Have you ever seen those depression medication ads on TV? The ones where they discuss how living with depression affects everyone around you? Living with someone who has PTSD definitely affects everyone in the household and while I'm an adult and can deal with the roller coaster of emotions (most of the time!), my babies are not adults. They're just that......my babies. A recurring nightmare/worry I have is that living with someone who is often mad, agitated, or withdrawn will have lasting negative affects on my children.
Parenting is hard enough without having to throw that in the mix. For the most part, I think my kids are dealing with it okay. My youngest is just a toddler and I don't think it's really affected him much at all yet. Hubs is around our son more than I am, since I work outside the home and go to school and he stays home with him. Hubs does well with him.
He wasn't always so involved. When our daughter was our son's age she was living with her dad when he was at one of his lowest points. She was there when we went through the medical discharge of the Army and the subsequent "Hell Year" when Hubs wasn't receiving any assistance from the VA and was self medicating with alcohol and herbs. She was in the home when he kicked in doors to yell at me, and she witnessed him punching walls in frustration. My worry about her well being and psyche living with that turmoil is the largest reason I decided to split from my husband. For over a year I lived in my parents basement and he lived with his parents and our little baby girl was shuffled back and forth on weekends. It worked out in the end.....the separation forced him to take a good look at himself and decide if he wanted a family or not. It was due to that separation that he decided to seek residential help at the VA.
However, I worry that all that frustration and stress has had it's affect on my oldest child. My baby girl suffers from anxiety and has developed really poor social skills. It's been such a struggle with her lately. At our whit's end, we enrolled her in a day treatment program to help her focus on her anxiety. You see, my little baby girl has become a picker. She picks her skin, leaving open wounds on her arms, legs, and thighs. In addition to that, she also has some anger problems to address and it's been a real challenge living with her these last few months.
I think back.....when she was two, and Hubs was deployed, I had her evaluated for early speech. She didn't qualify. In addition to not qualifying (she was close), the evaluators also said she had great social skills and was advanced. So here it is, half a decade later, and she's gone from having advanced social skills to having very poor social skills. Is it my fault? Is it because she saw her dad suffer in those early years after he returned from war? Did she witness all the yelling, anger, and sadness and somehow internalize it into this?
I know I can't beat myself up over this. There's no way to reverse time and do things differently. I did what I did because I thought it was the best at the time for all involved. But it still hurts. And it still sucks...