From Breaking Point to Unbreakable Bond: A Story of PTSD Recovery

From Breaking Point to Unbreakable Bond: A Story of PTSD Recovery

Posted by the T2 Public Affairs Office on June 15, 2017

The near-breaking point in Toby and Susan Moore’s marriage — and a pivotal moment in his recovery from PTSD — came in a phone call to Toby’s office.

“When Toby left, for Iraq this time, I told him that no matter what condition he came back in, as long as he was willing to do something about it, I was willing to stick around,” Susan recalled. When the Army lieutenant colonel returned from Iraq, they both realized he was showing signs of PTSD — he was sad, withdrawn, sleepless and short-tempered. And he followed his wife so closely [instinctively guarding her] that if she stopped too fast, he ran into her. But Toby was in denial about needing outside help.

“I was doing all of this work to get him better and he was not part of the solution; he was the problem,” Susan said. “Finally, he was at work one day, and I called him. I said, ‘I love you, and I told you I would always love you, but the time has come for us [Susan and their two daughters] to love you from afar.’”

That call started Toby on a road to recovery for himself and their relationship, strengthening a bond that Susan now describes as “unbreakable.” How did they get there? In a video series featured on the AfterDeployment Facebook page, Toby — who recently retired after 22 years of service in the infantry — tells his story, while Susan, his wife, joins him to tell her perspective. Here are some highlights from the series.

The phone call

Susan: He was home, probably, in 20 minutes.

Toby: That was a big wake-up call. I wish that I had sought help sooner than I did, but by the time I did go get help, it was all about getting better so that I could save the most important things to me — my relationship with my wife and my family.

On managing Toby’s PTSD

Toby: Everything we do now is based on my recovery, and now it is the way that I honestly am able to keep off medication and to be in control. We make sure that we get our gym time in. There’s some breathing. She took a yoga class that really helped me.

Susan: I went to this yoga training [for pain management] and I came home that night. And I just said, “Give me 30 minutes; I just want to try something.” I put him through these breathing exercises. We ended up working on it for over two hours. He slept 12 straight hours that night. It was really the most pivotal point because if you don’t sleep, you can’t be yourself. He was always so sleep-deprived that he was just sort of a shell of who he was, and there’s no way to start the recovery process without the adequate rest you need. Toby: We didn’t just stop at the physical [things]. Nutrition has a lot to do with the way your body and mind react.

On Toby’s tattoo

Toby: I think my big fear is that if I don’t remember the nine men that were with me, that I forget and let myself live, that it’s kind of an injustice to them. So, I’m really getting this tattoo to tell a story, but also to kind of make sure I never forget the people that made the ultimate sacrifice, so I give myself a break.

On navigating the road to recovery

Toby: Decide to get better and go get help and get it early. And don’t be afraid of it. It’s not a scarlet letter.

Susan: You don’t want to be numb to everything. You still want to be able to respond: You want to have fear; you want to have emotion. But you want to be able to have them happen and be in control. It’s not how you feel that’s important, it’s how you act.

Toby: You have to understand that you’re going to have bad days and just kind of roll with it and not feel like it’s backsliding.

On sharing their story

Toby: You need to share your story so people know that it’s not the end of their world. Even when I was on active duty, after I would recover, I shared my experience with my soldiers — not because I wanted anybody to feel sorry for me, but I wanted them to know that you can go get help and you can be successful.

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