Thursday, September 5, 2013

Step Two De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide

Step Two De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide
Kathie Costos
September 5, 2013

What else did you pack for deployment? Sounds like a strange question and you must be thinking about some personal stuff you put in your bags, but that isn't what I'm talking about. You also packed your life with you. Everything that happened since the day you escaped from your Mom's body went with you. From that moment on, you became an individual growing and learning from everything around you.

You had people and things to love but you also developed emotions about things and people you didn't like.

Each new experience, good and bad ones, became a part of who you were turning into. The same happens on a daily basis even now. You are not done changing yet because life is still happening all around you.

Get a piece of paper and write down what you were thinking about when you deployed. If it has been a long time it may be hard to remember but if you think about your life before, you can fill in the gaps.

Again, this is for your eyes only so be honest.

There are observations we make all the time even though we may not think they are that important. I have a two year old Rottweiler-Rhodesian Ridgeback-Hound named Harry.

If you know anything about the breeds that are in his DNA, he is a hunter, great guard dog, brave and really strong. He frightens a lot of people. Harry is also a Momma's boy.

Wherever I am, he is usually nearby. When I go out of the house to smoke, he follows me. At night he is usually right by my feet unless he hears a noise and goes on high alert. During the day when the sun is shining, he will suddenly get up, put his head down as if he sees something and runs all over the deck near the pool. Sometimes he's paying so much attention to what is driving him he comes very close to falling in. For the longest time I couldn't figure out what he was doing until one day I noticed a really big butterfly over the pool cage leaving a big shadow on the deck. He was chasing shadows.

I thought about how most people spend the rest of their lives chasing shadows too. We all know a shadow is formed when something is blocking the light of the sun but if you think of it in another way, it is also a void. If you look up the definitions of these two really simple words you are closer to understanding what is happening within you.

One of the definitions of "void" is "A feeling or state of emptiness, loneliness, or loss."

It is not so much the loss of "it" but the inability to see "it" even though it is all still there. A shadow does not remove what is beneath it. It just blocks your eyes from seeing it.

When you got on the plane, left your family, friends and everything that was "normal" to your life, it all went with you and one second piled onto another the whole time you were gone.

The day you arrived wherever you were stationed, you were probably in your early 20's and sure that you had nothing left to learn, but you didn't notice your brain was still developing.

If you look at how your body works, you can see why PTSD hits all of you but also know that the part of your brain where emotions are controlled does not stopped changing until you turn 25.

Military training attempted to break you away from thinking like an individual but while they had all of you dressing the same, eating the same, sleeping at the same time, they really didn't manage to make you all the same, thinking the same way of feeling the same way. There was a buddy you liked but others didn't. There was someone you didn't like but others gravitated to. It is just the way life goes.

It all got on the plane and landed just as you were wondering what would happen while you were there.

So think about your answers and save them with the first one you did. Tomorrow we'll talk about deployment.

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