Military-Related PTSD. It’s Contagious.

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When a Veteran tragically loses their battle with PTSD, the devastating effects on certain individuals left behind to bear the burden of unjustified guilt can cause the deadly disease to spread from the deceased to the living. Though the recipient of this transference may have never experienced the real life scenario of an incoming mortar attack, or their battle-buddy being blown to bits by a roadside bomb, they have nonetheless been stricken with the wounds of an enormous and devastating loss. A loss they will never make sense of. A loss from which they will harbor tremendous guilt, be it ever so unjustified. They experience confusion, pain, and the inability to function as they once did. Recovery, if even in the cards for them, is painstakingly slow. 

Though PTSD is not exclusive to military veterans, it cannot be argued the largest number of those affected, are veterans. But it’s contagious. When a veteran surrenders to their demons, it can easily be passed to a loved one as the result of their final decisive action. This is especially true if the now-departed veteran was a close family relative such as a child, spouse, or parent. This falls under the sub-category of “military-related PTSD”.  

Seldom is the intensity of this lifelong plague recognized by others, even by those closely associated with the now infected party. You see, the symptoms are not always visible, and not always present. There are the best of times. There are the worst of times. There are times when the sufferer has no desire nor motivation for socialization whatsoever, preferring the peace of their own solitude, yet other times when they may appear to be a social butterfly without a care in the world. The transition from good mood to bad can happen quickly if something unexpectedly triggers their emotions, and if they happen to be out and about when this occurs they will generally make a bee-line to the safety of their home.

While they are being sautéed and basted in the pits of flaming hot coals, do not be surprised if your phone call to them goes straight to voice mail and does not get returned for as long as a couple of days. If you aware of their need for privacy on occasion, and are close enough to them to understand why this is, take some heartfelt advice and email your wounded friend. You will stand a much better chance at penetrating their fog and prompting a response. It’s easier to hide negative emotions in type, and they will appreciate the kind gesture.

Just as many veterans do not seek help for PTSD, the same holds true for the innocent recipients who were passed the torch of darkness. When experiencing a “down” time, it is difficult to even consider seeking the assistance of a professional. “They cannot possibly understand,” is their general train of thought. Why bother. Besides, by the time they can get in to see the Doctor the person will more than likely have already recovered from their episode, and when a person is having a good day they have a tendency to falsely convince themselves they have recovered and all is good. And so the cycle of pain continues.

If you have fallen prey to PTSD and can’t shake the demons, the need for seeking professional help is imperative. Even on what you may consider a good day, you are still sick, and you know it. There is certainly no shame in asking for help, and if you can be honest with yourself, you need it. PTSD can no more be helped than catching a sinus infection. It isn’t your fault. You certainly did not ask for it. PTSD is arrogant, intrusive and shows up uninvited. If you think the symptoms will one day cure themselves, you’re only fooling yourself. Once the symptoms appear, they will never completely go away. The key is in finding the appropriate methods to contain them, or at least in learning to deal with the negative thoughts and feelings when they start wagging their forked tongue in your face, and you cannot do this alone. If the causes of the illness you are now in possession of are the direct result of losing a loved one to a PTSD-related suicide, you are already more than aware of the toll their action has taken on you. Don’t be responsible for further spreading the disease by following suit. The disease can be dealt with, but it will require the advice of an expert to get you there. Don’t spread PTSD. Be proactive by seeking help for the sake of yourself, and for the sake of those you love. You can get through this. I am.

Suicide Prevention Hotline

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