Often, if you don’t know about someone’s struggle, you’re quick to assume. I love sharing awareness about my disability in hopes of opening people’s eyes of the beautiful differences that make up this world. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is something I know little about. Yes, I’ve heard of it, but until you hear and learn about it from someone who is struggling with it, you’ll never get the full understanding. I’m so happy that today’s blogger is a veteran who can share their experience about PTSD. The month of June is PTSD month, so I hope the words of this veteran brings you to a place of understanding and empathy over this disorder, as it has for me.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a devastating anxiety disorder that affects many active military personnel and veterans. In many cases, PTSD goes untreated due to an individual not recognizing that they are being impacted by the disorder, or by the individual having previous unsuccessful medical treatments. PTSD symptoms can range from low self-esteem, panic, loss of control, tension, anxiety, emotional numbing, detachment from other people, and nightmares. Additionally, it is associated with substantial behavioral health hazards, including smoking, poor nutrition, conflict or violence in intimate relationships, anger, and hostility.
We are a decorated retired military family living with PTSD. One scenario, a night in Africa, gunfire erupted around a church and our team was protecting it. Some of my team members were shot, including me, who took a bullet by my face. Another scenario, I was boarding a ship that pirates seized, and the aftermath of their destruction looked like a horror movie. Furthermore, in my lifetime, I have been abandoned, shot, stabbed, had head trauma, and broken bones. I had difficulties in concentrating. I found myself being absent-minded whenever someone talked to me. Also, I felt nervous and found myself living in a world of tension. These scenarios and many other situations have left an impact on me and my mental health.
My mental health was spiraling downward without me even realizing it. I was experiencing anxiety. To relieve my traumatizing moments, I would lash out verbally, be consistently on edge, have nightmares, and start detaching myself from people and the world. My most notable symptom was reliving my horrifying experiences through my nightmares making sleep impossible. Moreover, I started to drink to get drunk and upped my smoking twice as much. This went on for years until I realized I needed help.
Following these troubles, I sought out help and was prescribed medication. PTSD in me was a complex, highly disabling and suffering disorder where the past was always present, haunted by the dread frozen in memory of the traumatic events. With the support of my family, Veteran’s Affairs, medication, and having a better understanding of PTSD, I acknowledge mentally when having a difficult day. I can cope with it in a reasonable way, 99% of the time. Importantly, no I am not cured, and yes, somedays are better than others, but with the support I receive and knowing I can never stop my support, I see a small light. IT TAKES A VILLAGE!