Today was my first official counseling after I was diagnosed with PTSD since I've been out. I've discovered through these last few years that even though I thought I was okay and handling my symptoms, I really wasn't. Many people I come in contact with have no idea that I suffer from PTSD, or that it is as serious as it is. Possibly even those I deployed with have no idea because they were able to still function when they came home just fine. I don't know, it could have also been the fact that my husband and I both suffer from it, so when I think I overcome it I see him struggle, and so I struggle again, and it's just a vicious cycle. All I know is I got to the point where I couldn't take it anymore.
I've noticed for the last few years that I didn't care about angering people. It's horrible, but I would push people's buttons until they cracked. My PTSD turned me into a person who just wanted to bring anyone down around me that I viewed as a threat. Whether these people threaten me or my kids, or they make me angry due to their horrible lack of respect to myself or my belongings, it's like a switch flips in my head. I try for days, months, hours to figure out why I am so angry at that person for something that may seem small to someone else, but it's a deal breaker to me. I right away view that person as a threat & hope that eventually the time will come that I can just remove them from my life.
Honestly, I thought my time in Iraq and the harassment I had to deal with, along with the deployment struggles, as well as my injury, made me angry and there was nothing to do about it. Today was my first time realizing that it's my Flight or Fight response that has taken over. When we deploy we are trained to push our morals aside, and to focus on the fight. Yes, I know I didn't pull the trigger by myself but there are so many times where I had to ignore my emotions and feelings and focus on the task at hand. When I took shrapnel I had no time to think about the reality that I could have lost my life if the shrapnel was caught coming right off of the impact, and not on the way down. There's also the possibility that the shrapnel could have hit my eye and removed vision. So many possibilities but because we had a mission I chose to ignore any of those feelings and immerse myself in my work. It wasn't until I got near my son that I realized the severity of what could have happened, and what did happen.
We have no cable in our home, and so when the Newtown tragedy hit I was just watching updates online. I saw that there were 20 children who died and at first I didn't feel sad for them. I knew that was the wrong way to feel, but I just didn't get that emotion. It wasn't until I realized later that night that Hunter is the same age as those kids were, and how I would feel if I was in that situation. I have since cried & teared up every time I see one of those little faces, or read one of their stories. I've almost become obsessive getting to know their stories because I feel guilty that my reaction of sadness took a few hours. It takes me longer than most to figure out the seriousness of certain things, but I eventually do. I need to learn how to figure out how to let my moral self take over from my flight or fight self. For now, my method is to lay low and to myself. Those individuals that I have yelled at and flipped out at I am sorry about, but as soon as I feel like I need to be defensive for an honest action, it's hard to figure out how to fix things. I end up becoming this horribly mean person and hope eventually that person cuts ties with me.
Anxiety and PTSD are real, and it's sad to find out that not many people go and get the help they need. There have been so many people who are afraid that their experiences aren't serious enough, and so they shouldn't NEED this help. Regardless, if you know you're not acting like your normal self it's important that you seek help. Yes, I may have lost a few friends, but I still have my family, children, and other friends who know I'm dealing with struggles and they're willing to stand by and help me through this time. There are some times where you need to withdraw from others, so you can focus on yourself and your family.