July 23, 2009

Where Seconds Become Days and Hours Become Eternity

I received this comment today on a post about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) treatment from an anonymous reader. As always I welcome all questions, negative or otherwise. It seems that the commenter has some grieving to do and to identifying some resentments toward the Veterans Administration (VA).
I don't mean to insult you, but my father served in heavy combat in Vietnam for 8 months, and he suffered from severe PTSD all of his life until he died of a stroke. If I posted his experiences, everyone would puke. I read a post about something you said that you missed feeling alive in combat. This is not and never was a part of his illness or what caused it in the least. I just don't think that eye treatment would have helped him. It's not something the VA offers, as he was actively being treated by the VA just 3 years ago before his death.
My comment,
I am not insulted at all. Not every combat veteran experiences the same phenomenon while serving in a battle zone. Additionally, the veterans reactions to unimaginable situations could be polar opposites.

I do not expect everyone who reads my material to have a complete understanding of my combat experiences and reactions. Further, some people do find my writings difficult to read and troublesome. I have included a warning disclaimer at the top of my blog for this reason.

When I wrote the article about missing the feeling of aliveness. I was describing a psychological and phyisological change within myself. This altered consciousness shifts the brains entire focus on the immediate arena of experience. All the rambling thoughts that we incur in normal life cease to exist and all of the minds faculties automatically focus on interpreting sensory input. All of the senses sharpen exponentially and time suspends its rush toward the future, where seconds become days and hours become eternity.

I do not expect you to understand this unless you have encountered a life threatening episode. Please, go back and reread the post and try to get past the line you described. The entire article should be absorbed to appreciate my reaction to an unimaginable situation. I did not think that the killing was beautiful; I was in awe of the massive tank battles, the Apache Helicopters rain of hellfire missiles, the Bradley Fighting Vehicles missiles and cannon, and the A10 Warthog airplanes strafing of the enemy.

One has to distance themselves from that kind of carnage to do what needs to be done to survive and win the battle. Some use anger to create an "othering effect" where they assign a monstrous value to the enemy in order to justify killing them. In my case my experience converged on omnipresence.

The VA does have EMDR therapy at many hospitals. I believe that this therapy is new to the VA, so your father may not have had access to it. I have read some on EMDR and the research has proved many successes using this treatment. I am in the PTSD program at the VA in Louisville, Kentucky and have been considering going through EMDR treatment. I want to stress that not all therapies will help everyone. Thoughtful consideration on choosing a therapist will maximize the benefits on deciding what treatment(s) will the individual profit from. It has taken me three years of extensive treatment to obtain the level of independence that I command today.

God bless you and your father, may you find peace.


  1. I was always worrying about how I would react to the first firefight/Indirect Attack/IED. As a Platoon Sergeant I couldn't even of crying like a child or running from the situation. When it did happen, I noted that where I should have been full of fear I simply felt detached from reality. I could function normally, return fire, give orders and generally do exactly what I had done in training. I brought that detached feeling home with me and 18 months later I was in a PTSD ward in a VA Hospital. I have been doing PET for six months now and the hypervigilance is going away. I still experience RAGE over extremely small things that others don't even notice. Pray for me.

  2. Welcome home my friend, I will pray for you my brother. We have to work hard at engaging others and connecting emotionally. For us it becomes the norm to disconnect from family and friends and easy to latch onto our negative side. We used this perspective in combat and it sustained us, gave us life and with it we wielded great power over others. This frame of mind has no value in civilization and relegates us to the fringes of society. Recovery can take some time, learn to be patient with self and the rest will follow.

  3. I'm praying for both of you Scott A. Lee and Skybird564.......God Almighty heal these young men and reveal Yourself to them so they can be and do what You originally planned for them. Give them peace of mind and strength and patience for everything they do. I pray this for them in Jesus' Name. Amen.


Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee