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PTSD and me


BrainPain
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Hello all. I'm not new to forums by any means and have been involved in many computer help sites and used to write tech articles and reviews. I also used to play games on the computer with my now 14 year old son. I used to do a lot of things, but I'm not much interested in life any more.

Some background info would probably help.

I've been in the Army for almost 20 years. I'm an E-7 and have been Aviation my whole time. Or was. I'm now assigned to a WTU (Warrior Transition Unit).

I've just made this account after reading this story. I myself have been a victim of people not believing I have PTSD. But for me, the worst attacker I have is myself. I constantly struggle with knowing I have PTSD, yet not wanting to believe it.

I tell myself all the time, "What happened to you? Why are you acting this way? Look at what all you've done in life! How the hell are you at this point mentally?"

During my deployment to Iraq, multiple things happened. First off, I was assigned to a Blackhawk Medical Evacuation Company. Yeah, MEDEVAC. The helicopters with the big, red crosses on the sides. I didn't fly in them, I ran the Platoon that does the maintenance on them.

This first event, I will not go into deeply. I was driving a 5-ton truck with 40' trailer loaded to the gills. Going through a town just North of Baghdad with crowds of people every where, on our way to Tikrit. Quite often, we were shot at. More often, people would run into the street to try and force us to stop. Presumably so they could steal our food, water and whatever else they could. We were briefed to keep the pedal floored and they would move. Well, one mn decided he was pissed off with us always roaring past. He pushed a kid, about 12 to 14 years old, in front of my truck. Thing is, his timing sucked. I barely had time to hit the brakes before the thump on the front of my truck. The cleaning I had to do later on was torture. This is my main issue mentally.

When we first got to Tikrit in 2003, I was going to a meeting when the Army EOD team there detonated a bunker filled with weapons and explosives. Myself and two others were knocked around from the concussion. I don't remember a lot about that event. Dirt lifting off the ground, windows being blown out of helicopters and the wave. The wave hit me so hard in the chest I felt like a kid again. Remember when you were a kid and fell out of something you were climbing and hit your back? That loss of breath, the feeling like you can't breathe, the pounding in your head, the pain in your back and chest? That's what it felt like. As if I had been punched right in the middle of my chest with a nice kick to the balls. I hurt from testicles to the top of my head. I was seen at the time, but really just blew off any help since another guy was in much worse shape than I was. And I had a job to do.

I suffered with headaches, loss of mental capacity, loss of sleep, panic attacks, lack of personality, change in personality, numbness on my left side, loss of memory and organizational skills and so on. I used to be this very well liked, very technical and smart man. I was the guy the test pilots would go to for advice when they were stumped on the helicopter. My platoon was tight, their performance was outstanding and as a result of the tremendous amount of dedication my Soldiers had for their jobs, we received the Army's Master of Readiness award while in the desert. This is something that is rarely given to a combat active company, much less a MedEvac company. But those young men and women earned it. They worked their butts off for me. I used to be able to run a platoon with ease. But found I wasn't able to keep up after the explosion.

We lost three helicopters and seven KIA, four WIA. Some excellent people were lost over there. I think about them everyday. Them and the little boy.

After I returned from Iraq, I was wired tighter than a drum. Had some drinking problems, wife problems and anger issues. About killed one guy when he cut me off. I was on my bike and chased him for 30 miles at speeds over 100+ MPH. When he ran out of gas, I put a hurting on that poor man. Luckily, some other guys got me off the man before I did too much damage.

I wasn't sleeping much, maybe eight hours a week, I was always wired up on coffee or other type drinks, always antsy, hyper-aware of everything, so on and so forth. I was constantly having bad headaches, severe joint pain, anxiety attacks, dizziness, nausea, memory loss, getting lost too easily and my ability to do simple math was toast.

Then, six months after I was home, I woke up one morning with a severe headache, unable to control my left arm properly, puking my guts out. My wife took me to the hospital. Long story shorter, the explosion had ruptured a tiny blood vessel in my brain. That morning, it was bleeding again. The Neurosurgeon in Denver told me from imaging, it looked like I had bled 9 to 14 times over the last 16 months. When I went back 16 months, it put me in Tikrit, Iraq at the time of the explosion. So I had brain surgery to repair the vessels. That was in November 2004.

Flash forward to October 2006. I have an emotional breakdown on post when a dog runs out in front of my truck as I'm driving to work. I lose it. I show up to work confused, angry and crying without knowing I'm crying. I get sent home for the day. Next day, I have an appointment for a head Doc. He asks me a few questions, I answer vaguely. He keeps working me over until I blurt out about the boy and I have a severe emotional event that puts me in an out-patient mental health program for four weeks. I come out of there feeling better, but faking it more than anything so I can stay in. I now have 17 years or so in the Army and I'm trying all I can to hang on to retirement. No way in hell I can work a regular job if I get kicked out due to medical issues, so I push my mind and body ever onward.

April 1, 2007. I'm barely making it in the Army. Some buddies of mine are covering for my severe shortcomings at work. I'm a wreck emotionally and physically. In pain all the time. Exhausted beyond belief. But I HAVE to make it to 20 for my retirement. I show up to work that morning in a daze from lack of sleep. My boss, a good friend of mine, sends me home. I go home and go to bed. Phone rings, it's my wife. Bad weather is coming in and the schools are closing. I go pick up my son at 11:15 or so. By 1315, my son and I are in our hallway while an F4 tornado destroys the house all around us. I get injured, but keep my son safe, thank GOD! Some how, I manage to pull in some reserve energy. We rebuild our house. Move back in. But I'm spent. I fall asleep at the wheel while driving to work and wreck my truck. Not badly and running off the road prevents me from taking anyone out with me. $1200 later and I have new tires and new exhaust. Still not telling anyone the truth. Due to my wife being on my case about my attitude, I've been seeing a counselor for the past 12 months or so. But never really giving her the full story, never telling anyone all my medical issues, not even my wife. I don't know why. I know I was trying to stay in for the $$ aspect, but also, because I refused to believe I was having so many issues. Army was focused on the physical issues as part of the brain surgery. The mental ones were "being worked on" in mental health. And I was going stark raving mad. Not able to drink due to the effects on me after the brain surgery, I found solace in nothing now. Even prayer wasn't working for me.

I realize it's taking me hours to wake up each morning. A constant mental "rebooting" feeling each morning that lasts till noon. I'm not showing up for work till 1300 each day. I get lost in my own neighborhood if I get distracted. People walking along the sides of the road freak me out all the time. If there's a kid in a red shirt, I'm in a panic. I go to bed at 2200, wait for my wife to slip off to sleep, then I get up and watch TV till 0300-0400. Wake up at 0600 and start all over, always in a daze, never recalling the events of the day. I start mumbling all the time, drooling if I'm not careful and staring off into space. I lose myself in conversations, am always irritable from the headaches and in general, smile my way through the day. At some point, my wife tells me I've not been taking showers or caring for myself for the last three years. She goes on about a multitude of things, chewing me out because she doesn't know the issues I'm having. She thinks I'm walking into things all the time from lack of sleep. To her, everything is about my lack of exercise, lack of sleep, lack of nutrition....hard to eat when you're about to throw up 20 hours out of the day, and lack of a good attitude.

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So I'm done. Spent. Tired and in pain. I go to the hospital each day for two weeks straight. End up in the ER twice with severe headaches. No new bleeds. Finally, a Doc at the Army hospital figures out MTBI. Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury from Iraq. Tests are done, a SPECT scan reveals extensive damage all around my brain. I'm now in for some HBOT stuff and things are getting better.

But now, the PTSD stuff is coming on strong. With a vengeance. For years after returning, my life was a blur of motions, emotions and daily confusion. Now I'm thinking clearer, have more energy, better attitude, sleep better...with a BIPAP machine too since they figured out I have brain damage induced severe obstructive sleep apnea, and I finally have some hope for life. But these things from Iraq are really starting to get to me. Images of the boy, the people we lost, all kinds of crap invade my thoughts both day and night. I'm in a hotel right now with three floors. Someone slams their door and I'm having a freak fit. Voices get raised outside by the pool and I'm having an emotional event here in my room. When I go into a restaurant, I have to sit *just right* so I can see everything. I avoid public places like the plague. I cannot drive in busy traffic without getting EXTREMELY irritated, angry and stressed out.

With all the issues going on, I'm losing hope of ever being near normal again. I can't control the amount I smoke, I fear I'm addicted to my pain killers for more than pain relief and I sit here in desperation trying to figure out why the wonderful woman I'm seeing for therapy, who has done wonders for me in some areas, is driving me crazy. I feel like all I do is go over the same crap time after time after time. And I have the same issues every single flippin day. My counselor is awesome, but for some reason, I'm just not friggin getting it. My brain just keeps insisting on going back to this crap. Focusing on it, picking at it, replaying it, criticizing myself for not doing things differently, blaming myself one moment for the men we had killed, my damned friends! Then the next, knowing it wasn't my fault....it wasn't some galactic karma for running over a boy that caused these men to die. Then blaming myself again.

And not understanding why I am so weak as to be affected this badly. I spent 7 years in Special Operations Aviation. I'm 6'2", 220 pounds and even though I'm physically messed up a bit, I'm in pretty good shape for the shape I'm in. I've never quite anything, never backed down from a fight and always sought out those adrenaline drenching life experiences. Hell, when I came out of surgery, I was on a 6th grade reading level. My math is worse. But I don't love math. I do, however, LOVE reading and writing. Always have. I taught myself via computer programs how to read and write on a college level. Everything I've set out to do in life, from reaching the pinnacle of Army Aviation to recovering from brain surgery to rebuilding my house hands on, I've always done what I've set my mind to do.

But this, this PTSD crap is kicking my butt. And I'm a mess.

Two posts because it was too long. Sorry for the long winded stuff.

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It's long but it is an important story with a lot of layers. And you're a good writer - you've provided a lot of detail which helps us (me anyway) to get a better feel for what it is like to be in your skin. An uncomfortable place to say the least.

I have to start my day here so i have to make this post brief. I will write more later as I'm able.

Though this stuff is making you crazy, you are doing a lot of things right, and you are lucky to have some of the physical stuff documented properly. That you know you've sustained a brain injury is important. Though this may complicate your recovery from PTSD and whatever else is happening, knowing that there has been such damage can be strangely helpful. It makes it feel like it isn't just all in your head.

I'm the last person to talk badly about "all in your head", by the way. PTSD is very real and very disabling. And the events you've described are exactly the sort of events we know today can lead to PTSD. It is very good that you are in therapy for this. Can you describe the therapy you are receiving? I would like to know more about how they are taking you though this myself, and I suspect that others would benefit from learning about it too. And we can share some of what we know re: PTSD, for instance this podcast with Edna Foa, Ph.D. who is a PTSD therapy researcher and clinical scientist in Philadelphia. Or this one with Frank Ochberg, MD, a psychiatrist who has worked with PTSD for most of his career.

One final thought for now. Your wife isn't crazy when she pushes you to attend to those very basic rhythms of life - sleep, diet, exercise. These things are important for decreasing your stress (which you can read about a little here). I know sleep may be a substantial problem. But doing what you can do to set a routine for healthy lifestyle is absolutely vital to your overall recovery. It is a foundation on which the rest of you sits.

Mark

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Thank you for the links. Listening to them now.

My treatment. Well, at first, before the tornado, we went through most of my Iraq experiences. At this time, I wasn't even thinking about the explosion. I had been through explosions before having been deployed through out the world as a SpecOps crew chief. In Iraq, we were exposed to many explosions ranging from Mortar fire to detonated enemy weapons caches to enemy actions of varying nature. So that one particular one didn't really stand out in my mind after having the brain surgery and we weren't focused on it. My therapist noted that I was constantly making notes during our sessions and "getting back to her later." I was also directed to do various things such as use headache and sleep journals, mental anguish entries, so on and so forth. But I would forget to do these things. I would see her on Monday and then, by Thursday when I saw her again, I would be able to actually talk about the previous appointment. She thought I was ADHD or something and I was almost put on meds for it. But I got tired of medications and didn't want to be put on anything else.

My therapy has gone from this highly disjointed relaying of events covering my years of service to focusing on my hitting the boy. Some days, I'm too emotionally scrambled to talk about it with her. Other days, I talk about it with no emotion except tears flowing. Then other days, she leads me to talking about it from a very practical point of view. She has helped me realize that:

1. I could not and cannot control the actions of others.

2. We had been briefed that convoys were being attacked the moment they stopped when people ran out in front of them. There were multiple instances of people jumping in front of a convoy, the driver coming to a stop and then the enemy opening fire on them all the way to the convoy stopping and the locals stealing everything they could carry. I was briefed not to stop, that I would endanger my Soldiers if I did. I had a Hummer behind me and behind that, a truck with 25 of my Soldiers in it.

3. When the man pushed the child in front of my truck, I did everything I could to handle the situation as it was presented to me. I couldn't dodge left or right without running into the crowds bulging into the street. I couldn't stop in time due to the size of the load I was hauling.

4. If I were placed in the same situation, but with a way out of it, I would have taken that out.

There's been a lot of guided realizations about this event. There's been a lot of common sense introduced into it. But so far, my brain simply wants me to suffer for this. I know how narrow my options were, I realize fully that I would have done anything in the world to prevent this from happening, I would have given my own life to prevent it. But for some reason, my brain insists on torturing me with it. It doesn't make any sense. I don't understand it. I've always been highly detail oriented and able to break things down pretty well. No matter how many times I pick this apart, talk about it, have major realizations on my helplessness in this situation, all of that stuff, I just keep coming back to dreams, daily thoughts of it and beating myself up over it. Right now, I'm kinda in therapist limbo because I'm 350 miles from home in a hotel getting this HBOT therapy.

The HBOT is doing a tremendous job of helping me think clearer. I lived in a daily fog that obscured life almost completely. This treatment has lifted that fog. Before doing this, I wouldn't have been able to sit here and write this much. I would have been too confused, headaches would have pushed me away from the computer and my sentence structure and spelling was horrible. So I'm quite happy to be thinking better, but with that, I suddenly feel as though my brain is trying to process ALL of Iraq. All at once. And I'm having a hell of a time breaking it down to specific events. It's just too much all at once and I can't make sense of all the emotions or thoughts trying to come out. I keep having these limited flashbacks, seeing the look on the kids face as he was pushed out into the street. The anger and hatred on the man's face, the dust being kicked up by the boys feet, the muscles standing out on the boys arms and neck, his eyes. Then the resounding thwang from the front of the truck. That bumper is 1" thick steel. How the hell does something as soft as a human being make it reverberate like that? Getting out of the truck at a fuel stop a couple hours later and having to clean all this stuff off the truck.

It's a crap shoot on whether or not I will go on to blaming myself for our lost crews. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. No rhyme or reason for it.

I have one thought about the boy and I'm off on a complete review of the whole thing. Doesn't matter if I'm driving, cutting grass or laying in bed, the whole thing replays itself in my mind. All the emotions come back and I'm sick and tired of it. It's so common, I hardly even react to it any more. My heart doesn't race any more, my skin doesn't tingle any more, my brain doesn't overload anymore. I just live through it. Often, I will sweat, and sometimes I will have physical reactions like racing heart and goosebumps, but not as much as it used to be. Now I find myself wondering if that means I'm simply growing numb to it or if I'm getting to the point of just not caring any more.

And what's the price of not caring about killing someone? :confused: Does that confirm the monster I see myself as?

I've GOT to get to a point of being able to handle this, process it and live with it. My career depends on it. I cannot afford to dwell on this for another five years.

I said I hardly every react to reviewing the whole thing in my mind. But quite often, I find myself slowly crying. No jagged crying events in public, just a few tears. It can be pretty embarrassing.

Edited by BrainPain
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Dear Brainpain-

I am not a professional therapist, just a thoughtful RN, but I feel compelled to respond to your posts.

My father was career Army & served in WWII but he lucked out & was not assigned to combat.

Anyway, in one of your posts, you express the desire to "hang onto retirement" because you won't be able to work a regular job if you are discharged from the service for health reasons. This may be true but I want you to know that I believe you have an outstanding writing talent and I hope some day that you will be able to get published and make a good living from it.

I also would like to give you my input regarding your self blame about the kid who was pushed under your truck. I think that the reason humans tend to blame themselves over horrible events over which they have no control is that it is abhorrent to us that we could be so powerless.

It is frightening to think that out of the blue, so to speak, you could be forced to accidentally kill someone. So, you blame yourself for the accident so at least you can feel less powerless.

The "soul work" that you are doing with your therapist is unimaginably difficult (but that's not news to you, is it?), but I believe that you are moving in the right direction in your recovery. Unfortunately, it takes an agonizingly long time.

Thank you so much for telling your story. It has enriched my understanding of the horrors of war and it is a way for you to keep processing the very difficult events that were thrust upon you in Iraq.

Please keep us updated on how you are doing. ***HUGS***

Catmom

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Winter-

I've written extensively about all of this. I'm just tired of writing and thinking about it. I got to a point where I would try anything to get past this. That is the only reason I went to therapy and I force myself to be so open about all of this in the first place. The effects on my family and I have been tremendous. Before Iraq, I was the rock climbing, camping, fishing, motorcycling, boating, bungee jumping, canoeing, hiking, skiing, sports playing husband and father. Now, I don't like being outside, even when I have enough energy to do so. This past summer, we took the boat out twice. And I made excuses for the other 20 times my family wanted to go. I make excuses to not go on family vacations or to my bro-in-laws house in Florida. Just too intimidated by it. And I simply can't risk the stupid flippin questions people like to ask about Iraq.

Catmom-

It's mainly through writing that I get this stuff out. In person, when I start talking about it, I cry too much. I get too confused. Too ashamed. It took me until this past February before I even told my wife about it. I've locked all these things up so hard, they just sit in a cage in my skull and claw at the soft tissues of my mind. I had my therapist ask me, "What would happen to you if you let all of this out?" My answer was, "I would lose my mind. More specifically, I would lose what control I've managed to maintain." She asked me, "And what would happen if you lost control?" I had a panic attack right then and there. I never answered her. But it feels like I would just cease to exist if I let it all out. Like a small black hole would form in the middle of my brain and suck everything that I am, have ever been, or ever will be, into a screaming, swirling maelstrom of destruction.

When I look at movies of tornadoes, I'm fascinated by them now, I see them as a brother almost. Tremendously destructive forces coming together, spinning ever faster, tighter, and focusing all it's power into a single point on the face of this earth that renders awful devastation and destruction in its wake. While I'm terrified of it, I'm also curious.

So I see myself. I'm terrified of it, but I'm also intensely curious as to how I've gotten to this point. Some of the things I've done over the years, the things I've seen, the experiences I've had, none of them have ever affected me the way this one has. In the tornado, eight kids were killed just a mile from where the tornado hit my home. I wrote about my experience in that storm. The fear was intensely electrifying, the sense of impending doom for my son and I concrete. I've had two or three dreams about that day, and then it was over. I've not drempt of it since about two weeks after it happened. I've been in helicopter crashes, near misses so close as to make you scream and have seen a man I knew well burn to death in a helicopter crash within feet of us. No dreams. Other stuff that would tear the mental fabric of your mind has happened to me, and no dreams. But this, this event haunts and hunts me, tracks me day and night. I have been in my back yard at night and had horrible waking dreams occur. Once, I was startled by a noise on the other side of my fence while I was walking towards the house. It was about midnight or so and I had been out in the back yard smoking and watching the stars. I turned to go inside and suddenly, I felt as though the boy from Iraq was behind me, scrambling through the grass as fast as his battered little body would pull him, half his head crushed in, blood pouring out of his eyes in the place of tears. I was convinced he was going to jump on my back and rip my throat out with his broken teeth. I could SEE this in my mind as I RAN into my house!

I've never run from anything! Fear was as alien to me as breathing water. But I've developed a fine understanding of that emotion now.

I just don't understand all of this. I was so strong mentally and physically before this happened.

Thank you both for your posts. There's always little nuggets of wisdom and new areas to explore after listening and reading about different perspectives.

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I can totally sympathize with your experience with the young kid, i have had similar experiences. it was my battalion that tore down the statue of saddam in baghdad in 2003, and while i was there we ended up guarding the Palestine Hotel. i had a lady bring me her sick dying child, her and her husband could bairly speak english as she handed me the young child who was completely naked and only about a year old. i took the child to our corpsman and was told that there was nothing that we could do because of how the stages of his illness was. I stepped over the razor wire and walked over to the mother, and when i looked down the child had died in my arms, the mother refused to take the child as i screamed at her at the top of my lungs and tried to push the dead baby into her arms. she eventually took her sons body. i took my sunglasses off so that she could see the tears in my eyes and told her to go to a hospital. as they started to walk away she realized he had died, and began screaming and wailing uncontrolably.

I went back over to where my corpsman was and a man with a five year old girl came running up to us screaming and balling his eyes out. the little girl had been burned over 80% of her body. The corpsman had me help him slowly remove the bandages that had been put on her by someone earlier, her pain was imense and you could tell by her blood curdling screams. we started to remove the bandages and literallly peeled her flesh off of her. we stopped so as to not hurt her anyomore. i felt like a monster for peeling her flesh off, but we were only treating the wounds, but the bandages were way too dry on her burnt flesh.

you talk about the meteor that you just wish would fall out of the sky and nail yah, and i can totally relate. for me i go back to this one fire fight from iraq where i was patrolling and had just stopped briefly on a road about four feet from a palm tree. three tracers (15 rounds, every fifth a tracer) came tearing through the dense palm grove and smacked repeatedly into the palm tree, one of the tracers spun around on the ground at my foot. my buddy kept screaming; "You should be dead!! you should be dead!!" that tree saved my life, but there isn't some point during any given day where i don't wish that i had been on the otherside of the tree, and i will often think what my buddy had yelled at me, "YOU SHOULD BE DEAD!"

I'm doing ok or at least trying to as far as the PTSD goes. i hate writing my stories down and reading them over and over again. it's weird how you go into the military to try and better yourself and the world in some way, but then something happens inside and things aren't in color anymore, it's all just black and white. one of the things that bothers me the most is the fact that honestly can't remember anything from the last six years of my life. i don't remember my daughters birth, her birthdays, family trips or activities....all i remember is the damn war. it has plagued my life, and hopefuly someday there will be a night without fear, a day without anxiety, and a life without regret. Take care, and keep in touch brother

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Hi Brainpain

I truly sympathize with what you are going through at this time. It must be soooo Difficult for you!

You cannot keep putting the blame on yourself! You had orders to follow and that is what you did. It was the mentalallity of this man that did this to the boy. It was him thinking only of himself that caused this accident!

Everyone has a story.

Everyone has had something happen in their life.

Whether you know it, whether you understand it isn't the issue.

It's whether you accept it and choose not to judge.

They say "you can't judge anyone until you've walked a mile in their shoes."

But even if you have, you still can't judge.

Every person is different. Every person deals with things differently.

It's what makes us who we are.

But if we continue to judge other's without understanding the full picture,

were ruining ourselves. Were ruining the world.

And it's possible were furthering their damage?

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Brainpain and USMarine,

I want to make a suggestion to each of you that I hope you will take seriously and look into:

There is a program in New York called "Puppies Behind Bars." This organization trains Servuce Dogs for those with all types of disabilities. Now, read carefully:

Puppies Behind Bars runs a program called "Dog Tags." The dog tags program is for veterans from Iraq and/or Afghanistan who suffered either or both physical injuries and PTSD. The dogs are provided FREE to those veterans. Both of you have been to either Iraq or Afghanistan or both and you most likely qualify for the program.

The URL for Puppies Behind Bars is: http://www.puppiesbehindbars.com

phone number: 212-680-9562

Once you are at the site, go to the Dog Tags program and follow the instructions.

What I want both of you to know is that this works. I know from direct experience. I have worked with and know several veterans who qualified for and got these dogs. Several had traumatic brain injuries(TBI) and PTSD or PTSD alone. What happens is that after you qualify, you are flown at NO COST to yourself to a trainer who specializes in this and who has you meet your dog, train with the dog and, then, take the dog home. All expensed paid in full by dog tags.

This has made a huge difference in the lives of the men I met. Afraid to go out of the house, having terrible flashbacks, etc, the dog helped and is helping them in untold way. Again, this is not a "theory." I have seen it and been involved.

At the very least, look it up.

Again, the phone number to discuss this with them is:

212-680-9562 and, yes, you can use my name:

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

Edited by ASchwartz
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Thank you Dr. Schwartz. I looked over the details and it seems like an awesome program. There's only a couple of things that would keep me from jumping all over it. One, I'm not sure how much longer I'll be in the Army. So my money is pretty tight right now. Two, I have two Beagles and a Cat. My family loves animals. But right now with my financial future being so uncertain, I hesitate to take on this responsibility. I can really see how it would help, but I would hate having to turn around a year later and tell them I couldn't afford the dog's vet bills and food. Not when there's others out there who can benefit from this and provide a better financial environment for the doggie. Much less having to deal with the emotional bond I would surely form with the dog. :)

After I'm retired and certain of my ability to afford it, I will look back in and see if they're still making this offer. Thank you very much for pointing it out.

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I'm sitting in my hotel room tonight staring at two free movie passes the Dr's office gave me. I went through all the motions of finding where the theater is, finding out the movie times and getting a shower.

Now I'm sitting here with my hands shaking. I'm in a strange town, I don't know my way, I get lost easier at night even with my GPS, I'm way out of my comfort zone and I'm sitting here too scared to go to the flippin movies. The stupid place is less than three miles from here and I'm terrified of going. I cannot even begin to see myself in a theater without my wife with me. Not by myself. With her, I would in my own town. But here, I don't know if I would go even if she were here.

I'm so far outside of my comfort zone during the day in a strange place that trying to go somewhere after dark is impossible. My brain is saying:

-You can't see the sides of the road.

-You can't se anyone walking down the road.

-There might be boxes or bags sitting by the side of the road and you won't see them.

-You won't be able to see windows, roof tops, stairwells, inside other cars or around obstructions. In Iraq, you depend on shadows to tell you what's going on in areas you can't see. No shadows at night.

Great.

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Hello BrainPain, I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2001 for childhood trauma. But it has never been like what you are going through. My first post to you was well intended but I just did not choose the right words and I feel bad about that. I had a reaction to 911 on that day even though I was not in NY. Again not at all what you are going through, but I at least can somewhat relate in part to some of your fears and reactions. But I will not say that I know how you feel and that I've been in your shoes as I have not.

I wish there was some amount of comfort or wisdom I could contribute here but I do not know what that might be. My heart goes out to you. I wish you great strength, healing, and hope; which perhaps is already there inside you, being drawn upon daily.

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Hello BrainPain, I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2001 for childhood trauma. But it has never been like what you are going through. My first post to you was well intended but I just did not choose the right words and I feel bad about that. I had a reaction to 911 on that day even though I was not in NY. Again not at all what you are going through, but I at least can somewhat relate in part to some of your fears and reactions. But I will not say that I know how you feel and that I've been in your shoes as I have not.

I wish there was some amount of comfort or wisdom I could contribute here but I do not know what that might be. My heart goes out to you. I wish you great strength, healing, and hope; which perhaps is already there inside you, being drawn upon daily.

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Winter, your first post in this thread was perfectly fine. I'm not sure why you deleted it, but it held some good advice for anyone dealing with this...uh, I don't know if it's an illness or an injury. Feels like an injury.

One thing I've learned is that PTSD is significant now matter how it came about. I see no difference between a person with PTSD from my type situation or that of a car accident victim or some one with childhood memories whipping their butts.

I had an extremely complicated, abusive and somewhat tragic childhood. But never suffered with PTSD from the multiple experiences I had back then. Which for me is what makes this one so very difficult to comprehend. As I've said, I'm one of the worst people who question my PTSD. Oh, I'm not saying about pretending to have it as many people in the military like to say about service people with this injury. I KNOW I have it. I KNOW the reason(s) why I have it. I'm just not understanding WHY after all the other things I've been through in life. I really thought I was too strong mentally, too intelligent, too immune to ever have this. As a kid, I saw the girl across the street run over on her big wheel by a drug dealer and killed. I saw my sister shot in the leg in her room from a drive by outside. My father tried to kill all of us with a shotgun one time in a drunken/drug induced rage as my mom was driving us away from him. The car was full of holes and the back windows blown out.

Then my many military experiences with all kinds of stuff. From training things like SERE-C to real life war time like Iraq. I simply do NOT want PTSD. I don't need it. I don't like it. I don't deserve it and I certainly never thought I was inclined to get it. I had this big idea that I was too professional, too tough, too well trained, too well experienced to ever have this and be living my life like this. Hell, when I went in for 8 hours of brain surgery, I was joking with my wife and kids, reassuring them I would be fine. I left the hospital within 60 hours of surgery because I was up and walking around, joking with everyone and eating like a farm boy just in from the fields.

I guess I'm just thoroughly confused. And, to be quite honest about it, after all I've been through, I thought I was indestructible. So I denied having issues for a long time. Once I realized it wasn't a temporary thing, I stuffed it out of sight. Then, once I sought help on my wonderfully supportive and loving wife's insistence, I down played everything. I'm just now, within the last few months, being completely open with my therapist, psychologist and GP.

Hell, I'm too damned confused.

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Wow you are one tough guy! I do believe that you have enormous strength inside of you. None of it is your fault I hope you know. I would not wish any of that on my worst enemy! I am so glad to hear you now have such good relationships with your "care team". That is so important. Without trust, it would not work, IMO. :)

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There's been a lot of guided realizations about this event. There's been a lot of common sense introduced into it. But so far, my brain simply wants me to suffer for this. I know how narrow my options were, I realize fully that I would have done anything in the world to prevent this from happening, I would have given my own life to prevent it. But for some reason, my brain insists on torturing me with it. It doesn't make any sense.
The repetition is aimed at helping habituation to occur - meaning that it is intended to help drain some intensity from the emotion accompanying the memory. It will not necessarily help the memory to make sense. the emotional and logical parts of the brain are separate things that can talk to one another, but which are not tightly integrated. Its really more like we think and feel in parallel rather than in a completely unified fashion. You know that there were limited degrees of freedom that led you to be the driver that ran over that boy and that it could not have been otherwise under that set of circumstances, but the emotional part of your brain doesn't deal with language so much. It deals in intensity of experience, and in accordance with the foundations of your moral sense. It helps to continue to think about the events rationally and to explain them to yourself, becuase you need to come up with the truthful determinism of the event to combat the exaqerations and distortions that the emotions will otherwise inspire, but you shouldn't expect yourself to think your way out of the pain you're in.

Mark

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First off, thank you for your time to reply Doc.

The repetition is aimed at helping habituation to occur - meaning that it is intended to help drain some intensity from the emotion accompanying the memory.

That's what my counselor has said. This is why she keeps me coming back to this and tells me to read the stories I've written about it.

Its really more like we think and feel in parallel rather than in a completely unified fashion.

That's what my counselor has said also. And she pointed out that with PTSD, the emotional track will often leave the parallel direction it has been traveling in and bounce all over the place, often intersecting and disrupting "reasonable thought" on it's track.

You know that there were limited degrees of freedom that led you to be the driver that ran over that boy and that it could not have been otherwise under that set of circumstances, but the emotional part of your brain doesn't deal with language so much. It deals in intensity of experience, and in accordance with the foundations of your moral sense.

By speaking with my counselor, we've determined that I am hyper/over protective of children. I was abused in just about every way a kid can be. From physical/verbal by my dad, emotional/verbal/physical by my mother on to sexual by an aunt and a male dentist who used drugs to put me in a light sleep state. I had to go to court because this guy was making videos and selling them out of his office. The guy was sentenced to 30 years in prison. My dad always claimed the guy was killed in prison because once when he was serving time for DUI/Eluding Police, he put the word out about what the guy was doing to kids. All I can remember is being in court and hearing the charges and the testimony. To this day, I cannot remember what happened in this guys office.

It helps to continue to think about the events rationally and to explain them to yourself, becuase you need to come up with the truthful determinism of the event to combat the exaqerations and distortions that the emotions will otherwise inspire, but you shouldn't expect yourself to think your way out of the pain you're in.

Mark

The underlined part there is the first time someone has said that to me. It makes a lot of sense in a weird kind of way. My ability to think through highly stressful situations, analyze the helicopter and fix it, breeze through most college subjects, remain in control during intense situations, overcome physically challenging events, all of these things have led me to believe I could just think my way through this.

I was way too confident in myself and my abilities. While I'm accustomed to challenges, both large and small in life, I'm not accustomed to losing. That's why drinking a lot was so easy to stop. I don't like feeling out of control of myself. I'm no control freak, my wife could tell you that. I know from hard experience you cannot and will never control the actions of others and you will never make sense of why some people choose to do the things they do.

I know, this isn't a game to win or lose, but that's how I feel. Like I'm losing. I'm so confused over all of this. Confusion and fear rule my thoughts about this. I cannot even begin to clearly explain all the emotions I have about this whole thing. I just want to understand.

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I really appreciate this post, the quotes from Dr. Dombeck and your comments. I understand much better.

Do you have the feeling like it is all inconceivable and you have yet to process it in your head? Thus you are confused? That's how it's felt for me.

All the stuff from your childhood, that probably just felt normal to you? Did any of it feel inconceivable to you at the time? I'd think that all that stuff would be difficult for a young child to absorb. At least it was for me. Do you feel like you have processed all that in your head? Have you ever experienced an emotion or emotions without memories?

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Do you have the feeling like it is all inconceivable and you have yet to process it in your head? Thus you are confused? That's how it's felt for me.

I feel like there's no way this could affect me this much. I keep saying, foolishly I might add, that I'm too strong to be affected this way. So yes, there's a very strong sense of disbelief in what happened. My brain simply does NOT want to come to grips with a man pushing a child in front of a truck traveling 40mph that weighs about 35,000lbs.

All the stuff from your childhood, that probably just felt normal to you?

Drama, conflict, arguing, violence and intoxicated people defines my childhood.

Did any of it feel inconceivable to you at the time? I'd think that all that stuff would be difficult for a young child to absorb. At least it was for me.

It happened so frequently, that when I began dating my wife, I thought her family was screwed up because they were always happy. I went to five different elementary schools and 7 different high schools. We lived out of our station wagon for weeks at a time. "Camping" as a kid was us not having a home. Stability was alien to me and made me somewhat uncomfortable around my then girlfriends parents. I was always waiting for her dad to show up drunk and punching people. One time, he got pretty tipsy, bordering on drunk and I was just waiting for the arguing to start. Instead, he remained happy and went to bed by 11pm. I was amazed.

So no, it rarely was unbelievable, inconceivable or shocking. What was shocking was when my dad stopped drinking for a year. During that time, my brother, who is 14 months younger than I, and I were the happiest we had ever been. And why we didn't end up in more elementary schools.

Do you feel like you have processed all that in your head? Have you ever experienced an emotion or emotions without memories?

I think about childhood from time to time. But I simply don't recall a lot of it like my wife recalls hers. There are big gaps in my memory as a kid. It's all fuzzy. From 2000-2002, I went to a therapist a lot to deal with issues from childhood. But I've never had nightmares about it as an adult. I did as a kid, but that all came to a halt when I quit high school in the 11th grade to go to work so my mom could afford to divorce my father. This was after my father disappeared for three days and then came home and started beating my mom in the middle of the night. I was 17 at the time and was about 40lbs lighter, but two inches taller than my dad. I woke up to it and something in me snapped. I went into their bedroom and beat my father so badly we didn't talk for two or three years. But that was the end of my nightmares and worry about him. From that point on, I faced forward instead of back. Well, until my wife told me in 2000 that I was too protective of our kids. My daughter, who was 10 at the time, was with me at a store. I caught a guy in uniform at the PX checking out my daughter as she was looking at underwear. I mean, checking her out. I went up to him and said, "She's a cutie huh?" At first, he was startled. But then this sick as hell sly smile came over his face and he said, "Yeah, if she were 18, I'd have to see if she wanted to make a run down the Hershey highway with me at the wheel."

I lost it. The only thing that saved me from getting kicked out of the Army over it was a Colonel's wife saw and heard the whole thing. She actually kicked him in the testes after I had knocked him out. She went to bat for me and got her husband to say a couple of things about it. But I still got in considerable trouble over it. Since this wasn't the first time it had happened, my wife decided to intervene and demanded I go to therapy. One of the best things that wonderful lady has done was demanding that. Especially as my daughter got older. You will never see me comment in a thread about people who are attracted to children. Not here or anywhere else. I get barbaric in my beliefs of what should happen to people who act on those impulses. But also, I was pretty emotionally neutral about most things. So my wife wanted me to improve on that. My wife has heard me say I love you at least a million times. And she knows without a doubt my love for her is complete and real. But I have a way of not getting upset or passionate about things other people do. Like jealousy. I don't have it in any shape, form or fashion. One time when my wife asked if her dancing with another man would make me upset, I said no, it wouldn't. That if she ever cheated on me in any way, I would just stop caring about her, turn it all off. And walk away. She has seen me do this with "buddies" who screwed me over in one way or another. I don't get upset or get revenge. I just turn off any emotion dealing with that person.

Of course, my kids have taught me a lot about doing that. You can't do it to them. You have to ride out the rough spots and the lying and the little BS games they play. You can't just get frustrated or angry with them and "turn off."

I don't know why I'm rattling on so much. Sorry.

Edit....I don't mean to make it sound like I kick the crap out of people all the time. I certainly don't. I would much prefer a peaceful ending to an event than a violent one. Since I've been in my 30's, I've only had two fights. Both were initiated by the other person who was drunk or stupid. Both of those began with me defending myself. I'm no huge, muscle bound stud by any means. Funny thing is, one of my best friends in the world told me something before that prevents me from getting into physical confrontations more than anything. He said that when I have a verbal disagreement with people, he notices I have a pretty good knack for calming people down and making friends rather than foes with them. But that if it is turning to physical confrontation, I get this look about me, some weird glow in my eyes that makes most men think twice about taking things to that level. I don't know about all that, but I do know that when I'm pushed to the point of a fight, I start smiling. Evidently, this is unsettling to many people.

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Here it is, midnight. I don't feel like I'll ever get to sleep. I took my Lunesta three hours ago and it hasn't done a thing for me. The more clear minded I get, the more trouble I have going to sleep. The more I think about this stuff.

I'm about to take a second sleep pill. I can't afford another night of not sleeping. I have GOT to sleep good tonight.

I didn't even excercise this mornin I felt so badly.

Right now, every time I go to lay down, I see crowds of little Iraqi kids wearing red shirts. Then yesterday, as I'm driving back to my hotel from my medical treatment, I see a crowd of (motly) black children wearing a binch of red shirts. Freaked me out. Took me until tonight to even mention it. I have a habit ever since the explosion, the surgery and tehn especially after the tornado, of taking a day or so to process things that upset me.

Whoop-de-doo. Another wonderful night of tossing and turning, all my joints hurting, my headaceh going, lower back hurting, all the while wondering WHY a man would throw a kid into the road. WHY I loved my job so much to be ther ein the first place. Why the hell didn't I just get out in 98 like I had planned to?

Meanwhile, sitting here on my laptop with wireless enabled in this hotel is casuing my software firewall to register 134 hits for people trying to break y security in the last two hours alone. Flippin theives. Luckily, I've got it locked down hard enough to hopefully keep that from happeneing. But still, why try getting into someone else's computer? I coould do it easily enough, but to me, it's just like breaking into someones home.

*sigh*

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Finally got to sleep about 0230. Woke up at 0700. Been sitting here zoning ever since I got up. Just now starting to feel like I'm waking up. Had some dreams last night, but I can't remember what they were. Just that waking fog of flickering images and then it was gone. Very unsettling.

At least I didn't wake up expectiong there to be a dead child in my room. :)

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Hello, thanks for your response. At first I was not going to respond because the last two sentences in that response to me really spooked me. Please do not take offence. It's about my stuff not yours. You know about "stuff" right? There was a lot of rage and violence in my family growing up, still rage now but we can just walk away whereas before we could not as children.

I am learning a lot from the exchange you and Dr. Dombeck are having. I hope you did not mind my asking those questions.

I have gaps in my memory as well. My sister died when she was 12, I was 10. I do not remember her. I was writing in the night as I could not sleep either. My journal entry is called "Remembering". I could remember a lot when I explored my memories from age 9 to 10 and there is just a big blank about her. I do not remember her at all.

Yes when she died it was inconceivable to me, like on 911 when I first heard about a plane going into the WTC. That was also inconceivable to me. I watched the video over and over and over... until my brain was so sensitive and tender I could not take a beating anymore. I do not know why I was so focused on it. I should have stopped.

I eventually turned the TV off. Then I needed to go to my storage facility to get my backpack and prepare for a war. I did not know what kind of world it was anymore, about the "new reality". I remember when I was at the gate of my storage facility place, a car backfired and I jumped out of my skin. I thought it was a gun shot. When my sister died I wanted to laugh. It was not a happy laugh. I was afraid to sleep upstairs in our bed. I thought her ghost was up there. So I had to sleep on the couch downstairs and screamed and cried my head off.

I am not attempting to hijack your thread, I just wanted to let you know why I was asking those questions, and perhaps we can relate on a feeling level.

I hope you are doing better today. :)

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Hello, thanks for your response. At first I was not going to respond because the last two sentences in that response to me really spooked me. Please do not take offence. It's about my stuff not yours. You know about "stuff" right? There was a lot of rage and violence in my family growing up, still rage now but we can just walk away whereas before we could not as children.

I am learning a lot from the exchange you and Dr. Dombeck are having. I hope you did not mind my asking those questions.

I have gaps in my memory as well. My sister died when she was 12, I was 10. I do not remember her. I was writing in the night as I could not sleep either. My journal entry is called "Remembering". I could remember a lot when I explored my memories from age 9 to 10 and there is just a big blank about her. I do not remember her at all.

Yes when she died it was inconceivable to me, like on 911 when I first heard about a plane going into the WTC. That was also inconceivable to me. I watched the video over and over and over... until my brain was so sensitive and tender I could not take a beating anymore. I do not know why I was so focused on it. I should have stopped.

I eventually turned the TV off. Then I needed to go to my storage facility to get my backpack and prepare for a war. I did not know what kind of world it was anymore, about the "new reality". I remember when I was at the gate of my storage facility place, a car backfired and I jumped out of my skin. I thought it was a gun shot. When my sister died I wanted to laugh. It was not a happy laugh. I was afraid to sleep upstairs in our bed. I thought her ghost was up there. So I had to sleep on the couch downstairs and screamed and cried my head off.

I am not attempting to hijack your thread, I just wanted to let you know why I was asking those questions, and perhaps we can relate on a feeling level.

I hope you are doing better today.

I don't mind your asking questions. Anything that helps Doc understand and give advice is fine with me. If I don't care to answer, I'll simply respectfully decline to talk about it. And no worries, you aren't hijacking my thread at all Winter. The back and forth brings more out of me in replying. So thank you.:)

9/11. Man, there's a day to remember. I was asleep in my apartment off post in Korea. The phone rang with a post-wide alert and I was told to get my battle positions manned immediately. I got into uniform, jumped into my car and made the normally 15 minute commute to Camp Humphrey's in about five minutes. It was early morning, don't recall the time, but I got to my Soldiers barracks in record time. We were issued our weapons and I was getting my guys out the door when one of them yelled, "Holy S!$*!!! Come look at this Sarge!" I looked on the TV in the dayroom and had my first view of the planes hitting the WTC. We didn't know if this was part of a coordinated world wide attack on American assets or not, so for the next 48 hours, I was running my sector of security on the Hump, taking care of my boys and girls.

My overriding worry at the time was for my wife and kids back in Tennessee near Fort Campbell. Otherwise, I was way too busy doing my duties. I was very upset that America had been attacked, don't get me wrong. But I wasn't surprised or shocked. I'd dealt with some of these guys in other circumstances. Heard some of their craziness. I just didn't expect it to occur during my career. I thank President Clinton for that mess happening so much sooner than I had thought it would.

Anyway, my reactions were that of a Soldier. I knew it meant war. I knew it meant that we were going somewhere to kill people and soon. I knew it was a life changing event. I've said for years, give me an enemy fighting for country, for economics or for a woman. But I don't want anything to do with a religious war. Well, that's what we had forced on us and I was scared. I'd been in combat, knew what was coming. I was looking around at all the youngins I was leading, recalled all my friends and cohorts over the years, and wondered how many of them I could count in Arlington over the next 10 years. Too damned many of them as it turns out. :)

I was, at that time, seriously considering getting out of the Army and doing something that didn't take me away from my family so much. But 9/11 changed everything. My Country was under attack and my wife and I never discussed it again. She knew what I would do and God Bless her, she never put me on the spot to get out. She knew I wouldn't leave at a time like that.

At that point, I had lost roughly 25 friends due to combat actions the world over, training events gone wrong and aircraft crashes. That was 2001. From 2001 until now, I've lost another 30 people I've known, worked with and/or maintained some level of friendship with. At least twice that number injured in some way. Off the top of my head, I can think of 10 very good friends who are permanently disabled. Being a member of a U.S. Army Aviation flight crew is pretty damned dangerous without a war on. And as soon as I saw those planes hitting those buildings on 9/11, I knew there were going to be a lot more lost. God I wish I would have been wrong about that!:(

One time, I showed my Head doc a list of people I've known that have died doing this job. He looked up at me with shock on his face. And tried to prescribe meds for me.

Memories. Not much from childhood comparatively speaking. Compared to my wife as I mentioned. But as an adult, I remember more than I want to. I have a huge gap from the day of the explosion until some time later. Little bits and pieces of memories are there though. At some point, I woke up. Probably about the time we lost the first helicopter and crew. That got my memory banks working again. Some difficult days there. And like Forrest said, that's all I have to say about that.

But yes, I've had a better day today. I hope yours has been good as well.:)

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Looks like another night of dreading sleeping. I took my Lunesta three hours ago. Laid in bed with no TV on and got up an hour and a half later. Been sitting here surfing the net for the last hour or so. I was on AmbienCR for awhile. It worked better at getting me to sleep. But the vividness of my dreams was even worse with it. So Lunesta is what I've been on for a while now. Just doesn't seem to work as well these days. Can you get used to Lunesta or something where it becomes less effective?

One of these days, this elusive thing known as peace will will find me.

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