Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Make Combat PTSD Hurt So Good

Make Combat PTSD Hurt So Good
De-Tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide
Kathie Costos
July 17, 2013

Last night I had the strangest dream. When I woke up this morning John Mellencamp's song Hurts So Good was stuck in my head. "Sometimes love don't feel like it should. You make it hurt so good."

How can something so terrible hurt good? When you understand it, you can make peace with it. Take childbirth. When my daughter was born I stopped feeling the pain of labor. It stopped hurting. Our bodies are designed that way. We feel pain but the pain goes away afterwards we heal. We don't pretend it didn't happen. We don't try to block it out. We survive it. That pain turns into something wonderful after our lives were on the line.

It is the same with pain in you are living with after combat. Don't try to pretend it didn't happen and whatever you do, don't put off healing from it. The pain you feel right now is probably about as bad as labor. You have a choice to let it live on inside of you, numb it with drugs and alcohol, or deliver it.

First get out of your mind whatever the military told you. There is no way in hell you could have become "resilient" or trained your way out of it. They still don't get it. The reason you feel so much pain is because you can feel everything more deeply. In other words the strength of your emotions is why you hurt so bad.

Comprehensive Soldier Fitness and all the FUBAR programs they have come up with have been slammed since 2007. In 2009 I put up a post declaring if they pushed this program military suicides would increase. Sadly I was right. It prevented far too many from seeking help. After all, would you admit you needed help after you were told you could prevent it by training right? Would you if you were told you could become "mentally tough" enough? Hell no! But then you'd also have to think about all the others you saw kicked out because they asked for help or saw their hopes of staying in turn into a nightmare.

Most of the veterans and families I work with are among my peers. Vietnam veterans and their families went decades without help yet a lot of us have been married for decades as well. We've seen the worst of what PTSD can do but we've also seen the best come out of it. Our husbands for the most part are deeply involved in helping other veterans. Keep in mind that when these guys came home, there was nothing for them or their families. There was nothing there for mine.

Here's what you can do.

Learn what PTSD really is. Right now if you Google "what is PTSD" you end up with over 21 million answers. Read the links from expert sites but then read some of the groups. Watch the videos on PTSD but make sure you're watching the videos on PTSD associated with combat. You need to understand that PTSD is not as rare as you may think but you also have to learn something the military hasn't told you. Combat PTSD is a different type of it. The only type that comes close is law enforcement. Not only did you put your life on the line, you did it with weapons over and over again. Notice how many people have PTSD caused by one event in their lives. Then multiply that by the number of times you not only experienced the event but the times you had to worry about an IED blowing you up when you were on the road.

Once you have a basic understanding of it, move on to addressing it. It is painful and many of you are afraid of reliving it. You have to since what it is doing to you right now is making you relive it and that is why you try to escape it. That doesn't work or you wouldn't be here reading this.

Start by answering the first question. Why did you join the military? Safe bet that there was nothing selfish or evil in the answer. Knowing that, understanding that it was based on what was good inside of you, you have a safe place to start. Keep that in mind as you remember.

It is very easy to forget that when you see the horrible things of combat. Just like a horror movie, it grabs you. While you focus on the horrible, there were wondrous things going on you just didn't notice and most of them were happening right inside of yourself.

You grieved because you still cared. If you shed a tear, reached out a hand to someone else, cared about the pain they were in when you had your own, then know that the goodness within you was alive and well.

Take a look at what happened. Did you cause it? If you believe you did, then ask for forgiveness and then forgive yourself. If someone else caused it, forgive them. Sounds easy but often it is very hard to do. Work on it. It is the reason you feel so angry at times. Holding that in takes over every other good emotion you could be feeling. This is addressing the spiritual part of you and is the most vital in healing it.

Knowing what PTSD really is and forgiving will get you to stop pushing people away.

Take the worst nightmare you have and go back to the start of it. What were you thinking? What was your intent? Then do the forgiveness part. Repeat this for everything that is haunting you no matter how small of an event it may seem like. It mattered to you.

Taking care of your body is part of this too. Everything in you is connected to combat. Your body had to learn to do what you did while deployed. It needs to be taught how to calm down. Try to find what works for you. Music may help your buddy but not you. Yoga, walking, swimming, art, writing, martial arts and a very long list of things that have helped including PTSD service dogs and horses help. Keep trying until you find what helps you.

If you need medication, take it but if it isn't working, talk to your doctor. Everyone is different and they need to change medications based on you. Be totally honest with them. Do not settle for medications being the only answer because they are not intended to be.

Do the talk therapy with someone you trust. Again, be honest. They can't help you if they don't know what the truth is.

Once all that is done, you find peace with yourself and trust me it is a pain that can hurt so good because you arrive on the other side of darkness. Here's a few videos that may help.

You loved enough to risk your life. Sometimes love don't feel like it should, but it can if you work on it.

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