What a day to start a first post for a blog. Last night till this morning I spent holding my wife, as she recounted some of the most horrific events from her deployment, things I did not know, and things that made my own memories flashback in my brain all morning. Moving on let now please introduce myself and explain why you should spend some time with me reading and reflecting upon a topic, which is extremely difficult to those who have faced it; and the spouses, friends, and family trying to understand it, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and life after deployment(s).
My name is Captain Matt, pseudo name yes, experiences real. I have spent over a decade serving both enlisted and as an officer, as a special operator and a supporter of those in combat, but my actual combat experience is of that as a special operator in Iraq. I do have a few disclaimers that I need to state right off the bat; don’t let the “special” in special operator fool you. I am not special. Every person who has served has had their own experiences, and mine is no better/worse then another’s, as everything is relative. Mine is mine. Yours is yours. And the point of all of this is to start a dialogue, so that we can all learn from one another. Now that all the admin things are out of the way, let me begin by explaining not how my PTSD was caused, but what happened when it kicked in.
The day is still clear in my head as it was when life seemed to go down hill. I kissed my one-year-old child goodbye and my wife at the time, and I drove off to a few months of schooling, and they went off to visit family. No way would I have thought that this would be the last day I would get to live with my child, and have the ability to watch him grow as a dad (my child lives abroad with mom). Freshly minted a new officer, this was the first time I was on my own away from my family, and attending a school alone without them. Upon arrival, almost instantly did things begin to creep in; I had gone two years completely sober in order to dedicate my time to school, and my new child, and now found myself glass in hand and emotions out of control. So quickly did it spiral, it was like I was in this horrible nightmare, as dreams/nightmares in reality last merely seconds, they feel like they last hours, and so too did this plummet to rock bottom.
Throughout this period I slowly discovered that not only did I hate myself, but also I hated the person whom I married, which is a story more appropriate for a marriage blog. What is important was that I was so quick to give up my child without a fight, and to end my marriage without a look at the bigger picture; I just wanted to be alone. After coming home to an empty home, I found myself later standing in a VA parking lot wondering what the hell I would do next. Finding the mental health center was a challenge, but I have to credit the staff who took me in, made sure I was okay, and then point me where to go because I was active-duty; I am still very grateful to the VA for that day, as I truly needed help.
This is where I will sign-off for now, hoping that it feels like a cliffhanger, and also hoping someone reads this and it resonates with him or her. I no longer take myself that seriously, and don’t mind taking jabs at myself, and what I hope is, to receive both constructive criticism and positive feedback if possible. Also, please feel free to not even comment on the story and to share your own; this is a place of dialogue, and a place of trying to make sense of what the hell we have all gone through. Please re-read my second paragraph before you post, and earnestly take it to heart. If you never left the base, or you were a trigger-puller, every story is important, and everyone did his or her part, so don’t lessen your contribution as I’ve heard so many do.
Sincerely, thank you for taking the time to read this, and if you reply, thank you again. It has taken many years to come to terms with my own experience, and I hope this forum can help you as well. My best wishes on your journey, and know that there are people out there who care. Thank you.