Before and after PTSD3 min read

Before and after PTSD3 min read

I’m a sufferer. But not really. Depends on the day. Depends on the triggers. Depends on a whole lot of baggage that is stored somewhere in my head.

I’m not whining. Let’s stop that line of thought before it starts. Rather, I’m telling you a part of my story. Which connects to other stories. Because, human. It’s a part of the deal.

I volunteered after watching something unfortunate. Never, ever Google ‘beheading videos.’ If you have a soul and want to retain it in some semblance of wholeness. Don’t type that in. Shit. I’m dumb sometimes. And drunk sometimes. Plus, my genetics require me to be inquisitive. So I watched. Men holding him down. Men sawing his head off.

I almost passed out from rage. How can people do that to other people?

A few months later. I’m in uniform. For the second time. A few months after that, I’m in Baghdad. And it’s still rippling outward for me. And inward. Because, dreams, scars, and echoes.

I’m diagnosed with PTSD. By the Veteran’s Administration. I’m not ashamed of it. Lots of people had much worse experiences than I did. And most of them weren’t stupid enough to sign up for a contractor job in another war zone a few years after using up more than one human lifetime’s ration of luck. So yeah, I compounded my issues by showing up in Afghanistan later. Different day, different part of the story.

Caring about the human condition sucks sometimes. But I can’t stop. So I cry more than I used to. And maybe sometimes I drink too much. Put me in front of a well-done war drama and watch me shudder and shake while the tears fall. That’s mostly the extent of my post-traumatic stress disorder. With an occasional night terror thrown in. Sometimes those come in waves.Except when I have to run out of a room because I can’t control the exits and I’m not in charge of how long the meeting is going to go and I think whatever is being discussed is absolutely banal.

I’m normal. Except when I have to run out of a room because I can’t control the exits, and I’m not in charge of how long the meeting is going to go, and I think whatever is being discussed is absolutely banal, and I want to scream, “Are you fucking crazy? Focus your life’s energy on something that is worth a shit!You fuckity fuck idiot!”

I know. I overdid the exclamations a bit. You can forgive me. If you’d like. If not, I won’t hold it against you.

I want to crawl back inside the time when I could ride off into the sunset and know that I wouldn’t dream of being trapped forever in the living hell that was Baghdad in 2006. I’d like to stop having flashbacks, big and small, into moments when I was certain the next rocket or mortar would be the one with my name on it. I wish I had faith like some of them. The ones I went with, came back with, couldn’t be like.

God, I can’t hear you. All I see when I close my eyes is the horror we inflict on each other in the name of things I don’t understand.

And just like in 2005, I feel a visceral need to do something when I see savages masquerading as human beings. Unfortunately, the more I know about how many disguises we wear in this life, the less certain I am who is to blame for all this inhumanity.

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