This post deals with suicide and might be triggering for some readers.
Twelve years ago I said goodbye to the man I loved for what would be the last time. The man I had married, the man who would be the world's best dad, the spontaneous, cheeky, thoughtful and loving man that he was.
My husband who loved to travel, who was energetic, enthusiastic about life, who loved to socialise, who felt safe and reliable to have by my side. My husband who was easy to talk to, who made me feel heard and supported and who made me feel loved.
Eleven years ago, a different man returned. A man changed by nine months in Afghanistan. My once spontaneous husband now finds it difficult if plans change at the last minute. My once thoughtful husband has trouble remembering anything. My once loving husband now has an emotional numbness that I can't get through.
I know his thoughts get scattered, he feels self conscious, he overthinks every decision he makes. I know he finds it hard when we argue. I see him trying to control his urge to flee and I know he gets consumed by his sense of injustice. He doesn't want to travel the world, his world seems to have become a lot smaller, because I know that must feel safer. I know he finds it hard to talk, about his time in Afghanistan, about anything.
For 11 years, I have slowly had to grieve the loss of the man I loved. He has returned physically unharmed, for which I am forever and eternally grateful, but never the same. He is a really good man and a great father, but he is not the man he wanted to be, the man he was going to be, and that has been hard, for him and for me. We have a great life, two amazing kids, we love each other and most days are good. I know that some other veterans and their families aren't so fortunate.
All these years on, I am so proud of how far he has come. The night terrors have stopped, the drinking has stopped, the suicidal thoughts, the running away from life. This week I fear they will return. This week I have seen the light go out a little. I see him cloud over when I try and make plans, I feel him retreat in a room full of friends and I worry he is struggling but can't say. I worry my father-in-law is struggling, I worry my friends are struggling.
Watch: The Afghanistan war crimes report. Post continues after video.