Monday, December 10, 2012

PTSD



This one is going to be controversial. 

And a bit difficult to write. 

But it provides context to the issue touched upon last night.  

I think I may be dealing with an issue.  

I would not go so far as to describe it as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder exactly. Others are suffering much more severely than I.  But I would suggest my particular malady is something related. 

Following my first combat tour of Iraq, this condition was more acute than it may be presently.  At the time, I was fear-struck nearly every instance I encountered the sound of low flying aircraft.  This specific issue was due to a vicious missile attack I was party to in early 2003.  

Since my second tour, a rough year spent in hostile Ar Ramadi, a different issue has presented itself.  

I simply have not felt "myself."  It's a bit weird, a daily struggle, and more difficult than I have in the past been willing to admit. 

I am constantly self-aware, continuously providing critique of myself - typically negatively - and have become increasingly uncomfortable in social situations.  This has never previously been the case. 

I lack confidence.  I am often challenged to simply express myself clearly in discussions with my employer and co-workers.  It's totally strange. 

My ability to manage has been due absolutely to "gutting it out."  I deal with the shakiness, the unnatural sweating during conversation, the general poor feeling by simply forcing myself to overcome.  

I tolerate the condition, but have not mastered it.  It affects me.  And I hate it. 

For the first time in my adult life, at work I am merely an average performer.  I lack the ambition to achieve superior production as had always previously been the case. 

For a long time, I was able to hide this issue from myself by dedicating myself fully to training in the pretense of achieving success at Special Forces Assessment and Selection.  

The truth is, for the period, I had become a recluse. I chose to do so, and was overcome by a peculiar perspective of the world that surrounded me.  Cynical mostly. And not very satisfied then with my own position in life.  

Today, it's different.  I suffer no sudden bouts of panic, but a general and nearly never-ending apprehension. I am uncomfortable. 

I continue to work out, and work.  But my real passion is almost solely in craft beer; a hobby that I can not seem to enjoy in moderation. 

I drink.  Alot. 

I purposely do not request help.  Previously this was because I thought that such an admission of damage may preclude future employment in the occupations I find the most enticing: Special Forces, the Central Intelligence Agency, etc. 

Now, I refuse help because it seems a futile effort.  "Help," as it is, would not be effective.  Here's the thing about "help": for it to work, you have to want it to.  

I am no doctor, but I can diagnose this much fairly surely: self-medication via alcohol.  But, unfortunately, the medication as currently imbibed is doing its job.  I like it.  And I don't want "help" to tell me to quit. 

The best help would be to help myself.  And I can't.  Not right now. 

It's all sort of painful because I am in a very good place in life, otherwise.  Despite the difficulties described above, I have sustained a career.  While I am hemorrhaging money, I make enough that I am getting by.

But I am making mistakes.  And I am afraid that perhaps all of this may be a house of cards.  

I hope dearly it does not collapse around me, but I am unsure if I'm presently strong enough to do what it takes to maintain it all.  

If it does fall, the failure will be no one's fault but my own. 

I feel like I am pathetically grasping for an excuse to justify my own shortcomings. 

I hate that this seems a narrative awash in self-pity.  Nor is my goal to bring discomfort to those reading who care for me.  

But something's wrong.  And, it's about time I share. For what its worth.    

I doubt there is an easy solution.  At least not one that I want to make.  But I do think there is more to my poor decision-making than a lack of maturity.  

While all things, to this point, have worked out well in the end, I tend to have some self-destructive tendencies.  And such inclinations are manifesting presently.  

And I am convinced that this attitude is not unrelated from the social unease I have recently encountered.  

My confusion is whether I have correctly identified the source, and what remedy there may be. 

5 comments:

  1. I'm too tired to give good advice, but I read it. Hang in there!!

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  2. Just because other people have "really bad" PTSD and you feel like yours isn't comparatively that bad doesn't mean that a) you aren't suffering from PTSD, b) you have to feel like that or c) seeking help would be futile. The whole point of getting help is that it's tailored to you, your experiences and your current needs. It's true that for "help" to work, you have to want it to and maybe you're not at the wanting it to point (yet). But if you were fine with the way you feel and the self-medication process, you wouldn't be questioning it, would you?
    Also, I don't think you have to quit drinking delicious craft beers for "help" in whatever form to "work." But wouldn't it be more fun if you were drinking them just to enjoy them and not for the dual purpose of hobby and self-medication?
    Yeah, like you said, there is no easy solution. But you don't have to, nor do you deserve to feel like someone other than yourself.

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  3. I am a social worker who specializes in treating servicemembers so clearly I'm a big fan of seeking help in whatever form it comes other than at the bottom of a bottle, in the bed of a stranger or at the tip of a needle. But that being said youre in what we call the comtemplative stage of change. Which good news is step 2! You have the openness to consider that a problem exists, and that there may be a need to change in your behaviors in order to correct that problem. But a commitment to change has not yet been made; there is not yet direct action. The rest of the cycle will come in time.

    Consider talking to someone even if its strangers on the internet. Just keep talking, change will come.

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  4. Please listen to Clearbluewater3 advice.
    You are so up and down with your emotions and keep a lot of "things" inside.

    That is not a good idea. I know you hate to talk on the phone but you love to write so maybe you can find a blog that relates to what you are going through. I am sure you are not the only one feeling the way you do.
    Reach out and write to someone.

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  5. Thanks for all the comments. I am doing my best. I have been in contact with the Crisis Hotline, and have continued to write. Both of which have helped. I am also trying at work as absolutely hard as possible and, as it would be expected, this is contributing to some building confidence in that environment. One of the worst parts about the situation described in the blog is the near daily occurance of having something valuable to add at work, but a sort of social hesitation preventing me from contributing it. I have never had this problem before. I am working to overcome it. I thank you all again for the support.

    ReplyDelete