Guest Author: Mr. Travis Arnold.
I’m a multi tour combat veteran, and I have PTS. To me PTS is an individual affliction, it doesn’t present identically in every case. Even through a joint experience no two minds comprehend what happened the same, making it a complex diagnosis. I will attempt to convey through my feeble words how I came to be at peace with it in my life.
Skipping the terrible details of how far I fell in my journey, I will simply say, my life became dark. Drugs and alcohol ruled my every waking moment, and I was a shell. I became as a wraith, an apparition of my former self. I was so focused on not feeling anymore, on not being in my own head, that anything I could do to stop the noise I justified to myself. It all came to head and came crashing down me. I lost my career, was left in shame, a proud warfighter reduced to shambles.
After leaving the service I struggled for a couple years on my road to recovery. I pushed my family away, I avoided my friends, I became so self involved with with my condition everything slipped away. It took wrecking a vehicle, and getting a DUI to put my struggle into perspective. My life was being ruined by substance abuse, and the harder truth, I was the problem. That was the part it took me the longest to figure out. PTS made me so self centered, I was incapable of thinking of anyone else but me. I dried out for about six months, focused on healing without any chemical interference. Introspection proved my most effective form care.
The hard truth about PTS is the fact it makes you selfish. Your pain becomes such a part of you, that you want to let it define you. And there in lies the selfish nature of it, YOUR pain. You own it, gut it, become obsessed with it. To the point you forget or ostracize everyone who cares about you. The love of your support system is the salvation. Allowing others inside your bubble of pain. Because it does effect other people, whether you want it to or not.
There is hope my combat brethren. PTS does not have to be a terminal diagnosis. Too many of our friends let it be. I beg you to not let it kill you. Dry out, open up, heal your soul. Let the dead be dead, it’s not forgetting them, it allows them to rest in peace. Our past cannot be changed, we can let it go without betraying what it meant. I found a sense of balance and purpose, and if someone as ridiculous as me can find peace, anyone can.
-Travis Arnold served multiple combat deployments as a Marine Infantryman then later served as an Infantryman in the United States Army.