07 December 2008

The trip home from the Desert

It is Sunday morning. I've just finished breakfast-- grits, and scrambled eggs with salsa, and coffee. I'm listening to acoustic Christmas music while I wake up enough to get some homework done. I'm in school, using the GI Bill, which pays for tuition but does not do your homework for you.

Right now, I'm pretty calm. But that's not always the case.

There's days that I have flashbacks. I shake. I'm so nervous and anxious that I can't think. I try to re-live the things that made me "this way"; that's how it affects you. Intense feelings become muddled together, the good with the the bad.

I've been actually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This week, I'm starting a treatment program specifically to treat PTSD. I am also a little-- well, lost. My idea of PTSD was those guys from Vietnam I saw in the 1980's. You know, the ones you'd see marching in the parades wearing a fatigue shirt with 'Nam combat patches, and a boonie hat. Or there was always someone in the family that had been to 'Nam, and had never been the same since, but no one ever talked about it.

I didn't go to Vietnam. I went to the war that was supposed to answer all of Vietnam's unanswered questions-- Desert Shield, and Desert Storm. I also don't think I saw anything like those dudes from 'Nam saw. The worst I had to deal with was incoming SCUDs, which honestly isn't something I'd recommend if you're looking for a fun night at the beach-- but my buddies weren't dying around me, either. So it is with some caution that I'm admitting that I'm being treated for PTSD. Everyone always seems to have had it worse than where I was. Charlie Daniels didn't sing a song about still being in Riyadh.

But still, there's the diagnosis. Staring me in the face.

I'll admit, there are other things in my life that are partially responsible for my PTSD. My childhood, and portions of my adulthood, were not the happiest places. It's all jumbled together. I've actually come a long way towards making my life better; the VA has done a lot for me, and so has one civilian doctor in particular (who is himself a veteran). This isn't the beginning of the journey, but I think it's an important enough leg that I need to write about it from time to time. And because I know there are others in the same boat, on the same river, I'm going to share some of what's going on inside my head.

Telling you about it seems to help. Knowing there are others like me helps, too. If by chance you're dealing with anything I write about here, please say hello.


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