A Redding woman shares her story of living with her Vietnam veteran husband who has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Debbie Sprague is hoping her story will help other families living with PTSD, a disorder that affects men and women who have undergone a traumatic event. June is PTSD awareness month, and Sprague says it is important for the community to recognize the disorder. More than half of all Vietnam veterans have experienced symptoms of PTSD, and most do not seek treatment.
Debbie said her marriage started off like a fairytale, and then took a dramatic turn when her husband Randy Sprague started showing signs of anger, aggression and depression.
"We just had a lot of dreams that we planned to do and suddenly that ended," said Debbie, "I didn't really understand."
Thirty years after serving in the Vietnam War, her husband's traumatic memories resurfaced. Initially they didn't know what was wrong. Debbie said it seemed like a dark cloud was hanging around when Randy would have his nightmares and angry outbursts. Transforming from the man she fell in love with to a stranger that was cold, distant and angry.
"I hurt everybody that was close to me," said Randy.
In 2004, Randy was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and soon after Debbie was diagnosed as well.
"Not only did he become a stranger to me, I became a stranger to myself and truly changed," said Debbie.
Debbie says during her darker days she would turn to her journal which helped her cope with her experience. She says there weren't many places to get treatment or support.
"We need to make sure that stigma is taken away, our veterans need to be comfortable to step up and get help," said Debbie.
So Debbie took it upon herself to do her own research and seek the proper treatment for her family. She then decided to write a book to share her experience and knowledge with others.
"There is healing and hope and that's what I wrote the book for," said Debbie.
"If it can help a few families it's worth it to me to go through what i went through," said Randy.
Randy says as soon as a veteran can accept that they have PTSD, they can start the healing process.
"Don't be the tough guy any more. You have been trained by the military and you have done it to the best of your ability and you have done it well. Now is the time to heal and focus on the family and let it out," said Randy.
What had originally started to tear apart their marriage has now brought them even closer together.
"Once you get through it, the rewards are beyond anything you can imagine," said Randy
"I truly understand what we needed to do to make it work and we did," said Debbie.
For more information on Debbie's book "A Stranger In My Bed" and how you can get a copy, please visit her website http://www.detours2dreams.com/default.html