Sleep isn’t Overrated

When I first joined the military the one saying that I hated the most was, “Sleep is overrated.”

Well you know what, it’s not!

Since my tour of duty in Iraq in 2004 I’ve had problems with sleeping. I wake up from nightmares most nights drenched in cold sweat. So much adrenaline is rushing through my body it takes hours for me to fall back to sleep.

Sometimes I never do.

I’ve learned over the past few years that taking certain medications helps. Sometimes I have to make myself fall asleep because I’m easily triggered when my mind is hazy from sleep deprivation. I get bad flashbacks and that makes me angry and edgy when I can’t focus on reality.

The Struggle

The doctors in the military diagnosed me with Bi-polar disorder months after I got back from Iraq because I wasn’t sleeping, I was drinking heavily, and my fits of anger and rage usually lead me into suicidal thinking. I was medically discharged in 2006.

That’s when stories of the war, the ones I’ve drank away and tucked back deep inside my mind, came rushing back to my mind like an untamed fire.

It wasn’t until four years, ten medications and three doctors later that I was diagnosed with PTSD.

I couldn’t stop seeing dead people, hearing blood curdling screams for a medic, thinking that people surrounding me in public wanted to kill me. I felt like I was seriously crazy and couldn’t stop thinking of the “What if’s…” in life.

“What if I don’t ever fall asleep and die?”

“What if I tell someone what I’m seeing and they throw me in a padded room?”

“What if this is all a dream and I’m still fighting on the front lines?”

Breaking Point

I would go days without leaving the house believing that I would die if I did.

Everything I though was about death, so naturally I thought of ending it all.

One bullet through my skull and I could rest… I wouldn’t have to think again.

I bought into the idea that things would never get better because no one could understand, I didn’t understand what was happening.

I had a feeling my actions and current emotional state were leading up to consequences that would have an immeasurable impact on lives of people I love the most. That part of me cried out in exhaustion and brought me face to face God.

Hope

From that moment forward I put all my efforts into finding a path in life that I could walk down happily without worrying about my past. I’ve made it my mission to find ways to live with PTSD and to share what I learn with the world to hopefully save lives.

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Combat Medic
A soldier’s story of the Iraq war and PTSD

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