My Battle with PTSD

The chapters found in my book are a direct result of psychological therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that I went through at The VA Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.

When I first was medically retired, there was no name or medical acknowledgement of the pain and nightmares.  Since then, from the age of 28, I have lived with the nightmares as best I could, and tried to go on with my life.  In late 2001, I was injured in an industrial accident, and was almost totally helpless.  The nightmares continued, but were more intense.  In additions, I would have flashbacks.  It got so bad that I was afraid to drive a car.  I never knew when something would trigger me and make me go back.  When this happened I was oblivious to what was around me.  I was back in my head reliving the things that had happened.

I went through individual therapy and group sessions for several years.  It had helped in many small ways, but I had run into a wall and was not making any further progress.  A new trial therapy program was being implemented and I was offered a chance to participate in the program.  Since I wasn’t making any progress at that time, I decided to try it out.

I had originally been unable to sleep for more than two or three hours before a nightmare would lake me up.  I would be so buzzed that I couldn’t go back to sleep for two or three hours.  I was taking all sorts of medications to try to help control these problems, but just couldn’t get past the two or three hour wall.  I spent a large portion of my life trying to get a total of six to eight hours of sleep, even if it was done over three or four separate times during a twenty-four hour period.  I had no energy, and very little interest in doing much of anything.  This was my life at the time I began the new trial therapy program.

They set up the appointments for me to come in to the VA hospital every Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m.  My session would last an hour.  During the first session, they carefully explained what was going to transpire.  Each week, I had to write down all the details of one of my nightmares.  It was to be as complete as I could make it.  Everything that happened, from the planning stages to the completion of the mission, had to be included.  I would come into a session, and read out loud my “Nightmare” to my psychologist.  We would then discuss it for the rest of the hour.  I was then sent home with instructions to read it “out loud” every day for five days.  At the same time, I was writing another narration of another nightmare.  I would bring in the new “Nightmare” story and the process would start all over again.

This process lasted for almost 6 months.  It was a terrible ordeal.  My nightmares increased in intensity, and I spent most of my days wondering why I was so crazy to be in this trial program.

The purpose was to put a scab on a bleeding wound.   It was still sore.  It still hurt.  But if the bleeding could be stopped, I would be able to move forward.  I hate the first month.  It wasn’t making things better.  It was making it worse.  At about six weeks into the program, I began to make progress.  I was starting to sleep three or four hours at a stretch before I got up and sat in a chair for a couple of hours trying to calm down.  After 3 months, I realized that about half the time I would wake up from a nightmare, I was getting back to sleep in twenty or thirty minutes.

By the end of these sessions, I actually would get one or two times a week where I was almost getting through the night.  As I moved forward with my life, I realized that I needed to tell the story about the missions I ran and the people who died.  They deserved to have their story told, even if our government would claim to have no knowledge of any of the activities.

If you have PTSD, or know someone who has PTSD, then you should do everything you can to understand what has made them the way they are today.  Many veterans from World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, and other conflicts since, are still paying the terrible price for the service they performed for their country.  It is only as of the last 10 years, that PTSD had been accepted as a medical problem.  I’ve heard it said that” it is never too late.”  For veterans such as I, who have lived for years under the burdens and guilt that PTSD causes, it is almost too late.

You must first understand what the cause is, before you can treat the problem.  My book demonstrates the reasons that I am only one of many thousands.   If your understanding can be increased by reading my book, then I will consider the book to have been worth the pain and suffering.

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