Apr 5, 2016
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
In 2008 I was diagnosed with PTSD and in that I have severe depression, anxiety, and a phobia of groups. In 2006, while overseas with the military, my section was on a foot patrol, and my buddy and fire team partner, that was ahead of me, stepped on an I.E.D (improvised Explosion Device) and he died. I suffered hearing loss; I couldn’t walk for about 3 weeks due to the vertigo. When I got back to Canada and was able to start working, I would work 12 plus hours to keep myself busy so I didn’t have to think or deal with the things going on in my head. For the longest time I blamed myself for his death, I was his fire team partner and friend; it was my job to watch out for him. And I felt that I had failed him.
There were things that would trigger my attacks all the time, simple things like glasses being upside down, or the position of a helmet. I would start having major flashbacks and if they were military B.E.W (ballistic eye wear) I would totally be in a state of panic. Another thing that would and still does cause me to become more hyper vigilant is white cars and due to this, I don’t drive on the 400 series. I don’t like any type of gun pointed at me unless it’s a bright yellow nerf gun. Loud noises set me off, like a balloon popping. Movies that have shooting in them, I don’t watch at all. I don’t like to go to the movies very often, or shopping malls due to the crowds.
Since 2008 I have been in the hospital for my PTSD. I made a verbal contract with my first psychiatrist and I make that same deal, with all people on my health care team, and mostly my lovely wife. The deal is–if I’m not doing so well, I will let them know and I will go to the hospital and stay awhile. Either to have my meds get changed or just a re-grounding time.
I didn’t realize it had gotten so bad at that point.
At first, when people were asking me if I had gone to seek help, I would respond with “I do not deserve medical help”, “the other guys could use the resources more”, “We have a lot of physically injured that will need it, I can wait” “I’m not that bad”,” what about the guys” or “what about my military career”. All of these things I would say to myself. In the New Year 2008, I thought I would get some help–I had to go for a checkup for my hearing loss that I suffered from the IED blast. I was always honest with my medical staff, and one day they said I need to take some time off, and I was labeled weapons unsafe. Meaning I couldn’t do my job. I was pissed. I almost killed the doc. I was on a career course, and in the fall was supposed to be promoted. I was placed on 2 half-days a week, and was told to go and seek some mental health help. At that point I was so angry at things–I hated all of the “stupid People” and had no tolerance for much of anything. I didn’t realize it had gotten so bad at that point.
When I started my 2 half days, I was left vulnerable to my thoughts and I was extremely angry, and then the depression and anger took over. That’s when I stopped taking care of myself. I lost all interest in the things I used to love. I felt I was alone. It seemed that no one understood me, or they didn’t want to understand me. I tried to hold myself together when in public but most of the time I either wanted to punch people out or I wanted to cry. I thought of myself as weak. It was ok for others but not me to get help. I admired the people that went and got help.
But since then, I have learned that I am not alone. We have to see, we have to love ourselves. We have to get the help for our loved ones; we can’t take care of our loved ones if we don’t take care of ourselves first. Self-care is number one. And the best way to do that is to ask for it. Talk to your family and friends about your illness, the more we talk about it. The more it becomes a part of our culture. Cause we are #SickNotWeak.