Heartfelt -
Thoughts on PTSD
Veteran PTSD

by Ms. Dorothy T.W. Smith 

 It is my pleasure to share with you some of my experiences of 13 years from working with Veterans and some of their families in the Biloxi, MS VA residential PTSD  program.

 I am sharing some  typical thoughts, wishes, and needs from them and their loved ones. Many are very heartfelt, sad, or loving.  

From the Veterans:
  My experiences have forever changed me. PTSD was not what I sought but I have to live with it. I’m not crazy or stupid! My memory problem is real. I can’t handle too many crowds or too much noise. I need space more often than before. I can’t get a good balance! I either get angry, isolate, or just get numb. I’m quiet, or isolate myself, to avoid arguments, triggers, or panic attacks. I feel overwhelmed with a lot of questions or someone pushing me. I can’t share all I went through in the military, because it is either very painful for me, or for you. I worry you will reject me. I don’t want either of us to feel worse. I have issues with anger, depression, substance abuse, nightmares, and communication, which all make it hard for me to get close to you, even though I love you. I’m sorry I have hurt you. It’s okay for you to go places without me. I do love you, but don’t know how to express it. I’m working on it, and I now have hope.

From the spouses and other loved ones:
  Why won’t you talk to me and go places with me anymore? I want to understand you. Let me in. Let me know what you need! I feel so alone at times when we are not talking. Sometimes, when you get really mad, you scare me. We need to work together and be a team LIKE WE USED TO BE. I loved it when you smiled. I used to make you smile;we used to laugh. We used to go to the beach, to movies, out to eat. I’ve told our children that we need to move on without you. It is not our fault you have PTSD, and we can’t fix it, but we want you to get better. Please get some help! .I used to make you happy, but now I don’t.  

  I’m doing the best I can, but sometimes I feel like giving up. I never intentionally want to hurt you. I need to know you care about me. I feel like you stopped loving me, and I don’t know how to get you back. 
You are having some good results in treatment, so I have hope.

From the children:
  I tried being really quiet. I tried making good grades.  I think maybe if I make a lot of  home runs, or  I’mreal polite he won’t get mad at me. I won’t talk back or yell (but HE does). I’ve been trying really hard but sometimes he still gets so mad at me I get really scared. Why won’t he play with me? Why won’t he talk to me? Why does he get so mad and so bossy? He is always so worried something will happen to me. He won’t let me do anything!Why doesn’t he like me? Mom says it is my job to be a kid, not to be an adult. It’s okay when I make a mess, and make mistakes, that I will learn from them. But I worry it is not okay with him. I guess I am not ever going to be good enough, but he is nice to me sometimes, and that makes me feel better

  The Veteran who truly has PTSD is suffering along with their loved ones. There is help available. Please, if you are hurting, seek help. There is hope. 
There is no more noble profession than the military. Veterans have courage, and have bravely and honorably served our country. It is my honor to now be serving them. 

  Ms. Dorothy T.W. Smith received her Masters of Clinical Social Work degree from Tulane University in 1978. She has provided evidence based play therapy with children and psychotherapy with adolescents and adults having various disorders. Ms Smith has dedicated most of her career to helping those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD).