Backstory: I had several concussions in my youth and then survived multiple explosions during combat operations in Iraq. I call my nemesis “Chaos.” Chaos is the sum results of my Traumatic Brain Injury / TBI and Post Traumatic Stress / PTS, i.e. headaches, anxiety, lethargy, irritability, anger, memory loss, frustration, depression, alcohol and drug abuse and bad choices. This leads to weakening links in what I call our “Mental Health Chain,” or ones newly damaged mind. A healthy “Mental Health Chain” is the result of a lifetime of good morals, values, integrity and intelligence, reinforced by well thought out choices and ethics.
The links in our “Chain” are constantly assaulted by headaches, anxiety and depression. Chaos attacks this Chain until a damaged link snaps. My blog relates how I “Do The Work” (DTW) to strengthen this “Chain.” I review and try the many methodologies and protocols that I’ve come across during my years of recovery. I also have a unique perspective on this, as my father, a Marine, survived four explosions during the siege of Khe Sanh, in Vietnam. We both live on with TBI and PTS.
“BRAIN PAIN” is my book about the Signature Wounds of these recent wars, “Our Invisible Wounds – Fighting Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress – TBI & PTS. SEE MORE ON THE BOOK AT AMAZON.
Are you, or someone you know suffering from Post Traumatic Stress?
Post Traumatic Stress is different for everyone. It normally begins after a life threatening event to the recipient. It can leave the recipient with feelings of heavy anxiety and becoming overwhelmed easily. They are easily startled and can seem lost with helplessness and hopelessness, more so when the triggers are uncontrollable or unpredictable. Usually, the more repetitive the trauma are the more vulnerable the recipient is to Post Traumatic Stress.
This problem is different for every person as the stress tolerance level and nervous system of each individual is different. Most Post Traumatic Stress symptoms start developing within hours or days after the traumatic event/s. The 3 main symptom types are listed below:
TRIGGERS or REMINDERS – The individual may try to avoid places, activities or even thoughts that remind him/her of the traumatic incident. Again, one may be completely unable to remember the incident altogether or parts of it. One may also feel emotionally numb or socially detached or lack interest in life altogether. I was socially detached and close to not engage, rather than chance a bad situation. I also felt no love for anyone or thing. Just NUMB…
EMOTIONAL AROUSAL AND INCREASED ANXIETY – Such symptoms include problems with sleeping, anger or irritability outbursts, feeling jumpy, low energy, feeling lethargic, getting startled easily and “Hypervigilance”. Hypervigilance was my nemesis. I had never experienced this prior to my injuries. I couldn’t slow my mind down. It kept going and going and going. I could also get angry at the smallest things, especially things having to do with my memory, forgetting things, etc.
TRAUMA RE-EXPERIENCE – One may start re-experiencing the tragic event through flashbacks, memories and nightmares along with feelings of intense physical reactions and distress when the event is reminded (for example- nausea, sweating and pounding heart.) I didn’t believe in FLASHBACKS until it happened to me, only for a few moments, but my heart felt like it was exploding. I had been conditioned to react in combat, but now “back here” I needed to re-condition myself into understanding there’s not a life-threatening event around every corner. Many years later, I’ve done that!
While professional or medical assistance should be sought out, other people’s experiences are also beneficial for recovery. My book BRAIN PAIN talks about my Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress experiences, post my return from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). I went through severe emotional and physical tribulations, like depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. But finally I got up and out, and asked the right questions, did the research and got help from the medical establishment, discovery newer, non-standard and holistic treatments, especially Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Botox and Meditation, to mention just a few.
OUT: Even on my worst days, I forced myself to get small things accomplished. Some days, you’re your old multi-tasking self and other days you’re doing all you can just to clean the house. Getting something accomplished is better than getting nothing accomplished. Don’t let “Chaos” assault your mental health “Chain” and allow it to eat away at it, until a weakened link snaps. Get up, get out and “Do The Work” to strengthen your “Chain.” My journey, experiences and lessons will hopefully help you. Keep engaged, busy, fit and challenge yourself with purposeful work. DTW.