Veteran caregivers: It’s that time of year again!
If your veteran is acting ‘wonky’ or is agitated more than usual, this is a gentle reminder to be extra patient because this time of year is when many vets start acting this way.
The likely cause? September 11th is right around the corner! When you know to brace yourself and be extra patient, it’s easier to ride the storm. I am hoping this will not only provide insight, but also relieve you of the confusion surrounding weird happenings and out-of-left-field arguments in the upcoming days.
We go through this EVERY year and call it his “anniversary period” that kicks off around the end of August (some years are earlier than that, like this year, because of other stressors in our life) and we have a guaranteed trigger date of September 11th. Dan then goes into the month of October where he was involved in Operation Phantom Fury, (AKA The Second Battle of Fallujah) and then into November where we have Veteran’s Day, his “Alive” day (the day he was shot during a gunfight) and THEN we roll into the holidays! We have a solid four months of the year when shit just keeps hitting the fan.
It isn’t until January 1st that he starts acting like himself, so my point of sharing this is to let you know the following:
1. Our life is going to significantly be more stressful, and that’s when I start REDUCING as much stress and obligation as I can for his sake and ours. I decline more invitations. I go offline for days at a time. I get equally cranky when people don’t respect our boundaries when we set them. 🙂
2. You are NOT alone. This happens to us and a lot of veteran families like us.
3. If you’ve never noticed a trend, perhaps you can start realizing it now. This way, it’s not as hard as it may have been in the past. Consider this your “AH HAHHH!!!” moment.
Not EVERY veteran has this reaction, but many do. Consider yourself VERY fortunate if you can ride the next few months smoothly.
My suggestions are:
1. Pick your battles. Take deep breaths. Be patient.
2. Reduce outside obligations. Tell your family now is not a good time for social events. They’ll get over it.
3. Reduce outside influences. We stay away from the news and toxic people.
4. Set firm boundaries both inside and outside your home. If family or friends don’t respect your “NO” or understand why you are less available, that’s THEIR problem not yours.
5. Ask for help if you need it. Seriously. DO THIS.
6. Know that this, too, shall pass.
If you can relate….Feel free to share your stories about similar issues in the comments below. Also, I invite you to follow more examples from our own life and how we deal with the challenges here: Torrey Shannon. I promise, you aren’t alone! <3
PS> My next post I will share creative ways you can channel his need to rage and be angry in a way that is a win-win for everyone. Yes, the need is real, and yes, you can funnel it into activities that are healthy vs. destructive. Once I figured out this trick for our own situation, my husband looks back on it with gratitude and has more coping skills as a result.