PTSI never goes away. The memories never fade. In the early years, I was subject to panic attacks, flashbacks, irrational rages, nightmares, and depression. But over time, I have trained my emotions so that these days I can face the memories more calmly. I still have nightmares and sometimes crying jags, but for the most part, I’m rational.
Just as my corpsman friend wrote about his PTSI to help him cope and, especially, to help others affected by it, I’m now preparing to speak publicly about my own case and how I manage. I need to do presentations on my PTSI for my own good—it’s another way I can force myself to face my affliction—but primarily because it can help others. Those suffering from PTSI rarely speak of it publicly. They believe they are the only ones cursed with unspeakable memories and are ashamed. When they discover that they are part of a brotherhood of afflicted men, they are better able to handle themselves and their malady.
When I talk to others with PTSI, I’ll emphasize the importance of taking pride in their service to their country. Their struggle comes from wounds that created scars of honor. They put their lives on the line for the good of their country. They have every right to be proud of their service.
So do I.