I went through a pretty rough time the other day and after sharing some of this with my counselor I decided I wanted to write about it in a blog. Mostly because I know other veterans struggle with Post Traumatic Stress and I want you to know that you are NOT alone. I’m not going to jump too deep in detail because I know for some folks this might be a trigger – but please tread carefully if you are easily upset. The most important part is this: If you start to feel alone and like not being here with us is an option you need to call for help.
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You are not alone. I want to share some of my story because I hope it helps another veteran out there.
The other day I received a letter from Social Security. Every few years they re-assess your disability rating and this was just a regular part of the process of being on support programs. Logically I knew this was just another small hurdle to jump over and it only took me a half an hour to complete the paperwork. Somewhere in the middle of doing the paperwork I stopped being in my office and I was emotionally 5 years in the past. I didn’t realize it was even happening until I noticed the tears on my paperwork. The logical part of my brain had pretty much stopped working and the emotional side kicked into overdrive. For people who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress this can be a very dangerous area because we are no longer using rational thought but pure emotional thought. I was thinking about how my daughter deserves a better father. I was stuck in the feelings of being lost, alone, and feeling worthless. Why did I survive the IEDs, the ambushes, and VBIEDs just to come home and lose everything? For me personally it has to do with control and my time overseas in Iraq. I had no control over anything but my desire to protect the men and women who rode up and down the most dangerous roads in Iraq meant I could control how proactive and assertive I was behind whatever weapon system was mounted that day. It is different now when my rational brain turns off and my emotional brain takes over now back home. All I can feel is depression and despair. The only thing I feel that I can control is my own life. That is when I stop anything and everything I am doing and I call for help. Because in my past I didn’t always call for help and it almost cost me my life. Waking up in a hospital because your plan to leave this earth didn’t execute is a harsh reality.
Rationally I know that life is sucky and difficult and hard. Emotionally I’m only really comfortable with extreme anger and extreme depression. I’ve lived with them so long that they’ve really become a part of me. I’ve just started to explore this new emotion called love. You would think that being shot at and being blown up is scary, how about trying to love someone fully? That shit terrifies me. Giving myself to someone else and trusting them to be there? The last time I did that I had a wife who told me she just couldn’t do it any more and left with our infant child to live with her family. When I think about love now I think about my daughter and just how much I want to give to her in this world. I want her to be happy, healthy, intelligent, kind, good hearted, smart, and so much more. She is truly the reason I get out of bed every morning. When my body pretty much gave up on me and I lost who I was or who I thought I was going to be in the future – the only thing I could focus on was her. My love for my daughter knows no bounds and when I say I would do anything for her those are not just words. I would use my hands to dig a mountain and move it for her if I had to. Love. That is how I think love works.
If you are reading this and you are a veteran who is struggling with Post Traumatic Stress please know that having emotions is okay. It is a part of the process. Just please make sure to stay safe and reach out for help before you make a decision that you cannot come back from. I know that there are times in my head that I really do believe that this universe would be better off without me. It isn’t until I can start thinking rationally about stuff do I find my grounding thoughts. Like my daughter and how much I love her. She wouldn’t be better off without me.
I went to war and fought for my life and the lives of every single soldier who was deployed with us.
Now I am home and I am constantly fighting a war in my head that tells me I don’t matter, It doesn’t matter, I don’t deserve to be here, The struggle is too difficult, and that opting out is something to honestly be considered.
It isn’t. Keep fighting. All you need is one more minute alive. Breath. Pick up your phone and call someone. If not the help line, a friend or family. Today doesn’t have to be your last day. All you need is just one. more. minute.