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An excerpt from: Alone In The Light

Monday, May 21, 2018

PTSD. It's what's for dinner...

I'm going to venture into the land of 'WAY too much personal information" segment of our blog...

I suffer from PTSD due to some of the times and adventures I had back in my younger, Army days... and I, more or less, live with it these days and things are "okay" - but there are certain, special times of the year that it comes in swinging... like a wrecking ball to quote a shitty, shitty song.

The problems associated with PTSD are many... but, to me at least, the big ones are the lack of sleep, lack of motivation, and withdrawing from other people and social settings. Because, let's face it - if you add those things up - the last place you want to go is... anywhere.

On top of that - there is the occasional misuse of certain substances... namely alcohol. It is used as a method to combat some of the effects brought about by PTSD - mainly anxiety and, in some cases, the lack of sleep. Or, you know... so I've heard.

So - not sleeping, being all pissy, and not wanting to interact with people can do a number on you. I've put on 4 lbs in the last week because I've been stress-eating, drinking too much alcohol, not sleeping, and skipping the gym. It's not cool.

When it comes to anything dealing with your brain - it is best to seek out professional help... But, if you are anything like me, you don't like doing that. Which isn't a problem, per se, it just means you need to stop, look at your situation as a whole, and do some serious soul-searching. It's often difficult to tell when you're in a position of potential harm to yourself - or possibly others. And if that point is reached - it becomes far more than just missing the gym....

SO - if you suffer from PTSD... seek help. It's okay to do so. We have such a stigma in this country for mental health and mental well-being. It's not a bad thing if someone has PTSD...

Now - on a personal level -

Most people - these days - associate this with soldiers and warfare. We have a LOT of vets with PTSD. And, as a result, people think that "Oh, he just doesn't like loud noises" or "he gets moody around people." or "He just has bad dreams..."

 And while these things ARE true... they are certainly not the only reactions to PTSD... it can, and does, rear its ugly head in a LOT of different ways....

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD:

Nightmares ✓
Anger, Rage, and/or Irritability ✓
Depression ✓
Loss of Self-Esteem ✓ **
Difficulty  in Trusting Others✓ **
Guilt ✓ **
Trouble Sleeping ✓
Substance Abuse ✓
Isolation and Alienation From Others ✓
Persistent Memories ✓
Anxiety ✓
Heightened Sense of Danger ✓
Hyper Alertness or Startle Response Changes ✓

Out of this list - I put a "✓"next to all of the ones that have affected me at one point or another... You'll probably note that I put it next to all of them - because it's true.  And I put ** next to some of the ones I feel most people don't associate with PTSD. And those are the ones that are tricky. The VA counselors were all really big on "nightmares, substance abuse, sleeplessness, and anger" - but I was personally never really told to be aware of those "**" symptoms... and let me tell you - they suck ass.

It's one thing to have a bad dream and be on edge... it's an entirely different thing to develop severe trust issues in your friends and loved ones... it's an entirely different thing to wake up and feel completely worthless for no apparent reason. Even though I can say "Hey, this isn't true. This is just the PTSD talking" - it doesn't get through.

Imagine this:

It's like drinking a coke, but tasting poison. You can SEE it's a Coke. You KNOW it's a Coke... but regardless of the knowledge - your brain says "nope. It's poison". It takes the people in your life to say to you that "No, it's Coke." and then - it tastes like Coke. But they have to keep reassuring you that it's Coke and not poison... I'll eventually remember that it's coke, but I might need you to just hang out with me until I do.

This is the most apt representation I can find for PTSD moments

It's difficult to talk about this shit... so I hope I didn't ramble too much.

One last note -

PTSD does not mean "be on egg shells with me" - It just means that if I do have a moment - help me remember that it's Coke... not poison.

I can't say that this is the same for everyone I know with PTSD... but it is with me.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours a day... 
if you need help - please call

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