I am not looking for any kind of sympathy, likes, shares or whatever. Maybe some empathy or a little understanding of how PTSD impacts me personally and by extension my fellow brother and sisters in arms. I cannot speak for how it affects anyone else. Each person experiences something different and each person deals with it differently.
PTSD is called the invisible wound of war for a reason. Some of us carry these wounds and on the surface carry on with work and our lives while keeping our demons quiet or at least at bay. But they are real, and they are unpleasant… but we drive on because that is all we can do, or else we fall apart at the seams.
I witnessed many things in my military career. Watching someone fall a hundred feet and shattering their back ( I am not a fan of heights, even though I have pushed through that fear on many occasions), I have seen firsthand what small arms fire, rocket fire, artillery, aerial bombs, and 30mm rounds can do to the human body. I have been on the receiving end of enemy artillery. I have seen enemy soldiers dismembered and burnt to a crisp from explosives, and I have had the misfortune of seeing and smelling a mass grave as forensic scientist dig the bodies up for identification and to provide evidence to the UN International Crimes Against Humanity. Lastly, I have lost buddies to combat and suicide. None of these are pleasant memories.
However, I have never had any bad dreams or recurring debilitating thoughts about any of that. Some people do… but I never have. Instead, I get overwhelmed sometimes with feelings of dread, general anxiety about engagements with people or sometimes everyday activities, and I get claustrophobic in crowds of people. The general feeling of dread and anxiety doesn’t distinguish between family, friends, colleagues or strangers. It is no wonder that the closest to you sometimes must bear the brunt of our struggles.
I’m not ashamed to admit to taking medication every day to keep my brain in some semblance of a “normal” balance. Getting through an average day sometimes leaves me feeling exhausted and unmotivated to do anything once I get home. It is a struggle sometimes to literally do almost anything productive once I’m in my house. It takes a real effort on my part to talk to my own family. I just don’t feel like it sometimes and I know that isn’t good.
I have a different medication when the first med just isn’t enough. I avoid taking the second one as much as possible… but sometimes circumstances force me to take it to get through a rough situation.
The anniversary of my father’s death is next week. I was with him until his last breath and his passing took an emotional toll on me. On the one hand, I didn’t want him to die… but on the other hand, I watched him slowly die over the course of 4 years and when his pain and suffering finally ended… I felt an odd sense of relief. I know he didn’t want the indignity of needing an airline to breathe and having his strength slowly sapped away. My dad was a warrior… watching him fade to a ghost of himself was heartbreaking. I know he was in pain and I know he didn’t ever want to go out that way. I miss him. Till Valhalla dad.
Today, I was lying in bed after breakfast because anxiety reared its ugly head after I ate for some reason, my thoughts spinning out of control and waiting for my 2nd medication to kick in, when the thought of writing down some of the random thoughts in my head might be a means of catharsis and maybe a means of communicating to family and friends that I haven’t forgotten them, I love them, and I am trying my best to power my way through this thing called life.
How has PTSD impacted your everyday life?
Please share the coping mechanisms, beliefs, faith, or philosophical ideologies that have/has helped you through your PTSD. You are not alone in your struggle my brothers and sisters.
Be forewarned, I have little tolerance for belittling this subject.