You know, on my “About Me” page, I mention that I do not comprehend what one experiences in combat and how that must affect a person. But, after reading this powerful post, http://rhinoden.rangerup.com/i-have-ptsd-so-what/, and the equally powerful comments, I wonder if maybe the long-term effects are not that different.
Please do not misunderstand – I still refuse to compare my experiences with those of a combat veteran. The situations in which these unbelievably brave people put themselves is beyond my comprehension. However, in this essay, the author discusses many of the same issues and behaviors I have faced over the years.
The author talks about hyper-vigilance and avoiding large, noisy crowds. Some of the comments talk about never sitting with your back to the room. The author talks about being a “Sheepdog” and noticing everything going on around him. All of this resonates with me.
While I am certain the combat veterans among us are noticing different things, I too am hyper-vigilant. The author talks about being on the look out for danger. I am too. He notices the drug deal – I notice the overweight, middle-aged man eating a steak and wonder if he is going to choke or have a stroke. He notices a person that looks out-of-place – I notice the person who is drunk and might fall down the steps or into traffic.
As the author does, I also function normally in society, day after day. For the most part. You probably wouldn’t notice if we were sitting together in a restaurant or bar or conference room at work and some trigger lit me up internally. You would not know that my heart rate and blood pressure just sky-rocketed. You would not know that I will not sleep that night because of whatever memory or thought entered my brain. And I will get up the next day and go to work – just like you.
The one part of this essay that I have a hard time with is the “So what”. I want to say so what. I wish I could say so what. But I am not there yet. Of course, this is an internal battle – externally, I do not want to be treated differently. I do not want you to know when something lights me up. To you, I am not even able to say “I have PTSD”.
I am not there yet. Someday I will be there. Someday I will be able to say “I Have PTSD…..So What?”
Thanks to RU Rob at rhinoden.rangerup.com for sharing this perspective.