanted to address this early on as a lot of my stories and underlying driving forces in my life come back to this subject. It's not one of shame, and there is NOTHING even remotely to be ashamed about when it comes to PTSD. I am FIERCELY proud of my father and I strive to one day be even half the human he was... at times he was larger than life in my eyes. However with all that said he was human and every human has a story and all of us have some sort of pain though certainly some of us worst than others. I will share more about my fathers illnesses and PTSD as time goes on but so much of my own story revolves around his. I genuinely hope sharing our story will help other people not feel so alone as I did at times in my life and I know he did and to realize its OK to talk about it even though its really really really fucking hard at times. Its hard for the person suffering and sometimes its even harder for the family as the last thing you want to do is to make them feel guilty or worst.
Much love.. more later.