Many have asked me what it’s like to live with PTSD and/or what it was like to serve in a combat zone. It’s difficult to explain to someone who had never served, as the experience is unique, and it also effects everyone differently. For some the experience is so traumatic that they literally break down immediately and can never recover, while others go on to live normal everyday lives with little to no impact on their well-being. For the most part many come back with a degree of PTSD. This poem I found recently let’s the world see thru the eyes of the Veteran. I recently shared this with the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, as I am a vocal Gay Combat Veteran, and felt some of them needed to be educated on what some elements of my everyday life is, as well as many other Veterans.
One thing to think about is LGBT Veterans also face an added layer of anxiety as they also faced discrimination for being who they are. Some of which, like myself, where kicked out of the service for loving someone that the military said was unnatural. This stress along with the stress of surviving combat is something I would never want to wish on my worst enemies. It is however part of wgat makes me the man I am today, and why I have dedicated my adult life to helping my fellow Veterans navigate the hell that is the VA System, and life.
Take a look at the original poem here as well as some of the others on the site that Veterans have written. Their words are a peek into our lives that the world will never truly see…
The Following Are Some of the Feelings
That Most Will Never Know
By Robert R.
Today I freaked out in a store where danger was non-existent.
Maybe if I stay up all night doing coke there won’t be any nightmares.
But I can’t go without sleep.
The war is over for me.
I don’t understand why I panic or break out into sweats
or fits of anger.
Today I saw most of my family for the first time in a year.
Nothing felt real; everyone was but a stranger passing by me on a street.
“Dissociation” is the term, I believe.
I feel like my mind has shattered
and that I left my soul in Iraq.
I don’t want to admit that I’m hurting inside.
When my emotions were shut off,
I didn’t get to choose which ones I would keep.
I feel utterly lost.
I used to be strong and proud.
Now all I can think about is what I saw, what I experienced.
Nothing in the world seems to matter beyond that.
I think more now, and when I speak it’s with a sarcastic tone.
Months of feeling dead inside are followed by a week of depression and tears.
I feel weak and frail, my identity and faith shattered.
In “The Odyssey,” Homer asked:
“Must you carry the bloody horror of combat in your heart forever?”
The answer still eludes me.
I encourage everyone who reads these words to really take a moment and take them in. Try and see the world thru the eyes of the reader. May they help you better understand the horror of what living with PTSD is…
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