I am fortunate that my service and continuing this blog has connected me with an extended group of supportive people.
A particular article came across my facebook feed and it is so impactful that I must send it forward.
Scot Spooner has done Veterans everywhere a great service. In many of the conversations I have with others about staying on track, I explain that the teachings of twelve step recovery heavily influence my daily structure. Scot, as a recovering alcoholic before he entered the service, had to stare down a big life change once before. In reading his article, I’m sure he leaned on those experiences in combating PTSD.
So, I encourage you to read his article, but first, here are the gems that I personally found myself nodding up and down.
The New Normal
“…post-WWII, they conducted a survey to find out who was affected (back then they called it shell shock) at a psychological level by mortal combat. Their findings were that 2% were unaffected. This 2% was made up of psychopaths. This means that to be affected, to have shell shock, soldiers heart or PTSD (call it what you will), is NORMAL.”
On comparing experiences
My view: don’t. His view, more eloquent:
“My experience is real and it is mine alone, just as you have yours. It is not the amount of time on the ground, the number of buddies killed, the number of enemy killed, or any other “score card” that matters. What I am here to talk about is that if you experienced mortal combat on the field of battle, you are forever changed, just as I am. And no amount of score keeping can quantify individual effect on our mind body and soul. This issue is unique to each and every combat veteran and it is in relating to one another, not comparing, that we find common ground and share common solutions.”
Trace to the root, deal with the problem
“I had to realize that there was a reason for every single symptom that I was experiencing and until each one of these symptoms was traced to the root and dealt with through appropriate ACTION, nothing was going to change. This bring up another point of discussion that will tie in my earlier correlation to how dealing with PTSD is very similar to dealing with addiction.”
“Just like any other issue I have had in life, I will only take action when the pain level takes me to my knees. The scary part about this fact is that some take it to the extreme, which is why the veteran suicide rate is what it is. People believe that suicide is a coward’s way out, and I say to those who say that: “You have no idea, and should keep your short sighted opinion to yourself“. Those who have committed suicide due to their inability to learn how to live with the “new normal” were not and are not cowards. They are people that need relief. We are all creatures of comfort and will always seek comfort. Hell, that’s why we squirm around in a chair – to get comfortable. These individuals end up in a place in life that is so painful that the only way to achieve any level of sanity or comfort is to end it all. Unless you have ever been in so much pain that death looks like a good alternative to continuing to live in hell in this life, you have no right to judge a veteran that makes this sad yet too common choice. This is what we must strive to change!”
And finally, a great list, affectionately from heretofore called
1. Went to ART therapy to process traumatic memories.
2. Read and studied a book titled War And The Soul , by Dr. Edward Tick.
3. Researched the symptoms of PTSD in order to get some intel on the enemy.
4. Went to and continue to go to acupuncture and take natural herbs and supplements to support my vital organs and critical systems.
5. Do my best to stay on a solid PT regiment . I suck at this – that’s why I joined the Army so I could be made to work out!
6. Find a therapist that I am comfortable with and make the appointments count every time. Being honest and taking advice.
7. Telling my story to civilians in an effort to heal and to give them some of my burden.
8. Getting involved with non-profit ventures to try and give back.
9. Having the courage to admit my struggles with the world, especially when i didn’t want to (which is always).
10. Writing a daily journal entry in order to get what is inside of me outside of me.
11. Writing a daily gratitude list to remind myself of all that I have to be thankful.
12. Writing a Daily Design and schedule.
13. Mentoring other vets who are struggling.
14. NOT spending time telling war stories with other warriors for the sake of feeling the “old rush” or a good laugh.
15. Learning to be present wherever I am.
16. Removing negative people from my life.
17. Spending time with people that are living in the solution, not talking about the problem.
18. Maintaining a relationship with a power greater than myself whom I choose to call God.
Link to the article here.
So, read, share and huge thanks to Scot Spooner for staying in the fight.