A soldier’s encounter with PTSD
“I can’t possibly have PTSD , I’m a hard-charging soldier!”
That was the first thing that went through my mind when I heard the diagnosis.
Let me give you a little background on my situation.
I was having some major anger issues and I’d had a couple of close calls where I had actually assaulted people over every day irritations. My wife gave me an ultimatum, either go see a professional or she was going to take the children and leave.
Just for the record, I love my wife and children more than anything and I knew she meant it. I was heartbroken.
I made an appointment with a local psychiatrist and went to see her. After a few sessions together, discussing my issues, behavior and background, she gave me a shocking diagnosis.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was the furthest thing from my mind. I knew I was dealing with some serious anger issues but I thought I was going to be able to chalk it up to insane amounts of stress at work. When she gave me the diagnosis, my first reaction was, “I can’t possibly have PTSD , I’m a hard-charging soldier!” My next reaction was becoming very angry because I was offended that someone could think that I would be that weak-minded.
At that point, having never considered the possibility of suffering from PTSD, I had no idea what it really was or how it manifested itself. When I went home and talked it over with my wife, she started doing research on the symptoms of this disorder. As it turns out, every symptom listed all over the internet, matched what I’d been going through over the course of the last year, exactly. I was still opposed to the diagnosis, because, in my mind, PTSD was something that people used to get out of doing their job.
Mental illness, and PTSD in particular, were very taboo subjects while I was on active duty. Most of the people that I’d served with would rather be dead than called unstable, and I was right there with them.
I fought the diagnosis and even went to a different psychiatrist to get a second opinion. After a few sessions, his diagnosis was also PTSD.
With all the research my wife had been doing, the doctors telling me and my worsening anger, I decided that everyone else couldn’t be wrong, I was the wrong one and accepted the diagnosis and treatment.
For about a year I was medicated and saw a private psychologist who used Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy. It was miserable. The therapy consists of reliving your traumatic events while two buzzers vibrate back and forth between each hand. I would leave those sessions more angry than usual and completely drained.
I told my psychiatrist that I wouldn’t continue that treatment any more and stopped going.
Since then I have tried a couple of other psychologists but I still have yet to find one that helps.
Another way my PTSD manifested itself was through a complete lack of motivation to do just about anything. I would literally sleep constantly, not shower for days, and not leave the house for weeks on end. My doctors had resorted to medicating me until I was numb, and even that made me angry. The lack of motivation I was having was only made worse by the meds.
Even with the medications, my volatile nature never really went away. The rage and general nasty disposition stayed pretty much the same regardless of what or how many medications I was on (at one point it was 27). This put a huge strain on my relationships with my wife and kids.
After getting a CAT scan I was told that the issues were going to get worse because I was experiencing a loss of active brain tissue, which would result in a Parkinsons/Alzheimers like condition prematurely. My wife and I thought we had just received a death sentence. My wife, being the optimist, started researching ways to counteract the issues.
Earlier this year we stumbled onto the Ketogenic Diet. The research that is currently being published on the effectiveness of the Ketogenic Diet in treating diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is nothing less than amazing.
In addition to losing over 80 pounds, this diet, in conjunction with meditation (I’ve increased my education on the mind-body connection), and an increase in exercise, has led to a drastic change in my ability to handle every-day stresses, though I still have issues controlling the rage once it’s happening.
These factors, along with the meds I’m still taking has drastically improved my life, my relationships, and my overall health. I now feel that I can go out, interact with others and that I am no longer being held prisoner by my disease.
Jay Edwards draws on his successful careers in the U.S. Army, Executive Management and Business Ownership, giving him a unique perspective that he is now offering to the world.
With over 20 years experience inspiring, coaching and motivating thousands of people, Jay commands a room like no other, leaving his audiences in awe.
Using positive energy and wit, Jay’s inspirational stories, along with actionable takeaways, make a real difference. These qualities give him the ability to touch everyone in his path with his openness, authenticity, and passion.If you would like to contact Jay for a speaking engagement, personal coaching or a Free Strategy Session, please go to jedwardscoaching.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org