If you are a combat veteran with PTSD, I know you. I may have never met you, but I know you. I may not know exactly the demons you face. But I can relate. You may look at other veterans with physical or mental injuries far worse than yours, veterans that are doing amazing things and see them and ask: “Why can’t that be me?” You’ve lost something. And you are searching for it, although “it” may be difficult to describe. You are looking for it, right now in this moment. You want it back.
“The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” Chris Hedges.
Combat for “US” is nothing like nothing we have ever felt before. Combat is rush! Just like you, I will say we do not like the circumstances of war, it’s after effects, death, or devastation. But the rush, well that is something felt by few, that we as combat veterans relish.
After serving our country we have tried to replicate that rush. Some of us have tried to replicate the rush through drugs, alcohol, stealing, or worse. We have tried many ways, and most certainly, we have failed. Trying with these ways is of course unhealthy and in no way representative of one our most revered core values, service.
WE do not want to actually return to combat, but would if asked. Not because we urn to besiege damage, but because our brothers and sisters need us.
WE need them, just as though they need us. We are not broken nor are we psycho’s.
WE are just men and women that aspire to continue to do good things with our lives. But combat has changed us. We know loss, we know sacrifice. We know what it is like to put another’s well-being before our own. But possibly, and even more importantly, we understand the importance of a team.
When we leave the military, there is a void. The men and women we served with are no longer in our daily lives. Our purpose or our ability to contribute to something significant is gone. How do WE fill that void? The answer is complicated, yet simple all the same. I urge all of my fellow veterans to find outlets for your anger, depression, and anxiety.
YOU must find your purpose. If you’re out of the military now and struggling, guess what? The military was NOT your purpose in life! But if you don’t start searching for a new purpose in life then you are wasting your God given talent! I don’t care whether you believe in God or not.
You must find “YOUR” way to put away the negativity and pessimism. Stop pushing people and life away! I sincerely believe that one of the keys to winning the constant battle against PTSD is finding people and things in your life that you passionately appreciate.
It’s okay to start small, just try it for one day. I challenge you to go one day, without complaining, even once. No grunting, mumbling, or exasperated breaths. Put a conscious effort into looking at every aspect of your life. At people and things you appreciate.
Are you able to appreciate the rays of the sun? Or the soft subtle drops of the rain? Perhaps, you appreciate each new sunrise: another day to accomplish something amazing with your life!
The warm fuzzy feeling you get when looking into the eyes of your spouse or significant other or their touch. Maybe it is hearing the innocent laughter of children and seeing their smiles as they play.
Make a list if you need to and write it down. Take each day as an opportunity to learn and grow. Look for new things every day to appreciate.
What do you appreciate?