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08 October 2010

If you think you need help, you do-- and if you don't think so, you might anyway.

 Lately, I'm a little worried about us-- us being veterans in general. It's always a little different being a veteran, because you have seen things and been places that most people only see on TV. War, no matter how hot or cold, or long or short, takes its toll on us. We come home and have problems adjusting because not only do we have all of the problems people have anyway, now we're wired a little differently. Many of us turn to coping mechanisms; we run, we drive fast, we drink, we smoke, we eat, we get laid, we try to “be normal”. Some of us to to the VA hospital, or the Vet Center, or civilian doctors and therapists for help. Still others look for spiritual guidance in one church or another.  Sometimes we find comfort, and sometimes we don't.  (Some days are better than others.)  Some wander off into the wilderness, and whether it's what they intended or not, they don't come back.
And, some of us go Rambo and just plain snap. Like this guy in Minnesota
I didn't start writing here because things were going well for me in school-- I started writing this blog because things were not going that well, and I needed to do something to sort out what I was feeling and thinking. Things weren't going well for me at work, either.  Things got so bad at work that I literally had to drag myself out of bed to get dressed and go there.  It took all my energy to get to work late, much less get there on time and be productive all day.
I've had my moments when I've snapped.  One of the worst was one night when my then wife pushed on me being unemployed, depressed, unproductive, and generally useless-- this was long before I was actually diagnosed with PTSD-- and for whatever reason, she decided that day to keep pushing until I was about a micron away from becoming the Incredible Hulk. She left the house that day and headed to a friend's house, leaving me alone in the house with a S&W 9mm and at least one box of hollow point ammunition.  I've wondered sometimes, if she hoped I'd use it.  Irrational thinking, yes, but I've thought it.Of course, I'm still here to write this, so you know what I decided.

You probably didn't find your way to my blog because things in your life are going well, and because the world makes sense.  You're here because things are going wrong for you, or for someone you know.  My favorite metaphor is it's like the feeling that you're at the bottom of a well, and every time you climb up a few inches, you drop back down into the water.  Even though you want to think about climbing out of the well, you have to concentrate on treading water so you don't drown.   It's a very dark, scary, hopeless feeling, and if you're medicating with drugs or alcohol, you're not only not thinking straight but your sense of judgment is out of whack, and on top of that your PTSD is completely misleading you on what's a real threat to happen and what isn't.
If you are feeling like killing your wife and kids and then shooting yourself, that's reason enough that you should seek help.  Feelings like that don't make you a bad person, but they are an indication that something is very wrong.  Call the VA.  Go to the VA.  Call 800-273-TALK.  Tell them what you're thinking and how you're feeling, and be honest-- spill the whole story.   They'll listen, and they'll help you get help.  Your life will change, no doubt about that... but you're doing the right thing if you ask for help.
Stay strong, brothers and sisters.  One minute to the next.

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