A pal of mine who was an infantry squad leader in Ramadi and wounded twice writes about his experiences dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD affects everyone and affects everyone differently. This is one man's thoughts on it.
It has been over 3 years since I last engaged the enemy. The last time I kicked in a door and the last time I smelled death. Every now and then I am reminded of my experiences. It’s like this weird feeling overwhelms me and I am right back there. My senses heighten, my focus is broken down to the moment and seconds seem to last for hours. These feelings are brought to the forefront by the things that scared the hell out of me when I deployed. Wait, did I say scared? You better believe it, that sense kept me alive and I will forever cherish it.
When the feeling wears off and I am back to my normal self, I feel a great void. It's as if I just lost something valuable to me. There’s just emptiness and despair at times. The other day I was walking into a Post Office and in the distance I could hear the sound of gun fire. A sustained three round burst coming from what sounded like an M16. It had to be just a few miles away but the hill side carried the sound towards me. I was mid stride and in the middle of a parking lot and I just stopped. I remember the feeling of my nostrils flaring and taking in a deep breath. My eyes opened up and my body fixated towards the sound. For a brief moment my thoughts were gone. The best way to describe it is absolute clarity. Like when you meditate and you’re completely relaxed and absent of thoughts.
A car drove past me and I came back to reality. All of this occurring over a period of 5-7 seconds. I shrugged it off and walked into the building and conducted my business. As I was walking back to my car I heard it again, but this time I didn’t react, I was almost anticipating it. I got back into my car and I just listened some more. This time I was brought back to a mission that for some reason decided to creep into my mind. My eyes filling with water, not out of sadness but just because.
I hesitate as I write this last part. I like to think that I’ve come a long way with the PTSD that nearly crumbled my life. I don’t feel helpless in these moments but I do feel as if I have this extra sense that is really useless at times. It is connected to a time where fear drove me and life seemed to be in short supply.
That’s all I have to say about that.
We've covered PTSD more than a few times (and should have a separate index on the subject at some point soon - for now, use Google.).
Some prior Blackfive PTSD Posts: