Everything today has a label or title. We as a society can’t seem to get passed the labels. It also seems that many of the labels are not fully functional and lack depth into the true issue. A primary example is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The name in itself brings a certain dislike and labeling onto the person diagnosed but in actuality the title is vague. Media has created a false image of this title and in doing so they have hurt many individuals that deserve better.
Through evaluation, I was told I lived in a heightened state of alertness. When simple tasks of minor confrontations were present, it would trigger the “flight or fight response” which in my case was “fight”. I never noticed it because to me I just felt frustrated with things. Anger management classes did nothing to alleviate the problems. Anxiety training provided the most benefits.
If I were to make the thoughts into a tangible object I would be wearing anger armor. I used the anger as fuel and wore it like a protection. I visualized it as actual armor and during the process to help myself I imagined taking it off and putting it on an armor rack. I was told repeatedly that I should not allow others to dictate how I feel. Why should I be angry? It turns out that anger was just a blanket word I had put on my emotions that actually were complex. I felt alone, depressed, betrayed, hurt, weak, and ignored to say a few. I masked these things with anger.
To feel weak was one of my biggest fears so I purged myself constantly by staying hours at the gym or running to burn it out. I pushed myself through injuries and constant pain that I created or from pain that was now going to always be there. Multiple combat tours can leave you with many scars, some you even forget you have until they begin to hurt again. I was told that I may be addicted to pain and that all I was doing was punishing myself for an imagined failure. I believe the process I would routinely go through in hopes to better myself may alone be my real disease
On the outside it would look like I have goals and I am pushing myself to achieve them. It is correct except the goals I set were not achievable. A perfect society does not exist. I cannot run away from the world or think it will all disappear. War had kept me at a heightened state that we called “vigilance”. That tool that kept us alive now can become a monster that consumes your days and nights, giving you no rest.
For my anger, I can see it in my mind. Deep in the back through all of the darkness it sits alone on a rack surrounded by a black steel cage. I am not angry anymore but I also know that one day I may need my armor again so I keep it around. When I look through the cage, I can see through the eyes in the helmet and know that it is silently giving an endless war cry. Even though I have taken it off, I always hear the rage screaming in the back of my mind.
4 thoughts on “Trauma”
Good article Jeremy. I work with the problem of PTSD every day in what I do. It is not the only thing I must do but in my personal opinion is one of the most important issues combat veterans face. The interesting thing about PTSD is that it is not restricted to only combat veterans. It is a problem that can result from any or several traumatic events but is most closely related to that of combat. The VA chooses many times to medicate the problem away and that, also my opinion, is not and nowhere near the answer. It is a deep subject for sure and I won’t get into too much here but I like your thoughts. Scars, whether emotional or physical, become part of who we are and they cannot and, more importantly, should not be forgotten. Rather incorporated into who we have become, realizing who we have become and why and dealing with the issues that have brought us to that point. It is hard to put forth what I mean in a comment forum and can be misconstrued by many, as I am often told I am full of it, many times by my colleagues and others. However, PTSD is a complex issue involving not one but a whole range of emotions. See you around brother.
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This is a friend’s thoughts on PTSD and his story. Check him out..
That’s a great article Jeremy. I can definitely relate and admit that it is a problem that most of us face today including myself. Many of us struggle with the transition back to civilian life. Embarrassingly I was one of those people who thought PTSD was just a made-up sickness just for the weak at heart weak minded individuals. Yet here I am struggling with all those same issues. Constantly being angry aggravated being told it’s all in my mind, i’m just going through life with tunnel vision. I let my anger and my hate and all my issues consume so much of my life so much my positive energy. But it just doesn’t affect the day to day life effects everything, you can’t think straight you question every judgment you make knowing it’s the right decision but yet you still question it. And most people don’t deal with their issues we just become the best pretenders. Pretend everything is okay pretend we’re not bothered by certain things pretend that everything is fine and dandy but late at night when everyone else is asleep we are awake constantly up looking over shoulder wondering if today’s the day that im going to snap or I’m going to get better.
Don’t get me wrong we don’t walk around on egg shells in fear it’s just we have never let our guard down never taken the flak and helmet off. Some might just say it’s being hyper vigilant. But now I’m just ranting and raving like I said it’s a great article Jeremy good job brother.
For personal reasons, your words have hit home very deeply….as a person with a family member who struggled for years with PTSD and the ravages it causes, please know you have the love and support of many….keep working through your pain, anger etc and know that you are not alone…may God continue to bless America and those who love and serve her.