by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Aaron Gardner
Many associate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with the military. It is understandable when they do too. A Soldier goes to combat, sees things that cannot be forgotten and does things that we are not proud to talk about. It is common to notice the distance a Soldier, Marine, Airmen, or Sailor appears to keep from the average person in society. They are constantly alert, watching every person to enter and leave the room. When entering a building their eyes clear every corner and find every escape route possible in the event of an emergency. It is normal behavior of a man or woman who has just returned from a combat zone. It is when this behavior continues after being home for long periods of time that we should consider that this young man or woman may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
The man or woman is constantly living a moment in the past that has traumatized them, so their
minds automatically adjust to the event in order to protect themselves from it happening again. If
our military members are mentally still in Iraq or Afghanistan when they are stateside enjoying well earned leave with friends and family— imagine what it must feel like for a Police Officer,
Firefighter, EMT, Nurse or Doctor when they are constantly around the places, people and
scenarios that remind them of a traumatic event. What about victims? That being robbery,
breaking and entering, murder and of course rape. PTSD can affect any one of any gender,
size, race, creed or age; it is non-discriminatory.
There are not many who are willing to talk about their issues. There are many of reasons why
they won’t; it could be they feel weak because they can’t shake it, they are afraid the person
they talk to will not understand and mock them, they worry talking about it will stir new memories
and make it harder to deal with, or maybe they are afraid when talking about it the caretaker
may be affected by the vivid description of what happened. Those who do talk about it are
typically people who have dealt with it, and are just trying to get over it.
This is one of the first times I am coming out publicly about PTSD. It has affected for most of my
adult life. I have talked to counselors which typically doesn't work for me. Simply because their
is a blockage in my mental state of mind that I am afraid of. They always say in order to get
better it must get worse. This couldn't be any more true. Usually my counselors just listen to me
talk and I become irritated. I feel they aren't really helping but making it worst because all I do is
think about the event in more depth and detail making my dreams that much more vivid and
lifelike. My mind begins to play tricks on me and I cannot separate the part of the memory that
actually happened or what my mind is putting in place to help me cope. I have talked to
counselors and they suggest talking to someone about medication, this I cannot do. I do not
want medication, I never have and never will. I rarely take ibuprofen for my damaged knee, how
would a narcotic make me feel? In order to cope, I have found my best fighting chance. Yet, I
am still scared to utilize my chance.
I use to drink heavily to help me sleep until I realized that could be a problem. It wasn’t in my best
interest to get drunker than a skunk, nor for the people around me. Since I have stopped
drinking so heavily (before it became alcoholism), I would just toss and turn every night until I
could sleep. This of course was never the best idea either. The truth is I needed help. I needed
to figure out why I could not shake the overwhelming feeling to check all doors and windows. I
know why I do it, but I need to know why I can’t stop. I need someone to talk to. Writing has
helped, I stay awake at night and write my heart away, but my best tool I am still afraid to use. I
am afraid if I tell Emily everything that bothers me, every single instance of cold sweats, or when
I wake up screaming in my dreams— she will be scared away. Since she and I have known
each other she became that comfort zone, however. She has shown me that she will always be
there, and will help me through my sleepless nights. I wish every Soldier had a woman with her
caring heart. I wish every person had someone by their side that cared as much as she does for
The fact is, that is not the easiest thing to ask for. People with PTSD can push away their loved ones by their selfishness, which leaves them feeling alone in the fight. That doesn't have to be the case. We need to study the effects of PTSD more, find a way to help everyone cope. Brother Brian Schimian has brought up the idea to me of starting a Masonic charity to help study PTSD. Well, there are plenty of foundations outside of Freemasonry that push the study and the cure for mental disorders, specializing in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We can help these foundations by raising money for them. There are benefits of it for the order, and for our brethren. For some brethren and their families the fight isn't over. Like I tell my battle buddy going into combat, “I have your back.” Shouldn’t we tell our brethren, the same?
If you are suffering from PTSD I ask you to help me help you. Whether you are you brother
Mason, a brother/sister in arms, a civil service member, nurse, doctor or just a victim of a
traumatizing event. The time is now to get help. Remember, you are not alone in this fight. If you
don’t have someone to talk to call one of the numbers below, they are willing to help. If you are
like me and don’t like talking to counselors or psychiatrists, talk to a loved one. If you can’t I am
always accepting e-mails from all my readers and I will talk you through what ever battle you are
facing. Sometimes it’s easier to know you're talking to someone who knows exactly what it is
like to lose sleep, concentration and live through the life of PTSD. So however you want, just get
Veteran Crisis Line
1.800.273.TALK (8255) - Veterans Press ’1
PTSD Information Hotline
Great article Bro Aaron,ReplyDelete
Its by spreading the words of hope and contacts to others as you have just done, that give individuals like me, who suffer this condition, the tools which just might help them through a rough time and know that they are not alone....
I just “Liked” this to my updates on LinkedIn® so people in my network can be made aware of this.
Brother Paul P. Mosley P.M.
Penobscot Lodge # 39 A.F. & A.M.
Dexter Maine USA