Taken from: The Warrior’s Guide to Insanity: Traumatic Stress and Life. Written by: Sgt. PTSD Brandi, USMC Never Retired. Additional resources can be found at www.warriorsguidetoinsanity.com
The war changed your life forever.
There’s nothing wrong with your feelings; you are supposed to feel emotions.
· It’s going to take some time and help for you to feel better.
· You have the strength of a Warrior. You can do it, so cut yourself some slack.
· Parents, old friends, or family members who have not shared your same experiences will not understand you. Find other Combat Vets or someone who will.
· You will need some alone time to process through your thoughts. Check out the Vet Center (Readjustment Counseling Services - RCS) in your area, for some friendlies.
· Surrender is not in your Creed.
· You will never be the same person you were, so get on with making a new “Life Plan.”
· You are not alone! All other warriors (young and old) are with you, watching your 6 o’clock.
· There is no shame in having a traumatic stress disorder. It’s being human.
· Feeling pain is normal. Deal with it and it will get less intense; ignore it and it will get worse.
· You fit in somewhere. Just decide where that is and start working on it.
· You’re going to change civilian friends, maybe you’ll have to re-think family, or maybe you’ll just need to live alone.
· Whatever you decide, is the right thing for you. You’ve earned it. Start feeling comfortable with not trying to fit into everyone’s expectations of how you should be. Just be you.
· You are a good Human Being, or you wouldn’t feel squat shit. Start “feeling” your way into your new life, you new future.
· You are not like everyone else. You never will be. So deal with it! Get on with your new “Life Plan.”
· Plan your future, but live one day at a time. It’s all you really have.
· “Don’t sweat the little things, and if it’s not life threatening, it’s a little thing!”
· It hurts to be rejected; it feels good to be accepted. Find other people who accept you and start feeling good about you.
· Don’t hate them, just feel better when they’re not around.
· The only problem you have is being a Human Being. That’s good! Feeling good about yourself is good enough for a start. You can save the world later.
· Killing is (was) your job. You don’t (didn’t) have to like it, you just have (had) to do it. When you are a civilian, you can choose what your want in your future.
· The act of killing is final. You can’t change what you’ve done. If you are now a civilian, at least that much is over.
· Do not be ashamed to kill in war. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be here right now.
· Innocent people are not the enemy. You are your own worst enemy.
· Your life is worth more than anyone who you “think” deserves to die.
· Killing is necessary in war. Don’t make it murder at home.
· No training on earth could have prepared you for killing, so cut yourself some slack.
· How could you ever know what killing was like, unless you did it?
· You are supposed to feel. That’s what makes you a good warrior, and not a murderer.
· You will always be a Warrior, so find other warriors, and get on with your life.
· Use your strength as a Warrior to guide you. Live by a Code of Honor and allow yourself to tolerate those who do not.
· You can’t be in war and not feel loss. In fact, you can’t live at all and not feel loss at some time in your life.
· It’s good to feel; that means you are capable of Love.
· Numbness is normal for a time. So give yourself some time to move out of it if you are.
· The feeling of loss never completely goes away. It just gets easier to deal with.
· Grieving takes time. The waves get less and less each time they hit you.
· Find some kind of release; a ride, a movie, a conversation with another vet. This helps keep your mind out of the re-wind mode.
· Get on with your life. Find something that makes you feel a little better, and do it.
· Be glad you’re alive with your whole life ahead of you.
· You know the meaning of “friendship”; use it wisely.
· You know what “trust” is.
· You know what “loss” is.
· Remember your friends for the rest of your life; the good times and the hard times you shared.
· It is “normal” to feels burned out in a war.
· You may feel burned out with life. War does that too. Just that simple.
· Give yourself some time, to feel like there’s something of value to live for. It takes a while.
· There’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t give a shit about anything right now. It’s the brain’s way of surviving. You’ve just reached your limit. So cut yourself some slack!
· Listen up! You ain’t alone.
· Feeling betrayed is normal. It sometimes goes with the turf of being a warrior. No one except another person with your experience will understand your Code of Honor. Don’t expect them to.
· It may have been a culture shock and life shock coming back to the States. But the States is about the same as you left it, “YOU ARE NOT.” Accept the fact that you have changed, and get on with your new life. It ain’t so bad. In fact, it’s damn good right now.
· The American public “now” likes the Military.
· Get through the “welcome homes” and all the disappointments, then get on with your new life.
· Friends and family may not be the same toward you.
· Find new friends to talk with about your feelings; others with similar experiences.
· You “will” make it through the transition; you’ll have to choose how soon.
· Adapting the new you to family life can be very difficult.
· You’ll have to carry all of your war baggage and the family stress of raising a family as well.
· Get some professional help (at your local Vet Center – information is found at the top of each page).
· Your family is more important than your ego, or your bullshit macho attitude.
· Communicate with your kids! If you can’t or don’t know how, then find some professional help (at your local Vet Center – information is at the top of each page) that does, and do it quickly.
· Children come “first” in the family. They are just small adults. They understand your “actions,” not necessarily what you say. So don’t act like an asshole.
· Moms will protect their kids first. Show your ass and there will be consequences.
· Sometimes loving each other isn’t enough to live with each other.
· Stay honorable in your actions.
· You are not who you were. It may be difficult for your spouse or partner to love who you have now become.
· It’s no one’s fault. You are just human. War does this to people.
· You’ve got a problem. Face it and deal with it. Start talking about it with others who have had the same experiences.
· If you start the healing process now, it won’t destroy your whole life.
· “DO NOT WORRY” about being ashamed or embarrassed to walk into a Vet Center for the first time, WE ALL FELT THAT WAY. You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it. So do it!
· You are not helpless and it is not hopeless. Surrender is not in our creed!
· Deal with the issues now and it won’t take you so long to figure out “where” you are going or “how” your life will be in the future.
· You “WILL” make it through all the shit. You have the strength of a Warrior to win this battle.
· Being aware of your surroundings, at all times, is good!
· If your tactics for survival worked in war, they’ll work in peace.
· It is normal for you to be vigilant.
· You are act different because you are different.
· Traumatic events have traumatic effects on you. It’s normal and OK to feel what you do.
· There are hundreds of thousands of you right now in the PTSD Boat. Don’t let it sink!
· This country needs to face the consequences of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq today! Not repeat the apathy and denial of Vietnam.
· Flashbacks are normal, just don’t stay there.
· It’s OK to want a comfortable place to go.
· “Accepting” that there is a problem helps. Doing something about it helps more. Contact your local Vet Center (number found at the top of this packet).
· Time and professional help WILL lessen the intensity of the flashbacks.
· Flashbacks NEVER go away completely. You just get better at dealing with them.
· There is no rush like combat so deal with it.
· Fear produces Adrenalin à If you’re looking for an adrenalin fix, it can be dangerous to you and innocent people.
· You are probably already overwhelmed by high stress. Stop for a minute and think about what you are just about to do. It may save your life.
· Stay on guard, because suicide can be very easy in times like these. If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, then press 1). There is also an option for confidential chat rooms at VeteransCrisisLine.net or text to 838255.
· You have a right to live a good and productive life and to experience happiness.
· Everyone makes good and bad decisions and everyone does the best they can at the moment.
· Each day of your life is an opportunity. Don’t just throw that away. Give it a chance, because with the right attitude, life can be better than your ever dreamed.
· When you feel good about yourself, you won’t have to push yourself to the brink of death.
· You will be able to discuss this adrenalin problem when you get some help.
· Accept yourself as a Warrior. You don’t need anyone else to do that for you.
· Self-worth comes from self-respect. So respect yourself for being a Warrior.
· What you’ve done will certainly scare people. Be sure you want them to know that part of you.
· It is normal for you with your experiences to distrust. Trust must be earned.
· There are friendlies here. You just have to know where to look.
· You are your own worst enemy.
· The choice is up to you and you alone. You have the strength to make it to a better life ahead.
· Staying in one place a long time seems to help many Vets. Get to know your neighbors, and if you can’t stand being around people, maybe adopt an animal or two.
· Pick the times your want to be around people. Don’t get overloaded with stress by being too sociable if that’s not what makes you feel better about you.
· Doesn’t matter who or how, but the PTSD arrow is stickin’ in your ass. You’ve got to deal with it.
· Go down the list of possibilities of what “may” be troubling you. Be honest.
· You are under “NO” obligation to simply talk things out a bit. Really though, what do you have to lose?
· Remember, you are not alone and others have been right where you are right now.
· If you’ve had your “wake up call,” don’t sweat it, you’re not alone.
· You’ll eventually have to deal with “reconstruction” after the war and why you were there in the first place.
· You have seen the very best and the very worst that humanity has to offer.
· You live each moment, one day at a time.
· You take nothing for granted and enjoy the little things in life.
· You respect and cherish all life.
· You have the “Knowing.” You can never not know again.
FOR SPOUSES/ SIGNIFICANT OTHERS (S.O.)
· It was very difficult for you as a S.O. waiting for the “death notice.”
· It was also very difficult for you as a S.O. to deal with how your warrior has changed so much.
· Your Warrior has had experiences that you cannot possibly understand. So cut yourself some slack.
· Your Warrior loves you more than ever and wants to protect you more than ever.
· Your Veteran needs to process his or her experiences, “space to space out.”
· Veterans having experienced severe trauma need some kind of a release for the stress or it will turn into anger and rage.
· Don’t feel guilty with yourself if you can’t talk about the war with your Warrior S.O.
· A good relationship will last this period of adjustment. Be honest with your feelings and with each other.
· Do not be concerned if your warrior needs to talk to other Veterans. He or she just needs to find someone with common experiences.
· Live with HONOR. No one is to blame. War does this to everyone.