May 15, 2016
"I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul" but what does that mean to you? It means that you cannot change what happened yesterday but you can change your future. You are in charge.
You are the one in control of your soul and while most talk about the "moral injury" part of PTSD, few tell you that you are not destined to suffer but created with the intention of healing.
Do you surrender to what some people think of you or do you know enough about yourself to know that it isn't true? It really shouldn't matter to you what others think but what you think should matter more.
Learning what PTSD really is is the first step toward defeating it.
Under the Rules of Engagement the Marines learn, to "act as a control mechanism for the transition from peacetime to combat operations" but on the flip side, it is also important to transition from combat operations into peacetime as a veteran. Forget about fitting back in with the people you knew in your hometown unless they are part of the veteran community.
"We must review all aspects of the fight, from weaponeering to the understanding of proportionate force. Training needs to be discussion and scenario based, thus forcing Marines to articulate their perceptions of and responses to the situations.
You may have tried the wrong "weapons" to fight PTSD like self-medicating or just stuffing it until you get over it. That does not work. Sure, you can get busy getting your mind off of all of it, but you are not fighting it. You are giving it time to get stronger instead of making it weaker so you can defeat it. Going from a lower level of PTSD, when it is most reversible pretty much guaranties that you'll be hit by a secondary stressor (another traumatic event) that pushes that mild PTSD into PTSD with massive teeth latching onto any part of your life it can attack.
In combat, there are many weapons used, not just one. It is the same when battling the war going on inside of you.
Healing has to involve every part of what makes you, you. That means it has to be taking care of your mind, your body as well as your soul.
If you think that PTSD is a sign of any kind of weakness, then you don't understand anymore than they do. If you know that it comes from surviving where you were sent, doing what you had to do, seeing what you saw, enduring all kinds of hardships and came from a strong soul. That very soul that made you choose a military life no matter the risk to your life.
The truth is that everything you need to heal is already inside of you but you won't be able to find that power until you face what PTSD is. While it sucks to have it, it isn't really as bad as you think because it comes for a place that is still good inside of you. Your perception of it as "bad" causes thousands of veterans a year to give up on themselves but you are reading this so there is still hope inside of you.
Start with the basic facts. Post (after) Traumatic (trauma is Greek for wound) Stress (mind body and spirit ) (cause) Disorder (in survivors) because you survived "it" and it shouldn't be worse living as a survivor. It doesn't have to be if you learn more about yourself.
You may think "I'm weak" but actually you have a very strong emotional core and that strength allowed you to do what you had to do in order to save lives. As an all volunteer force, remember, weak people do not even think of putting their lives on the line for someone else. As for older veterans, some of them were drafted, forced to go, yet managed to risk their lives while they were deployed.
They knew the risks and they suffered the same as those who decided to join. No wound created by war is new.
You may think "I'm evil" but tell me how an evil person can grieve? Would an evil person actually think that much about someone else or feel the pain of loss or suffer in the depth of their soul? No, they'd be off on their merry way to live out the rest of their days perfectly happy focusing on themselves.
So you are not weak and you are not evil. You are also not meant to suffer but meant to heal so the next part of your life you can use that same soul tugging connection to help others living life as a veteran.
PTSD cannot be cured but the scar inside of you can heal. Find what works for you but remember, it has to be all about every part of you. Mind, body and spirit can heal when they work together.
Change the way you think about what you survived. You can be your worst enemy. Honestly look at what your snap judgment may have you thinking you could have done differently and then honestly put it together. You'll see what you may think you could have done would be for a movie super hero and not a human in real life.
Apprehension gets in the way of healing. Think of it this way. In combat you had no problem asking for help as expecting it. You trusted those you were with and when you needed more help, you were happy to see reinforcements show up. Same thing when dealing with what came after combat. Call in as much help as you can get. Lives mattered then and you life matters just as much now.
For the body, you were trained to be prepared for all the physical hardships you subjected your body to. You need to retrain to prepare your body to calm down and stop your nervous system from overreacting to daily life.
For the soul, you are in fact captain of, start with these and then explore the territory you have not noticed before. The thing that makes you what and who you are.
Remember you are not alone and all other generations have had the same wounds within you. Take comfort in knowing that it all comes from a very wonderful part of you. The same place where pain comes from is also where love still lives on waiting for the next part of your life when you find peace with yesterday and understand that tomorrow is in your control. You took the steps to serve, no take the steps to heal.