PTSD – the silent invader

Warning: If you have disgnosed or undiagnosed PTSD you may not want to read this post. I do not want to expose anyone to a “trigger’ of their symptoms.

Why do I call this disorder the silent invader? Simply put, because that is exactly what it is! It invades your sleep with horrible images or nightmares. Sometimes there are no actual visual images just vocal sounds of horror or fear. Cries in the night of bits and pieces of one’s psychological and/or physical pain. Images that are often distorted and co-mingled because the brain stores our trauma in scattered images. Then there is the sudden awakening, the shakes, the sweating, the pervasive fear, the screaming of one’s own voice as one tries to escape the nightmare.

When the trauma occurred years earlier, the event may have been completely forgotten by the conscience mind. But,it is still there, imprinted, waiting for something to make it rear its terrifying images. But often the trauma was recent, only days, weeks, or months ago. An event so horrible that no one should have had to experience it!

It stalks our awake time with equal fervor. Still like images as if from a movie, flashing past the eyes so rapidly at times it almost seems it didn’t happen. Voices, bits of conversation, screaming, cries of pain or fear, they are all there. The blood, the gore, the body parts and stench, or the evil seen in the eyes of the perpetrator or enemy are all there. They feel so real that one wants to reach out and push them away or touch them to see if they are really there.

These silent invaders may occur during an innocent conversation, watching a TV program, after hearing a sudden sound off in the distance, or accompanied by the detection of a scent. Frequently while reading a book or newspaper, injuring yourself while cooking, playing with the kids. The only evidence of their presence, a sparkle of fear, tightness in the chest, light headedness or dizziness, clamminess of the flesh and weakness throughout the body. Each, next impending event, a little more obvious than the preceding, until finally, one finds ones self totally enveloped in the event. At this point every waking moment can become moments of fear of the next flashback.

First comes the apprehension. Something has changed. A sudden hyper awareness begins to permeate our conscientiousness. But that soon gives way to a feeling of being enclosed in a separate place or time from events nearby. The clammy feeling all over the body, every breath an effort. Then there is the feeling of impending doom and fear. Reality feels like it is slipping away! It’s like being swallowed by a vortex that is spinning so fast, there is no escape. There is only the mind’s struggle to find just “one” real thing to hold onto as the vortex builds. I found a penny in my pocket! I told myself that as long as I knew it was a penny, I would make it and not go completely crazy!

It is all encompassing. Rational thought begins to slip away. There is only the feeling of being surrounded or swallowed up by fear and terror of images and events that will not go away. There are the screams and cries of pain or torture, the images and sounds become louder and more visual, more real, all encompassing.

The mind looks for an escape, an end, a reprieve. But, that doesn’t happen. Each time the entire event last longer, comes more frequently, leaves one more drained and afraid! Each time as reality returns it leaves one feeling as if the mind has begun to slip away. Is this insanity? Have I slipped over the edge? Legs feel so weak that support seems impossible. Exhaustion is indescribable.

I can’t tell anyone about this! Just thinking about it can make it happen! If I am lucky enough to get it all out before “it” starts again, people will think I am crazy. Am I safe? Will I hurt my wife, my kids, my husband, people around me? Will I fail my buddies around me? Will I freeze and let them down? I should have done more! Why am I still here? Am I becoming some kind of crazed being who will lose it all and go on a rampage killing everything around me because I can no longer separate real from the images and sounds inside my head. And God? Where the hell is God? Why can’t he stop this? Why is this happening to me? These are just a few of the types of questions that pass through the mind like a speeding train! Guilt, fear, sadness, sorrow, hopelessness, dread and anticipation are just some of they feelings. Our minds are not able to handle the overload!

You have just taken a journey with me through a moment, day, week, month, year, or lifetime of someone with PTSD. Depending on the age of the person when the trauma occurred, the type of trauma, the length of time of exposure to the trauma, and other circumstances that may or may not have been under the control of the victim, the degree of severity and recovery time will vary from complete recovery to never recovering at all. How quickly diagnosis and treatment occurs and whether or not the treatment is appropriate is a determining factor. Consideration must also be given to the life experiences and development of an individual before the trauma.

PTSD is not cowardice. It is not a refusal to grow up or be responsible. It is not a “catch all” or fake disorder diagnosed when all other treatments fail. It is real. It is or can be emotionally and functionally crippling for life.

If you or a loved one has any of these symptoms, get immediate medical help from a psychiatrist or qualified psychologist. An evaluation performed on a multiple level is needed. Medication may also be required. The brain functioning is altered with PTSD and medication often helps. I cannot stress enough the importance of early treatment. Individual and group therapy are in my opinion a must. Medication helps. But without proper diagnosis and therapy, symptoms can and often do return within about a year after the discontinuance for many and never for others.

For help you or someone else has only to look on the internet under PTSD in google.

Unless our troops in the field get more on site counseling and help and help after they come home, we will see more and more events such as the rape recently reported in the news. No one, no matter how well they are trained can endure the cruelty and just plain evil atrocities our troops and the coalition forces are exposed to on a daily basis without being affected. It only seems obvious to me that if one come from a culture of relative non violence, the trauma is even more crippling. There are no previous coping skills to deal with what the coalition forces are encountering.

As we begin to increase our offensives the enemy will become more brutal as they are becoming more desperate. They will do whatever they can to demoralize our troops. Our leaders in the field have the warning signs that they need more troops in the field to carry out these increased offensives. They may even be affected themselves by the stress. Add to that the political pressures from back home and the daily barrage of media negativity, the silence of the majority who ought to be more openly supportive, and what is left but to set up the situations where we are encouraging the frequency of troops developing PTSD or committing bazaar acts that normally would never be seen.

Now, before a real problem gets under way that can’t be stopped, we need to help these troops. We need more troops on the ground, more letters and cards, more praise for their efforts, more expressions from home that what they are experiencing is for a good cause. Please do what you can to let these troops know that we care. We haven’t forgotten them.We support them.

Speak out against those who spread dissent. Let’s make the voice our troops hear be ours and not the chorus of those un-American followers and members of groups like ANSWER and UPJ, or the politicians who only care about their own personal agenda, not our troops or nation!

In answer to a question I have seen posted in posts on several different blogs, “Are you proud of me and what I have done” I say “For what it’s worth, you damn right I am proud of you, each and everyone of you!

But pride is not enough. We need to let these troops know how we feel. It is tragic that they face death every day and the parades they see on the news are people protesting against what they are doing. It is criminal that they read the newspapers or hear the news and all they hear are reports of failure, mismanagement, poor decisions, crimes against civilians, crimes against prisoners. and any other negative comment that can be conceived.

WHO speaks for the 99.99999 per cent who never committed a misdeed? Who speaks for the soldier who watched his buddy get his brains splattered on the ground. Who speaks for the soldiers who lost their legs or arms, those maimed in every conceivable manner? Who speaks for the soldier whose wife or husband left them during this time of war because they could not stand the loneliness? Who comforts the soldier who just finished talking to his kids and is left with uncontrollable loss and guilt at not being there for them? Who speaks for the soldier whose mother or father, brother or sister, son or daughter died and they could not be there to comfort them as they slipped away?

I propose on Memorial day that we all speak out as loudly as possibly to let our troops know that we speak out for them! We have not forgotten them. We are proud of them! We love them. We grieve with them! We cry with them! We celebrate every victory with them no mater how small or large.!

We support you, our troops!! No nation could ever be prouder than this nation! While it may be true that there is no greater lover than to lay down one’s life for another, or risk that life, it is also true that everyone needs to know that they are appreciated. We all have a need to know our life meant something!

So, get out your keyboards. Start showing your support now!! We only have a couple days to spread the word!!! Let the only sound our troops hear this 4th of July be that of a grateful nation. Let’s drown out every protester, every personally motivated politician, every negative media comment. Let’s let them only hear the roar of Americans all across the country saying, “thank you! We are proud of you!”


9 Responses to “PTSD – the silent invader”

  1. Nice work! great website

  2. Just stopping by to say hi,

    Love your site..

  3. I know what PTSD is. It’s a member of my family. It’s a nightmare a young man has of the Tigris River on one side, innocent civilians on the other, the insurgents in front of him and his younger brother and sister in the back of his humvee. It’s the guest that has moved in and keeps my son up till he finally falls asleep from beyond exhaustion.
    It’s also the black sheep of the family. We find this out when we go to the VA people and they say “We have no record of your son even being in the military” and I produce a DD214.
    We find this out when we call our son’s Chaplain and First Shirt and tell them something is wrong-can they please help him because he just walked away from a beautiful car and didn’t remember and they just yell at him to get his mom off their backs.
    We find this out when our Congressman says Call the REd Cross and they say why are you calling us, he’s not active anymore.
    We find this out when politicians refuse to acknowledge our concerns about PTSD.
    We find this out when our children attempt suicide just to stop the nightmares.

  4. I am honored to have you post a comment here. I tried to do my best to portray what PTSD does to people. Those with PTSD who are soldiers carry an especially heavy burden. That is because they are defending our nation against an enemy; yet, the tasks they must perform in that duty go against all that most people of conscience ought to have to do, namely kill another human being. I do not think many people really realize just how hard that is to do.

    While there are men and women who can seperate the reality of that act from their inner self as it is in performance of their duty, most cannot. That doesn’t mean those who can do so are bad or lack conscience. It only means people handle war differently inside!

    But there is more to it all than killing. There is the constant threat of being killed; being seperated from family and loved ones; spending all your time in a harsh environment; and many other things far too many to name. That doesn’t even include the attitudes and support offered from homeand country or the necessary man power, equipment, and training to fight. I ask myself every day, “Could I do this?” I’d like to think I could if I had to. But you and I both know, no one really can answer that question until faced with the actual situation.

    I know the care packages, letters, blog comments and such are nbot enough after a while. But they are our way of saying we have not forgotten the terrible task we have asked you to do to protect us here at home and other peaceful people in the world.

    I personally can’t afford to do any of the packages or even the letter campaigns. I live in disability income. It bothers me a lot; but, I “can” blog my support on ya’lls blogs. I can do my best here at home to make sure I try to look out for things at home. I can vote. There are many things I can do here to help.

    But, to me the most inportant thing I can do is take my experiences and try to find a way to let you all and people at home know as best I can what this all like for you guys. Your post makes me feel like maybe in a very small way I have helped someone. Thank you for that.

    In my zeal to let people know who is organizing and funding the major protests against the war, I must agree I and others have not made enough distinction into the fact that there are many people protesting the war who are as American as you, me or anyone else. My purpose in continually posting about groups like ANSWER, UFPJ, Code Pink, and others is to make people aware that though their protests are honorable and American, they must be careful not to allow themselves be used by these groups who do not want America to continue to prosper or survive. They could care less about our Constitution. They number in the thousands here in America and have allied themselves with our enemy both vocally and financially.

    Please come back again. If you ever want to voice how you feel or just ventilate or whatever, you can do so here anytime. If you have any ideas about something, PTSD,or anything else I can add here to help any of you troops, please let me know.

  5. I’ve seen a lot of protests–hell, I marched in a few before joining the Army–and never once did I see anyone speaking out “against the troops,” which is more than I can say for Vietnam.

    Tell me that the pack of little old ladies–schoolteachers and librarians–standing outside the courthouse in Marquette, MI, are un-American in demanding that we “bring the troops home.”

    That being said, I’m proud to be in the military. Hell, I’m deployed right now. But I have a lot of friends and family here with me, to include some who left for home years ago. And no amount of random “adopt-a-soldier” packages will exorcise the ghosts that haunt these young men and women.

    “To my superiors I am a pawn; to my fellow Americans a god unwarranted. I am alternately least and greatest within our societal framework, and I find that such dichotomy leaves little room for the man in between.”

    All that being said, thank you for this post. Nobody talks much about PTSD, let alone with the grace and sensitivity that you have shown here.

  6. Thank you Mack. I’m doing ok. Hope you have a nice holiday. Merry Christmas.

  7. Hi Buddy just wanted to let you know I have changed my Blog name and server from Watching Men Burn to Rogue Gunner , hope you are well,

    Mack.

  8. Netseeker_51 at yahoo.com

  9. Is there a way to leave a message for you that is not public?
    This is in regard to PTSD and coping.
    My email address is above.

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