Things have felt better for me since I accepted him for how he is now.
How do you rely on your local community for support?
We have two friends who really help out when needed. While they might not understand exactly what is going on with my husband, they help where they can. When I need to get away for a bit or need to be gone for an extended amount of time, I can text one of them and he will reach out and schedule guy time.
What was one of the first major challenges you faced as a military caregiver?
It took a while to get his health care providers to talk to me and really listen to me when I explained what was going on with him at home. Once they finally understood me, they were better equipped to let me know what I could do to help him.
What advice do you wish you had when you first became a military caregiver?
Honest advice! I wish I was told in the beginning that he may not get better and that he may get worse. The worst part of this journey has been feeling like I have been living in limbo waiting for him to get better. Had I understood the gravity of his injuries at the beginning, I could have accepted the reality that he may never get better or become adjusted. Instead, for several years I lived in a limbo waiting. I finally realized for myself that he might not improve, but once I did, I was able to adjust to our new norm.
When Diamond's husband, Allen, came back from Iraq, his physical and mental injuries were not immediately obvious. For years he masked his internal strife, but when he considered suicide as his only option to “stop the pain,” he realized he needed help. Diamond manages his medications and appointments, advocates for his physical and mental care, filters daily triggers, massages him to relieve chronic pain, and keeps him grounded.
As a Dole Fellow, Diamond inspires others to help raise awareness of caregivers’ needs and works to develop solutions.