Get the Help by Anonymous Grunt
Updated: Dec 30, 2018
I bet your face just scrunched up, and you pulled your head back. “Who’s this fucking dude? He doesn’t know me. I’m fine” you think to yourself. That phrase always ends up being thrown around in some heated argument by one of our significant others or given lovingly as advice from one of our friends or family. Why then, do so many of us fail to utilize the resources available to us? Personally, and I’ll speak for my position, it was pride. Hell, I ended my time in the Marine Corps because of my issues. I was too proud to reach out, and my pride and fear that I would lose my deployments status (I am a grunt after all, deployments are life) that I did nothing but self medicate and avoid the problems I knew existed.
It was what landed me in the civilian world and feeling even further isolated from the world I never wanted to be in. I’ve never been more physically or emotionally miserable then when I was in, but I’ve also never felt more fulfilled; I was a lifer. I felt a profound sense of loneliness and detachment that only further exacerbated my issues, since my support network of peers was no longer there. And did I wise up? Did I finally see the Errors of my ways? Absolutely not. Ferrari, my close personal friend who I quite literally owe my life too, would absolutely and correctly call me a stubborn fuck. More pride, because that always works.
It took years of self-loathing and a lot of self-medication both from drugs and alcohol to land me back in the hospital. I checked myself in because I was at the end of my rope and was pretty sure I was going to kill myself. It also bears mentioning that I have a previous suicide attempt where I was a cunt hair from crossing my last fatal funnel. The docs saved my life. That makes two hospitalizations thus far in this story and only then did I start taking my mental health more seriously. Then again, pride still found its way back. I’ve only, within the last year or two, started getting aggressive with my therapy and psychopharmacology. After three separate hospital stays have I finally learned what I should’ve known from the beginning:
I have incredible resources at my disposal, I have an amazing support network, and I’m worth far more then what I’m allowing myself to achieve. I need to stop getting in my own way.
Does that realization change everything that I’m facing or dealing with? Absolutely not. And I’m not sure if anyone here is familiar with the school of thought called stoicism, but I heartily recommend you pick up the journals of Marcus Aurelius. You cannot always control the environment around you. You cannot control how people treat you. What you can do, is control how you react to it.
I had finally recognized, after years and years of circular thoughts and negative patterns of behavior that there’s not a fucking thing wrong with getting help. I’m not weak for acknowledging a weakness. That takes integrity, accountability, and personal responsibility. Acknowledging a weakness is the only way you can fix it. None of the answers you seek will be found in a small plastic baggie, the bottom of the bottle, or stuffed into the little box you’re trying to ignore the corner of your mind.
Let’s look at this from the warfighters perspective. I’m setting up a defensive position. I’ve detailed out my fire plan sketches and noticed that I have about 1600 mils that is uncovered from the 3200 to 4800 mil marks on my pos. In this notional scenario there’s absolutely nothing I can do to move my subordinates and spread out the boys along the perimeter. Do you ignore it? Do I pretend that from 3200 Mills to 4800 Mills has absolutely no interlocking fields of fire or physical barriers? No. Because that would be fucking stupid. You call your platoon sergeant and tell him you need a section from another squad.
And you might say, “well that’s stupid, in war you die. Here it’s not that dangerous.“ You would absolutely be wrong. Think about it, how many individuals do you know that have taken their own lives? Gone to the bottle? Drugs? Destroyed good things in their lives from self loathing? Are you telling me that the casualties we face here after we come home aren’t just devastating to our brotherhood and their families? I’m not saying that the ones we’ve lost have done anything wrong. But we can do better. Alexander the great, or the Roman empire, to use two examples, had incredible martial prowess that still echoes through the ages. I’m sure they wouldn’t of minded using the weapons we have today though. From my perspective, suicide is not a rational act. It is an act of desperation. It is an act born of extreme emotional pain. When I tried to kill myself, I didn’t actually want to die. What I wanted was the for pain to stop. In my desperation suicide was the only thing that I saw as a way out. Since I’m writing this to you now, that is clearly not the case. We have a genuine mental health crisis amongst veterans. Some of us are suffering worse than others, And we all like to think that “someone else is suffering worse than me, I can make it through this.” But the thing is gents, these resources exist to help you. Is the VA perfect? Absolutely not. But I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt but it has been very good to me. Three times now the VA has saved my life. Once in quite literally saving my life when I tried to kill myself. And twice when it came to my aid when I was afraid I would try again. I’ve gotten very serious about my therapy and that’s another thing I want to talk about.
Twice a week now I go to see my therapists. I closely monitor my medication and communicate clearly and effectively with my psychiatrist about it’s affects and we talk about potential alternatives. I have tried a lot of medications. A fucking lot. But it’s definitely been trial and error and sometimes the medications that they gave me made me feel worse, so I let my shrink know about it, and now I feel like the medication I’m on has finally made a real difference.
We have a real problem in our culture surrounding Mental health issues. When we break our leg, get shot, or rip a tendon we go to the doctor. Nobody has any problem with someone going to a physician that deals in physical ailments. But for some reason our society and especially those among us that are warfighters have attached a stigma for dealing with mental health professionals. Is what we saw through any less dangerous? Think back to the friends and loved ones we’ve all lost to suicide. I think about mine every day as I’m sure you do as well. It’s just as vital that we recognize the necessity of treating our emotional ailments as seriously as we treat those injuries to our physical bodies.
22 Until None, and especially my friend Ferrari (whom I would literally be dead without), has been an incredible resource for me. I know that we all have our friends that we talk to. It doesn’t even have to be about the stuff from over there. Just having those friends but you know have been through the same things you have makes the world slightly better place. I thought that was enough, and many of us do but are still suffering from the side effects of the diagnoses we’ve been given. As someone who for such a very long time rejected treatment, give it a chance. My problems aren’t gone, but I am in a much better place than I was even three months ago.
It’s worth the effort. Your happiness and health is worth the effort. You are worth the effort.