I never fought in a war with guns and grenades, so I can only imagine the toll it can take on the human mind, body and soul. Facing death daily is traumatic, regardless which side you’re on. The military is no place for the faint of heart, and I cannot be grateful enough for the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifice, emotional and physical scars experienced by those following orders.
No wonder, our own Veteran’s Administration admits that thousands of returning veterans of war complain of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. At home, we can only imagine the traumas, but these courageous men and women know the trauma because it affects them every day.
No, I don’t have PTSD, but my son does. He didn’t serve in the military, when he was traumatized. He was much younger than that. Traumas leave scars that don’t just cover the problem, it propagates the problem in other ways.
Like my son, which you’ll hear much more about in my new book coming out in January, veterans bring home traumas that leave lasting impressions. Violence is a powerful emotional act that can trigger memories, sounds and feelings virtually immediately. It can feel like walking on thin ice all the time.
Unfortunately, treating PTSD is a moving target. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, concentration problems, disrupted sleep, irritability can all be related to PTSD. But these symptoms could also be from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), or another condition. Therefore, misdiagnosis is common, and leaves our decorated heroes without many answers.
So they drink. Or they get stoned, or take pain medication or self-medicate some other way to cope with the horrific past. According to the National Center for PTSD, 1 out of 5 veterans who suffer from PTSD develop a substance-abuse disorder. And the Department of Veterans Affairs reports of all veterans, 1 out of 10 face drug and alcohol problems. The top reason reported? PTSD.
Battling PTSD is like war itself. You never know the outcome, and it tends to linger much longer than you’d like. With my son, we’ve made a ton of progress, but his traumatic past, although not military related, continues to scar his heart and mind. He’s healing, but I can tell you from personal experience, PTSD can make people do crazy things.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Addiction may be the issue, but wellness is the solution. I believe PTSD can benefit from sobriety, living out a healthy lifestyle, and treating yourself and health seriously. It’s a different kind of war, but in this case, the only thing you stand to lose, is a few pounds. And, you may gain clarity of mind in the process. But a new lifestyle is not enough.
Solving your addiction, and related PTSD, is a highly personalized condition. I hope you can find a specialist that can honestly serve your needs. God knows our veterans deserve it, but so do many others who suffer from traumatic pasts.
I salute the veterans. And, I salute a new battle: The Wellness War.