PTSDDaddy Part II – PTSD Fighting and Prepping
Put yourself in their shoes…
A difficult challenge for anyone with PTSD is changing “that moment”. You know the moment I’m talking about. You’re triggered and bam shit goes bad quickly. Prior to all of this family time and parties you need to take a moment to prep yourself. First of all put yourself in their shoes. They do not know combat. Likely they will never know combat. Get it out of your mind now that anyone friend or family is going not understand your alphabet soup way of talking. Nobody has been to a FOB or a COP. They do not understand differences between Pashtun or Dari. They will not find it funny at all that when your guy shot the suicide bomber he blew up. They don’t understand north Afghanistan from South Afghanistan and the difference in fighters.
It’s important to put this in your mind. It’s very easy to get triggered by telling a story and looking up to see everyone looking at you like your nuts. Or they look in disbelief because the story you just told was very movie like. Everyone puts things into terms they can understand. Best case scenario they are going to relate your stories to a movie they have seen. And lets face it, everyone has a friend who was in the military. Everyone’s friend was a war hero with stories to tell. Your friends and family cannot tell the difference in pogue story and real story. So it’s not their fault. Who in the right mind is going to be a civilian never deployed and question anyone who has served? Yes we can see the silliness in the pogue story from a mile away. That is a trait only us combat vets have. To everyone else they wore a uniform so their story must be reality.
So you can understand now that you cannot go into a completely different world (such as the holidays and Christmas of the civilian world) and expect anyone to understand your history. Safe those expectations for moments you’re sitting down with another vet having a beer and talking about the good times freezing your ass off in the dessert in the middle of summer. Instead have conversations about times you’ve spent Christmas with family. I’m not saying what you have in life is not important. Proper management of your expectations is important to prevent those triggers that occur because “people are retarded.”
Fake it Until You Make It…
My dad’s advise mentioned in the previous post counts for much more than confidence. Fake it till you make it has helped me overcome many things. It’s a conscious decision though. You have to mentally decide to fake it after a bit of time faking it, it starts to become real. Much like the spirit of Christmas. I get it, you don’t feel Christmasy it’s difficult to feel much of anything but anger, paranoia, distrust. Think back to when you did. Back when Christmas was awesome and you couldn’t wait until you woke up that morning. Consciously making this decision mentally will help you share in everyone else’s “joy”. Keep in mind much of their joy is faked too for family and to keep the holiday awesome. You’re not fake by faking it till it becomes more real.
When at the range you train and train and train. Why do you train so much? Muscle memory. You train so much in your military career for muscle memory and so you can react faster, more efficiently When you’re “faking it until you make it” you’re training civilian training. You’re training your mind and body for civilian muscle memory. This is how you can better relate and understand all these people who don’t understand you. I also want to point out a fact of life. In this world majority rules. You are not in the majority. You were when you were in the military but the military is what? Less than 1% of the US population? You are now a 1 percent which means you need to adjust adapt and overcome your surroundings.
If you don’t try to understand them… why should they try to understand you?
This could be used to point out life to many people out there right now. This is a big issue not just for us combat veterans but for whites, blacks, browns, yellows, purples, etc… If you are not attempting to understand those around you then honestly, why the hell should they try to understand you? I know that initially talking to people who don’t understand they seem closed off to you. Why don’t you start off the open understanding thing? If you start it and they are still unwilling to try to understand you or the situation then walk away. They really aren’t worth the energy it takes to get triggered. They are not worth the jail time of the well deserved throat punch.
Prep, prep, and more prep. Just like pre-mission, you need to prep yourself. You need to prep your Christmas attitude, and you need to prep your expectations. Only YOU know YOU make sure you prep before you go to the holiday party with friends and/or family.