January 31, 2012

Why a Combat Veteran Holds onto Anger

Anger was a successful way to get us and our guys through war, a tool that was honed and perfected for effective use. But, today this way of thinking – faulty thinking or defensive state of mind – keeps us from building the kind of relationships we need. It pushes people away, a defensive mechanism we developed in combat that was very effective at saving our lives and the lives of our squad members. Today it keeps us from building a ‘squad’ at home.

To let it go is counter intuitive and goes against our training and experiences, which have imprinted this false belief that if we let it go it will consume us. The opposite is true; to let it go is to begin healing. I do this by imaging the negative energy upward in intense moments to imaging a body of water matching my emotional state then imaging the waters calming thus lowering my emotional state to the point where I can reason without being clouded by my Combat Values which are not needed in the realm of home and personal relationships. Praying and meditation are a way of life, incorporate it into your life.

False Beliefs supports our hopelessness and seemingly endless self-torture that we feel we deserve for whatever reasons we harnessed to our souls. We did what we had to do and we make ourselves pay for it. You do not deserve this torture son or daughter – God, I know you delivered this young warrior for a reason. God, I ask that you help guide her successfully through his inner daemons so that he can see the value in surviving the impossible situations in combat. He needs Your divine grace and acceptance of his new self so that he can find inner peace again – You do not deserve this self imposed imprisonment.

You can find a way out, it will take time, your mind has been fractured and the pieces will continue to surface and sometimes without your permission as it were. Today I surrender to the flashbacks, in doing so I am able to lessen the effect. The more I fight them, the more they have a hold on me and can take me fully. When I submit to my mind, not my inner daemons, but where my mind NEEDS to go they usually just look imprinted onto everything around me. In this way I am still able to ground myself in my surroundings while not getting lost in the flashback. Whether massive explosions or vaporizing images no human should see the images are superimposed onto my reality; rather than my reality being stolen and overlaid with the vast past.

We have been changed by our experiences in war, we will forever think like a warrior. We have seen and done what people think they can imagine, but we know they cannot. This does not have to separate us from everyone, what you have discovered is the illusion of normalcy. Social norms, family norms and professional norms whether the military or the corporate world we all follow a list of rules that govern our behavior in many settings. Normal is a label, not a state of mind or being. Your journey is to accept this, healing begins by accepting yourself. My acceptance of self has taken decades, it doesn't have to be that long for you. Today the resources are available if you know how to access the services. You can find support in your journey, you are not alone, you never were.

The Price to be Superman: Combat PTSD

Hey, we have those moments that run into eternity sometimes it seems, lol. We must cry to grieve the part of ourselves that we lost in those moments when we had to hold it together. Who said we always had to hold it together? Did we do what was required to save more then we lost? That is why we must cry today, for in doing what we needed to do then we paid a price. Today, you cry for those who were lost. And for what we must accept as our personal responsibility in our actions as weighed against the incalculable absurdity of war (my account of one event where I accept the appropriate level of responsibility for my actions thus enabling me to work through that aspect of my war trauma).

We paid a price to be superman in the moment, to perform flawlessly for days on end without sleep to carry or guide our guys across alien landscapes as war erupted and ripped through the dunes. We were the super soldiers in the commercials they show for brief moments of controlled fear that required our full attention or people would and did die. We were kids with million dollar pieces of equipment with the most sophisticated weapons in the world shooting targets like the video games. Except, niggling behind the commercial appeal of the technology, we were killing people.

While I had the advantage, our enemy fought with a fierce zeal to the tune of over 20,000 deaths in 100 hours. These are the flashbacks that I have and experiences daily. It is frightening when I'm having a really cool moment with people and these images become strewn about their faces, trying to attach themselves. I fight to separate the flashbacks from the people in reality. At times when others act defensive or passive aggressively it triggers me, happened today with a friend of mine. What is the appropriate response to that, "Excuse me, but I need a moment all I can see right now is the bright red glare of vaporized people misting in the air."

January 13, 2012

Combat PTSD: A Psycho-Social and Spiritual Wound

America, I gave you my soul in 1991. I didn't know it then that I would receive a psycho-social and spiritual wound that not even I could see. Of late we have heard much on the common symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD in the media and the soldier or veteran, you won't hear me talk about that much. I deal mostly in the chronic nature of Combat PTSD and it's many flavors and identities as it relates to me. I'm all about talking about the mental, physical, social and spiritual aspects of where going to combat can take us.

Along with the mental health issues where I perform the equivalence of aerial acrobatics in a paper airplane with an elephant pilot. Yeah, go read that again. I have recently started taking a new anti-depressant, Lexapro to help with the seasonal depression which buffers the chronic depression this last year. Since I have a "sensitivity" to such medications I get the distinction of trying novel and 'off label' usage of medications. Or I get to be first again, leading the way with taking new medications where hundreds of thousands of veterans will go!

The year 2011 was a year of grieving and mourning; I went into an inpatient PTSD program in Memphis, TN. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a tremendous tool I was able to learn and apply to novel ways of processing my war trauma. Long story short, I was able to reconcile and mourn 5 marine deaths. In doing so it unblocked a flood of mourning for my grandmother, mother, father and friends who had died since 1991. The year 2011 was the year I took my soul back.

Other symptoms of the Combat PTSD Veteran? Toxic levels of stress hormones and chemicals in the body can cause muscle and nerve damage over years from constant flooding of the body. Stomach ulcers, acid re-flux, chronic bowel problems. Then there are the side effects from the medications starting with erectile dysfunction from the medications to treat chronic PTSD I take 9, down from 15 two years ago. If you or a loved you is not on top of your medications they can kill you!

Speaking of family and loved ones. We have the propensity to push everyone away and many of us will alienate the ones we love. Combined with a sense of loss of community, no wonder we are still loosing veterans at a rate of 18 a day. I have the gift of hindsight for all the good it does me in repairing some relationships, if I can manage to keep dodging those land mines! Yeah, the flashbacks. We don't talk about those for two reasons; one because they scare the hell out of us and two, most of us don't have the language to describe it

I do, drop me a line.

January 9, 2012

Darktimes Indeed

wshat a lod of shit. yh0out think you know ptsgd becaue you a brad driver?
step outsi8d edand ytell me what is ptsd . fuck all od you that felel sorry for soldiers. we chowse this profdssion sna we know whaT WE get oursxledves in6o. you think oyu know ptsdL> ypou ever put yuour friends in a ody bvad? jyou ever see peolpe melted to th eground from an ied. fuck you .spr4eadign this bullthis. oyu know wh0o tis is

bootsw onty the ground
My response,
Darktimes indeed, check it out,

I was a Bradley Driver who witnessed thousands of deaths in 100 hours. I was the Bradly Fighting Vehicle Driver ON Point for the 3rd Brigade, 1st AD. The 1st Brigade and the 2nd Brigade boxed the enemy Division in, then I led 5,000 men through and we killed them all!

Go ahead research what my unit did, I dare you. I led our tanks and infantry through a meat grinder; with over 20,000 enemy kills in 100 hours. I had a front row seat.

I drove for seven days straight without sleep through the biggest tank battle in the history of war. I watched people be vaporized, over and over again. I never saw the explosive force of an IED, but I did save a private from stepping on one of our air dispersed anti-personnel mines though.

This shit ain't even half of it, You hear me?

January 4, 2012

ON Dealing with the Combat PTSD Veteran: We Came Home in Spirit as Warriors and Will Forever Be

Unconditional love is to surrender, it is faith in the other and spontaneity unleashed, it is emotional freedom and nurturing of the spirit. All of these things we had to shed before combat; we had to be steadfast, precise and deadly - the exact opposite of unconditional love. Now we are conditioned to it and operate from a Combat Values structure, which can leave our family and loved ones attachments broken. We can experience these states of mind and spirit again, but usually in spurts and sputters. We will develop a set of Signs to warn of our emotional states, we came home in spirit as Warriors and will forever be.

It may take time to learn your veterans triggers, warning signs, and different ways of coping depending on their stress level. When stress levels are high your veteran will be operating from a Warrior Persona and defensive operational procedures will be exhibited. If you keep killing yourself from expectations of your Vet during this time, resentments can build and interfere with your subconscious intentions and interactions with her. If you expect him to call all day and he doesn't - then you have made yourself feel like shit; self made suffering. Many times we will operate from our expectations, intentions and resentments and we must constantly check ourselves for these three relationship wreckers.

When stress levels are high; Expectations, Intentions and Resentments – The 3 Generals of Chaos (3GC) – This Triad of Chaos can wreck havoc on communication, understanding and empathy; Expectations erects barriers between people. Intentions fortifies those walls and Resentments assails those defensive barriers just because they are there. Reason becomes absent, logic rules and only applies to those who can wield it with surgical precision to serve Righteous Indignation, Defamation and Demoralization. – A false belief system maintains a Defensive State of Mind and creates a culture of aggression; providing the fuel for chaos, discord and strife. More on this later…