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

May 30, 2011

The Battle In The Brain...

So, as you already know, I've been taking some happy pills and talking to a shrink lately. Its been helping. Obviously not as much as I would have liked since the only thing they could've done that would have satisfied me was give me a magic shot and it was all over and better. I mean the mom helped out with her magic bullet, but its not a permanent fix.

I told the shrink about the war going on in my head and he asked me who was winning. I told him, "The wrong side" He couldn't help but chuckle. You know when you get in those shrink's offices its a very uncomfortable place. I mean we're talking about government shrinks not those high priced private ones.

In any event this guy is pretty much an authority on PTSD. I'd put him as an expert for no other reason than he's a shrink at the VA. I think he sees a few more PTSD cases than your average shrink. After all the review of what I had told all the different doctors up to this point and we went over mine and his biography, we got down to the nitty gritty and started talking about the war.

Where were you? How many times did you take fire? How many IED's were you involved in? How often did you take indirect fire? How many in your company were killed or wounded? You know the usual.

During the course of the conversation we got to two things that really jumped out and grabbed me by the throat as what's been happening to me.

(Shrink's words, not mine) Emotional Numbness, and Disconnection. Followed by a general malaise characterized by not being able to find meaning in your civilian life.

Well. Talk about hitting the nail on the head. Blam!!! He nailed it. I suppose there are other symptoms and shit, but for the most part that is exactly what's been bugging me.

Being disconnected is pretty much why my writing fell off to nothing shortly after I came home. Even writing this is kinda me forcing it. I mean how can you really connect back with all these people and all the things here after you did that shit for a year?

Roads are paved...but something inside of me is still bouncing down a dirt road in AssCrackIstan.
Wal-Mart is open...but I still think about guys in the shithouse PX in Waza Khwa.
Beer is cold...but there is no booze in Afghanistan.
I turn on the AC...and remember how hot it is in the summertime.
I feel the comfort and warmth of my bed...and remember sleeping on the ground, or the hood of a truck, or cramped in the truck, get the idea.

Its kinda hard to, reconnect when something inside is pulling you away all the time. Its a constant wrestling match to keep my brain here, where it needs to be. When, frequently, and normally at the most inopportune moments my brain has flown away to southeastern Afghanistan for an afternoon trip.

Well, we haven't quite made it to sorting that out just yet. It'll come. Right now I'm happy to say that the happy pills are taking the edge off. They haven't quite done what I hoped they would do. Which is magically cure this, overnight. But they are having a noticeable effect. Talking about it helps to a point. I just wished that I had someone around who knew what the fuck I was talking about. But I'll take what I can get.

Then he laid a few other fun things on me. He wants me to go in for a sleep study because I don't sleep well. He's wondering if lack of sleep is causing a lot of this. I told him that he's brilliant and should immediately win the Nobel Prize for figuring that one out. But then he explained to me that sleep has a huge effect on mood and cognitive functioning and energy levels. Once again, Brilliant! But he went on to say I was a prime candidate for sleep apnea. Wonderful. Now I'm going to have to be hooked up to some machine and sleep while people from the VA watch me! That won't be uncomfortable at all...

So that's it. That's where I'm at right now. It sucks that this doesn't move along quickly at all! Gets on my last damn nerve. But I started this and now I have (for my own sake) to finish it.

Plus he told me to get a hobby to start occupying my mind during down time. Too much time to think is a bad thing he says. (I told you he's flipping brilliant) So I went and bought a guitar. Gonna learn how to play that. I'll let you know how that goes...


I love you Mom...


  1. From the vets I talk to, I think that many grunts ask to go back repeatedly because that is where they feel the most comfortable. A place were everyone knows what everyone else is feeling and thinking. Not for any patriotic reasons. Returning home can be the most difficult thing you have to do in the military. The good thing is, you are doing something about it. Hang in there, dude. You will come out a much better man than all those around you. Also, do you go to AMVETS or any veterans organizations where there is someone there who knows what you are talking about?

  2. thanks for sharing. You are gonna be so ready for the sleep deprivation that comes with having a newborn. You are gonna laugh at your baby's little cries...and say, this is nothing.

    I am so glad you have a wise Mom.

  3. Come by sometime - I will teach you to paint or throw pottery on a wheel - a mudpuppy should like the pottery stuff. I posted a link to Team Rubicon in Joplin - I think you would find it interesting.

  4. The funny thing is, when I talked to the Army Shrink in Bagdad a few times, I was asked about how many times I'd been shot at and shit like that...I told the shrink:"Oh, that's not what's bothering me, it's that brand new dumbass 2nd LT who just got here last week and is trying to get folks killed because she has no fu--ing idea what she's doing. (we'd bee in Iraq 7 months by that time.)
    After I explained it all the shrink, that I expected to get shot at and stuff, but I didn't expect bad leadership.

  5. Hang in there brother, it does get better. Nam was my war, but all wars are the same, fucked up. We pay the price and suffer all the shit that comes with it though.

  6. Glad you are back to writing Mudpuppy! That is a good step. Please get the sleep study done. My Army friend, 3 times in Iraq with PTSD, had it done and he did have it and it helps. Please check out Volunteering helps me when I am down. Good to get out and help others. Though, when you are depressed you really do not want to do anything. I get that, been there and have the tshirt! I've seen where there is an app for a smart phone for PTSD. Educate yourself as much as you can on PTSD. Never quit! You wil have a new normal soon. Know that you have a big fan club out in cyberspace rooting for you!

  7. Hang in there pal.