For many veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, recovery feels like an unachievable concept. Realizing that there is no ‘cure’ for PTSD can make recovery seem even more daunting. There are no concrete A-B-C steps, and each one’s journey is just as different as the trauma’s that put us here.
Once we accept that we will never be the person we were before, and mourn that loss, we can begin to take the steps we need to take to find out who we are now. For some, that is enough; others require medications, therapies, etc. There is no right or wrong, stronger or weaker, super -hooah or soup-sandwich. Each of us has to define what recovery means. Does it mean simply being able to go to the grocery store, or reclaiming more areas of our lives? Does it include therapy? Medications? A service dog?
Personally, recovery has meant having the ability to return to college and join a local Toastmasters club. I have gone from having a stutter when asking the drug store clerk for Tylenol to placing third in a district speech contest.
None of this would have been possible without me first taking a proactive approach to my treatment. Meds alone weren’t working for more than a few months at a time. The final medication combination had me gaining forty pounds in 4 months. Shortly afterwards, I was partnered with my service dog Chauncey. Because of Chauncey, I finally had the courage to begin therapy. I have returned to college full time, majoring in Social Work. Eventually, I hope to work with other veterans. I have tried several therapies, some of helped, others have been a train wreck.
The most important thing is to keep trying. Not everything is going to work the same (if at all) for everyone else. We can’t ever give up! Not on ourselves, and not on each other. We would never have left a buddy behind while we were over there… we risk the same cost if we leave them here.
23 veterans commit suicide every day. It is up to us to take care of each other. We had our buddies backs then, we should have them now. Find your buddy….make a new buddy. Take the Spartan Pledge together.
“I will not take my own life by my own hand without talking to my battle buddy first. My mission is to find a mission to help my warfighter family.”
Never leave a brother or sister behind. Never allow yourself to be left behind. If you need help, ask. If no one answers, yell! Keep yelling until someone hears you. Failure is not an option and suicide should never be one either. We need each other. We need you!