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Veteran Marine David Peters at the Capitol in Minnesota representing the number of lost veterans due to suicide with empty boots on the Capitol Steps.

Blog by Patricia Vaughn

 

Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) comes in different colors and forms, but it has many of the same effects on us regardless if our war happened on the front lines or in our homes.

Either way, there seems to be an unspoken judgment that anyone who has PTS should be able to handle it because 1. They signed up for it or 2. They chose to live that way.

I’ve come across a few articles and many people, myself once included, who don’t want help with their PTSD, for the same reason I mentioned above.

We say we don’t need a shrink, and especially drugs.

Some could possibly lose their careers just for asking for help.

Many who suffer from severe anxiety, not yet diagnosed, are self medicating.

And yet others feel like their pain isn’t as important or as bad as combat related PTS.

It saddens me that people can’t see the benefit of learning new things to make their life better. I was one of those people. I thought there was nothing that I could learn other than forgiveness, which comes and goes, and journaling, which I already did.

I had no idea the change in my quality of life that would come from talking to someone with a new perspective. I’m all about learning. Trying new things.

Why did it take me so long to get help? Well, because the things that I had learned in the abuse, suffering, and hardships had taught me things that I did not want to lose.

It taught me to see pain behind a smile. It taught me compassion. My hyper-vigilance helped me see people that others seemed to overlook and my lack of fear allowed me to reach out to them.

I didn’t want to be like other people. I knew that I had suffered through things most people wouldn’t, but it gave me truths and abilities that others were blind to. I didn’t want to forget what I had learned.

I knew that some of those lessons, and the people whose sacrifice had taught them to me, were painful. But, I wouldn’t have traded that pain for what I had learned, not for anything in the world. I thought that anything that I would learn would only try to make me oblivious to my past. I didn’t want that.

Maybe that’s what we are scared of. We have lost comrades, battle buddies, best friends, even ourselves to learn how to be vigilant and brave. And to forget disgraces the memories of those who gave their lives, who pushed us further, who showed us that we could endure much more than should be asked of any person.

And we pride ourselves on being survivors.

However, I don’t want to just survive life. I want to thrive, prosper, and make a difference.

That’s where counseling has helped me. No longer am I a survivor. I am an activist. I am victorious. I am reaching new heights and lifting up other people. Now, I am healthy enough to make a difference…again.

 

 

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