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The meaning behind my photo…

 

My profile photo was brought up, and I have had several people ask why I use it instead of posting a new one. So I wanted to tell you all the story behind it. That is not a recent photo of me lol. Everything else is recent but that photo has great meaning behind it, to me.

That photo was taken in 2006, a year after Craig was discharged from the military. Let me back up…

After being discharged, Craig had decided he wanted to open a tanning salon since he was not able to stay in the aviation field. He and I were both avid indoor tanners, and I know I need to explain before I get a lecture on tanning  We grew up in Florida and being in the sun was natural for here but we liked the fact of being able to control the amount of UV we got without the burn. Proper tanning you could call it if you are going to do it. Then baby sunblock before we would go out into real sunshine. 

Anyway, I restarted my dog training business when we moved back to Florida and Craig said he wanted to start the tanning business. It was an upscale tanning salon, we had researched this for a long time, we did our business plan, formed our budget, and saw that we could make this work. We opened the doors 5 months after Craig got out of the service. The plan was I would run my business while Craig ran the tanning salon, then when I wasn’t training I would work at the salon. It was the perfect plan! So we thought.

See, when Craig was discharged we were told “go buy a house, start a business, and start a new life”. We took those words to heart, and that was exactly what we did. We were not told PTSD was a part of our lives, we were not told just how severe his medical issues really were and we were not told about delays in the “system”. All we knew was he had memory issues which prevented him from being an air traffic controller, being rational here with facts, he was discharged with 10% disability, so it couldn’t be that severe right? WRONG! This seemed like a job that should be so easy for Craig to do considering his intelligence level and educational background. Craig’s one smart cookie let me tell you, the man has an awesome brain. 😉

Well, we knew Craig had memory issues, but this type of business is such a controlled environment that neither of us thought it would be an issue. We built the salon from ground up. Our standard was very high and maintained it that way. But it did not take very long before we realized that Craig’s medical was way worse then we were lead to believe.

I received a phone call from a client one day not long after opening, asking me if we were going to be open that day. I replied, “Oh yes, the salon is already open. Craig is there today.” The client replied, “No. The door is locked and no one is here.” I asked, “Craig isn’t there?” The client said, “no, his car is not here and everything is off and locked.” I quickly said, “Give me a few minutes, I will call you back.” I left the client I was with at the time, training, and started calling to see where Craig was. I could not get in touch with him. I called a friend that was a business owner in the plaza and they said they had not seen him. So I headed home. I was scared and not sure what was going on, Craig was a very punctual person and this was not like him at all. He wasn’t there either. I called the airport, we still had the plane at the time, and the crew said they had seen him but he had already left. But said he was not acting like himself at all and asked me what was wrong. They knew us well so I filled them in that he was needed at the salon, they told me that I probably don’t want him at the salon, he was really acting out of character. I was worried. I had no clue what was going on, if he was okay, or where he was. This was totally out of his character.

Long story short, he did not remember he was to work that day, he thought we were closed. And the other pilots were right, when he did finally come home he was not himself at all, and he could not remember where he had been that day, he even argued that he had not been to the airport.

With all of this going on, the next day I cancelled my appointments and opened the salon myself. Of course I had a lot of questions asked about why we were closed the day before, one of the other business owners put a sign on the door “Sorry for the inconvenience, closed today due to family emergency.” Thankfully our clients loved us! But as the day went on I heard so many stories from the clients, I mean we had not been open that long and the stories were very apparent that Craig’s memory was way worse then we thought. They all liked Craig, but the things I heard about him forgetting things, anger, frustration, how they would be sitting there waiting for the doors to open, oh it was just overwhelming. I had no clue. This was not my Craig! And obviously at that time I had not accepted the changes in him.

My business had to go almost stagnant so I could take care of the one we had overhead in, and take care of Craig. Since I could not train much I took a part time job at the sub shop next door to the tanning salon to try to make up some of what we were losing from me not being able to train as much. The plaza we had the salon in was like a big family and we helped each other out. One of the business owners would come down and hang out with Craig while I worked next door for a few hours days I was scheduled.

It wasn’t long before I discovered a lot more was affected, now financially. Craig was a brain at managing money and book keeping, so I didn’t think twice about him handling that, another thing I had not accepted had changed. It wasn’t long before I found myself at the salon full time open to close. Craig’s symptoms kept becoming worse, this was the first time we had been around each other full time. Before, he was in the military so our time actually together was very limited. And I was now seeing it all! From the day of the phone call from the client, we both started going in but there were many days Craig just could not go. There were many days of frustration and we were clueless to what was happening to him. Gradually he went in less and less, he could not handle it even with me there.

Craig had hit rock bottom due to something we had no clue about and did not know why. He needed me more and more. He rarely would go outside the house.

About a year after opening the salon we had to make the decision to close the doors for good.

That photo, it has such great meaning to me. That was taken in our salon in October of 2006, it was during the time of rock bottom of what we now know as PTSD (as of 2009 officially diagnosed). I was worn out, I was trying to run 2 businesses, work a part time job on top of them, keep a family going and balanced, I was taking care of a home that sat on just over an acre of land that needed work, and taking care of my husband that I only knew of as having conversion disorder. I had no answers to what we were experiencing.

I was new to this at the time and had no clue how to handle everything that was laid upon my shoulders “out of nowhere”. I had no clue what was actually going on with my husband, nothing made sense, this was not the man that I knew so very well. My, and our, life was thrown into a serious roller coaster ride.

When I look at that photo, I see how tired I was, I know the emotional pain I felt at that time, I know the heartache and struggle I was having, but that photo also reminds me of how far we have come since then. Craig has not become better, but we HAVE learned more, adjusted to his disabilities, learned to cope, and have found a balance of sorts in our life. Every morning when I log in here, I am reminded of what rock bottom was for myself, and also that I am not sitting there any longer. Even on the worst of days, it reminds me that there was a place much worse and much darker, and I’m not there anymore and refuse to go back to that time. That photo is positive for me. It helps keep me and us moving forward. It’s another part of our story.

No matter how hard rock bottom is, there is still a way to find the up side to it. We still battle disabilities being a huge part of our lives, we still have rough days, but we have found that there IS still life, there is still hope, we hold on tight to the good days and know how to manage the others. We do still love each other no matter what the past held or the future holds for us. We have a balanced family and work to move forward with each day that comes. And I would not have it any other way.

So, that’s just another small piece to our story and the meaning behind the photo. Look for the good, no matter how dark times may feel or be, there is still good in there, don’t lose sight of it.  😉

~Bec
A Spouse’s Story PTSD

WELCOME!

I want to start this journal of mine by saying “Welcome” to everyone! My name is Rebecca also called “Becky or Bec” by my family and friends. This is my little part of the world where I can share what life is like living beside PTSD chronic, Depressive Disorder (formally diagnosed as Conversion Disorder), and other disabilities. I’m not a doctor or in any medical field, I’m “just” a spouse 😉 . No one ever expects life to turn out certain ways, especially when mental illnesses become a part of it, but my family is living proof that even with these illnesses involved life does NOT end. It takes learning, coping skills, educating, and adjusting …but life DOES still exist 😉

My husband served proudly for this country of red, white, and blue …and asked for nothing in return. The result…he suffers from these illnesses which effect his everyday life. You know what, he would do it all again for each and every one of us! I stand proud of him and always will. Together we chose to no longer remain in the shadows and silent. Instead, we do share our life story in hopes it will help another individual or family make it through another day and to even be able to carry a smile with it 🙂 NO ONE deserves to stand alone!

See, PTSD and other mental illnesses do not pick a nation, skin color, adult or child, they are not only military related, and do not choose an age. My belief is it does happen to what I call “the best of the best”, the strong ones. I have found that in the world of PTSD you will find the most understanding, compassionate, and caring people that would give you the shirt off their own back if they could. I find it sad that these very people are the ones judged and carrying the stigma that goes with mental illnesses/disorders. They didn’t ask for this to happen, just as a person fighting cancer or one whom has lost a leg did not ask for it, it just happens.

YOU being here and reading this is a huge step no matter where you stand on the subject. You might be the one suffering from it, the spouse/partner, the parent, the child, the relative, the friend, the one that is just curious, or even the one that does not believe it exists. Fact is, you are here and that means something to the world. TOGETHER each and every one of us CAN make it through life living with or beside PTSD… 🙂

I Welcome you to my story, our story… “A Spouse’s Story…PTSD”,

~Bec