We are looking at a completely different side to post-traumatic stress disorder.
As a news organization, NBC 5 has reported on PTSD and its effects on service members. Now, we're expanding the discussion by talking with the spouses of PTSD sufferers — courageous women who chose to speak publicly about supporting their husbands after deployment and the affects their spouse's condition has had on their families.
Jeremy Lanning, a psychotherapist in Fort Worth at The LifeWorks Group, is helping women who suffer with what he refers to as "secondary trauma."
"The idea of having group work is you can highlight people's successes," Lanning said.
Lanning connects complete strangers, Like DJ Jacobson and April Cantrell. They bond and share their coping strategies.
"If you talk to any service members or anyone who suffers from PTSD, one of the biggest things for them is that all their behaviors and actions are taken personally," Lanning said.
In these intense group therapy sessions, Lanning gives them a tray of sand and tiny toys. He told them to illustrate their lives.
Cantrell, who has been married for seven years creates hers first.
"I met a fireman and his son. Everything was really good. We got married, had small animals, then he went over to Iraq," Cantrell said.
Jacobson, married 32 years, does the same. Instantly the women, who rarely talk about living with PTSD sufferers relate.
"If we get off the path we are supposed to go, it causes everything to fall apart," Jacobson said. "Yeah, I am kind of in my own little world here," Cantrell agrees.
Emotions in these sessions run high. Cantrell cries when she describes the journey she and her husband have been on since he return from Iraq.
"We have built this bridge and a safe place and our marriage is a lot better. It's just kind of a hill. Up and down," she said.
After the therapy, Cantrell talked about how much she needs this support from other women in the same situation. When asked if being with other women who feel the same way is empowering, Cantrell said, "Absolutely. Just meeting her and talking to her for 15 minutes was amazing."
Jacobson said she, too, is committed to helping her husband and making the marriage work.
"I have never thought about it. I've always been deeply, deeply in love," Jacobson said.
Lanning has seen success in these therapy sessions and said it's his way of supporting our troops.
"Therapeutically, if you can get loved ones and caregivers to unite on the common, negotiable problem, next thing you know, you've got solutions," Lanning said.
The women hope that by speaking out, other women will get in touch that need these group sessions.
Contact: Lifeworks Cowtown
1208 W. Magnolia Fort Worth, TX 76104