I wake up in the middle of the night. Same nightmare every time. I wake the wife by rolling on top of her to shield her from harm. I’m screaming, she’s screaming and the world falls apart. I’m not going to get into a play by play description of what I go through.
My experiences overseas pale in comparison to many many veterans who are struggling with a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. But that doesn’t mean what I am experiencing isn’t traumatic to me.
The issue here is that many veterans believe their experiences don’t merit the same attention as those of veterans who have experienced more severe tragedy, terror or heartache and they stop themselves from seeking out proper help. That’s where the problem starts. They think they don’t need help or merit help because they aren’t living in a severe vegetative state. Some feel they can handle it on their own.
It only takes one incident to set a person down the path of trauma. There are many symptoms that come with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): nightmares, flashbacks, severe anxiety and not being able to control your thoughts after the event. I am not an expert on the matter. Someone like counselor Doc Band (Stephen Band) or retired SgtMaj David K. Devaney have the background to counsel people or give advice on this.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts:
- Almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans
- As many as 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans
- 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan
- 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans
What I can tell you is that PTSD is misunderstood by the public at large. You don’t have to be a combat veteran to suffer from PTSD or related PTSD issues. You didn’t have to witness explosions close to your Observation Point (OP) or see a Vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) exploding into another vehicle. You don’t even have to be physically hurt to get PTSD. In fact, witnessing the events that others are going through could bring trauma to the you. Also, events such as rape, experiencing child abuse, muggings, plane crashes, bombings are events that can expose people to this kind of distress. Yet, it was war veterans who brought PTSD to the public attention.
There are many people who do not like to seek help for it. A huge stigma is attached by letting others know. Some sufferers don’t share because they are:
- Afraid of losing control
- Afraid that others won’t understand
- Fearful that others will judge or pity them
- Feeling weak or ashamed
- Not wanting to burden others
- Wanting to avoid thinking about what happened
Certain events can trigger you. You might feel irritable a few days before the anniversary of the event. This article isn’t meant to be a panacea on the matter. Instead this article was written this morning as a means of giving others a nudge to seek help. If you are not seeking help for your problem well you should be. Don’t forget about those who are suffering because of your reluctance to seek help; your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, children or many other members are hurting because they don’t know what you’re going through and how to help you.
Thankfully I have a lot of resources to help me with my own issues. I have some solid family members, friends and many Facebook friends who have gone through similar events. In fact I messaged one today and he came through for me. There are a lot of warriors with experience in this matter and they are willing to help. Don’t go it alone. Sometimes a warrior needs to be a wimp and seek out help.
Find a Way or Make a Way through this issue.