I’m still not sure how I got PTSD. I washed my hands after every time I came in contact with someone that had it. I used hand sanitizer, wore a protective breathing mask, and even kept my distance. Somehow I still contracted PTSD. Maybe it’s airborne, maybe that’s how I got it. Maybe I was sitting at a table with someone that had PTSD and they breathed on me. Maybe I touched a door handle that was infected by a PTSD sufferer. I’ll bet I loaned my ink pen to someone with PTSD and got infected that way. I’m not loaning my pen to anyone, anymore, ever again.
Does that sound silly? Of course it does. Mental illness is not spread like an infectious disease. But there are still so many people out in the world that don’t understand that. Those of us that suffer from any mental illnesses are sometimes looked at differently. People who don’t understand will often avoid the issue of mental illness with a sufferer. Perhaps they don’t know what to say or don’t want to trigger anything to make it worse. Maybe they don’t want to ‘catch’ the illness.
I can only speak for myself, but from what I’ve been reading, I think this is true for most of us that suffer from any mental illnesses. Don’t treat me differently. Don’t be afraid to ask me questions, either about my PTSD, depression, life, or my military service in Iraq or Afghanistan. Hey. Maybe that’s where I caught PTSD. I’ll bet it’s because I didn’t take my malaria pills daily like I was supposed to. Damn it. I think we figured it out, I wasn’t taking my Doxycycline Hyclate. If I had just taken my Doxy, maybe I wouldn’t have to take these other medications now.
But I digress. Back to whatever it was that I was talking about a minute ago. Don’t avoid me. Engage me, ask me questions. But give me space when I need it. Support my road to recovery by doing some research about what ails me. Help others understand that those of us who suffer from mental illness are still normal, just a different kind of normal, our own normal. Understand that my memory is horrible. Understand that my brain does not work like it used to, but it still works, just differently from the way yours might work.
Things have changed for me since being diagnosed with PTSD and major depression. I see things in a different light now. I take medications and go to therapy. Both of those help. Once I decided to share publicly with what I deal with in my life now, It felt like a weight being lifted off of me. I’m pretty messed up in the head sometimes, but I actually feel better about it now than ever before. None of this is totally new. Well, the diagnosis is new, but the symptoms have been with me for years.
In 2011, a year and half after coming home from Iraq, I talked my way out of being labeled with PTSD. I convinced the doctor that I was ok and was ‘let off with a warning’, like I was getting out of a speeding ticket or something. It was noted that I had symptoms of post-traumatic stress and ‘situational’ depression, but would not have to carry the label of PTSD. That was a relief. I didn’t want that label. I was in denial and I was proud to have dodged that bullet. In 2013, because of the 2011 incident, I had to get a psychiatrist’s approval to be able to deploy again. I honestly thought I was fine since I didn’t officially have the label of PTSD. The doctor agreed and I deployed again, this time to Afghanistan.
I know that was my last deployment and that my time in the U.S. Army Reserves will be coming to an end at some point due to physical and mental issues. And I’m ok with that now. I had only came to the realization that the army will be fine without me after my failed suicide attempt last year, and that I can live my new normal life, whatever normal is. I think normal is overrated. I’ve embraced being crazy, it’s a lot of fun. I know, the term ‘crazy’ isn’t politically correct. But neither am I.
As always, thanks for reading. Enjoy, give feedback, share if you like. Good day, God bless.