Tuesday, August 14, 2007

PTSD 103

Holiday Thoughts on Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

''Oh Say Can You See... The Rockets Red Glare?"

Holidays and social gatherings in parks and fields are not so festive and joyous for me anymore, at least not the ones which promote explosive / loud nose-making celebrations, such as; New Years Eve, The Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and any that offer an excuse to shoot off our fun toys. I would venture to guess that most combat Veterans feel pretty much the same, we have problems and phobias about large crowds, sudden loud noises, wooded areas and wide open clearings. Why, you ask? Well, those fields/areas were the ideal places for the enemy to spring a trap / an ambush...

To most folks, it would appear normal to celebrate with party favors, noise makers, sky rockets and the innocent shooting of fire arms into the air. However, to the Veteran, it is somewhat nerve racking, unsettling, and often just pure mental hell. Why? Because those cherry bombs, M-80's, M-150's, and explosives of all sizes rekindle real painful memories form the past.

No, I'm not being absurd, those whistling rockets, 1/8th to 1/4th sticks of dynamite are reminders of combat conditions. (READ: I Can Still Hear Their Cries, Even In My Sleep).

PTSD is total or partial recall, vivid Flashbacks on a panoramic temporal Hi-Def screen complete with cranial surround sound. For me it's of "Mortars" whistling as they approach and rain down upon us. They sing a high pitched song of death and destruction until impact or above ground detonation. Hearing those celebratory tools prevent vets from enjoying those occasions, a we are forced to relive combat conditions. Hence: PTSD...

Each whistling rocket, no matter it's size, each loud bang or boom stimulates a take cover urge, then a flight or flight emotion within me that will only subside about an hour after the last shot or explosion. Basically I 'll try to be at home or with trusted associates where I can feel a little more safer. Otherwise, I'm tense, uneasy and reactive to what I perceive as "Life Threatening." That is Holiday-PTSD.

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