I was thinking about starting this by claiming that this is being written to make others aware of the reality of PTSD in a selfless effort to bring attention to the condition. But, really, I’m just writing out of some selfish hope that writing will provide some sort of personal therapeutic value. When I thought I was over PTSD, I thought I knew exactly what PTSD was. I was for a long time a functioning alcoholic. I somehow defied very tangible barriers to achieve some professional success. Despite feeling socially confident, there was a long time where I used to be unable to verbalize simple words in groups larger than two. I somehow managed promotions, even into management, despite literally sweating any time someone would speak with me from a physical position higher than me; that is, if I was sitting and the partner in discussion was standing, actual sweat would run down my face. I used to avoid the office on days when meetings were scheduled, joined instead by telephone, and took shots before speaking, even if the only expectation for my speaking was a simple status update. Until it became more commonly known, people used to describe PTSD in a way that I think better described shell shock. For a long time, I suffered from that, too. I have a very specific combat memory created by incoming indirect fire. For at least four years after the event, the visceral sound of overhead planes, especially if descending toward me, would cause me to actually duck and hide. But when I overcame that, I thought I had made significant progress in overcoming PTSD. The social anxiety increased. My drinking became reckless. To the point that it scared me sufficiently to quit drinking. After quitting drinking, I increasingly felt more socially comfortable every day. Slowly but surely, I became convinced that I had overcome PTSD. I actually became known in the office for my ability to speak well publicly. But as quick as I was to share my pride about not drinking, I had picked up the habit of smoking weed. Weed seemed innocuous and for everyone else, it surely is. But because of my addictive personality, it began to take over. I was smoking weed all the time and avoiding social engagements so that I could smoke instead. I had so many good excuses (I need to go home and study!), but unbeknownst to me I just wanted to return home and escape. I can see that now. But then I quit smoking weed. And then I had surely overcome PTSD. I was a manager in a high-paying position, owned a fancy car and my own condo in a location that I had always dreamed of living. It wasn’t enough. I told myself that I needed more of an intellectual challenge. So, blowing the minds of my peers, I left my job. I enrolled in a computer coding bootcamp. I completed it. But I currently have no job. I have no friends. Little personal interaction. I go to the gym every day and people think I am a normal, even popular guy. I perform the act magnificently. Now I don’t smoke weed nor drink, and I sit at home engulfed in coding challenges, constantly telling myself that I am doing the right thing for my future. But I know the truth. Once I do land a job, I won’t be satisfied. Nothing’s ever good enough. I thought I was over this. I somehow have my condo still. I’ve accumulated debt but, because I do so little, I’m actually not in an unenviable financial situation. I am thankful for at least this daily. But here’s the thing: I can’t even imagine what satisfaction feels like. After graduating the coding bootcamp, while struggling to find work, I encountered one of those helpful suggestions that told me if I just did what I loved, I’d never work a day in my life. That sentence might as well have grown Brock Lesnar arms and punched me right in the gut because it was just then that I realized that I have zero passions. Nothing. Well, okay. I enjoy writing. I workout and run. I love my dog more than anything. I literally spend all day, every day trying to improve my future outlook but I can’t discover how to monetize anything that I enjoy. I’m actually pretty comfortable without any close friends. But when you have no intimate relationships and then can’t pick up a worthwhile job, one begins to question a lot of things. I mean, at some point, when absolutely everything seems wrong, I have to have the gumption to embrace the Occam’s Razor of it all, and admit that the problem resides within me. I recall that when I was so socially uncomfortable that I had convinced myself that my feeling was not atypical. As I sit here right now – well, up until about three minutes ago- I was convinced that my struggle currently was also pretty normal. People everyday dutifully perform in jobs that leave them woefully unfulfilled. And at least I’m legitimately improving myself, constantly studying, perpetually coding, reading, learning. I just need to suck it up, right? I’m miserable. I’m by myself. And I realize that I am smack in the middle of the same condition as previously, just with different symptoms. It really really sucks. Recently, I’ve been longing to return to the military. When I left the Army, I dreamed of the civilian success that I would achieve. I’m athletic, do well academically and was successful in the Service. But as time passes and I’ve achieved nothing of the significance I genuinely anticipated, I rationalize my nostalgic view of the Army as wanting to defend the American environment that allows others to achieve the greatness that evades me. I simultaneously recall how badly I wanted out of the Army while realizing that it was the only time of my life that I truly felt comfortable amongst (some) like-minded peers. I’m just so conflicted. And about the only people who know it are me, and … you. Now. Yeah, so this is what PTSD feels like. Just utter loneliness with a sense that almost nothing will bring genuine happiness. It sucks, man. So, I’m going to return to my studying. Despite what it sounds like, I’m strong. I’m in no danger to myself. Which seems foreign to even write, but I’m self-aware enough to know that some readers may assume a tragic ending to a story like this. So, I figured I’d address that aspect, despite harboring no actual thoughts of anything even close to self-harm. I just needed to share my current feelings. I don’t know what this writing has accomplished. Let’s be real: I’m hoping one of you replies with the magical remedy to my self-pity. But, I’m a realist; I get it. No one is going to solve this for me. But me. I hope in years, when I’ve overcome PTSD for good (or as much as anybody can), I’ll be able to reflect on this writing as a significant turning point in the right direction. Thanks for reading.