I forget sometimes that PTSD/TBI is a mental health issue that is surrounded by so much STIGMA and risk attached to admitting you have it.  I vomit up my flashbacks, experiences and paint it all for the world to see because to do so frees me from them (my ghosts) – apparently I’ve forgotten that not everybody has the freedom  to do that.  Which is why I messed up asking this week’s question: specifically aimed at Veterans it asked how the transition back to civilian life triggered their PTSD.  From now on, subjects will be loose and free, without a specific agenda other than to inform, create networks of support and a forum for discussion without fear.

 

I’m not an alpha but I do feel an incredible urge to speed up this process. Get out there and save lives.  I hear this ticking and it feels like each moment we sit and do nothing a life is lost.  But that’s artists for you …  somewhere on the wrongside of the sanity line.

 

Thank you to @RickCanton for sponsoring the #PTSDChat, his huge network will hopefully get this out to those who are most vulnerable, most in need of support.

 

 

Here is the summary:

“My biggest challenge has been in trying to find myself again.  I am no longer the man I was, it’s soul destroying” @MikeBravo_19   I would like to point out that he is an incredible advocate for cops with PTSD and has created some of the most stunning photography I have ever seen.  I see a man who has transformed; perhaps not the same as he was but PTSD never leaves us unchanged, but I think new and improved with a humility not easily gained without severe pain.

@BILLTCC “many civilian priorities lack the meaning and teamwork of any first response job.”

@LeydenTomas “I felt like I was out of place all of the timing and my patience level was zero I felt like everyone was crowding me.”

“I was lost felt as though I did not understand the language or the methods, constantly confused and angry!”

“I have a hard time managing the crowds, noise, triggers and panic attacks.”

@tjrussellperry “Very hard to face the pain in others, especially loved ones.  No fault-takes trust, kindness, time.  Some people hide it to protect”

@murphcurling “How did being forced to transition back to civilian life affect your PTSD?  MORE ANXIETY FEEDS OFF ITSELF!”

@oksanaFit “No one understands me… work becoming unbearable.”

@TriGirlNeana “How about living with a heightened awareness and sensitivity.  Uber observant.  Almost to a fault.”

@ejones6606 “I am very hyper-vigilant, wondering if something is going to happen, I fear getting hurt again.”

 

The transition to civilian life can be traumatic and triggering as suddenly there is no order, there is nobody to receive you, nobody to care if you get up in the morning. “I used to wake up at 2am in a sweat, thinking I had overslept and was missing from action.  Took years to stop.”  @BillTCCC

 

From an awesome WAR Veteran @wwcawayne who has fought his own demons and is a mentor for others (please connect with him if you need advice/support – he’s the real deal).  And @ejones6606.

 

Some true pearls of wisdom:

 

  • Own your transition: you have to buy into your own recovery.  Be honest with yourself.  Know what you can do.
  • There are about 10 phases after an event that leads up to the onset [of PTSD]
  • Important part of the TRANSITION PROCESS: get yourself some civvy friends, you lost enough military ones because of PTSD
  • Don’t treat your mental health team like a scratching post, get in there and work at it.  Own it.  They are there to get you better – work at it.

My favourite tip was where to go to get used to being outside in the open, vulnerable: NURSERIES!  Garden Centres.  How awesome is that?  It’s a happy place, it’s open and it’s grounding.  I was wondering if I could get VTN/VTP and the Nursery Association of Canada together – work on a program for Veterans.  Let me know if there’d be support for this initiative.

From @XeoneVI “Video games can be the real answer to PTSD”  

In a side conversation he explained how he uses games to work through his flashbacks/memories, moving from the hard core back to the quieter more renewing, resolving games that give his brain a tranquility not easily attained any other way.

 

If you’re curious about this please connect with him.

 

Last word goes to @MikeBravo_19:

“No one is alone, although it may feel like it.  We are an army of injured and we should take care of our own.”

Kate Gillie
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