Page 6 - A Soldier Fights Off the Cold - 7 May 2014
P. 6

military-issue supplies.  Therapy starts with this figurative

               tool  kit:   A  flashlight,  cold-weather  gear,  body  armor,  a
               helmet and a weapon.  The gear keeps you warm when

               the  storms  of  PTSD  gather.   You  learn  to  keep  your

               mental  body  armor  handy  to  protect  against  sudden

               attacks  —  providing  precious  seconds  to  collect  yourself
               and  fight  back.   When  the  darkness  rolls  over  you,  the

               imagined flashlight helps you see.

               Unlike training for combat though, your family and friends

               can participate.  They get tools, too, but it’s different stuff

               — equipment I imagine as attack helicopters and tanks, to

               provide me with cover, and ChemLights to mark a path for
               me out of the storm.

               PTSD is a scary thing for children; my son and daughter
               are 8 and 11, and they don’t understand what it is or why

               it acts like it does.  But my wife and I include them in the

               healing process and answer their questions whenever they

               ask them.  They have learned to recognize when PTSD is
               coming  for  me.   Sometimes  they’ll  act  goofy  to  try  and

               make me laugh, other times my daughter will just snuggle

               with  me  in  silence  or  my  son  will  quietly  play  with  his

               Legos, calming me just by being around.

               When  the  battles  become  exceptionally  fierce,  my  wife,

               Kim, goes on the offensive.  She attacks the PTSD where

               it lives, talking through the traumas with me.  She reminds
               me that I am worth fighting for, that she is not ashamed

               of  my  burden,  that  there  is  a  purpose  in  what  we  are

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