Just My Thoughts on PTSD- Always Look Forward

PTSD

There are a higher percentage of deaths from suicide among Combat Veterans as compared to the general population in America. According to research, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be a fundamental cause of this increased suicide rate. My experience with PTSD stems from a tour in Iraq more than a decade ago. PTSD is real and has tangible and damaging side effects. It manifests its self among us in different ways and levels of severity. PTSD may be an outcome of any traumatic event from a car accident, to witnessing a crime, to being attacked by a dog, to being a victim of sexual abuse. Anyone can suffer from PTSD; the ailment has no social, economic, religious, gender or racial biases. Anyone is open to its dark shadows.
My thoughts below have no scientific merit nor are based upon research or psychoanalysis. They are just my ramblings that I felt necessary to put into words. When reflecting upon the escalated suicide rates of those whom have served in combat roles, I can’t help but dwell upon the environment that our troops lived in for such long periods of time. In my Unit the average Combat Tour was a year, for other troops it was less and some more. For many troops multiple combat tours were the norm. Could the amount of time which people are submerged in a traumatic environment have a direct relationship on how severe their PTSD symptoms could be? This could help explain the increased suicide rate among combat veterans.
In 2003, I can tell you that Iraq was nothing like the world that I live in today. The best description of the place was a maelstrom of violent deliberate organized chaos. For me it was a place where nightmares vacationed. For a year, the smells, sights and sounds of the place became an integral part of my conscious; the place became a part of me. We did all we could to keep the environment out but there was no stopping it, the place became you. When you are besieged into that chaos, there is an opportunity for one to become an uglier version of oneself and potentially be more vulnerable to making decisions which would be looked down upon back home. It’s these life choices as well the incredible amount of violence witnessed which tend to linger in our souls long after we leave the war. It’s these experiences and memories which often bind us to guilt and loss. For soldiers, the guilt and sorrow for those we lost and possibly harmed, aggravates the symptoms of PTSD and makes it harder to recover from it. For me, once I found peace to my inner demons within, I was able to better navigate the pitfalls’ associated with my PTSD. Peace comes from many different approaches. Religion, meditation, nature, support groups, therapy, animals, education, karate and family are all great constructive tools for individuals to use on their journey to come to terms with their experiences. The important thing to understand is there is no road map or set of directions; it just takes time, patience and a loving support network to lean upon while taking that journey to find oneself. Unfortunately it takes a while for soldiers to get in touch with their feelings and often turn to self-medication in an effort to chase away their mental affliction which often only worsens their anguish and increases their burdens. It’s not just heavy drug use, abuse of alcohol but violence and other such type of behavior which chases away those we love and support us. A lack of such a support network only makes the symptoms of PTSD harder to endure.
After a few years of making things right in my own mind regarding the war, I was able to begin seeing improvements surrounding my PTSD. It took me more than 9 years to be able to see a fireworks show with my family but now I can go without negative side effects. My nightmares are very rare almost negligible and my temperament is back to prewar conditions. I am able to socialize in public and find myself to be more socially active. These were all issues that I have been dealing with since my return. I’m still working with my issues of crowds and noises such as horns and crying children but all is manageable. Believe it or not, my biggest issue is visiting others in their home. For some reason I feel very uncomfortable going to someone’s house for a visit. It’s a work in progress.
Trust me, my story was filled with ugliness throughout the healing process including trouble with the law, violent behavior, abuse of alcohol, marriage problems and a ton of other nasty items but I kept one constant. When I woke up despite my many setbacks, I kept on moving forward one step at a time. There were terrible moments and steady moments and even joyful moments but every day I kept trying to look ahead to a brighter day.
There are so many more folks out there that have witnessed more ugliness then I will ever dream of and others who may not have witnesses as much but at the end of the day, that does not matter. What matters is we never judge and that we only strive to support. I know in my heart of hearts that I will never understand how others suffer with their memories, afflictions and symptoms of PTSD. This issue affects all of us differently so it’s crucial that we walk our own journey to find a way to heal and not compare our situations with others suffering from PTSD.
What I can do is be a friend, lend a helping hand, and feel empathy for their turbulent struggles. I think this is something we all can do and not just for those who suffer from PTSD but for any person who is struggling with any type of issue. It’s about being a good human being and neighbor to those we interact with.
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” ~Edward Everett Hale

PTSD 2

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About twotiretirade

Keeping the faith of fanatics who feel fired up for anything motorcycles. It’s all about the journey and the philosophy of riding on two wheels. Let’s bring alive the truly unique culture of motorcycling and never let the ride leave the fibers of our being. View all posts by twotiretirade

13 responses to “Just My Thoughts on PTSD- Always Look Forward

  • Rajiv

    I wonder how many people out there go on without being diagnosed

  • twotiretirade

    Rafiv- Its my opinion that PTSD is more common then you may think. I think we all have suffered from it, in some form or another. It may be not be as severe but everyone of us has dealt with trauma that revisits us from time to time.

  • christawojo

    This is enlightening.Thanks for sharing your experience. This article brings hope to PTSD sufferers and gives understanding to their loved ones.

    • twotiretirade

      Christawojo- Thank you so much for your comment! Just like any wound, it takes time to heal. It takes a healer to help bind the wounds and friends and family to provide a support network.

  • Newbie Alaskan

    Thanks so much for this intimate glimpse into the eerie, desperate world of PTSD! My first thoughts upon reading your posting was to once again thank you and all our vets for your sacrifice and your service!! Your country asked a heavy investment from you but you answered that call and more. It remains mind-boggling to me you needed 9 years to finally be able to feel you recovered from the devastation’s of your spirit and soul wrought by your service. One wonders how much less this might have been if our government recognized the potential dangers of PTSD much earlier and had taken the steps to evaluate the disorder and aggressively researched the best methods for ameliorating this illness..? Believe it or not just reading your posting may have helped me. Eighteen days ago I took a bad fall just outside the local PO; for 28 hours I dealt with pain generated from what I finally learned was a fractured left ulna and a fractured left radius. It took that long to get into the local clinic, have them look it over and decide the injury was completely beyond their scope to handle and refer me to a clinic in Wasilla which is 65 miles south. Once there I was immediately given pain killers and a series of x-rays which determined the aforementioned; I was immediately referred to an orthopedic surgeon who operated 13 days ago; he had to remove four bone chips which were remains of the radius ‘head’, clean and re-sculpt both that end of the radius and the place it interfaced with my left elbow and rebuild each area using synthetic pieces as well as use a plate to pin the radius and ulna to the humerus. I’m healing rapidly and had the stitches removed after just 7 days and a hard cast now replaces the softer version for another few weeks. Anyway, across the last week I’ve had intense nightmares involving falling and breaking bones; twice they’ve awakened me from a sound sleep. Now when I witness someone falling in a video or on TV I wince uncontrollably and have to look away. Worst is my fear of making any move which places me even just a bit off balance; Friday morning I took almost a full minute to finally get up the nerve to take three or four steps across some wet snow. I feared I was becoming paranoid of falling to the point it was interfering with my everyday life. But after reading your post I now know I’m probably suffering just a touch of PTSD based on the injury and if I face it head on with understanding, compassion and know it for what it is I will be fine. While I recognize this is nothing like what our vets endure I am now just a bit thankful for my experience as it has given me a peek into the effects of PTSD.

    • twotiretirade

      Alaska- You know a big reason why I felt compelled to write this post is I felt I have been regressing a bit and still need to vent from time to time. It my opinion we should write on what we know and we should write to inform and to heal as well as to express joy and appreciation in all that is good. A few days ago I thought about all those folks who have PTSD whom have not fought in combat, they suffer as much as anyone, often without anyone to listen to their plights and struggles. PTSD seems to have come to be synonymous with Vets but their are so many people that struggle and self medicate without a clue on how to deal with their issues. Its a human issue not just a Vet issue.
      So how are you doing with your accident? Do you have some support up there in Alaska to get by? Talking about a tough fall, man I hope your doing OK.

      • Newbie Alaskan

        Actually I’ve surprised the local medical community with my rapid healing; the initial cast was removed a week earlier than expected and the staples came out between 10 and 12 days early. Assuming all continues apace the cast will come off in exactly 14 days (04/27) and once I return home the first thing I’m doing is taking a long, hot shower! I’ll have a week before I start PT on May 4th. According to the surgeon this puts me around 12 days ahead of ‘normal’ which isn’t bad for an almost 62 tear old fart! I haven’t taken a Percocet since last Tuesday evening; I just don’t experience much pain at all. I am hanging on to them for PT as everyone says I’ll need ’em when I start.
        I was overwhelmed with the empathy and support from Talkeetna; no fewer than five folks offered to drive me to Wasilla for the surgery and that’s a 130 mile round trip and basically killed an entire day! A friend (Mark) stayed here for the first four days; he handled the dog’s exercise and any lifting or moving. He still swings by every other day to help out. I knew Alaskans are some of the most friendly and helpful folks around and this little faux paus proved that in spades.
        You are right on using your blog to vent; this can be so cathartic and that’s always good. Everyone needs help at some point in their lives; for most of us the hardest part can be summoning up the courage and faith to ask for it. It is amazing just how willing folks are to jump in and help; we just need to ask!

      • twotiretirade

        so glad you have a good support network up north, its what a community should be.

  • Newbie Alaskan

    Reblogged this on Rualli and commented:
    Here is an amazing piece stunning in its honesty and intensely honest! Please read it; all Americans should try to understand the desperation of PTSD. Indeed, maybe if all the citizens of this world read and understood this situation we would find alternatives to war..??

  • lvsage

    Great blog on a most important subject! Thanks so very much for your service and for speaking out about your own PTSD. As the author of a novel (and an upcoming sequel that continues to address this subject) that deals with PTSD experienced by our Vietnam veterans, this subject is very close to my heart. Although there has been some progress on the treatment of PTSD, there has been little effort to address it head-on (such as pre-combat and post-deployment counseling and adjustment help). Thanks again and I am going to repost your blog, if you don’t mind.

  • lvsage

    Reblogged this on lvsage and commented:
    A very insightful, honest and heartfelt look at PTSD, a subject that I deal with extensively in my novel, “Red, White & Blues”, and will continue to address in the sequel.

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