What if we aren't meant to suffer because of our trauma?
Many people, civilians, military, police, and firefighters alike have shared with me that they somehow think that they deserve to suffer because of the situation that inflicted their trauma. There seems to be this permeating thought from each person that they deserved what happened to them in someway, regardless of the actual circumstances that took place. Sometimes thinking that they deserved what happened is in response to their inability to change the circumstances or the outcome. This breeds a sense of responsibility for the trauma, even if they weren't actually at fault for any of it.
I have yet to meet a person with a firm PTSD diagnosis who doesn't think they deserved it for some reason. There is often the thought that they must have done something wrong to deserve the suffering or there is the thought that because their buddies suffered or a civilian suffered that they couldn't help, then they too must suffer the rest of their life for their inability to help.
At some point in my journey with PTSD, I looked at myself and said, "There is no way that this is the plan for my life. There's just no way. I am not meant to suffer because of something I could not control. There has to be an answer for this." You would think that would have been some mind-blowing moment in time that changed everything and maybe it did to a degree, but what it did was create anger. I decided that I wanted answers and sought them out until I got them. This came with frustration, dead-end searches, people who thought they knew how to help, people who chose not to help, and a myriad of other interesting experiences, but the important part of all of this is that I found my way through it all and I can now reach for your hands.
When the book comes out later this year, you'll have a better picture of the back story of all of this. Who knew that's what I would be doing with my PTSD? But yet again, at the support and encouragement of the troops, they believe that what I have to say can help people and they have been the support I needed to make it okay to share my story. The book will be published through Balboa Press, self-publishing. It's meant to be a guide, a support, and an encouragement to those that are suffering. It's to help connect us all in a way that makes us realize we aren't broken. We are just a brotherhood and sisterhood of people who know the devastating and empowering impact of PTSD, TBI, and trauma. We will be what helps each other heal.
I firmly believe that we are not here to suffer from what we've been through. The troops that survive a blast are here for a reason. The officer or firefighter who makes it out of a situation alive, is meant to be here. The civilian who survives a horrific crash, is meant to be here. I believe the reason is because there is much to learn from each of them. We learn courage by being in situations where it must rise to the surface. We learn strength by having to be in the position to use it. We learn resiliency by creating tools to help us navigate difficulties. You have not earned a stripe of failure or a badge of discontent. You don't pin that on your uniform, so make a commitment to yourself to grow through what you've been through. Seek out your answers and don't let dead-end information make you feel like there isn't a way through it all. There is always a way to heal the mind and the heart, unfortunately, we know that time isn't what heals all wounds. Knowledge, empowerment, and education of a condition does.