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.