Recently, however, I remembered a conversation I had with a military psychologist at a reintegration meeting months before my spouse’s return home. “Give your spouse space and time,” I remember him saying as I scratched notes onto a notepad. “Let them have freedom, let them do things they want to do. Let them figure out who they are again.”
But then he issued a warning:
“However, if your spouse’s inability to return to a normal life persists after 90 days, it is time to seek help.”
Well, it had been over 90 days. Things weren’t quite back to where I thought they would be. But, everything would be fine, right? I have faith for the future. We’re just dealing with regular marital problems, probably. Was it really time to encourage my spouse to seek help?
Let’s chat for a moment about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
Ryan Steinbach, author of VA-sponsored article “Understanding PTS(D): Adapt and Overcome,” explains that “symptoms experienced during readjustment after a deployment may often resemble those seen in PTSD. But for most Veterans, they are temporary and will diminish within weeks or months.” The truth of the matter is that many combat veterans suffer Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) after deployments. Civilians face PTS as well, as it’s a nearly universal response to traumatic events.
While the symptoms can be congruous between PTS and PTSD, experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress does not automatically mean it will hightail into PTSD. Nor does PTSD have a PTS prerequisite. This is very important information that doesn’t get disseminated often.
Of course I had heard and been warned about PTSD, but even after three deployments, I had never been warned to watch out for or seek to understand PTS.
But, clearly, my spouse has Post-Traumatic Stress.