PTSD sucks. No doubt about it. I can go from doing fine to wanting to die in a New York minute. Do I act on it? No, but I definitely want to escape the pain every once in awhile. Some days I cannot wait to go to bed just so I can take a break from ‘managing’ the symptoms. Both my husband and I have PTSD and we work pretty well together to provide assistance to each other when we are having our bad days.
I have noticed that the more real I am about the PTSD, the more people are connecting with me and feeling less alone. I am not going to hide the fact that I struggle with a debilitating condition known as compounded PTSD. And, I fight as hard as I do for our active duty and veterans so that they don’t have to live like this.
I miss the old me. I miss the girl who made fun things happen with friends. I miss the girl who could go to a bar and have a drink without having a panic attack. I miss the me that could go get in the middle of a mosh pit and duke it out with the best of them. Now, I would rather stay home and avoid a lot of those activities because it is exhausting to exist with PTSD.
I don’t know my boundaries anymore. I don’t know if I am overreacting at times. I don’t know if I am being paranoid. But I do know that I am not the only one who is suffering with this. And if you add real threats to my safety and peace of mind, I shut down and cannot deal or I flip the f*ck out. I would give anything to be free of PTSD and what it does to my body physically. I have got the mind in a good place, now I am working on getting my body in the right place. I don’t want to live on the edge of fight or flight anymore. I am tired.
I have accepted the limitations that come with my PTSD. I have accepted that those who were betrayed by the very people they were willing to take a bullet for, would absolutely destroy any good soldier. I know that the retaliation that came from reporting a military sexual assault compounded the PTSD. On top of not getting real justice, my work and emotional well being were impacted by the constant barrage of insults that came to me on a daily basis.
I am highly sensitive now to others that do not show people in general respect, those who abuse others, and anyone that betrays me. I never want to go back to that place. I knew I was bigger then how they were treating me but despite being an excellent soldier, I was consistently belittled and beat down as a way to keep me in my place. I prayed that some day I would make it through the ranks and get to the leadership positions that could actually impact change. Like most others, my career was cut short because they had the power to do whatever.
Now, I take what I learned and apply it to our troops and veterans to make things better for them. I focus on prevention of crimes so that we can prevent the PTSD. I want to see happy healthy troops, not disabled veterans. The PTSD can be prevented if the victim of the crime is supported throughout the process. Clearly based on the amount of claims that have been filed at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the military is not handling the processing of these crimes well.
The high rates of PTSD among the troops is directly correlated with the high rates of military sexual assault, rape, harassment, abuse, discrimination, hazing, betrayal, toxic leadership, corruption, zero accountability, etc. The military’s attempts to take jurisdiction of cases in an attempt to bury them is having a significant impact on the health of the victim and the overall force. It’s all connected.
Help us fight back. We have an uphill battle but it is worth it to prevent others from having to live with PTSD and the impacts it has on your health, life, work, relationships, etc. Talk about it. Be up front with your loved ones. Own the PTSD and don’t be ashamed that you have it. It’s not your fault. PTSD is about what happened to you.