Trying To Adapt After Iraq

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

hello my name is skyler. I’m 23 yrs. old and have been clinically diagnosed with severe depression, PTSD, ADHD, and ADHD. i have struggled my whole life to find my place; or at least a place to feel comfortable. and have never found it. it caused me to make brash decisions in my past. i am a former soldier and was a medic for an infantry platoon which means i was shot at alot and saw more gore than i ever wanted. since my return from iraq. i find joy in nothing, i never feel happy, i become stressed to the point of breaking down at the drop of a dime. i feel angry, violent, and ashamed all at the same time. i was recently released from military service. i thought things would get better when the stress of still being military was gone but now i feel more lost and hopeless and worthless than i ever have. the only thing that has kept me from suck starting a shotgun over the last 2 years has been my family. because i cant put them through that hurt. but i dont know what to do im medicated that doesnt work, i try not caring, i try ignoring all the other bullshit going on but i feel like a failure at life. i dont feel any drive or feel like anything is worth moving forward for and even when i start to feel happy for a minute i feel like it starts to be over shadowed by my failure as a person. what do i do with myself. i want to be better but it never gets any better i just want to go to sleep and never wake up.

A. I am very sorry that you are experiencing so much distress. It can be very difficult to witness the horrors of war. It is a life changing experience. Many soldiers have reported struggling with similar problems. It is not uncommon for returning soldiers to experience depression and PTSD. There is treatment for your symptoms.

Unfortunately, many returning veterans are ashamed to seek help. There is a stigma associated with receiving mental health treatment. Many may also feel at a loss and that their situation is hopeless. The truth is that help is available and your situation is not without hope.

Your experiences were very traumatic. It is inaccurate to believe that you should be able to deal with your symptoms on your own. Nor is it accurate to believe that because you are experiencing symptoms, you are a failure. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most people require help learning how to deal with the trauma of war. Many would experience at least some symptoms of PTSD after fighting in a war. It would be unusual if they didn’t.

I would strongly encourage you to seek help immediately. Help is available. I am especially concerned about the fact that you have contemplated suicide.

It is also important to keep in mind that right now you may not be thinking clearly. You may believe that there is no hope for you but you must factor in your severe depression. Depression clouds judgment. This is why it is very important that you seek outside help immediately. At this time, you need someone who is objective and can help guide your treatment. Below are a list of resources.

  • Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-TALK (8255). Press #1 to speak to a professional counselor. They can assist you during a crisis. They can also help you locate a local crisis center in the event of an emergency. If you are feeling suicidal, you should go to your local emergency room immediately.

  • The National Veterans Foundation: They can assist with crisis intervention or helping you locate local treatment facilities. They assist both veterans and their families. They can be reached at 888-777-4443. This organization can also help you acquire other resources such as transportation, housing, and so forth.
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) : I encourage you to visit their website. They have many resources for returning veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They are committed to helping veterans transition back into society. On the website, you can find many links to resources in your area as well as help for families. They are a very good resource.
  • Iraq War Veterans, Inc: This website can guide you to many resources associated with PTSD and returning war veterans.
  • Gift From Within: According to their website, Gift From Within seeks to give “trauma survivors, their loved ones and supporters a credible online website that was friendly and supportive.

In the words of Army Major Ed Pulido, who lost his leg to a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2004, “Challenge is sitting on the battlefield almost losing my life, triumph is taking the first step after amputation, and change is living with the dark wounds or those mental health wounds of war, and learning that with the right support systems in place, I could truly have a great life.”

Recovery is possible. I would encourage you to contact all of the aforementioned resources until you find a treatment that helps you. If you’re having difficulty accessing treatment ask your family members to help you. You need help and your family needs you. The sooner you receive help, the better it will be for you and your family. Thank you for your question. I wish you the best of luck.

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 May 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Trying To Adapt After Iraq. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/05/02/trying-to-adapt-after-iraq/