Sunday, August 14, 2016

Australian Iraq Veteran Winning The PTSD War

Veteran’s battle against PTSD a life-changing fight
NT News
COURTNEY TODD
August 13, 2016

Alex reached out for help through the Army but treatment wasn’t forthcoming. “I thought I was going mentally insane,” he said. “I didn’t believe I had PTSD because the Army told me I didn’t have PTSD.”
Iraq veteran Alex Kaczmarek has suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. PICTURE: Elise Derwin
IRAQ veteran Alex Kaczmarek knows all too well the dark places post traumatic stress disorder can lead people.

For him it was homelessness, alcohol abuse and suicidal thoughts.

“Every day for about eight years I wanted to shoot myself in the head,” he said. “The only thing that stopped me was knowing that someone would have to come retrieve the body.”

There were times when Alex felt he was losing his battle against PTSD but now he is winning the war and he is also helping others to rehabilitate.

When Alex came back to Australia his close friends and family noticed something wasn’t right but it took a year for him to realise, too.

“It began with sleep — lack of sleeping, insomnia and nightmares began to affect my day,” he said.

“I’d go a few days without sleep, which turned into weeks, which turned into months. Before I knew it, I got to a point where I couldn’t remember if I was asleep or awake.

“I had uncontrollable adrenaline from my inner brain reacting to situations that weren’t actually occurring, telling my body to release massive amounts of adrenaline and then I wasn’t sure what to do with it so I’d have a panic attack.

“Probably for about a year I had to stop and vomit every day on the way to work through anxiety.”

Alex reached out for help through the Army but treatment wasn’t forthcoming. “I thought I was going mentally insane,” he said. “I didn’t believe I had PTSD because the Army told me I didn’t have PTSD.”

Alex was eventually sent to an independent civilian psychiatrist who said he had the warning signs of conflict-related PTSD.

Alex discharged from the Army in November 2009 due to the lack of support. By that stage he was drinking heavily every day to numb his feelings and soon found himself on the streets of Sydney and Darwin.

That was Alex’s rock bottom.

“You think back and only a few years previously you were doing protection parties for the Prime Minister of Australia in a foreign country in a war zone and now you’re walking the streets with a bag of clothes,” he said.

“I slept at train stations, car parks, in the bush. I had a ute luckily when I was up here so, when I could afford it, I went and stayed in a caravan park so I could use the shower facilities. I pretty much long-grassed it for a bit.”

All the while Alex was battling PTSD, anxiety, depression, physical injuries and suicidal thoughts.
read more here