Brooke Brown Talks About Living with Her Husband with TBI and PTSD

"PTSD turns my husband into a monster. But my husband is a hero. He is not a monster," says Brooke Brown. She's working with him to embrace the hero and squelch the monster.

I'm Brooke. My husband's named David. He's a United States Marine. He was deployed twice to Iraq: 2006 to 2007, 2007 to '08. He has TBI. He was hit by 5 mortars while standing post. The mortars dropped directly under him, and when it came up the post took the shrapnel, but the percussion waves came up and got him, knocked him out. My husband now has extreme PTSD. He has seizures due to the TBI as well as to PTSD. His back is actually fractured. He's got 2 discs that were crushed beyond repair. He doesn't know what he ate last night, but he can remember what he ate 3 weeks ago. The loss of hearing--he can't hear half the time. You have to scream at him to get his attention. The light sensitivity, the lights being outside-- even on a cloudy day he has to wear sunglasses or he'll develop a massive migraine. He has very short tempers, which it's hard to know what the triggers are because it could be a slamming of a door and it just spooks him. He has to have someone with him almost 24 hours a day or at least in earshot, because if he forgets where he is he flips out, and then that's where the PTSD comes in. He'll have a flashback. And if he has a flashback--you know how PTSD is-- it turns him into a monster. And my husband is a hero, not a monster. I have learned now to decipher where the PTSD, the TBI monster is versus my husband. There's 2 people, and I hate this one over here, but I love this one, and I'm going to stick with this one because I want to see more of it. And if I go away, this one is going to take over this one, and there may not be this one ever again. And that's what I'm afraid of. So I want to keep this one in the dungeon; keep this one outside and happy. The light is at the end of the tunnel, but to be able to walk that mile you have to take that first step. He will get better, or she will get better. You just have to stick in there and learn the new normal. And it will come about. It just may take you a little while. But you're still beating everybody else that's out there because, once again, to walk a mile, to get to that light you have to take your first step. And it's going to happen.
Posted on BrainLine January 25, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Lara Collins, BrainLine.

Special thanks to LtCol. Tim Maxwell, USMC (ret), and his wife, Shannon.