They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...

These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Sep 12, 2010

Reality Just Sat On My Face and Started To Wiggle...

There are few pieces of news that I would ever really call earth shattering.

And before you go wondering, I'm not going to tell you what piece of news I got.  Promises were made, and they will be kept.  So don't ask.

But when you hear certain things they gently nudge you into reevaluating your life and what you believe and who you are.

When you hear something like what I heard, you are violently thrown from your seat and forced by threat of serious bodily harm and/or death to reevaluate your life and what you believe and who you are.

So suffice it to say, I've been doing some thinking lately.  And we ALL know that, that's never good.

First step of the thinking process I did was to gather information...

PTSD Symptoms:

Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event: Every night before I go to bed I spend about an hour doing this.

Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again):  Not so much as something I see, smell, or hear triggers the memories and my body freezes and I'm literally in another world until either I snap out of it or someone snaps me out of it.

Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things):  Once a week without fail.  Sometimes more.  Other people buy 5-hour energy to give them the afternoon boost, I buy it to stay away from my bed.

Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma:  Well duh!

Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating):  If only you could see me after a sudden, loud noise.  Car backfiring is hilarious.  

PTSD symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing

Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma:  No, don't really have this one.

Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma:  I wish I had this problem.

Loss of interest in activities and life in general:  I'm about the only 32 year old guy I know of that spends his every waking moment of free time locked in his apartment.  About the only thing that will get me out is a visit from a dear friend, or the mom.

Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb:  Guilty, but I was always like that to a point.

Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career):  Does not thinking about anything past the next day or two qualify?

PTSD symptoms of increased arousal

Difficulty falling or staying asleep: Yep

Irritability or outbursts of anger:  Believe it or not, I'm a lot calmer now.

Difficulty concentrating:  Yeah, and its making my economics class exceedingly difficult.

Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”):  Try walking behind me and see how I react.  Or guilty.

Feeling jumpy and easily startled:  Drop a book and watch me grab the ceiling and squeal like a 12 year old chick.  Go ahead, its pretty funny.

Other common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

Anger and irritability:  Well yeah, but once again I did this before I left.

Guilt, shame, or self-blame:  Nah, not this guy.

Substance abuse:  I don't have enough motivation to abuse substances.  You have to leave the house to get booze!

Depression and hopelessness:  Whole lot of that going around right now.

Suicidal thoughts and feelings:  Luckily, no.

Feeling alienated and alone:  Yep, I mean who the hell do you tell about this shit?

Feelings of mistrust and betrayal:  Not so much.

Headaches, stomach problems, chest pain:  Can't tell if they're from PTSD or my own damn unhealthy habits.

....Well then, that's the symptoms that I got off some website (the first one if you google "PTSD symptoms") and apparently I've got a few issues that need dealing with.

I mean its been ridiculous since things have calmed down and gotten back to "normal".  They told us when we were on the way home that there was going to be a period of time when we got back that they called the "honeymoon" which everything would be hunky dory and we'd be happy, everyone would be all over us and all that.

Which was fine.  I liked that part.  But I wasn't listening when they got to the part after that.  The part where we had to go back to living our lives.  

A few things have happened that make me really mad at myself and a few others that are probably going to eventually kill me.  Since I went back to work I've gone from having a 120 or so hours of sick time, down to having 26.  And that's while I've been earning 4 hours per pay period.  Which means that if you multiply 4 x 26 you get 104 and add 120 to that you get 224 and subtract 26 you get 198 and divide by 8 you get 24.75

24.75 or almost 25 days.  I've taken almost a month off sick in the past year!  Anyone with a civilian job would've gotten fired.  So thank God I work for the Feds.  Almost 2 sick days a month.  Not counting regular days off and vacation time.  

Then you've got the weight gain.  I've packed on about 2 to 2 1/2 midgets since I came home.  Ballooned up to 325 pounds just recently.  Oh, good times there.  Real good looking soldier boy.  

Then there's just the general malaise that I've slipped into and can't seem to shake.  Don't want to do anything I don't ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY have to.  If I don't have to go to work, I don't.  If I don't have to go to school, I don't.  If I don't have to do...whatever, I don't.  I put on a good enough show for everyone to keep from having to answer all those dumb ass questions.  "What's wrong?"  "Are you okay?"  blah, blah, blah.

Sitting in my apartment watching TV, ordering pizza, smoking and doing nothing is just fine with me.  I mean, shouldn't I be out trying to chase down the next future ex-Mrs. Mud Puppy?  Nah, I'd rather watch the food network.

So then someone told me something that shattered, rocked, rolled, exploded, and just generally fucked up my entire world from top to bottom, side to side and all around.

Reality came up and sat on my face and started to wiggle.

Then I remembered something that Buddha said, "All unhappiness comes from not facing reality squarely, exactly as it is."

With all due respect.  Fuck you Buddha.

But the chunky Chinaman is right.

So tomorrow I'll call the VA.  See if I can't get an appointment.  Now let's just see if I can drag my ass out of bed and go...

Don't worry, I'm not thinking of doing anything stupid or hurting anyone or myself.  

Just got some reality that needs to be dealt with squarely, exactly as it is.


I love you Mom...


  1. I'm proud of you for doing something after reality wiggled on your face. :) That takes a big kind of courage.

  2. PTSD sucks.
    So here you go...embrace this suck.
    Do what you must do to heal yourself. Lean on those who care for you (I met several of them-you are most fortunate!).
    You'll be day!
    ...and know that your VirtuaMom is always here for you-as a prayer warrior, a friend and of course a mom...

  3. I am sorry you are feeling this way but proud you are doing something about it. Very cliche' comment but totally true. xo.

  4. thanks for sharing and being honest. you are amazing. Please know I am thinking about you, and praying for you.

  5. Taking your arse into the VA is the hardest step towards moving forward, but almost as equally challenging is following through with whatever plan an "expert" down there sets forth for you. For what it's worth from someone who has been there, done that, still there, still doing that, be patient and have faith that life can be enjoyable again. There's no quick fix and while at times I've wondered if there's even a fix at all, some help is better than none. It gets better, as I'm sure you already know, and if you find a way to not sit in your house alone ordering pizzas and smoking please share. We have that whole not-doing-anything-unless-I-absolutely-have-to thing in common. Weird. Or maybe not so much. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Bhudda was Indian, he just traveled to China

    PTSD is a ding, just like you'd been hit by a bullet or IED. The brain needs healing too.

    Now get out there and start walking off the weight. Exercise will help more than you can know...both the sick day thing, and the mentality. And walking is probably the best exercise you can do.

    Hang in there.

  7. Mud Puppy, proud of you! AirmanMom is right..Embrace this suck. Do what you have to do. If the VA isn't doing what you need reach out to other programs. Stay strong. Know we are all a key stroke away.
    Love to u!

  8. Magic pills are great, the bottle makes it go away for the night. But remember, its all there in the morning. Do it DOUG!