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Question About PTSD and Iraq

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by IraqVet, Mar 10, 2006.

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  1. IraqVet

    IraqVet New Member

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    Hello Everyone,

    I am not sure how to begin. About two years ago, I returned from Iraq after spending 10 1/2 months in Baghdad. Since then my life has not been the same. I have gone through severe depressive episodes lasting from weeks to months. I have had a horrible time sleeping. I have abused alcohol serverely (although, for now at least, I am not alcohol dependent). For the first several months after returning, I could only sleep when I was drunk. I have had fits of anger where I said extreemely hurtful things to people that I cared about. This was a major factor in the end of a 3 1/2 year relationship. I find myself fantasizing about killing people and otherwise violent acts.
    Despite all of this, the worst thing for me, is the anxiety. I don't think that I am awake for one hour, without thinking and worrying about my time in Iraq. I watch the news religiously. A new article of a spike in violence will throw me into a new depressive episode that affects every part of my life for days or weeks. I have trouble sleeping and studying because I will obsess for hours about Iraq. I've developed nervous twitches in my eyes and shoulders. Sometimes I miss being in Iraq, actually - this part I really dont understand. At the moment, I feel like there is nobody in my life that I can talk to about this.
    For the first time, recently, I thought about hurting myself. It was a very brief thought and I have no intention now of doing anything like that (at least for now, nobody needs to worry about this). But, I guess that was a "wake-up call" that I needed to talk to somebody. I sort of assumed that, once the war was over, this would all go away. I can't and won't assume this anymore.
    At the same time, I am not sure that I belong on this forum. I did not see so much violence in Iraq. I saw very little compared to some people I know - people that sometimes seemed just fine. I had some nightmares right after I came back, but not since a long time. I did have battle stress while I was there but it was more a result fear, loneliness, and hopelessness - not combat. I almost feel guilty for suggesting that I have PTSD because I know people that have been through such horrific things and stayed so strong. Maybe I would be better suited for just a depression/anxiety forum. So, what do all of you think?
    I haven't stayed in contact with anyone that I served with. I didn't want to and they all didn't seem to want to either - we all just wanted to move on. I don't know what to do next or what the next step would be. Please, somebody tell me something.

    Thanks to anybody that replies,
    B
     
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  3. madjon

    madjon Active Member

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    im not in the best of condition meself at mo, but will try and get something down, what you feeling is ''normal'' returned from active zone to city life, you get used to looking for bad things and watching all the time, its almost impossible to stop at first keep checking high points and looking at strategic value of little walls corners and all sorts of stuff while walking to the shops,
    feeling guilt , in part feeling you havent seen or done anything compared to other people, no matter what you have seen or done there is always another person to compare yourself to and feel guilty, so dont worry yourself over that, the link with the news, your mind hasnt left iraq, try and not watch it, switch to something else on tv, was quoted recently when i said to someone i dont talk about things at times because i get the urge to disembowel idiots with a spoon, the stuff in your head is anxiety and situations playing themselves out over and over again, try and keep a grip on that one, it can be a pain, being in an active zone where reflexs to live or die are required is something you can feel desirable too as it is familiar and fits in with the new way of things you have adjusted too, you sound like you could benefit from talking about what you are going through, heres a good place , being bad to people you care about is something im familiar with, first thing is you found somewhere that can help, im afraid i cant say much more at moment as am a bit fragged at present but do come back here , im sure more people will have something to say, theres always someone somewhere to talk to who has been there, what part the world you in?
     
  4. permban0008

    permban0008 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    Welcome Iraqvet,

    I am Kerrie-Ann, Anthony's wife. You have made a good move by coming here, at least you will be able to vent with others who understand where you are coming from. From what you have described this PTSD thing is all relatively new to you but the fact that you are here indicates that you have realised there is a problem. That, I believe is one of the bigger hurdles. I only have experience with PTSD from the partners perspective but I can relay what I have witnessed. I agree with 'madjon' about judging or comparing yourself with others deployment experiences - its like comparing apples and oranges - you just don't know and it is one thing that you really don't need to beat yourself up about it. The other thing is turn the bloody news OFF!!! Anthony no longer watches that on TV and I even get cranky with him if he watches on of those 'warry' DVD's, it just does not do him any good. Its kind of like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer continuously, you know that it is going to hurt but you keep doing it anyway. I don't know what else I can say to you other than take care of you.....eat, sleep (if you can), exercise, drink water and find someone to talk to, even if it is only in this forum. My husband will laugh at this, because I am always reminding him to do those things but they do make a difference to his world, mine and the childrens when he takes care of himself. I am sure Anthony will be online at some stage and send you a post. Again take care of you.
     
  5. permban0008

    permban0008 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    madjon,

    I like your quote 'disembowel idiots with a spoon.' Interesting method and weapon of choice, I suppose you can't get arrested for threatening someone with a spoon.
     
  6. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Hi B,

    Welcome to the forum. Firstly, everyone with PTSD, or likely PTSD, trauma, anxiety, depression, and so forth, are all welcome here. We all need a place to talk, unload and get things off our chest. We all need someone to talk with, and thats what this place is about. Everyone here either has PTSD, is a partner / family / friend of PTSD, and also some qualified psychiatrists, phycologists, social workers and counsellors hanging around.

    This has PTSD written all over it. Anxiety, depression, anger, sleeplessness, dreams... You definately need to seek medical advice now, and diagnosis. I am not a big believer in the medication, but I do know that you certainly need it when you are in this stage, where things are happening, and your not sure what. It takes years to work it out, work yourself out, and know how to get better so you can function for the most part in daily life again. Once on medication, you will know for yourself when its right to bring yourself off it, or reduce the dose.

    Are you still in the forces? If so, they will put you in the right place. If not, then you should be able to still seek free medical for injuries suffered whilst in the defence force.

    Being a veteran myself, I know exactly what your feeling. In the early stages of returning home, all you know is what you left behind, being the conflict. Because of the long periods we spend in those situations, it becomes home to us, and when we actually return to civilization again, we just want to go back to the war zone. Why? Because it is the most familiar thing we know. It is where our traumas occured; it is where we suffered our traumas with our mates. Lets face it, military is all about building trust and being a team. That team becomes your family, and when you leave that team, life is very unfamiliar to us.

    Your anxiety and depression is what you need to get under control quick smart, and that needs immediate medical help. You need to see your local doctor, veteran counsellors and support, all of whom will be able to guide you to your nearest center ASAP and get you diagnosed and treatment begun. Every case is different, and every doctor uses their own preferred medication. The problem is, is that most medications for depression and anxiety have pretty harsh side-affects. That I know of, and through my own use, Lexapro is probably the best, and newest to the market, as it concentrats on balancing out the left and right brain, which is what PTSD is, an imbalance in chemicals between the left and right of the brain. Lexapro hits the medical aspect of PTSD hard, without all the harsh sideaffects. That I am aware off, Lexapro was made for PTSD (as one of the depressive / anxiety illnesses), where older drugs where made to treat other specifics, ie. depression by itself, anxiety by itself, etc etc. What tends to happen with older drugs, is they use two or three types to control the symptoms, and in large doses, which I think you could work out for yourself, your going to feel like crap with all that shit in your system. Lexapro is my preferred choice for the above reasons, and you only need the one drug to treat PTSD, not multiple.

    Good assumption, and honestly, it won't be the last time that you think suicidal thoughts with PTSD. The honest truth is, you need to learn about PTSD, you need to control your PTSD with medication until you know enough about it, or through education, that you can control it yourself with little to no medication. Some people smoke a joint a day, some just smoke cigarettes to control it, etc etc, that is once they understand what is happening to their body, and have the tools to fix themselves quickly when depression or anxiety popup.

    This is all normal... your not strange. This is PTSD and what happens when you have suffered trauma.

    I think I covered this first up... you belong here, because you have problems, and you need help, you need somewhere to vent, you need to get things off your chest. The problem with us all, is that we all think where not worthy of having PTSD, because we all know someone, somewhere, that has had a worse affect, or exposure, who may have PTSD.

    Anyone can get PTSD, from having a car accident, childhood abuse, rape, torture, war, being hit by a car, falling of a pushbike even. It is an individual illness, where two people can see or do the same thing, one will get PTSD, the other will not. Why? Because we are all different, we feel differently, we respond differently, we accept and reject differently. Our brains process the same information, differently, thus depending on whether we get PTSD or not. You will find a wide variation of peoples trauma here, all of whom have PTSD.

    To be honest, I thought some of my experiences where nothing, but then realised, mine is obviously important to me, hence why I have PTSD. You are the same, seeing, feeling and experiencing is enough to provoke PTSD. You don't need to kill someone to have PTSD, you don't need to be shot or wounded to get PTSD... you see, exactly what you explained, the hopelessness, fear, loneliness, isolation (which you missed out), is way more than enough to give you PTSD within a war zone.

    I can speak of experience to be telling you this... as if you read other posts in this forum, I have spoken about some of my traumas from active service.

    B, you are completely normal to be feeling what you are, and from what you have said, I believe you will in fact have PTSD, though only medical diagnosis is the sure method. I just posted a [DLMURL="http://www.ptsdforum.org/thread84.html"]PTSD self test[/DLMURL] yesterday actually, which you should look at if your not sure.

    Here's the biggest thing about PTSD. Denial. You have made your way online, finding support, finding help, admitting there is something wrong. You are now over the biggest hurdle.... congratulations.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  7. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Something that just came to me.

    I was asked a while back if what was missing from me, could be retrieved. I thought about it. My answer was, NO. The reason for that, was that the parts of me that are now missing, are left in the countries I served in, a bit here, a bit their, where the traumas, loneliness, isolation and fear was. This is what made me think, "Is it this that makes me feel at home in those places again?"

    It is the only way I can describe, how I feel about certain parts of me that are definately missing from my service, which is certainly impacting my PTSD. I explained to this person, that I now have to try and rebuild those parts of me again, as I can't retrieve them from where they are any longer. They are gone, no longer a part of me, and my shell is quite empty, which I now need to refill from start.

    This is easier said than done, as its took me 25 years to get where I was, and within a 6 - 7 year period, all was gone as I know it, from constant active operations. Now 34 and still rebuilding those missing parts I have left all across the world.
     
  8. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Oh, a big tip... stop watching the news, its not healthy for PTSD. I rarely ever watch the news for this reason, as it IS a trigger for me, and starts me thinking about events that I don't need to be thinking about, or reminded all the time. Its not healthy when you have PTSD. If you want to know whats going on in the world, start reading the newspaper, as it can't depict what the TV can, thus you can handle it, and keep current with whats going on in the world all at the same time.
     
  9. IraqVet

    IraqVet New Member

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    I am no longer in the military. I also no longer live in the US (I guess I sort of exiled myself) - which will make it harder to find help. But I can talk to some people and see what I can find - I know I can find something. Anyways, I cut all ties with the military as best I could and I really want to avoid the VA or something like that.

    I guess I have another question. Is it harder being a veteran of a war, while the war is still going on? Willl it help when, in however many years, this conflict passes?
     
  10. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    It doesn't matter from my own experience. I was in Timor when it first started, bodies where still burning, people where still being shot, etc etc, you know how it goes, and it still hasn't, nor will ever I believe get easier for me. I have learnt from lots of education and talking, that we have to fix ourselves, in the way only we ourselves know. When your initially discovering what is going on, and the problems associate with it, drinking, drugs and everything else we use to suppress as much as possible, then you do need to be getting counselling and regular support to help get you through, and educated as much as possible to your personal needs. It really is no easy road.

    I lost a marriage because of it, would only be lieing if I said I wasn't an alcoholic, used pot a few times when drunk, and lots of other things. I was provoking fights, physically hurting people, mentally hurting them, and the list goes on. When I finally cracked and was forced to get help, it was that point a name was given, PTSD! This was only a few years ago for myself, and it has been, and still is, a long hard road to recovery.

    I had PTSD without knowing what it was, since about 1998... so I hurt a lot of people, which sometimes makes me worst just thinking about that, but I have learnt to go forward, not backwards (well, as much as possible anyway).

    Your in Germany, correct? If you contact something like, a lifeline support network or the like, then they will be able to give you advice for your local town, city or region, and hook you up with PTSD support groups, agencies, counsellors, etc etc to get specific help and treatment.

    You will always get support and an ear to listen here, but we just can't provide the more personal, face to face unfortunately. I have just given you access to the PTSD hidden area also, which contains a thread to contact me on a more personal basis anywhere around the world.
     
  11. madjon

    madjon Active Member

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    used to live in the gulf and was out there in 90/91, was a bit screwed up but not too bad then gulf 2 came long and thoroughly flipped me past any sense of an edge, conflicts can end and be buried in the annals of history just for the same thing to happen again a few years later, for me it was watching and hearing the same things happening over again in the same places, avoiding the news would be a good idea, look at local papers or magazines or avoid online articles , if your in germany the health system there isnt too bad, i can understand what you mean about avoiding the va, but have a look around there are a lot of other organisations about, here uk, theres a few different organisations ranging from clinics for people to drop in to just meeting up with other people who have been through the mill and talking and helping each other, the best therapy i ever had was talking to an raf gunner at 2 am in a club, both been in the same places and had a good talk, meeting people who understand where your coming from is a good start, they dont judge and have been there themselves, here is a good place, there are a lot of people to talk to,im sure theres someone and something in germany,
    1, you recognise you have a problem, 2, you can see some of the negative coping coming out drinking etc, 3, your looking for a way forward, its not easy to cope while things are still going on but there will always be another one further down the line, first avoid the news , i have said it a few times but it is worth mentionng again, look for patterns in behaviour or repeated patterns of thought or repeated phrases, these once noticed will help you understand your own cycle of thought and behaviour, try and come up with a mental note for when you are spacing out, ive got so if im going bug eyed and looking at somewhere far away instead of where i am i start tapping the back of my wrist which helps draw my attention back to where i am now, theres lots of ways and things that can help, but talking to a doc would be a good move, recovery takes time and at times in can seem impossible but there is something to look forward to, hope you find a home here, jon
     
  12. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Well said jon, well said mate.
     
  13. Seabeevet

    Seabeevet Active Member

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    Hay there Gulfvet.. I too was there. in 90/91 then Somalia.. What a fool I was to go see blackhawk down.. I was in the same area many times and I feel many things you said. It has been a long time , For me time has not made it better. I am now going to the VA for help.. I did not serve in the gulfwar #2 I do have friends who have died there and I too have thoughts of going over there back there and I have violent thoughts. I still look over my shoulder and look beyond what is in front of me. I am always thinking of that place.. or the people who lie about it every day.

    Stay safe.
     
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