‘I have PTSD, but I’m not broken.’:  Veteran says ‘we put the fun in dysfunctional’

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“Today is my 47th birthday.

As a wild child growing up I was told, ‘Kid, you’re not going to ever see 30. Slow down.’ All I did was catch another gear and go faster. I have always been an adrenaline junkie. Rappelling, skydiving, motocross, choppers. Anything with speed, danger assisted and death defying.

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That’s what led me to the army. I didn’t grow up in a wholesome environment. It was rough. Abusive in today’s standards. That’s just how life was then. So, I looked at escaping my environment. I looked at the Army for my next adventure. I got just that. I spent six years in Europe at the end of the Cold War. I came back stateside and continued on my plundering path. 9-11 kicked off and as with almost everyone in the military that day, we knew our next adventure just began. Without knowledge of what it would do to all in uniform.

Courtesy of Cole George

PTSD takes a thousand forms on a person. It was something that I was used to. So I didn’t think much about it. Some drank, some took drugs, some got violent.

For me, I looked at my adrenaline as my cure. It was no different than a drug user chasing their first high. You’ll never achieve it again, but you’ll chase it. It becomes destructive in nature. Physically and mentally, it takes over. Always chasing it…

‘But I don’t have PTSD.’

‘I can manage my PTSD. It’s not bad.’

That’s what I told myself.

Fast forward to the end of my military service. Eighteen years of being a soldier. That’s all I knew. I didn’t fit into the world of being a civilian. My marriage of twenty years crumbled. That demon sat on my shoulder, whispering it’s sweet nothings. Telling me all the things that were wrong with me, the things I messed up. As it’s tail gripped me tighter around my neck, I could no longer breathe. I looked for a way out. Any way out. What was best? I was a failure.

Courtesy of Cole George

So I did what I do best. Took that and put it into adrenaline. I climbed on my motorcycle that I custom built. Hit the road. Faster, another gear, even faster, traffic faded behind me in the desert highway. The dotted lines became a blur. That demon was still there. I couldn’t loose it. At 130 miles per hour, it told me to go for it. So I did. I grabbed another gear and twisted the throttle. 135,140…

Just then the images of my daughters came into my head. Everything I’ll miss. After I’m gone, what will be said to them? I slowed down and pulled over. I was in the middle of the desert. No one for miles. I cried, I screamed. I needed to get help.

I found two amazing foundations that did just that. They showed me that I was not broken, I was not a failure. That I was worth saving. I have learned to embrace Post Traumatic Growth. To find that silver lining. Meditation, group talks.

It has been three years since then. I have made amazing stride and incredible set backs. But I always push forward. I’m human enough to ask for help.

Courtesy of Cole George

I have since remarried. I have an amazing wife who understands what I go through (also, I think she likes to pick up strays). We have a blended family. It’s tougher than it was before. There are so many moving parts. No topic is off limits. She can see if I’m off. So my wife will sit next down and talk to me.

Courtesy of Cole George
Courtesy of Cole George

If she can’t help, I go back to my group of veterans and go to what I know. The help is out there. It’s just harder for some people than others. But we are not broken. We just put the fun in dysfunctional.”

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Courtesy of Cole George

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