Featured Guest Author: Anonymous (Vetted) Marine.
I remember the first time I set down with a doctor and discussed underlying issues that had a drastic impact not only on my life but also work performance. In actuality I was referred there by my work. I feel the first stage of PTSD is accepting someone’s outside perspective and admitting that you may have a problem. Things like; Excessive drinking, days spent locked in one room, anger issues, problems with the legal system, alienation from friends and loved one’s, inability to organize, are only tip of the iceberg when talking about symptoms of PTSD/TBI. This list was broken down to me by a professional, I though maybe I was just a messed up individual with his priorities in the gutter. Further explanations of my symptoms and followed treatment, taught me otherwise.
I’ve been in treatment since 2013. I served in the Marines and after spent another 8 years with an international organization in diplomatic security. I received a medical discharge from that organization after being deemed unfit for duty due to my diagnosis. This shattered me all over again, failing to find purpose, I often thought of taking my life. I wasn’t mad at my works decisions to cut me off on medical. They had a good reason, I was no longer as sharp and my decision-making was questionable. Still I saw no way out and felt like a failure. Not only failing myself but my brothers, I always thought the proper way to honor their sacrifice was to be a successful individual in all aspects.
During those hardest of times, depression grew worst and the walls around me seemed to cave in all over again. Despite the above issues I never stopped talking to my therapist and kept proactive in my treatment. We did everything from exposure therapy, meditation, and group work. I was prescribed medications to help boost my serotonin levels and diminish anxiety and panic attacks. When I followed directions, and become more open minded to different avenues of approach these treatments helped me greatly.
Nevertheless none of this was easy, getting help sometimes seemed harder then the actual symptoms of PTSD or the effects of TBI. I would miss many appointments because I was unable to leave my house. I would sit home and wonder what the FUCK was wrong with me. I’m in treatment for a few years now, and still sometimes feel to weak to leave the safety of my house. Most days I would break this mental wall and get to my meetings, in turn I would feel accomplished. Talking to someone who won’t judge me took so much weight of my shoulders. After a meeting I felt refreshed and ready to start my day.
Paying my bills on time or cleaning the house felt natural again, having a clear head without any distraction was a breath of fresh air. Many people may not understand that this disorder affects so many parts of one’s life, from regular responsibilities to sexual performance. Facing all these problems and admitting to their existence is crucial to getting better. I still go to therapy and I still have problems.
WAH … the fight is still on, all is well.
You are only worthless if you don’t address the issues that have a negative impact on your life, there is no getting around it. Like alcoholism, if you don’t admit you have a problem you will be powerless to fix it. I am sure of one thing, if it wasn’t for therapy and listening to some simple instructions I would no longer be of this world. In the end the fight never ends and we are never out of the fight, as long as we equip ourselves with the right tools and support groups (i.e. family, friends, professional help etc.).
I still struggle with many things, to combat this I try to channel my negativity doing positive things, school, outdoor activities, (trust me, I thought Id never hump again, but putting that pack on felt refreshing, becoming one with the pain after 18 miles of ruff terrain… that shit will clear your head for days, “Embrace The Suck”) don’t want to hump go fishing, keep in touch with military brothers, or write. Be honest and open-minded and always believe that there is no such thing as rock bottom. Even though it may seem like the shit sandwich never ends, sometimes we just have to swallow our pride and take a bite.
We are the masters of our own destiny, all we have to do is have the grit to say fuck it, break out of our wall and live.