Most combat veterans that have PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, do not talk about it. Many are heavy drinkers attempting to drowned the disorder to keep the monster at bay. Booze and drugs do not work. They make the vampire worse. Get your life back. Support and understanding is out there.
What is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD (visit this source for more information)?
PTSD is an illness. You can get PTSD after living through or seeing a dangerous event, such as war, a hurricane, or bad accident. PTSD makes you feel stressed and afraid after the danger is over. It affects your life and the people around you.
If you have PTSD, you can get treatment and feel better.
Who gets PTSD?
PTSD can happen to anyone at any age. Children get PTSD too.
You don’t have to be physically hurt to get PTSD. You can get it after you see other people, such as a friend or family member, get hurt.
What causes PTSD?
Living through or seeing something that’s upsetting and dangerous can cause PTSD. This can include:
- Being a victim of or seeing violence
- The death or serious illness of a loved one
- War or combat
- Car accidents and plane crashes
- Hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires
- Violent crimes, like a robbery or shooting.
There are many other things that can cause PTSD. Talk to your doctor if you are troubled by something that happened to you or someone you care about.
Combat PTSD: What are the Symptoms?
http://ptsdcombat.blogspot.com/2006/03/combat-ptsd-what-are-symptoms.htmlIntrusive – Re-experiencing of the traumatic event(s)
- Distressing recollections
- Flashbacks (feeling as if you’re back in combat while awake)
- Nightmares (frequent recurrent combat images while asleep)
- Feeling anxious or fearful (as if you’re back in the combat zone again)
Avoidant – Drawing inward or becoming emotionally numb
- Extensive and active avoidance of activities, places, thoughts, feelings, memories, people, or conversations related to or that remind you of your combat experiences
- Loss of interest
- Feeling detached from others (finding it hard to have loving feelings or experiencing any strong emotions)
- Feeling disconnected from the world around you and things that happen to you
- Restricting your emotions
- Trouble remembering important parts of what happened during the trauma
- Shutting down (feeling emotionally and/or physically numb)
- Things around you seem strange or unreal
- Feeling strange and/or experiencing weird physical sensations
- Not feeling pain or other sensations
Since returning from Vietnam in 1966, I couldn’t put a term to the symptoms I was experiencing. For fifteen years, I was a heavy drinker and never talked about what happened. The nightmares that are called flashbacks came at night and were vivid and real. There are many nights even now where I will wake and listen for warning sounds that danger is near. I’ll reach for the weapon I keep close to where I sleep to make sure it is still there.
Learn more from PTSD Vet Charged with Murder
Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.
His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.
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My story – RVN – Sept 66 thru May of 68 – 11F4S – discharged Jan 70 – married – wife convinced Judge that I was still crazy from RVN – took my children, everything I owned and everything I earned. Started drinking, went a little crazy, and then settled down to drinking whenever I wasn’t working. In 2007, realized I was preparing for suicide and the only thing that got in the way was knowing my ex-wife would use my suicide as proof that I was the crazy one all along. Went to the VA, got meds and a lot of counseling. Thru counseling, developed a plan to right the wrongs I had committed in RVN. It doesn’t really fix anything I did, but it feels like something I ought to do. I’m sober for almost two years and going back to school to do medical missions in RVN. I’m still experiencing dreams and fears, but I think the guilt is fading.
The road to some sort of peace of mind is a difficult one to follow. After Vietnam, I drank heavily for fourteen years and almost drank myself to death. One evening, I sat on couch with a loaded sniper rifle that I had. That was in 1976 or around that time.
I earned my honorable dischage from the Marines in 1968, so it had been a long, dark road filled with rage–not that the anger is gone but I have a better grip on it than I did (at least most of the time).
I was going to put the barrel of that sniper rifle in my mouth and end it the way Hemingway ended his life by using my toe to pull the trigger. I changed my mind, but I didn’t stop drinking until 1981.
I was sitting in the couch in the dark. The sun was just going down and I could see the street. Some youngster was walking down the street listening to music and dancing. He was by himself. I thought, if this kid I didn’t know could enjoy a moment out of life, why not me?
That’s when I turned my life around and started to fight back against the demons. The battle against PTSD never ends but it is a battle worth fighting. We served our country and we deserve some peace of mind. I think it was General Sherman (Civil War) who said “War is Hell.” Truer words have never been spoken and for us that went to war, we come back with a slice of that hell sometimes haunting us. Some of us have a larger slice than others.
I’m sober for 20 months and going to AA several times a week. This coming Friday is my time with the VA psychiatrist. I have to keep my PTSD at bay in order to keep my alcoholism in recovery.
Thanks for this site. Reading the list at the top of the page brought back some memories. Many apply to my experience. I’ve worked through most, but still have situations that trigger the symptoms, but rarely now.
I was fortunate not to see daily action, but the few times we were hit, we got hit hard and I thought it was going to be it for me. Knowing that you might be experiencing your last day on earth, while trying to reduce the chances of that happening were more than enough to push an 18 – 19 year old kid into survival mode.
For years I drank and did other things to numb the survivors guilt and pain of loss. I didn’t know what was driving the self destructive actions and still believe I’m lucky to have survived my 20s. I remember in college one student (not a vet) making a comment about my withdrawn attitude and sometimes angry disposition. No way they could even come close to understanding.
It wasn’t easy and it took more than 10 years to stop the dreams. In ’74 I hit my ex one night while sleeping. Not intentionally, but while dreaming. Panic upon being wakened, Night sweats, flashbacks – sitting up and yelling for others to get down. Nothing could make it go away. Loud noises were the worst.
Thoughts of suicide were common, but never taken to the point of any action, just fleeting. That too has subsided after so many years.
Starting in ’73 I got counseling and even studied psychology in college just trying to understand what was happening.
I don’t recall PTSD being a topic of discussion back in the 70’s, but I do know Nam changed everything for me.
I feel lucky to be here and to have had a great career. It wasn’t always easy, but life isn’t. Hopefully my brothers and sister who have fought and are fighting or witnessing atrocities will have the support they need to overcome the pain of remembering.
I’ve never written about this, thanks.
Ken, it wasn’t until I started to write about Vietnam in 1981 that I faced the demons. Until then they hid and came out at night the same as you described here. Even then, the fight never ends because the PTSD demons are always lurking in the background in one form or another. But knowing they are there helps–somewhat. Soon after starting to write about Vietnam, I stopped drinking. That one change may have saved my life. My father’s older brother fought in WWII. He was on one of the aircraft carriers that was sunk during the war in the Pacific. A destroyer fished him and other survivers out of the water. He drank heavily his entire life and died a drunk in his seventies. His life was a mess. One good thing that came out of Vietnam was that PTSD was eventually recognized and studied and now the military is starting to do something about it but they don’t understand it all yet.
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