It's 10 a.m. and I am in a training session at Ottawa Public Health when I get a phone call. "Hey babe...it's me," says my husband, a CF veteran who battles PTSD every day, in a troubled voice.
"What's up babe?" I ask.
"Did you hear the news? There's a shooter at parliament." Then, dead silence on the phone. We both know what is going on. He has been predicting it for a long time. Why? Because it was his job to be hypervigilant when he was deployed.
My first instinct was to ask him how he felt and if he was safe. His answer: "Yeah I'm safe, but really angry; angry that I cannot be there to help out and angry that we are getting attacked."
Coming back home from Ottawa Public Health was just like running away from a natural disaster. No bridges to cross due to bomb threats, police all over the place, cars being searched and helicopters. I strangely felt I was at war, feeling trapped since I could not get to my kids.
And I knew I was going to go home to an exhausted husband. His state of hypervigilance would drain all his energy: Cars parked on the side of the road to him were bomb threats, going for a simple task such as picking up food at the grocery store triggered so much anxiety that it was impossible for him to do. His mind was back in 2004, in Afghanistan. Ready to fight the enemy.
I came home to my husband who was white as a ghost with clammy skin, hyperactive and hypervigilant. I quickly coaxed him into calming activities. The T.V. wasn't turned on, the lights were dimmed, and we were on calming mode. We talked and then he finally went to bed, exhausted from his day. His sleep was agitated. He moved a lot, though thanks to EMDR, a treatment he recently started for his PTSD, he felt he had a good night.
Today is a new day but I know deep inside that his hypervigilance switch hasn't turned off. For a few days/weeks, we will have to do a lot of talking, a lot of calming down. Sadly, he is a slave of his own knowledge. The state of mind that previously saved my husband's life is now draining him of his energy.
As a family, we are trying not to scare the kids. Life has to take its normal course. Finding a middle ground between irrationality and real life is quite difficult when you live with a vet who has PTSD and when your city is attacked.
This is our everyday battle.
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