I Got the Better of This Deal

I Got the Better of This Deal

A lot of time and money has been spent on adding more to the arsenal of treatment options for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or Operational Stress Injuries (OSI’s) but what has actually changed. Back in ‘93 when I first sought help, clinicians offered drugs and various forms of cognizance therapies. Twenty five years later, not much has really changed. We are introducing the 3D model of cognizance therapy offering a virtual environment to relive your trauma in safety. The drug arsenal has evolved somewhat (or has it) but the logic behind it, being; if we relive the trauma in a positive environment, it will stop bothering us, is still the accepted norm. Problem is it doesn’t really stop reoccurring trauma, and although I am no clinician I often wonder what makes them tick. Reliving the trauma is ultimately what I want to stop, and it seems to me every time I began a new therapy, I had to relive the trauma, not just in my own head but for someone else at their request. This is probably why I don’t do therapies anymore, and why many veterans chose to self medicate.

It seems the search is on for the magic bullet, the one shot that cures all. Yet for as many veterans that suffer from PTSD or OSI’s, there are as many solutions. In reconnecting with my past I have renewed many relationships with brothers I served with 25 years ago. All of us who manage sufficiently to pass as law abiding citizens of Canadian culture and are able to mask or hide our deeply fractured mental states, have all accomplished one similar thing;  A major shift in our diet. No it’s not a magic bullet. It is a lot of hard work. The daily self discipline it takes defines the very term Sargent Major. One slip and it costs me days or even weeks of sleepless nights and rapid dark moods with little to no control. But it sure beats the alternative, which is a lifetime of mediation and side effects of that medication.

The real mechanism of success I have been learning recently is that when a group of veterans get together there is an accounting of sorts. Are you doing what you have to, to minimize the effects of the trauma you have received on yourself, and on your family? Are you accessing the programs that take the burden off of your family (and yourself) and allowing the stress to be shared and managed at a level other than your personal discomfort? Even after 25 years I am still learning this one. Recently I spent an afternoon with a couple incredible men, and brothers. Several I served with and have not seen in 25 years, and some I have just met and grew to love instantly. Kelly immediately held me accountable for my failing actions, (Veteran’s Affairs Admin which another brother Craig had been at me about since last May). The great part about Kelly’s torment was that I get to give it back to him. I had a conversation with his wife about his health, diet and in exchange for my compliance, he promised his own commitment to action. Having fulfilled my obligation to Kelly, I now get to hound him until eternity or his health improves. I got the better of this deal; incidentally my wife calls me a food Nazi … poor Kelly.

And then there is poor Dave, 2 days after I gave him the evil eye and ousted him in front of our peers for eating chips he knew would haunt him, (well actually I think he ate a few more things than just the chips). He made a post swearing off the processed food (which was causing him stresses), forcing himself to confess his sins to his own brothers. Not because he wanted the attention, but rather the accountability. He knows we (his Brothers) will rally around him and hold him accountable for his decision. So I of course sent him a Face Book “I told you so” meme. (He’ll get me back I’m sure).

For me it’s not just the accountability, but the atmosphere that accompanies it. It’s the in your face, you can’t BS your way out of it atmosphere. A therapist telling you not to do something before you leave the office in contrast to a group of brothers hounding you night and day while calling out, “you know better”. The therapist never knows if you truly complied, (unless your wife tells on you) they take your word at face value. I said I complied, therefore I did comply. Now wouldn’t it make more sense to treat a veteran in a veteran community on a 24 hr basis, if even for a short term to establish a new norm, or a good habit through that self discipline I mentioned earlier? There are several groups working tirelessly on Veterans House (the Not For Profit I am involved with). They are working on collecting a few similar groups to form a larger entity to work towards that very end. Think you can contribute? Then drop me a line.


Stephen Beardwood


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