Sunday, December 18, 2005

PTSD


The medical community definition of PTSD;

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person's daily life.

PTSD is marked by clear biological changes as well as psychological symptoms. PTSD is complicated by the fact that it frequently occurs in conjunction with related disorders such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other problems of physical and mental health. The disorder is also associated with impairment of the person's ability to function in social or family life, including occupational instability, marital problems and divorces, family discord, and difficulties in parenting.



Pretty neat and clean isn't it? Well I can define it for me in a different light. It has been like I died 22 years ago and have been trapped in a body not capable of the simplest of emotions or recall, I may be able to move and I am thankful for that, I am truly thankful that I am not dead and have seen the birth of 2 more children and 2 grandchildren. But then there are the days I wish I had died so my wife and older children could have lived without seeing me like this.

Within days of leaving Beirut and heading home I started becoming angry for no reason, I was in arguments with my LPO ( leading Petty Officer) everyday. I felt the rage when I woke and kept it with me until I passed out from pure exhaustion every couple of days. When we reached port I would drink until I passed out to stop the rage I felt, but the anger was always just a click away.

Back at home I continued drinking myself to sleep everynight, usually would take a case of beer and a quart of whiskey between two of us. My family suffered, my career was over but I didn't know it yet and of course I was hurting myself with the everyday drinking.



I was diagnosed with PTSD in late 1984 after I begged the Navy for help, the rage had beaten the alcohol and I my life was in danger. I felt it building in me, eating away at me everyday, it was a cancer that had spread from me to my family. My wife watched as I came apart and sat on the brink of death, ready to take my own life. I didn't fear death then, I feared myself and what I was doing to my family. I hadn't seen what was causing the anger, it was locked under the alcohol and the denial. All I knew was that I was hurting and wanted to end the pain for all of us.

Well I got the help that was available at the time, some words and mostly medications to replace the alcohol. It didn't do much good, I saw what was causing the feelings, Beirut and the death and destruction. Myself and about 23 percent of the Beirut Veterans suffer from PTSD, why only 23%? Modern medicine really doesn't know what causes one person to develop PTSD when another doesn't. I have a theory that it is related to additional disorders, such as Bi-Polar.

I am not a doctor but I have talked to enough PTSD Vets within the VA and a lot also suffer Bi-Polar Disorder, and most suffer the effects of Chronic/Severe Panic Disorder. I developed the panic while in the hospital, I was headed home and was leaving a place I became safe. It was like setting off a nuclear device in my mind and now that I had some control over the PTSD it had been replaced by panic and a new group of fears. The worst was an overwhelming fear of death, not all death but dying in peace. I would without a doubt go out in a blaze of glory without any problems. I lay awake still everynight counting the breaths I have left and everyday that I wake up I feel blessed then I see that I am a day closer to the end and it starts all over.

22 years have passed and I have no better handle on the PTSD than the day I walked out of the hospital for the first time, most psychiatrists I speak to only want to know what medications I want, not what I truly need. I need justice for the murder of all 273 men killed in Beirut. My PTSD is based on the BLT HQ bombing at the message I have spoken about, others suffer from PTSD stimulated in many different actions. The WWII generation were afraid to speak of it, afraid to be labeled as weak so they drank and remained untreated. PTSD places a label on those already suffering, people refer to us as psychos, I hear he might go Postal, I wouldn't want him around me, etc. I have yet to go "Postal" or even raise my voice without provocation ( toward someone outside my home ) since I was discharged in 1985.

My wife and children have heard the rage, I did my fair share of yelling but I do not hit my family. That was taught to me before the PTSD, I was told never hurt those who depend on you for their safety, always protect those who are weaker or in danger.

Now I live everyday waiting for the next, waiting to see if I can make it one more day without the rage, the lack of emotion has been the only way I can keep the panic at arms length. But that same tool is what hurts my family, I either suffer or they do, neither of us can be comfortable at the same time.

As I said before I am still alive, can walk and have seen my grandchildren and for this I am grateful. My wife mourns the loss of the man she married 3 years before Beirut, we knew each other in High School and I was in love with her from afar then. I was lucky to marry her and now I have wasted 22 years of our life together by holding my back against a dam of emotions and fears. I know it was selfish but yet I still did it.

October 23rd 2005 I decided that enough was enough and I would seek justice for those men and their families, maybe the path would also allow me and my family to rest, maybe this is the key to the chains that bind my soul to that one moment in time. I have decided to pursue this in the political arena and to pay a tribute to my fallen brothers every chance I get. This Blog is just one of those tributes.

For more information on PTSD click here

5 comments:

Rocky said...

I, too, suffer from PTSD and have since Nov. 1967 when my unit, the 173rd Airborne was all but wiped out on Hill 875 in Dak To, South Vietnam. I, also, served with Charlie Company 75th Airborne Rangers and developed even worst PTSD from that service. Over the years since then I have learned a few things about PTSD. One, it is a wound just like any other wound one might receive in combat. It does not just happen to the weak as some one have people believe, in fact, just the opposite, it happens to those who have morally strong convictions and emotional makeup. The psychos of this world don't get PTSD because they don't care about anyone or anything. Two, having PTSD does not mean you are crazy. It simple means that you have been wounded in the very heart of your being, that part that makes you a carring human being. Three, PTSD is not a respecter of persons, units, branches of service or duty assignment. Anyone can be wounded by PTSD. You do not have to be a Marine on the front lines, or a Ranger behind the lines, you don't even have to fire a gun at the enemy to get PTSD.

I have done VA claims for veterans, something I have been doing for over 10 years now, who never even carried a weapon into combat, they worked in Graves Registration, where the bodies were brought for proscessing to be sent home to families. These men has PTSD just as badly as those men who saw the worst of combat. I have seen Air Force personnel who have PTSD from dropping bombs on people they never even saw, or fired aircraft guns into villiages of suspected enemy, knowing that there had to be civilians on the ground in the fire zone. All these men had PTSD just as bad and the infantry soldier who saw the enemy up close and personal.

Having PTSD is not a disgrace, it is not something to be ashamed of, in fact, if should be a badge of moral convictions, denoting a person who has the ability to care about others and what happens to them. Those who only care for themselves do not have to worry about being wounded by PTSD. This, of course, is not a medical opinion, only the opinion of an old Ranger who was trained not to care but simply to get the mission done. I know many, many Rangers, Marines, Paratroopers, SEALS and Infantrymen who were trained in like manner and the majority of them have PTSD; and you know what, they are all carring, emotional human beings.

So this stigma about PTSD is a myth, created by those who do not understand PTSD and those wishing to save money in it's treatment. If you are having problems with PTSD do not fear it, get help for it. No man is a island and we all needed each other in combat or in our service to our country in what ever way we served, so what has changed? Nothing, we still need each other, that is the human condition, that is what being human is all about, we all need someone.

Anonymous said...

The procedures that are employed by the VA regarding PTSD seem to be in a constant state of change and vary from state to state. Be that as it may, the laws governing the filing of claims and the granting of PTSD claims is on the side of the veteran if applied correctly.

There is a lot of misinformation going around about PTSD and claims, most of it coming from the various offices of the VA itself. In a recent study it was determined that only 23% of the information given to veterans by VA staff was correct. In addition, some misinformation is being circulated by various service organizations themselves, not intentionally, I am sure, but, none the less, it is misinformation.

I relate this not to discourage anyone from filing claims for PTSD but, rather, to give a heads up. When given information regarding claims for PTSD, check it out to insure that it is correct information. Do not get discouraged when filing a claim, be persistant, know the facts and you will win.

I have been assisting veterans for over 10 years with the filing of claims and specialize in the filing of appeals for PTSD claims. I am in the state of Michigan and specialize in that area, however, I have and can assist any veteran from any state as the federal laws are the same for all. I offer my assistance to all veterans reading this blog, therefore, if you have question concerning a claim for PTSD I will gladly help you in understanding the laws pertaining to your particular claim.

I am not a certified veterans service officer for any organization, nor am I an attorney. However, being a PTSD suffering myself and a Vietnam veteran, I take every claim that I assist on personally and treat each as if it were my own claim. I know the laws involved in such claims and give personal attention to each claim as I see each veteran as my brother or sister. It matters not what war, conflict or police action one may have served in, nor does it matter to me what branch of service one may have been in, what matters is that we are all veterans and that we served honorably. So that all may know up front, I DO NOT CHARGE for any assistance I may provide.

If anyone here has any questions regarding a claim, I will be most happy to assist you in any way I can. You can contact me with questions via this board, or via my email at rocky173abnc75rgr@yahoo.com

Receiving justice for veterans is what this site and organization is all about. That means justice in all areas of the veteran experience. We honor our fallen, and all those who served. We must, also, remember that many have come back with wounds, some of which can not be readily seen by others, i.e. PTSD. These are those whom I call the MIAs in the USA. We need to bring these veterans home and the only way to do that is to insure that they receive justice and are duly compensated and treated for the wound of PTSD that they received.

United we must stand, persistant we must be, so that, together, we can gain Justice For All.

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JulieW said...

We lost our Josh, an Iraqi War Vet, US Army Reserves to PTSD just 8 weeks ago. Please help us spread the word about this killer disease! Statistics are now showing that up to 50% of our Vets are returning from Iraq with some degree of PTSD. This is an epidemic the Government is trying to hide under the rug because the VA is not equipped to handle this huge number, nor do they have the funding to do so! HELP US, spread the word and send Josh's site (with his story, research/studies/etc) to EVERYONE you know, post it on the main page of your blogs, GET THE AMERICAN PUBLIC to take notice!

Here is Josh's site:
http://joshua-omvig.memory-of.com/about.aspx

SM2_Ayers said...

PTSD is a killer, not only the person who suffered the trauma but their families learn the behavior patterns. This can and does lead to those who lived with the PTSD patient to commit suicide or live lives full of anger.
I have watched as it slowly hurt my family for 23 years and I can not do anything about it,
I read articles published by the Military and VA and they are now saying that it is curable, this is not true. You can leanr to live with it but it will never go away.
Julie I am sorry to hear of your loss, I am trying to spread the word and I urge others everyday to speak out, let the world know if you have PTSD no longer can we hide and be ashamed of the label.
I will be writing a book about PTSD from the point of view of someone who is 100% disabled because of it and I also have done some research and have some ideas of the common factor that may lead one to suffer and not another.
Peace to all,
Steve