Monday, September 9, 2013

Step four, De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide

Now is the time to start healing. Hopefully you did the first parts of this and have taken a look at why you wanted to join the military in the first place. That should prove to yourself that it was far from selfish.

Every part of your life before you were deployed went with you just as every part of you returned home after deployment. Everything you went through is a part of you.

You can't run from it, hide it with booze or drugs or legal medications. You can't shove people out of your life because you are afraid they will see who you think you have become. Hopefully you have finally discovered that you are not evil, crazy or anything else that popped into your head.

If you grieve, then you are still able to love even though you may think you can't.

Frankly there is only one reason I am doing this and that is my husband. I remember what it was like in his darkest times but this month we're celebrating our 29th anniversary. We still hold hands, kiss goodbye and hello and manage to even hug when our dog cannot see us. He jumps in between us every time he catches us.

So let's get a few things out of the way.

You are not alone with feeling the way you do.

The VA study said that 22 veterans a day commit suicide but there was a VA lawsuit in 2007 that showed there were 1,000 veterans attempting suicide every month within the VA system. That means there are 55 of you every day feeling so hopeless that suicide seems to be the only answer. It isn't.

Veteans are double the rate of civilians committing suicide.

Almost half of PTSD patients are not identified "PTSD is currently diagnosed solely on the basis of clinical interviews, and patients sometimes misrepresent their feelings, often because they are trying to avoid the memories and emotions associated with their trauma. Nearly half of PTSD patients are not identified, by some estimates."

USA Today story Military divorce rate at highest level since 1999.

This is not even addressing the suicides and attempted suicides of servicemen and women. We also know that 2011 showed that attempted suicides have been under-reported.
2011 Air Force 50 241 attempted suicide
Army 167
440 attempted suicide
Marines 32
156 attempted suicide
Navy 52
87 attempted suicide
Department of Defense Suicide Event Report for 2011
For 2011 there were 935 attempted suicides in the military with 915 individuals trying to kill themselves. 896 tried once, 18 tried twice and 1 tried three times.

What do you need to stay here? Obviously you want to heal or you wouldn't be reading this. There may be a part of you believing that you are a burden to your family. Well, you're not alone on that feeling either and Medal of Honor hero Dakota Meyer knows that feeling all too well. While the media jumped all over the time when Dakota had the medal put around his neck, they didn't pay much attention to the fact that before that day, he put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Someone took the bullets out, probably his Dad.

If you feel like a burden, then understand something. You are not a burden, they just don't understand what is happening to you, so they get sad, they get angry and they wish to God that you'd just go back to the way you were before. I know because in the beginning I felt all of that with my own husband but the kicker is, I knew what PTSD was way back then.

I loved him and it was hard to see him suffer but when it came to the time when he wanted to die, I did all I could to keep him here.

In an article called 'Shattering of the soul' that inspired me to write more on this, there was what a Vietnam veteran had to say.
Maj. Gen. Bill Libby, Maine's adjutant general, issued orders this year for every National Guard member who returns from Iraq or Afghanistan to talk one on one with a counselor.

"We are all Type A's," Libby said. "Lots of us don't like talking about our feelings. We'd rather do something."

However, Libby knows the emotional healing needs to happen.

"These men and women have been forever changed by their experiences," said Libby, a veteran of the Vietnam War. "Thirty-eight years later, I am still struggling with my experiences."

Explain it to them. No, not the details. At least, not the details you really don't want to talk about. Let the professionals listen to them. All your family and friends need to know is why you act the way you do and that you need their support to get better.

They care about you but they don't understand something they never experienced. Don't expect them to. Tell them you are hurting because you cared so much, after all, you were willing to die for the sake of someone else. That takes a lot of love. It is probably the quality that made people care for you before but they are assuming you are just turning into a jerk. Let them know you are still in there.

Now for the healing. There is the biological changes your brain goes through but the biggest change came within you spirit.

Tomorrow we'll talk more about your healing, not just your life, but being able to help others are you are stronger.

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