If you understand what it is to be in a convoluted situation, then perhaps you have the basic understanding of PTSD.
Convoluted: (definition) highly complex or intricate and occasionally devious; involved; knotty; tangled; tortuous; twisted; coiled; complicated; intricately involved. (some of the definitions)
In other words, someone diagnosed with combat PTSD is in a situation that is almost impossible to get out of, especially without the proper treatment. (I will talk about the “cure” for PTSD in a minute.)
In one of my earliest blogs I quoted an army doctor who stated that one of the most important elements of treating PTSD was continuity of care.
I think that one of the multitude of things that is so hard for me to deal with in this situation, is that I trusted that when my husband admitted he needed help and sought that help from the VA, I believed he was actually receiving help.
How was I to know that it was inadequate? I ‘accepted’ that was just the way life was going to be after the war – this is now becoming known as ‘secondary combat PTSD’. Yes, I have that, plus as a result of that horrific night, I know I have my own PTSD issues.
But my husband sought help, I have the inches and inches of VA medical records to verify he did. When I look back at things now, they are much clearer than they were at the time. I was in the middle of that convoluted situation myself I guess.
What I do know is that for over the last 10 months, my husband has not received any psychological treatment from anyone; probably at a time when he needs it the most. Where is that continuity of care that a specialist in treating PTSD says is paramount in helping an individual with diagnosed PTSD?
If he was seeking treatment, and it failed – and now there is a failure for him to receive any treatment, what is that going to mean? He needs treatment, why doesn’t anybody understand or care about that?
How is this fair treatment of anyone who served our country? If he had been a ‘bad guy’ then I would understand why nobody would care – but he is not. Why doesn’t anyone care?
Now, to the “cure” for PTSD; there is no “cure”. There is hope for a better control of the thought processes, but there is no cure. The reason for that is -
The brain is an interesting organ. There are things that get trapped in there that will never leave, and then there are things that you can’t remember no matter how hard you try. (Where are your car keys?)
Do you remember when you had your first crash on a bicycle? Do you remember when you fell and broke a bone? Do you remember losing what you thought was your ‘true love’ when you were a teen-ager? Do you remember being in your first car accident? Do you remember being in a tornado when you were a child?
Yes – you do. That is because these are traumatic events that left an indelible impression on that part of your brain that won’t let go.
Now, take those memories of your earliest ‘traumas’ of your young life, and multiple them a thousand fold.
Welcome to the life of a soldier living with PTSD.
Imagine seeing body parts strewn about the ground. Imagine seeing burnt bodies. Imagine smelling burnt flesh. Imagine being faced with having someone in your gun site that you know you have to shoot at, or they will kill you. Imagine seeing the blood and guts of war. Imagine seeing your friend today and in a matter of minutes, that person is dead – sometimes right before your very eyes.
And now, go back to when you were a child and you broke that bone, had that bicycle crash, had something that you cared about slip away from you. Did it bother you that after a while nobody seemed to care? Did they tell you to ‘get over it’?
Their life went on because what happened to you, did not touch them personally. It did not leave that indelible imprint on their brain. In fact, they will be hard pressed to remember it at all in the future.
But you will remember it for the rest of your life.
Do you understand PTSD a little better now? I hope so, because you know what? I feel like I am a kid again - and nobody cares.
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