What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? I could give you some long-winded technical explanation which you may or may not fully understand, but I find it much easier on us all to simplify things. Here’s the skinny version, PTSD is the result of natural reactions to abnormal situations. These abnormal situations are traumatic events, which there are plenty of during war. As soldiers we are exposed to the worst parts of war: we see death and dismemberment, we face injury from bullets or explosions, we face our own mortality in realizing we could die any second of any day, we see how war ravages the land and the people, the fear and suspicion in the eyes of the locals, the hate in the eyes of the enemy. We literally have people trying to kill us every day, if that doesn’t make you a little paranoid then there is something wrong with you. But even with all of the terrible things that we go through the worst part isn’t what we went through, it’s the deep painful scars that were left behind for us to deal with. Our reactions to everything are perfectly natural reactions, we aren’t crazy, it’s just our stimuli is much different from most.
PTSD sneaks its way into every facet of your life. Have you avoided watching war movies or going to places that remind you of the military? Do you space out when you are driving and get to your destination not knowing how you got there? Do you avoid crowded places? Do you like to sit with your back against the wall? Are you always sizing up situations and preparing for a fight? Are you on edge a lot? Are you able to make any real new friends? How is your relationship with your family and friends? Do you get instantaneously angry over nothing, or just get pissed off out of nowhere? How is your social life? Tell me, how many every day noises sound like gun shots? I didn’t realize how much PTSD affected every piece of my life, until it was brought to my attention and questions like these were asked.
In my last article, Army’s Answer To PTSD, I talked a bit about the lack of support from the Army. I went years suffering through PTSD without even realizing why I was suffering or how it had changed my life and the way I was acting. It wasn’t until I got out of the Army that a counselor who cared helped me understand what PTSD had done to me. It is a journey to take back control of your life and it takes courage, don’t let PTSD rule over you. Stand up and make it your b*tch.