Today I met a couple who are celebrating their 49th anniversary. That’s a long time of loving another person. Bill, the husband, is a Vietnam vet suffering from PTSD. He and Joy were married before he left to serve in that war, and she’s watched the symptoms grow over the years since he got back. Like so many, it’s gotten worse as time has gone by.
It started with anger, a constant rage. Now it manifests itself primarily in nightmares, and a fear of going to sleep and facing them once again.
Hopefully his discussions with another veteran of the same war, another man named Bill, will encourage him to get the help he needs.
If you haven’t been there, you don’t know, I’m told, and of course that’s true. I wasn’t there, but I’ve seen the war played out in the faces of the men and women who served those many years ago. They are haunted, just as servicemen and women returning home today from the Middle East no doubt are or will be in the coming years.
My friend Beverly told me of a man she and her husband knew, who had also served in Vietnam. He seemed fine; no one, not even his wife, knew of any problems. Yet one day he shot and killed himself.
“I can’t take the nightmares anymore,” his note read.
Post-traumatic stress disorder isn’t limited to veterans. Victims of sexual assault make up the largest number of its victims in the United States, and like so many, they are reluctant to get help. Yet it can be treated, quite effectively.
Another woman visiting the bed and breakfast I work at is a retired psychologist, and she spoke of some treatments that seem a bit off-beat, yet they’ve had tremendous results in even the most jaded of individuals. I don’t know enough about them to speak effectively here, but they relate to eye movements.
There is help. There is hope. Local Veteran’s Administration hospitals have experts on hand, and rape crisis centers can also refer victims to someone who can change your life for the better. A friend of mine who’s a social worker for the VA tells me she sees even the most reluctant veterans improve dramatically once they’ve gotten some basic treatment.
If you are suffering from PTSD or any other mental disorder, let the nightmare end.
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