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Mother’s Day and PTSD

I was thinking about this for the last couple of days and trying to organize my thoughts to be able to capture my thinking in a coherent fashion.  The obvious part of a Mother’s Day greeting would be the service women, who are also mothers, and have someone tending their child or children while they serve their Country in some foreign location.  I had a hard-enough time just managing myself let alone have another small one out there somewhere to worry about.  My grown son once took a sabbatical from college to “find himself”.  My wife and I worried the entire time he was away (one year).  This is the reverse of being the one away but I’m sure the worries of a parent remain the same. So, I’m guessing it would place an additional layer of problems for someone who is open and liable to somehow obtain PTSD as a consequence.

This got me to thinking of my own tour of duty in Vietnam.  Most of my thoughts about my own PTSD were self-centered.  By that I mean that I didn’t give any real thought to what my overseas duty was causing my parents and family members to experience.  I remember getting a Christmas card from a little girl who somehow had gotten my address, as a school project.  The card was pretty and inside she wrote a short letter, “Mr. Dzierzynski, I hope you don’t die in Vietnam!”  It was a bit of a jolt when I read it but then I realized that this was probably what everyone back at home was thinking and knew it came from a sincere and honest place.

As I was dealing with my day to day existence in Vietnam, my parents were going through a whole different experience knowing that, at any time, I could become a casualty.  I was out from under their watchful wing.  No matter what their half-empty/ half-full viewpoints were, it would be insane to think that in some small corner of their every-day existence that there was some part reserved for the possibility that tragic news could visit their doorstep.  I wonder if there is a separate PTSD branch that got its start by just this? 

I live in California and every time there is an Earthquake, no matter where it is, I get a call from family and friends.  “Were you affected by the Earthquake?”  Of course, most of the time the answer is “No” but people away from this location have no clue.  But the same thing happens in reverse.  I’ll ask, “Did you get any damage from the hurricane?”  The point I’m trying to make is that most things that might potentially affect us, we fortunately miss but there is worry none-the-less.  That means news programs or stories we overhear or however else news, whether good or bad, finds our doorstep is a potential worrying moment.

But it doesn’t end there.  Then when we return, hopefully unharmed, but for some much less than that we encounter a different situation.  For the married woman with child, her return is again trying to fit in because she has been out of the schedule loop for a year or more.  Reestablishing ourselves in any social system takes some time but now it could be complicated by PTSD or other disabling circumstances that the family needs to work into their schedules.  Not an easy task under the best circumstances yet alone with these obstacles.

For those who are coming back to their Mothers and wives the same fitting in takes place but as a stranger, who has been changed by the War.  Caregivers need all the support we can give but and many don’t realize the PTSD can be passed on to others such as wife or children.  Those with PTSD must always remember this is not solely about you and so my advice is to act accordingly.

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