"I was a monster. The littlest of things would set me off. I was screaming, looking for a fight. There was so much rage inside of me. In the end, I guess I was mad at myself...for surviving."
"I still hear the screams, I still hear the blood. I can still taste the dust on my lips. Every time I close my eyes, my heart leaps into my throat when I see that missing wall, the dust billowing out. I still feel my throat going raw as I scream for the two that we knew were underneath the rubble. I still feel his swollen, bloody hand in mine as he fights to live...."
Sometimes I hurt the ones that I love the most, even though they're the ones that I need the most...because there's so much pain and anger and hurt going on inside of my head and my heart that I just don't know what to do with it. I feel like there's no way to say that I'm sorry enough.
He tells me that I've started to scream at night. I'm reaching for a rifle that's no longer at my side to battle ghosts. I'm holding the hands of men that are no longer here with us.
As someone who has been in the shit outside the wire, this means a lot. Years ago, PTSD wasn't considered a big deal. It was written off as combat stress and a soldier was left to struggle on their own. I'm so happy that light is being shed on PTSD awareness. There's nothing quite so harrowing as living in the past over and over and over again. I still dream of the roof collapsing, of having to dig T and Z out of that mess. Of the squad getting shot at hours after we had to put our men on the flying red cross. I remember the rage and wanting to rip the creature who did this to my friends apart piece by piece by little piece.
There's no cure but time. Talking helps. I've calmed down since this, but not enough. I wake up screaming, my heart pounding. I can't watch war scenes any more. Act of Valor, as beautiful as it is, sends me into a combined panic and rage. I break things. I want to go back, to be there with my brothers and sisters and arms as they go through the shit. I owe it to them.
Today's a day for the nation to recognize a person's invisible scars, paying particular attention to the veterans that suffer from it. I wasn't aware of it until many of the military support pages on Facebook started posting about it. It's a terrifying, stressful, aggravating, shitty thing to live with whether you're the person with it or living with the person who has it. If you know of someone who has been through hell (it doesn't have to be war to be traumatic, trust me) talk to them. But more importantly, listen.
Please, spread the awareness. Someone out there needs it.