A day in the life…my life.
Reasons I should be happy,
I have 4 great children
I have a wonderful girlfriend that I Love very much.
I am getting a new kayak to finish my trip.
I am raising awareness about veteran suicide so I can save lives and families.
I have great friends, good friends, friends and those I call acquaintance.
I am alive and healthy and in love.
So why as I sit here alone right now do I feel,
I am not suicidal. I have not fulfilled my mission and that is an important driving force in my life right now. So don’t worry about that.
My girlfriends sister flew in yesterday and they are out visiting and going places and I am glad they are having a good time.
I picked up my new sunglasses and it’s my first time with progressive lens so I am walking around like a drunk. Hahaha.
The one problem is my condition is looked at the wrong way. It is a astigmatism because people don’t see it and don’t understand so we who suffer do not want to be outcast or looked down upon so we have learned to hide it well.
If you were to meet me for the first time you would never guess that I suffer depression and PTSD.
I had worked at Lowe’s for 7 years before I retired. I started telling my coworkers of my plans to paddle the east coast for Mission22. One day one coworker asked what Mission22 was. I told him all about it. A woman then asked what authority did I have to tell people about depression and PTSD? When I replied that I suffer from both you could of heard a pin drop. Everyone looked at me and said you??. I said I have learned to hide it very well. The conversations I had before I left where informative to the people I talked to.
You don’t have to be a combat veteran to suffer. I have it from 20 years of underwater recovery and a few life events I don’t wish to share. I will say I have been shot at so I know what live rounds sound like whizzing by your head.
Combat veterans, first responders, recovery divers all suffer. Plus we have all had to throw the switch to disassociate ourselves with death. I haven’t found a way to throw the switch back to normal yet. That bothers me because I am completely void of feelings when it comes to death. This makes one feel less human at least me.
So PTSD well the core of mine like I am sure others is depression. Depending on the severity of your episode there are other emotions adding to it compounding the situation. When I have a full blown episode I have at least 20 emotions all at once. Problem is you never know how you will react. To date I have not been physically violent but I have that potential. This scares me because I don’t know if I will be able to control myself to stop it escalating to the point I hurt someone. I do have a high IQ and common sense so i know what is going on and i call it peeling the onion. I take each emotion and try to understand it and then get rid of it. When I get to depression it is the hardest to reduce it so I save it for last.
I have had a few episodes only one full blown. I am getting better.
So here is a list of emotions I go through for a full episode,
Fight or flight
Protective (of the space near you)
This is all at once. Could you deal with It?
A study was done for law enforcement and the outcome is your safety zone need to be a perimeter of 21 feet or greater to have time to react to what is happening. When I have an episode would you want to be in my safety zone? Would you feel safe?
If I ask you to be in my zone I will tell you what I need you to do. Please only do what I ask nothing more. I am working hard at either maintaining and/or improving my situation and I need to concentrate really hard to get to near normal.
While having a partial episode my girlfriend asked if I was okay. I said no. I said I just need you to hold me don’t talk. Her holding made me feel secure so that I could concentrate on calming down. She was sorry she didn’t go to the concession stand with me at a crowded concert. She realized it was a mistake. I am handling crowds better but I am not 100% with it yet.
I was fine (so I thought) to go alone. I made it to the stand ordered my food got it. When I turned around it was an open area and prove darting in all directions. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to do. I could feel the panic and anxiety building. I knew I had to make it back to my seat and her. I put my head down and avoided looking at anyone and started back to my seat. I refer to this as running a gauntlet. I got close to our section and looked down at our seats. She wasn’t there. Panic starts to take over. I told myself she is u front taking pictures as she always does. I made the seat and sat with my eyes closed eating my fries going she would show soon. Sadness and loneliness crept in. I just sat there concentrating on getting better. She came back and I felt only a little relief until she held me.
I hope this helps you understand that this is for real. Our combat vets are dealing with harsher stuff than me. Some of them are too proud to seek help and those close to them can’t understand it because it’s hard for us to explain the emotions of war ching your buddy get blown to pieces right next you. Having to carry a 16 yr. Old boy to shore that drowned. Having to tell a mother, father and uncle I just recovered your daughter/niece who was beaten tapped and murdered and weighted with cinder blocks and thrown in a quarry. I had to look at everyone we recovered for the report I would write later.i live with the images of 6 people that stand out for some reason in my mind that show up like a slideshow when I get triggered. It is a hell of a way to live but I will persevere as I always do and as always I will hide it the best I can.
If you look into my eyes the glimmer is gone, all that remains is blank n empty. It is almost like those of us that have dealt with death on the scale we have can recognize each other just looking at each other’s eyes and then give the nod of the head knowing we are brothers and sisters.