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Hello - PTSD From Iraq Serving in The Air Force

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by mac, Aug 25, 2006.

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  1. mac

    mac Active Member

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    Hello,
    My name is Mac. I am still (miraculously) married and have three daughters. I always hear how stressful daughters are, but I fortunately can disagree (knock-on-wood). My wife is an outstanding women, and she doesn't deserve my sh*t. If she decides to leave, I can't blame her.
    I have previewed this site and its contents for some time now. I later 'registered,' but I don't believe I posted anything until yesterday night. I have decided to go ahead and introduce myself and maybe participate more here if I'm not run off, thanks to my mood-swings. Are you ready to hear me B*TCH and MOAN??:wall:
    Several month's ago I was 'temporarily' retired from active duty service in the Air Force. I was a Medical Laboratory Technician while in the Air Force. I also hold national certification and state licensure in this field.:jerk: Currently, I am unemployed for reasons many of you can probably understand. My medical retirement from service is considered 'temporary' because, as they put it, I haven't had enough time to recover with treatment. If I get better, I can possibly re-enter the service... not too thrilled about going back though, if they deem me 'cured,' because my unit really stuck it to me before I was discharged, causing me to have vengeful ideation from time to time.
    The chronic PTSD and Major Depression I was diagnosed with originates from duty while I was deployed in 2003 for the Iraq War. Prior to Iraq, I was an exemplary NCO, leader, and troop. My sole mission to that war was to identify biological agents, used in weapons of mass destruction (WMD), with DNA testing. I was to report any positive identification up the chain, which if done, might have resulted in the U.S. retaliating with the same type of weapons. I received specialized training for this just prior to deploying. I guess I was the 'fool' my supervisor called me, because none of them wanted to step up and go to war. Me, I was caught up in the lies about the WMDs Iraq supposedly had and wanted to do my part. As everyone knows by now, my mission was obviously pure bullsht.
    My orders were for six months, but my deployment lasted only 90 days or so. I felt sorry for the poor Army guys who got extended over there. At the start of my deployment, I was in at a bare-base location close to Iraq. Unlike everyone else (to include medical personnel), I had no flack vest/body armor and/or a weapon.:hit-boss: When the war started, we were issued new chem suits and told to open and be ready to wear them- what a joke! Not long after, I was forwarded to the Saddam Airport (from what I understand, this place is now like a vacation resort) near Baghdad, Iraq- with no body armor or weapon again!! When I arrived at that location, there was no place for me to set up any of my testing equipment. The area was very jacked-up/destroyed (from combat) and primitive. I felt really vulnerable to say the least. I was a one-man team and basically, no one knew I existed there (except my home unit). I noticed medical helicopters always coming in and landing at a certain location near the runway. Not long after, I checked it out and noticed that casualties were being off-loaded. The medical team there was under-manned, so I pitched-in to help... wasn't I just the f*cking hero of the day. Big mistake... all I could do was manpower type work as skill in medical technology is not the same as being a doc, medic, or nurse. I'm trained to analyze specimens, and I did not realize just how much this was going to affect me. So many casualties for a month straight just took its toll on me I guess. I found myself constantly trying to hide the tears that kept rolling down my face as I carried casualties from helicopters to the tent that was set up there. I felt so bad for all of them. These casualties were mostly our troops (HERO's), some Iraqi POWs and the worst...
    innocent children.
    If any of you Army guys remember (May 2003 in Iraq) leaving an unarmed Air Force guy to walk back to the camp site alone, for several miles on a stretch of highway... that was me, motherf*ckers!
    Back home, my wife was raising one hell of a stink with my unit because they sent me off without any real personal protection (see above). They assured her it was on its way over to me, but I never saw it. In fact, my body armor actually sat in my supervisor's office the whole time... I guess he thought a scud might impact near him on the homefront at Barksdale AFB. Not long after, I was told by a commander to jump on a C-130 out of there ...still not sure why.
    I'm not even going to go into all the bullsh*t I was put through and went through after I came home. Needless to say, my issues really festered and caused me a lot of problems at work.:mad: If you've ever had problems at work due to PTSD and depression symptoms, then you understand what I dealt with. I quietly suffered because of my stupidity, ignorance and selfishness. I didn't want to say anything and risk possibly losing the only way of life I had known since graduating high school. Had I got help early, when I first started having problems, things might not have been so bad later on. They put me on medicine almost a year before discharging me, but I think it has only made me worse off. About a month or so ago, I cut my meds way down and I hadn't been so apathetic since... I went from not showering for like three weeks at a time, down to where I was after coming home (several days to a week).
    I just started going to college recently. Initially, it was very tough on me emotionally. I do not like being around so many people as I suffer from unwarranted paranoia. However, just like a VA psychologist had told me, it would probably be good for me since it will keep my mind from wandering so much (he said it cured him of his major depression). As of right now, I'd say he just might be correct as I find myself engrossed in trying to keep up with the lectures... which is better than being engrossed with constant crappy memories. I hope this isn't temporary. Ya'll take care.
     
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  3. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Hey Mac... mate, don't worry about the mood swings, I'm sure you will be just fine. Mate, I know exactly what you mean in regards to all the bullshit that you go through within the military, both on and off operations. It is endless... and I always stated, if the military where a business, it would be bankrupt over and over. Lucky they have big budgets I guess...

    I also know and understand what you felt in relation to being unarmed, as a couple of my deployments where unarmed, and we were shot at and had people try and kill us, all the usual BS, but because politics back home said no weapons... we had no weapons, as one was humanitarian (not sure why they call those missions that, because I didn't see humanity) and another was trying to keep an unstable calm, and politics once again thought that no weapons would help achieve that status. Once again politicians where wrong, with no fuc*en idea as they curled up in their comfy bed each night with their spouse and kids, and the most dangerous thing that faced was a possible razor cut shaving and the drive to work. I know resentful, trust me, and understand others in regard to this, especially military.

    I think its really great that you posted, because it helps getting this crap out of you, than keeping it bottled up. I may just bust your bubble here though, as with your last statement about being bottled up in your lectures and hoping the symptom reduction is gone.... well... basically what your saying is that you have adopted workaholism instead, which is a form of suppression, no different than alcohol or drug use actually. Whilst you maintain workaholism, the symptoms can remain calmed longer, but they will still come out, whether you like it or not, and they will still need to be dealt with.

    I think your on the right path here though, because if your using other methods to atleast get you through temporarily, and you begin working on the smaller parts of your traumas, then because you can control how much you work on at once, you can control the symptom outbreak to a point. Sometimes though, that theory does backfire, and once you open pandoras box... that is it, everything comes flooding through. Again though, either way, it needs to be dealt with some time, because it won't go away, and is just cementing itself further within your brain by avoiding it.

    You have started small here Mac, and I think you should keep going to be honest, especially if you want to control this without the workaholism, because it won't suppress your trauma forever.

    Very good start though mate, very glad to have you and your experiences here, and I look forward to chatting with you about everything mate, trauma, life, whats going on this weekend even... anything goes. This is as much your community as anyone here, so make yourself at home mate.
     
  4. mac

    mac Active Member

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    Hey, I'm back again... fortunately, I heard the phone ringing as I was trying to break out of my sleep (dream I was having). I have nightmares all the time when I sleep, so I try to be so tired before I finally fall asleep so that I am too tired to recollect or experience dreams. After I wrote my intro, I was pretty tired (I had been up since 07:30 that morning, and this week had only been getting roughly three to four hours sleep). The dream I just woke up from was causing me to have MAJOR panic attacks. It was such a simple dream too, unlike the complicated and detailed one's where I'm either back in Iraq, or the really weird ones where I'm trying to survive being killed by people/aliens/natural disasters. Tonights dream consisted of me finding a wooden arts and crafts valentine heart at some place as it lay on the floor. Everything was black and red. The wooden valentine heart belonged to a soldier. I knew this because I made a similar one myself when I was in a psychiatric hospital (that's true life). I tried to find the owner of this wooden heart and somehow I felt my life slipping away (maybe because I felt that all his pain was also my pain, I don't know, but I could see his pain and feel his pain), hence, I guess this was the reason why I was having the extreme panic attack in my sleep. The person I was looking to return their wooden heart to was also on your forum.
    I guess my wife and I just might be soul mates because she called home just in time, and I think it saved me. I think writing my intro caused me to get so worked up like this. If I could just sleep dream-free. I noticed you replied to my intro. Thank you for sharing your understanding with me. Let me tell you, stigma and maltreatment for having PTSD in the military are still alive and well. I found this out (that my situation was not unique)when I started going to 'group' sessions for Iraq War Veterans. Also, when I was over there, there was a large presence of Australian soldiers... and you guys seemed to be quite nice. One guy allowed me to take a look through the fixed scope on his Steyer AUG. Cool bunch of troops. Thank you for your acceptance. Of all the forums I have checked out, this one by far is the premiere one. Thanks.
     
  5. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Thanks Mac. Writing is a form of therapy, so yes, exposing your trauma through writing about it does create a symptom outbreak, but at the same time, it also releases a part of your trauma, which is the outbreak, so when your mind comes back a bit, it will actually come back a bit further, ie. with less trauma than before you wrote. As you continue to write about every aspect of your trauma, your alarm goes higher for a short term, then it comes back further again, until such time as when a person has written and exposed every piece of their trauma, the alarm is nearly turned off, or back in the normal position again, thus you sleep again, have no nightmares, very little symptoms... exposure therapy is the name for just writing what you have above Mac. The best thing for us all is to write about our memories, our traumas, our pasts and present situations, as we ensure our longevity of our lives, and regain much of what we lose because of PTSD.

    Yer... if I hadn't gotten PTSD to the point of no return, I would most likely still be in the military, as I did it because I loved the job, not because I had too do it.
     
  6. mac

    mac Active Member

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    Thanks man. Yeah, last night I think I went through about three extreme panic attacks where I could barely breathe... haven't had panic attacks like this (to this level) in a long time. I thought I was dying. My wife said she called when she did because she somehow felt like I was suffering a lot and she became real worried for me... damn if she didn't hit the nail on the head. A lot of stuff you have stated seems to flow with what I've either read through literature, or had been told by psychologists, so I can attest here that your advice and knowledge is very sound. You also make a lot of sense. You'd probably make one hell of a counselor/psychologist. From one Vet to another, Thanks a lot brother.
     
  7. Nam

    Nam I'm a VIP

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    Just wanted to say, welcome, Mac. And Thank You.
     
  8. mac

    mac Active Member

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    Thank you, Nam.
     
  9. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Your welcome mac. Yer mate, that damn womens intuition thing... that is scary stuff. My sister pulled it out one day, where she said to not drive from Brisbane to Melbourne because she had really sick feelings about it. Sure enough, not even outside of the Brisbane CBD... my ex-wife rolled the car with me and my son in it... a write off totally.

    I would never become a counsellor or physician, because I would not tolerate the stupidity they get told during education... how to best approach someone with PTSD is not the methods they are taught... as we all know, because doctors are falling over themselves about this place in how it allows everyone to open up, something which very few off us completely do with them, thus they are always short sighted of the full picture. I think I do better trying to help others I am interested in helping, without all the side issues and nonsense that goes on. I would actually end up hitting some professor I think for listening to some of the nonsense theory that would come from their mouths, especially in regard to treating veterans. Since veterans are the largest concerning issue with PTSD in regard to getting them to help themselves because of the issues surrounding the military training we endure, we are taught to not do that and work as a team instead... and a doctor patient is not a team.

    Yep... I really do just like to help others that I can relate with. It is comforting to just help one person from killing themselves.... and everyone here within this community is entitled to having that for themselves, because every single person here helps everyone else, thus constantly helping one another, and saving others lives. Just look at your own advice for cookie... that advice could well just help her to save her own life, just from learning upon your own experience. I think its a nice thing to be part off, considering all the shit we all have suffered / suffer, it is refreshing to know that everyone is here just for support. We all have crap days with PTSD.... and it is so refreshing to just have others who understand say its ok, and its alright to just have crap day / week / month, because its part of the disorder.

    I like you mac... I am going to look forward to reading your experiences and chatting with you mate... thanks for getting active here... it helps.
     
  10. Boo-Damphir

    Boo-Damphir Active Member

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    Hi Mac

    I'm glad you posted too! Sometimes that's the hardest part - figuring out where the heck to start :thumbs-up
    I hope you get as much benefit from this group as you give to the rest of us. I have a super husband much like your super wife (why he stays I'll never know!) But this is a "family" issue.
    Please stay in touch, even if it's just to pop in and say, "Hi, I'm having a crappy day" :rofl:

    ~Boo-Damphir
     
  11. mac

    mac Active Member

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    Thank ya'll so much. Thank you Anthony for your alturism. I had only one counselor that I truly trusted to an extent. He has recently retired after 20 years of service to the Air Force. Every time I went to him, he was able to help me out with sorting my thoughts, providing me relief. He was outstanding at interpreting a lot of my dreams also. When my unit's squadron commander was punishing me for stuff I couldn't help, and although it did no good, that counselor was one of the individuals that stood up for me regardless of what he might face at the discretion of our commander. I consider him a friend, even though at the moment we don't stay in touch. He retired at exactly 20 years because, as he put it, he just couldn't stand to be a part of an 'impaired' (military) system that generally harms those in need of (mental) help.
    There are a lot of great people in the military, but, I can tell you from 13.5 years of personal experience, there are some really rotten-to-the-core ones as well. The Office of the Secratary of the Air Force (OSAF) threw out that squadron commander's discharge recommendation and 'honorably' retired me (temporarily, if I get better) for PTSD. That squadron commander put in for retirement as my paperwork was being processed for final disposition by the OSAF, and has since retired. Just a coincidence, or was he (squad comm.) feeling guilty of how he treated an Iraq war Veteran/feared a tarnished career for those ill-actions ( a disgrace to himself considering he was never there)? Probably not (just another as$-hole), and I'll probably never know... he can kiss my ass though because I begged and cried to not be kicked out, I apologized for how I was and for stuff I didn't feel guilty of and could not help. And he was informed that I was suffering from PTSD, and at the time he had absolutely no mercy on me... as he (squadron commander) stated: "I feel he (me) is incompetent and is of no use to this organization." My boss said, "He is negative and devisive (devisive because some people actually stood up for me against them... that made me devisive), and the rest of the group would be better off with out him. He's rude and the others are scared of him." Well, fuuuuuuuuuu** them!!!!
    Damn, freedom of speech is great. What's so sad is that those that fight for these freedoms as part of their military duties, are not allowed to have them no where close to the average citizen in America. I hope one day I can share my entire story and it brings destruction to stigma and maltreatment faced by those that hurt inside... maybe I will write a book?
    I was about to erase all this after the second sentence ('cause I think I got sidetracked), but I'll let it stand as part of sharing my thoughts with ya'll. Thank you Boo-Damphir. Hopefully I can provide help.
     
  12. purdyamos

    purdyamos Active Member

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    Welcome to the forum, Mac. I can't imagine what you've been through. The PTSD club often fall into domestic/military pigeonholes as far as their initial experiences go, but once trapped in trauma, the feelings and reactions are very much the same however they were formed. I look forward to reading more from you.

    :kickass:
     
  13. mac

    mac Active Member

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    Thanks Purdyamos. I don't care whether you are/were military or not. When I first was put in a psychiatric hospital (against my will), I was one of the few military there, as most patients were civilians. My traumatic experiences in the military, and your traumatic experiences (same or not), result in the same outcome usually: PTSD. I guess what I am trying to say here is that I believe your post (above) to be exactly right. Thank you
     
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