Last night I got 3 hours of sleep. It's not that I wasn't tired. It was more the fact that every time I closed my eyes I would have nightmares, the same nightmare I've had since 1997, & its the reason I sleep with weapons stashed all over my house.
A man, usually an insurgent, broke into the house & attacked me before I could react. I woke up screaming & kicking...plus angrier than the Hulk in a pair of tight pants.
This is a symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder...& not the only one. The lack of sleep & nightmares usually lead to anxiety, which leads to anger, which leaves me a frustrated, sobbing mess. I then take all of that out on everyone around me, especially my loved ones. I don't want to, I just can't stop myself. It's like being in a waking dream...or at least it feels like a dream. I see myself doing these things but can not stop myself. When I am finally able to snap back to myself I've made a mess of everything around me.
I've suffered with this, as I stated before, since 1997. But it wasn't until 2007, shortly before I met my wife, that I realized I was suffering from PTSD. Mainly because when I came back in 97 I was "analyzed" by a military psychiatrist who said I was faking it. I wish I could fake this.
You see, I no longer have any fear of going to hell because I've been living in it since 97. I've destroyed relationships, lost good jobs, & developed an alcohol dependency for several years. The absolute worse part of the whole thing though is the constant feeling of being alone...even when your surrounded by those that love you the most.
No offense to anyone reading this, but if you have never served in the military, you will never understand the hell that I have been through. Even other service members don't really get it. Hell it wasn't until a 1 1/2 ago that the military admitted it existed & has began implementing procedures to help those coming back from the operating theatre.
But I can tell you it is real & not something I would wish on my worst enemy. No one should ever have to live their life like this. You can't relax, your always tense, you can't trust people even when you want to. You can't sleep & when you do you have nightmares so intense & real that you have to find something solid to convince yourself it's not happening. You spend every waking minute convinced that something horrible is going to happen & that makes it impossible to find anything positive. Mainly because you have seen the worst the human race has to offer.
I guess the whole point of this is that I have finally began to heal. I finally told my parents, it only took me trying to kill myself on New Years Eve because I didn't want to spend another year living like this. But instead of giving up, my loving wife gave me the strength to fight back. I'm on meds & seeking a therapist that specializes in PTSD.
I might not have got injured, but Shane Coleman died over there. I will never be that 20 year old kid again. I will never get that piece back that was taking from me. But I finally realize that with the help of those around me I can find some kind of close proximity & maybe happiness again.
If you know someone that shows these signs, or even if you see these in yourself, don't put off seeking help. Talk to your loved ones. It's okay to say you need help. It's okay to show your pain to those around you. But it's not going to get better if you ignore it.
Ignoring it & saying you can handle it on your own is not strength...it's ignorance & taking your own life instead of facing it might solve your problem, but it will transfer them on to your loved ones. They will spend the rest of their lives wondering if they could have done more.
If you have faith in nothing else, which I sure didn't, at least have faith in those that love you. They will be your strength when you've lost all yours.