This is a hard post to write for many reasons, but if I’m going to keep writing on here, I really feel like I have to eventually tell it. Sam and I have already talked (several times) since it’s about him, and he encouraged me to write. It’s a bit long so grab a coffee and toss the kids outside.😉
Sometime in the next few weeks, Sam will be leaving for 3-6 months to go to a dual diagnosis treatment center.
Now when I tell people this, their first response is usually “Oh I’m so sorry” and of course it’s so so hard to think of being without him that long. But the reality, and how I truly feel about it, is a feeling of pride and relief and – hope. This has been a long time coming for him, and a year – heck six months ago – he wouldn’t have even considered it. I know, because I’ve brought it up for a while now. He’s been on more and more medication from the VA, especially since being retired but it really started with his shoulder surgery back at the end of 2014.
He’s had two suicide attempts since Kaden died, both within a day or so of Kaden’s birthday, and both led to him being hospitalized for several weeks.
While I thought the medication was his way of drowning a lot of that pain, it turns out drinking was another way.
So for those of you who asked, “How did Sam handle all of this loss and trauma without alcohol?” (since we’ve had so many issues with his drinking before) – the answer I naïvely gave back of, “It’s not an issue!” was wrong. It was an issue, only I didn’t know he was still doing it. He simply waited long periods until he had a chance to.
This June he admitted himself into a rehab center for the medications where he stayed for three weeks. It came after months of up and down emotions while he struggled to cope with being out of the military and being at home. His PTSD, TBI, depression, anxiety, pain, and trauma from Iraq, our sons, and abusive childhood have all been pushed down so long that it’s started to come out more as time passes and all the distractions he was able to use for years are gone.
While he was there, I searched for a long-term place that didn’t cost 100k (not even joking there) for him to go for long term help with all of it – alcohol, meds, PTSD, etc. Finding a dual diagnosis that is veteran focused was not easy. At all. You’d maybe think (as I did) that a medically retired war veteran with 100% disability would have a flood of options, but you’d be wrong. I spent weeks calling and emailing facilities only to be told he didn’t qualify or we’d have to come up with tens of thousands of dollars to put him there.
Finally we looked into a program called STARR that was a veteran focused, inpatient, dual diagnosis treatment center. He’d already been able to get off a ton of his meds in the rehab place, so this step seemed like a really good one to focus the other stuff (and he’ll be off the rest of the pain meds while he’s there). When he came home, we got in touch with them through his psychiatrist referring him to there after an eval. It’s through the VA so costs are minimal.
For those of you reading and in a similar situation as him or I, I would love to be able to link this program or info about it, but honestly I haven’t been able to find anything at all. The VA seems to know about it – there’s no site or specifics. We’ve found out details from others who went and it’s based out of a VA hospital in New Mexico (although there may be other places that have it). If you’d like more details though, please feel free to email me and I’ll help however I can.
So now, he’s been accepted into the program after a lengthy phone interview with them, and we’re waiting on a call that a room has opened up for him. It’s been two weeks so far, it could be a month or longer. It’s a little anxiety inducing to wonder if today is our last day of normal together before life is upended again.
Bella knows and understands as best she can. We’ve both tried to be very honest with her over the past 2-3 years about mental health issues in our family and in general. I know the girls will desperately miss him, and we’re hoping what we’ve been told about weekend passes and visitation are true (he’ll be about a half day drive away from us).
So, with all of this being said, I want to say a little something of my own. I’m so proud of Sam. I’m so very proud this was his choice to go do, and that he’s pursued it when we never even knew what it entailed. He has been asked every step of the way if this is his choice to do, because it is optional. I know it might seem like a step backwards, but it’s not. It’s a HUGE step in his recovery to be able to do this, because it’s never even been an option he’d consider before. He is mentally and emotionally ready to take this next step and move forward in an even bigger way.
I love him so dearly, I’ve told you all for years that he is my best friend. He’s also an amazing daddy, a wonderful person, and has the most tender heart. Yes, it’s going to suck that he has to go for this long. Believe me, I’ve already done this in his active duty years. But.
I’d rather have him gone a short time then gone forever. And as dramatic as that might sound, I know in my heart if he can’t get some very serious, intense help for all he struggles with, we may lose him.
If you pray, please pray for his healing, his relationship with Jesus to strengthen (because I know in my soul that while this is a wonderful opportunity and can work well, truly life isn’t a life without Jesus), my patience and support to him and the girls while he’s gone, our finances, and the girls’ hearts as they wait for him to come home.
I know you’re reading this my Sam, so I hope you know how much you are loved and wanted. We want you home with us, healing. We love you as you are, but I know how long you’ve struggled. You are so incredibly strong for choosing to do this for yourself and us. So I hope and pray with all my heart this starts to give you that peace we all want you to know.