January 11, 2018
I was working on a video earlier today when I typed "Vietnum veteran" instead of Vietnam veteran. Before I went to edit the text, I kept looking at it. Then it dawned on me that actually works. Oh, sure you spell numb with the B, but actually "be" has been part of your problem all along. Being willing to settle for just being half alive is not really living. It is existing.
For more than 40 years, you've been focused on what you had to do instead of what you needed to do for yourself...and your family.
You went to work, often doing jobs that were almost as dangerous as being in Vietnam. You raised a family, and in a lot of cases, more than one...and then came the time when you didn't have to go to work anymore. Kids moved out, probably have kids of their own who grew up already. If you managed to stay married, your wife is probably retired too.
My husband had to retire before the age of 50. Sixteen years later, I'm still working and have another decade to go before I can retire.
Oh, the years that are supposed to be time for you to finally relax turned out to not be so relaxing.
It used to be easy to stay busy, and a hell of a lot easier than getting slammed in the middle of the night by a full force nightmare much stronger than any of the others you had.
Yep, you spent all those years avoiding what you thought you left behind and it caught up with you. What did you think would happen when you did not move forward and heal? Did you think that "some day" would come when you would finally "just get over it" the way your Dad told you that you would? Did he? Safe bet he didn't.
If you have been paying attention to what you brought home with you from Vietnam, then you probably made sure you got into treatment and did everything the experts said you needed to do. Great! My hubby did too, but neither of us expected anything "normal" out of our lives together. Well, not normal to the rest of the population, but certainly normal to the veterans we know. Life isn't all that bad and we learned how to take control over the rest of our years.
If you haven't been paying attention, then odds are, you have been hit with a sledgehammer! PTSD woke up just when you thought you could relax.
For all the numbers you hear about veterans committing suicide, none of them bothered to read the reports they scooped the number out of, or they would have seen the part where it says that 65% of the veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50! Yep, you guys and if they saw that part, but still ignored you, then it shows all they care about is not changing the outcome for veterans. It is more about what they can get out of it.
Now, here is the other thing they don't want you, or anyone else to notice. Talking about veterans giving up, only enforces the fact giving up was the option for them. How was that supposed to work? Wouldn't it have been a lot better enforcing the fact that you can heal and give you some hope that life can be better for you?
Now you have time to think but it doesn't have to be all bad thoughts. Invest the extra time you have in your days on healing.
Yes, you can heal and life can get a lot better all the way around.
Are you afraid to move forward? Has it gotten comfortable to be numb? Getting numb to pain makes sense, when it is your body. Still, even if your body is felling pain, the first thing you do is go to the doctor to find out what the cause is. Once they find out that the pain is not dangerous, they help you stop hurting. If it is your mind, then same story pretty much.
They figure out if you have PTSD or not. Then they give you medicine so you stop hurting. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn't. The thing that it is supposed to do is make you stop feeling pain but that doesn't mean the cause of it is gone.
Getting numb, numbs all the stuff that is supposed to make living worth it. You know. Things like feeling love and happiness instead of being isolated and angry.
Safe bet there is some fear there too. You may keep waiting for the day that you wake up and "you're over it" but PTSD gets stronger and you end up terrified that there is no hope.
There is plenty to hope for. Did you know that 148,000 Vietnam veterans sought help for the first time in 2007? They finally got the message that ya, life gets better.
Over a Quarter-Million Vietnam War Veterans Still Have PTSDForty years after the war’s end, twice as many vets with combat-related PTSD are getting worse as those who are improving
“Fast forward to age 60-something when they may retire, their social supports may erode, their health gradually declines and they begin to face their own mortality. They don’t have the same kinds of structures and responsibilities. More time to reminisce may not be helpful in this situation and may lead to an intensification or reactivation of trauma-related experiences in memory.”Yes, I know, I'm a PTSD geek! If you are involved with a group of veterans, instead of being isolated, then you'll be doing partial work on healing. If you are in therapy, then there is more work being done on healing. If you're doing what experts say works best, then you'll be living a better quality of life.
What works best? Taking care of ALL of you instead of part of you. Mind, body and spirit.
Do you want to spend your retirement years on the couch with the remote control or do you want to enjoy time to act like a kid again?
What are you waiting for? Take back control of your life!