Monday, October 26, 2009

Not stopping

I can't even begin to describe the frustration that I felt over seeing blog after promising blog rise up in the milblogosphere, only to die down after a short period of time. Sometimes the writer came home, and so the deployment blog stopped. Sometimes they got shut down by their command. Sometimes they just stopped blogging, and no one could figure out why.

Anyway, that's not going to be me.

Something I've noticed over the past week is how people get treated differently according to the differences in their symptoms of the same disease or condition. I'm sure it won't be a surprise to longtime readers of the blog to hear it once again: I have moderate-to-severe PTSD. It manifests in a lot of ways, but the coping skill that I've tended to take and run with is overwork. If you throw yourself into your work, you don't have time to think. If you're working long hours, and giving your heart and soul to something, your heart and soul don't have to think about how they may have been damaged by trauma. If your fight is every day in the work you're doing, you don't go seeking it out externally.

It sounds great, to those people who haven't done it. "Oh, yeah, you work too hard, what's the problem?" Certainly not nearly as bad as my fellow sufferers, some of whom wind up with major substance abuse problems and getting in regular barfights.

But to look at these things as separate problems is to do a disservice to both.

To look at me and say that because I'm working really hard, I must just have a good work ethic, and not have a problem, is to completely ignore the underlying facts. When I had some time to adjust to having days off, with long blocks of time accountable to none but myself, I couldn't handle it. I had to be working. I could not /survive/ without working. I recognize that this is unhealthy-but it's hard to find someone to talk to about it.

To look at vets with substance abuse and problems with the law and to say that they're just bums, no-goods, that they have a problem but they don't have to be that bad, is also not doing them any favors. Everyone finds their own addiction to take their time, energy, and thought off the real problem. The fact that mine was work and theirs was dissolution doesn't make me any better than them. At the same time, it doesn't mean that they're having symptoms any more severe than mine-it just means that the manifestation of their problems is causing their lives to objectively suck more.


Coral Levang said...

As a fellow female veteran, I just want to thank you for being willing to use your voice. We all need to do so.

I write over at a place called Associated Content. I've included the URL (by clicking on my name), so if you are interested in reading "Thank You for Your Service: My Military Story"...I hope you will do so. There is other content on the main page that I have written that is veteran-themed.

There were years when I didn't even admit to being a veteran. This article, at the prompting of a friend to submit, has been a beginning of being proud again. I also teach TAP classes in my local area to military members transitioning to civilian life. So, I get so much back again.

Thanks again for what you do.

Coral Levang
USAF 1973-1975
USN 1976-1989

Spockgirl said...

I know this is an old post, but I had to comment on it because your "work ethic" sounds just like mine "used to be". When I lost the structure and routine after more than 20 years in a job (an office job!), then 2 in another, it was quite a shock to my system, literally, and that is without a stress disorder of any kind. Thanks for having written about that. Oh.. I linked over here from Streetsweeper Chronicles. I might pop back to read more if that's ok.

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