The War At Home: One Family’s Fight Against PTSD
By Shawn J. Gourley
Most women dream of meeting the man that’s going to sweep them off their feet, take care of them, love them, laugh at their silly antics, and cry with them at sad movies. The man that will be their “happily ever after”. That’s pretty much what the author of The War At Home: One Family’s Fight Against PTSD thought when she reconnected with Jason, a childhood friend who was now in the Navy. They fell in love and married. Little did they know that the life they dreamed of after his discharge would in many ways turn into a nightmare.
When Jason returned home from his deployment he was totally different, and it took years of searching for answers before he was diagnosed with PTSD. This book is their story. Shawn writes from her perspective about events in their lives that were awful to live through, and then Jason responds in his own words.
They share about the verbal abuse, the violent tendencies, the impatience, the nightmares, the inability for Jason to hold down a job, and the fear that became normal for their household.
They are open about how the turmoil at home affects their daughter and she began exhibiting ‘common characteristics’ of PTSD, known as secondary PTSD.
Shawn talks about how during counseling she was made to realize that this is who her husband is now. He suffered a traumatic event and it changed him and her responsibility was to help him deal with it. The counselor was tough and told her that she needed to accept her husband as he was or walk away. She definitely had reason to walk away, but she chose to stay and learned to practice tough love.
Another topic the author covers is the fact that she lost herself while fighting the PTSD battle and how she eventually realized she needed to face her own emotions and find an outlet that she could enjoy.
Shawn shares the process of trying to get disability through the VA for Jason. For months she gathered letters, documents, counseling and medical records all to be denied, but yet she continued to persist.
This book isn’t written from a clinical perspective with words that few understand, it’s written by a real couple. A couple that unfortunately represent what thousands are facing on a daily basis as they live with PTSC. I’d recommend it to anyone with a loved one suffering from PTSD, but also for the general population to help them understand PTSD and it’s ramifications on young families today.
Shawn ends the book by saying they’ve learned to relish the good days because with counseling things are manageable and that “PTSD doesn’t define us. I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor of a survivor.” It’s not necessarily the ‘happily ever after’ she dreamed of, but dreams change.
Also, through her experience Shawn has started a website for those with PTSD. www.militarywithPTSD.com, I encourage you to check it out.