When I first joined the military the one saying that I hated the most was, “Sleep is overrated.” Well you know what, it’s not. I’ve had trouble sleeping since my 14 month tour of duty in Iraq back in 2004. Thirteen years I’ve struggled to stay asleep because of nightmares and cold sweats. When I wake up my body has so much adrenaline running through it that it takes a few hours to get back to sleep. That’s why I have to be drugged up to sleep or I would lose my mind thinking I’m trapped in a nightmare or worse, dead and living in purgatory for the thinks I had to do to survive.
They diagnosed me with Bi-polar disorder when I got out of the service because of the episodes I’d have of not sleeping, drinking heavily, and fits of anger and rage. It wasn’t until 10 medications and three doctors later that they started testing me for PTSD. That’s when the stories of war, the ones I’ve drank away and tucked back deep inside my mind, came rushing back like an untamed fire.
I couldn’t stop seeing dead people, hearing blood curdling screams for a medic, thinking that everyone that surrounded me in public was looking to shoot me or stick a knife in my back. It felt like I was seriously crazy and couldn’t stop thinking of the what if’s in life.
“What if I don’t ever fall asleep and die?”
“What if I tell someone what I’m seeing and they throw me in a padded room?”
“What if this is all a dream and I’m still fighting on the front lines?”
In my sleepless, intoxicated state I would go days without leaving the house believing that I would die if I did.
Everything in my mind was about death, so naturally my thought went towards ending it all. With one shot I could get some rest, I would never have to think again. I had bought into the idea that things would never get better because no one could understand, I couldn’t even understand what was happening.
Something inside of me knew that my actions and current state were leading up to consequences that would have an immeasurable impact on the lives of people I loved the most. That part of me cried out in exhaustion and brought me face to face with Jesus and our father God.
From that moment forward I put all of my efforts into finding a path I could walk down happily without worrying about the demons tormenting me about my past. As soon as I gave it all to God my outlook on life has done a total 180 degree turn.
I’m so much for my life and other veterans lives that struggle with the same issues as me that I’ve made it my mission to find ways to live with PTSD so I can share and hopefully save lives.