I never expected to write this book, but then I don't believe it was purely coincidental that I did so, either. I personally believe that sometimes things happen in our lives that I like to think of as meaningful coincidences. When you're older as I am, it becomes possible to look back and see how one thing led to another--that led to another--that led to another yet. I'm not going to go through the entire chain of events that resulted in my writing this book. However, just let me say that when I finally did write it, I could see how so many of my life and work experiences-- and this would include attaining a Ph.D. in clinical social work--had helped me to arrive at this destination.
One thing that does seem particularly relevant, though, that I would like to mention is the fact I'd gone to work for the Air Force at a NATO base in northern Italy as a contracted clinical social worker. I became part of their mental health team primarily because I'd always had a dream to live and work abroad. (This is not to suggest that I did not take my work seriously. During the five years I lived there, I dedicated myself both to my work and exploring and thoroughly enjoying my new habitat.)
What I'd never expected, however, was to have to be of service to military members and their families who were being impacted by our country's current involvement in multiple wars. But right from the beginning, that proved to be my reality.
I arrived in this part of northern Italy to the sound of fighter jets screaming into the air--their bellies loaded with bombs to drop over Kosovo. I left to the sound of regular jets landing and taking off--their bellies loaded with warriors either bound for, or returning from, Iraq (and in route to the United States).
I was old enough to have watched, as a schoolgirl, war correspondents report on the war in Vietnam. I later knew young men who suffered mentally as a result of having been in that war. We didn't know what to call the cause of their problems at the time, but we certainly did now. It was Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. We also had some methods which could help sufferers--whether the PTSD stemmed from war or other causes such as sexual assault--to help these folks better manage or cope with the debilitating symptoms.
From my experience working with the military, I was also well aware of the reluctance of our men and women in uniform to seek help for mental health issues. During my five years abroad, I'd at least annually interview the base's commanding general and other officers who had stories to share which might convince these young adults that help-seeking behavior was a sign of strength, not weakness. Furthermore, sometimes just "sucking it up" didn’t work--such as with mental health issues like PTSD.
I hope that if you're a partner of a PTSD sufferer who displays a reluctance to seek help, you'll step forward and become that supportive person and advocate your partner might need to take action. Please, do not allow PTSD to pursue its destructive course unabated.
I dedicate my book to all partners of PTSD sufferers ( yes, I've written it to be helpful to all partners of PTSD sufferers, not just those who are with warriors wounded by PTSD). I hope The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Relationship: How to Support Your Partner and Keep Your Relationship Healthy proves to be both a life and relationship preserver.