Why A PTSD Blog Anyway?

November 26, 2012

The question is one that I’ve been asked by many people, most of whom have no experience with PTSD.  They lead their lives in a normal state and support the troops in the way that they feel is important.  They state their support on all the holidays and perhaps wear a ribbon on their lapel.  They may even offer financial support if asked directly.

All this is great! Actually anything anyone does in support of the troops shouldn’t be criticized since I do believe in the axiom, “Anything that works”, is a good motto.  But I am looking at PTSD through a different lens.  I have been through it and, though I know I do not have all the answers, I know for sure that this blogging worked for me.

The number of service people returning from the Wars is about 1% of the population.  Then of those who are returning about 20%-30% will experience PTSD symptoms.  I predict this statistical guess will fall short of the actual numbers simply because of the number of tours that these “volunteers” have been asked to endure.  I look back on my 365 day tour in Vietnam and I am thankful that it ended as quickly as it did.  The durations of the latest edition of War, I predict, will subject far more victim to the insidious PTSD problem.  Remember, too, that PTSD sometimes takes years to surface or be recognized for what it is.

The best treatments consist of treatment in a local VA facility by a mental health professional with recognized PTSD caregivers.  What happens to the person who has no facility nearby or whose circumstance does not allow for regular treatment?  What of the families who experience secondary PTSD exposure?  These and a million other excuses can dissuade or keep the PTSD sufferer from getting the treatment they need.  I often say there are a million excuses you can find to make you fail.  We’ve all used them in various endeavors.  I’m too old. I’m not old enough.  I’m too educated.  I’m not educated enough etc etc.  The list goes on and on.  Any excuse to allow you to get off the hook will work.  There is only one reason to succeed and that is that you want to badly enough.  So the military PTSD forum blog is an attempt by me to take the first step and to make it as easy as possible.  Most everyone now has access to a computer and this availability, for most, is in their home.  That means a 24/7 access to PTSD help.  So some of the excuses for not doing anything for the PTSD problem is eliminated.

I started my own treatment after returning from Vietnam.  In those days computers were not as available and no one had blogs for sure.  I just realized one day that things were not going very well with me and the passing of time was not helping me feel any better.  So I started writing my feelings down. What I noticed was that I could write things to myself that I couldn’t talk to anyone about.  Looking back on it, I think it was like praying to someone (God) to help me feel better.  My inner thoughts were now committed to paper.  I could look at them and go back and read them and muse about them.  It became apparent that once I committed them to writing, they were not exactly what I was feeling.  So I would rewrite them to see if I could get closer and then a third time and a fourth until I felt I understood the feeling better.  Somehow putting the feelings down validated them for me.  I could write about good days or bad days and whenever a feeling arose I could capture it, examine it and not stuff it back down.

By writing to myself I didn’t have to look at anyone and see their eyes glaze over as I was trying to bare my sould.  I know this could have been my imagination working but I know that my friends and family, who were my closest allies in the PTSD struggle, sooner or later would be saying, “Don’t you think it’s time you got over this?”  I knew how I was feeling and I realized, more clearly, that I was the one who would fight this battle and probably fight it on my own.

The military PTSD forum blog came later. I wanted to do more than just say, “I support the troops”.  I wanted to offer something more.  The blog will help.  It is available 24/7 and posting is still free.  No one will censure your thoughts.  No one will roll their eyes if you are stuck at some place and need to rehash the feelings so that you can better understand them.  You can come as often as you choose and post as often as you need.

Once you have found this place and feel satisfied that you need more that this place can offer, then hopefully you will have the courage to take the next step which may require more effort and go to see a trained mental health provider.  But when this time comes you will have found your voice on your own PTSD experience and hopefully you will be ready to fight the battle on the next level.