Back in the Fall, I had been talking with a Gulf War veteran. We had been discussing the trials and tribulations of PTSD, as we both have experienced it. He, as many before him had, asked me if I ever considered writing a book. I smiled and told him that I've been asked that by many soldiers, veterans, and police officers along the way. They all told me I was being shy and needed to get "crackin" on writing because what I've experienced and what I know can help people like them.
I told this Gulf War vet that I had written the book, but that I was waiting until the new year to complete the publishing. I also told him that I hadn't really shown anyone the cover photo, but that I would like to know what he thought. I pulled up the proof on my phone and his expression told me everything I needed to know.
He took the phone from me and put his hand over his mouth. I could see the tears welling up in his eyes. There was a very "loaded silence", as my tears began welling at the sight of his.
He looked at me and said, "This is what I feel like".
The photo isn't just me. It is a photo of every person who carries the invisible wounds that others can't see. If you stripped away our facade, this is what you would find. People who only feel like half of them truly exists. People with an emptiness, a darkness, and a secret they don't want exposed for others to feast on because they don't quite understand it themselves. These are the folks that live in your communities, work in your workplaces, serve beside you, live in your homes, and walk beside you on the street. They aren't going to tell you what it's like. They are going to carry their burdens silently, hoping one day things will get better.
As I have often said, time isn't what heals these kinds of wounds.
Continue to learn about PTSD, TBI, and Trauma.
Ask Questions. Do your homework. Pay attention.
People with these conditions aren't broken. They are simply breaking free of boundaries that no longer fit who they are now and many times, that is very different than the rules people around them play by.
Welcome to a new kind of sandbox.