Just Breathe

Where are you located?

I am located in Albion, MI.

Where did your veteran receive the majority of his/her medical treatment?

The majority of my husband’s treatment has been post-service, here in Ann Arbor & Jackson VA hospital clinics.

Which branch of service is your family affiliated with?.

We were both enlisted in the U.S. Army.

How has care-giving impacted your day to day routine and your personal life?

Yesterday was our 13th wedding anniversary. It was about a year after we were married and he was already discharged that different behaviors and moods started appearing. He spoke less and less about things he liked doing, took less enjoyment in everyday life and his moods were slowly darkening. I have been a housewife for the majority of our life together after I was discharged myself, with the occasional job to pick up our income before the VA approved his claims. I’ve gradually taken on more and more of his needs, without barely noticing and now it is second nature to do everything in the house. His meds, daily chores, with the exception of a few things the kids can do, everything falls on me.

Besides caring for your veteran, what other interests/jobs/passions do you pursue now? What are your personal interests?

I truly have no interests or hobbies I can dedicate any substantial amount of time to. I used to love to knit, scrapbook, or read. But between expense, time or my migraines, I have little to no opportunity, nor desire to pursue any hobbies. My family is my main and only concern.

How has the QoLF helped you to renew your passion in your interests or to change something to improve your quality of life?

When no one else would help, not even the VA, there was help from this great organization. I am eagerly awaiting to spend better restful nights and easier days.

Do you have a favorite inspirational or motivational quote?

Just breathe.

What advice would you give a new caregiver?

Join a support group, it is only by word of mouth that I have gained my best knowledge when it comes to the ins and outs of care-giving life.

What would you like to tell the average American?

This isn’t an easy life. Having to always put yourself second. Self-care is easier said than done. Most of this new generation of caregivers have small children, which make everything extremely harder. We try our best but with little support, it’s not possible. The stigma surrounding mental health, and PTSD makes it harder. Doctors wanting to throw medications and discontinue medications, haphazardly makes for a very turbulent household. I find it awkward when my husband and I are thanked for our service and I see so much hurt just within our small community. I just wish we could have all been better prepared on what to expect when they were deployed and what to look for when they came back. This has been on the job learning. Treat the individual, not just the disease.