Showing posts with label nightmares. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nightmares. Show all posts

Friday, July 5, 2024

stop being trapped by your past

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 5, 2024

The walls you hide behind to protect you from more pain also protect you from more joys. It is time to remove the walls and stop being trapped by your past.
Have you ever wondered why you push people away, especially those you love? I know I did. After all the times I survived, my family saw right through me and got me to talk about what was going on in my head. Being able to talk kept the walls of #PTSD from closing me in. It was not until my first husband tried to kill me that I hid the pain well enough that they didn't suspect more than I was willing to share.

They assumed I would open up if I needed to, but the pain of betrayal from someone I loved was far more than what he caused. It involved everyone around me. I no longer trusted anyone who loved me. They did nothing wrong to me, but the walls were built to protect me even from them. Years later, I realized I was the only one harming myself. 

I didn't trust anyone. While I was making friends and dating after what my first husband did, I never felt close to anyone. That is until I met my second husband. I saw such deep pain in his eyes, and I knew he must have seen it in mine. 

He's a Vietnam veteran. The more I got to know him, he trusted me enough to share what being in Vietnam did to him. He was so young in that dark time of his life. His WWII veteran father kept telling him to get over it. After all, that's what his generation was told. I was the first to tell him it wasn't something he could just get over. He had to get through it. He needed to break down the walls built to protect him from more pain getting inside of him.

I gave great advice but failed to take my own. It took a long time for me to open up about the times I faced death. I felt as if his times were much more severe than mine were. I made it into a contest I believed I'd never win. How could my times be more significant than his? He was in Vietnam facing the fact he could have been killed every day. My times were over, and it was done, and I was safely back home within hours.

I couldn't tell him that I had flashbacks, nightmares, mood swings, panic attacks, and felt as if I could never take down my walls enough to really let him in. About fourteen years after our marriage, we moved thousands of miles from my ex-husband. I was still being haunted, although it never made sense to me. I was able to love my husband and our daughter. I wasn't able to feel their love. It was not until my cousin sent me his obituary notice from the newspaper back home that the nightmares, along with everything else, stopped haunting me. I was free. Free to finally take down the walls and believe other people could love me. It was a fantastic feeling. It also left me confused.

Many years later, we moved again, and COVID hit. I explained to my daughter how all the stress and fear would last much longer than the pandemic. I told her what my ex-husband did to me. While she knew what happened, I never told her about the lingering pain I had. She looked at me and said that I never told her I had PTSD. I was shocked!

I was an expert, but I didn't see it. I saw two therapists to help me heal from experiences I had, and they didn't see it. I contacted a couple of psychologists I knew over the years. Both of them said I had a rare case of PTSD because of all the times throughout my life I faced death. The first two times happened on the same night when I was just five years old. Long story short, a doctor told my mother I not only could have died but that I should have died twice the night before. He said it was a miracle I was still alive. I was admitted for five days to heal. My skull was fractured, and I had a concussion.

Knowing what I know now, it is never about what caused PTSD in any of us. It is what we do about our lives as survivors. 

Open up to people you trust in your life. You don't have to tell them everything, but you must let them know the basics. Trust me, because they are as confused as you are. They have no way of knowing what's behind the changes in you. They can only make assumptions. Those assumptions cause conflict between you. Don't blame them because you will have the same reaction if you look at what they are seeing in you. 

The more you talk about it and share what you're going through, the more the walls will come down. If you can't speak to your family, try a friend. If you can't talk to a friend, find a group trying to heal. If you can't find a group you feel comfortable in, find a therapist. If you don't feel comfortable with that therapist, find another one. 

You will see the world and yourself more clearly. Seeing the world without walls in the way is fantastic when you can let joy back in.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

PTSD "drug was no better than a placebo?"

A Drug Widely Used to Treat PTSD Symptoms Has Failed a Rigorous Trial
The medication is currently prescribed for many veterans
Scientific America
By Andrew Joseph, STAT
February 8, 2018
“I really think that we are beginning to recognize that sweeping everything under one PTSD rug may be more than one rug can cover, or should cover,” said Friedman, a psychiatry professor at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. “By better defining what the syndrome is that we’re treating, we can better identify medications that could be helpful.”
Thousands of people with post-traumatic stress disorder have taken the drug prazosin to ease the nightmares and disturbances that stalk their sleep.

Numerous studies have shown the drug to be effective at controlling those episodes. But a team of researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs, seeking to collect more evidence, set out to study the sustained effectiveness of the treatment. They organized a large, lengthy, multisite trial—the most rigorous type of trial.

The drug was no better than a placebo.
read more here

Sunday, May 8, 2016

DOD Uses Dream EZ App to Fight Against PTSD Nightmares?

DOD mobile app diffuses nightmares
National Center for Telehealth and Technology Release
Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2016 6:00 pm

SILVER SPRING, Maryland – Being ambushed in a firefight but can’t escape to safety. Being chased and can’t find safe shelter. Flying through the air after an explosion flips your vehicle. From reliving our worst experiences to playing on our deepest fears, bad dreams – nightmares – can not only interrupt our rest, they can make us afraid to even go to sleep.

Nightmares are a normal way for the brain to process a traumatic event. Isolated nightmares are normal, but when dreams that consist of flashbacks, unwanted memories, visceral fear or anxiety recur often, they can become a debilitating sleep disorder, according to research done by the National Center for PTSD. The Defense Department’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology has developed a new mobile application to help users rewrite bad dreams to reduce the frequency and intensity of nightmares. The app, called Dream EZ, is based on a nightmare treatment called imagery rehearsal therapy.

According to David Cooper, a psychologist and T2 mobile applications lead, Dream EZ is the first mobile app that uses IRT therapy to address nightmares. The app helps patients stay engaged in their own health care by continuing to practice IRT techniques between appointments.

IRT has steadily gained favor as a treatment for nightmares. In 2001, a landmark study found that this kind of therapy can help reduce nightmare frequency and intensity, or even eliminate them.

The technique follows a step-by-step process for identifying, confronting and gaining control over the content of a nightmare. Working with a doctor or therapist, a patient uses IRT to recall a nightmare. Then, using their emotions and senses, they visualize a new ending to the dream and regularly replay it over and over (similar to how an athlete visualizes their desired performance). Although patients do not usually dream their reimagined dream, most report fewer nightmares, or none at all, or they experience a different, less-disturbing dream.

IRT is effective, but it can be intense. Many people struggle with the idea of replaying frightening details about a disturbing dream over and over. Experts like Cooper recommend integrating the technique with psychiatry and behavioral health therapies to treat the underlying condition. “Up to now, there’s really been no app for treating nightmares that accompany PTSD,” Cooper said. “In IRT, a patient must put effort into confronting the nightmare, visualizing it, rewriting the plot and ending, and reiterating the new dream over and over for the therapy to be effective. In the past, this was done by hand on paper – but now we’ve worked to make it easier so you can just use your smartphone.”

The Dream EZ app enables users to:
•Write and log a description of the nightmare
•Track when and how often the nightmare occurs
•Practice visualization techniques to rewrite the dream’s plot and ending
•Record a new version of the dream, which can be played over and over before bedtime.
“Dream EZ continues the T2 tradition of making apps that make behavioral health treatmenteasier,” said Cooper.

The free app is available for Android and iOS devices at the App Store and Google Play.
About Dream EZ:
The Dream EZ app also features:

•A dream log with a rating function – to track the intensity of dreams
•Sleep tools such as muscle relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing exercises to help the user reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and promote better sleep
•Reminders prompt users to practice the new version of the dream before going to sleep, and to log the previous night’s dream after they awake
•A summary section that users can share with their health care provider to show how they’ve been doing between appointments.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tulsa researchers attempt to end nightmares of PTSD

Local Researchers Take New Approach to Treating PTSD
Matt Trotter
August 25, 2014

These nightmares tend to stick around a long time. Think of the worst night’s sleep you’ve ever had, then multiply it. By a lot.

"In our clinical trials, the noncombat trials that we’ve done, it’s an average of 16 to 18 years that people have suffered from nightmares multiple times per week," Davis said. "And in our combat study that we did a couple years ago, it was an average of 40 years."

Nearly 8 million Americans suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychologists at a local institute believe they’ve found a better way to treat it, and they have backing from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology in the form of a six-figure grant.

The typical course of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder involves nine to 12 sessions with a therapist.

"And there’s no medications involved. It is an approach that focuses on the way that trauma impacts the way that you think, the way that you behave and the way that you feel," said Joanne Davis, codirector of the Tulsa Institute for Trauma, Abuse and Injustice, and an associate professor of psychology at the University of Tulsa.

She’s launching a study of a two-sided treatment approach for PTSD because traditional therapy helps with functional issues "but nightmares and sleep problems are considered to be the hallmark of posttraumatic stress disorder," Davis said.

"And they’re really looked-at important factors that not only help in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder but also in maintaining it over the long term."
read more here

Monday, July 14, 2014

National Guardsman writes of PTSD struggle

News: A Soldier’s struggle with PTSD
Wyoming National Guard
Story by Capt. Thomas Blackburn
July 14, 2014
Tom Blackburn with his wife Bethany. The couple still work together in counseling to help Tom adapt to life with his PTSD.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – My first nightmare occurred right before I came home from Iraq for my mid-tour leave.

As I slept, my dream sent me out on to the streets of Mosul, Iraq, a place I was very familiar with after seven months of patrolling there.

In this inaugural terror, I was doing my job, leading my platoon on a combat patrol through a neighborhood. After passing a checkpoint manned by the Iraqi Army, I stopped my truck, and got out to talk to one of the soldiers. As I exited my vehicle, a man approached me, lifted his hand to shake mine, smiled, and blew up.

I jolted awake in my bed back on Forward Operating Base Marez, sweating, shaking, and terrified.

That was the beginning of a non-stop, multi-round boxing match with my sleep. I returned home in January 2009, and still suffer through what many other comrades share: restless sleep, anger, heightened awareness, and incredible discomfort in crowds, to name a few.

It’s called combat stress, shell shock, battle fatigue, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Whatever the names, it's all the same in relation to its effect on a combat vet.

And it’s common.

In my family alone, I have two people who suffer from the disorder. My father, who was present when I got home from Iraq, told me that he still had nightmares from his one year tour in Vietnam in 1969. That was 40 years before my deployment! Even more shocking, he told me he had a nightmare not more than three days before I got back home.

I also had a brother who participated in the initial Thunder Run to Baghdad in 2003. He suffers from several symptoms of PTSD, and we shared war stories over lunch countless times while I was stationed in Indianapolis, our hometown. Some of his strongest nightmares that grip him relate to the United Nations bombing, where his unit was one of the first on the scene after the explosion.

As for me, I spent 15 months in a city that had become labeled by media as the "Last Stronghold of Al-Qaeda in Iraq."
read more here

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Army veteran still thinks about Iraq War 'every single day'

Army veteran still thinks about Iraq War 'every single day'
Published: March 16, 2013
By Michelle Dupler
Tri-City Herald

It’s taken Joel Robertson of West Richland five years to reconcile himself to the permanent ways his life was changed by serving in Iraq.

The former Army infantryman came home from two tours, totaling 28 months of combat, with injuries to his brain, back, shoulder and knees, and post-traumatic stress that gave him nightmares.

He came home to a divorce and non-military friends who didn’t want to hear about the horrors he had seen, even though he needed to tell someone — needed for someone to understand.

A decade after it started on March 19, 2003, the Iraq War likely isn’t on the minds of many people not directly touched by it. Troops have been withdrawn, news coverage has dropped off, life has moved on.

After struggling — having trouble with jobs, relationships and even a few run-ins with the law — Robertson has rebuilt his life and reached a point where he can think about a future.

But the war remains with him and always will.

“Every single day, I am thinking about something that went on in Iraq,” he said.
read more here

Friday, October 29, 2010

PTSD What dreams may come

PTSD What dreams may come

Chaplain Kathie

We can all remember what it was like when nightmares woke us up as kids. We'd run to our parents seeking safety and assurance that the monsters of our dreams couldn't hurt us. We were protected by their love. Some of us were just as afraid of our parents. You'd see kids like that walking around the school hallways with dark circles under their eyes. They would fall asleep in class and some of them ended up wanting to make other kids understand what it was like to be afraid by becoming bullies.

As we got older, nightmares faded away replaced by real life fears we all faced as grownups. The movie Nightmare On Elm Street, one of my favorites, Freddy got even grownups to be afraid again. I went to see it with a friend of mine when it first came out. That movie hit us so hard that when we went to get back into the car, we were looking in the back seat to make sure no one was there.

I remembered what it was like to have nightmares come as a kid as I woke up in the dark, too afraid to go to my parents. I sought safety under the sheets with a flashlight. Each sound sent me into a panic. I knew I couldn't go to my parents because my Mom would just tell me the monsters weren't real and she had to go to work early in the morning. It was not that she didn't care about it but she had her own monsters to deal with in real life. My Dad was an alcoholic. I just had to learn how to fight off the monsters of my dreams on my own. Yes, I was one of those kids with dark circles under my eyes, but instead of wanting other kids to know what fear was, I wanted to comfort them because I didn't want anyone else to feel the way I did.

Horror movies play on our childhood fears. Life plays on our experiences of all of our past experiences.

Veterans have the same baggage we all do. They grew up the same way the rest of us did. They went to school, had parents they could go to when they were afraid or the kind of parents they were afraid to go to. They either faced bullies down or became one. What separated them from the rest of us was that while we went on to live common, peaceful lives, they were willing to take on the monsters in real life. They trained to do and prayed they wouldn't have to do it. When the time came, they picked up their weapons, locked and loaded, said a prayer and let hell loose on the enemy they were sent to fight.

Judgment of the action was "above their pay grade" which really boiled down to the fact it was not up to them to decide who was the enemy they needed to battle or when they fought, but it was their job to make sure as many of their buddies as possible would go home as soon as possible. It didn't matter if they enlisted or were drafted into the military once they were there. It was a matter of life or death.

For some, they walked away from the real-life nightmare the same way we walked away from childhood nightmares, with powerless memories to push out of their minds or powerful ones they had to battle to keep them from taking over their lives.

Instead of wanting to find safety in their parents arms, as adults, they wanted to find safety in being cared about, talking to someone who would not judge them, tell them the monsters haunting them were not real, or telling them to just go back to sleep. They needed reassurance they were not going to be destroyed by the monster, they did not deserve to be haunted and someone would stand by their side to help them fight it off.

As kids, we wanted to talk about our nightmares so that we would know someone else had the same experience or if they did not, they could understand what it was like to be afraid. Sharing our fears, our thoughts, our dreams, helped us defeat them slowly but surely. As veterans, they need the same ability to be able to defeat what they had to go through in real life.

This is one of the biggest reasons medication without therapy does not work. Meds only mask the pain so they can function. Sharing the experience helps them defeat it.

The longer the time between event and therapy with a professional or a trusted ally goes on, the deeper the cuts become. It is a wound to the emotional part of the mind, digging deeper like and untreated infection claiming more and more territory as the rest of the brain tries to take back control and protect itself, things get twisted around. Once they begin to talk, the strength of the monster vanishes. What is left of the damage done depends on how long it was allowed to destroy at will. Most of what PTSD does can be reversed. An infected wound will heal when it is treated. The scar left behind depends on how soon it was treated. Some scars will last a lifetime but there are ways to cope with what cannot be reversed. Understanding this monster, knowing where it came from, why it came after them, helps them cope with a monster reduced to the size of a really big bug.

The nightmare is not just on Elm street but on many streets across this country. If you want to see how vivid a nightmare can strike, here's a video I found on YouTube. Not my kind of music but it's pretty good. It talks about the price of evil but if you turn it around and think of it as evil just being what people do to other people, you'll get the point. Our veterans are not evil but what they had to go through was hell.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

PTSD:When you fear dreaming

eric s blog

PTSD:When you fear dreaming
Chaplain Kathie

Most people can't wait for the end of the day when they hop into bed to get some much needed rest. After a long day of dealing with doing everything necessary to survive along with family, friends, coworkers and total strangers with attitude problems, it is a safe place where we can all focus on ourselves drifting off to sleep. Clean sheets, cool to the touch, perfect pillows to rest our heads on, cuddly PJs and all is ready to allow our dreams to take us away.

Our minds take us to where we want to be in life. We are free to say what we wanted to say to the jerk after we ended up hurt. We can even envision karma taking revenge for our sake. All is well with the world.

There are others fearing the end of the day when they have to yet again reawaken what haunts them.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 1984 American horror film directed and written by Wes Craven

Freddie, on his best day, couldn't scar the crap out of anyone as much as living after combat can. Even for the toughest, self-centered gung-ho type, they cannot escape all of it. They have just managed to convince themselves that all that matters is them in this world. For the rest, there are nightmares on every street.

Going to sleep is not something they want to face because they know how the night will end once more. They will fall asleep sooner or later but then comes the war all over again. Images so real they can feel as if they just entered into a portal. They can hear the sounds all over again in stereo, just as when it happened for real. They can feel heat on their skin. They can smell it. They can taste it. Their hearts race. Their muscles tighten on the adrenaline rush. They know when the nightmare comes, the time travel begins and the ghosts that sleep during the day have awakened.

During the day when the ghosts wake up from a nap, they are able to come out of the flashback with other people and things going on around them. While the flashbacks operate under the same controls, they are not alone as they are in their dreams and not as vulnerable to being attacked.

Alone in the night in their dreams, they see their friends and hear their screams. They hear the screams of strangers and of their enemies. They can hear the gunfire, smell the power and see the blood. What is happening in their dreams is often more violent than what they experienced because in their dreams, they are the target of death.

We can give them all the pills available to help them to go to sleep but their minds fight against them knowing full well what cannot be controlled when the ghosts take over. Their bodies want to surrender seeking rest but in order to obtain it, the price their minds pay is a high one.

As bad as it is for the veteran back in the "normal" world of their communities and homes, there are others still facing the same horrors of combat 24-7. They are the untold numbers of troops redeployed with PTSD and an arsenal of medications to help them sleep, help them wake up and help them function as a machine. These PTSD forces do not rest for the entire deployment. They are on constant high alert and dread the night. Exhaustion takes over and it all begins again.

No one knows how many die in their sleep attributed to "natural causes" but occur because of un-natural revenge of PTSD. There have been no studies counting the number of PTSD medicated dying in their sleep but there have been many reports of them surfacing when families talk about the loss. While physicians have disclosed a connection between heart related problems and PTSD, the connection has not been fully investigated.

Once home, they then have to cope with the flashbacks, nightmares and prospect of being redeployed. They have to cope with the way they act out their fight against what haunts them as their families fall apart, they pull away from them at the same time they need them and they do whatever they can to hide what they cannot control.

For Vietnam veterans, the few who escaped full blown PTSD, they still run from ghosts of their past. For others they are still waiting for the day when they "get over it" and they try everything possible to obtain it.

The end of nightmares come when the veteran is in control as a person. This takes great effort but with the right kind of help, they can lessen the brute force of the nightmare. They can heal during the day and in doing so, they can put Freddie back into the horror movie category instead of the living hell he awakens. Giving them medication only but not addressing the cause of PTSD weakens them and short changes them. The practice of medicating the warrior without healing their spirit has to end. Without addressing the fact PTSD is an attack against the emotions, they will not heal, they will not deal, they will just find it all masked.

This will keep coming back until they are helped to heal.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Police need to know what's behind the emergency

Police need to know what's behind the emergency

When police respond to calls from citizens for help, they need to know what they're getting into. If they do not understand the 911 call involves a veteran, opportunities are lost and things could go from bad to worse.

There is a lot of great work being done in several states to educate law enforcement about the unique circumstances involving veterans. It is especially important for every state to be able to deal with the combat veterans considering National Guards and Reservists are being used as much as they are. There are veteran's courts being set up so that veterans dealing with the ravages of combat are treated properly instead of being sent to jail for crimes with the extenuating circumstances behind what they are being accused of. Here are several different scenarios based on news accounts and actual events in order to explain how snap decisions can destroy a golden opportunity to help a veteran.

It's 3:00 am.
You arrive at a house responding to a call about domestic violence.
The wife opens the door crying. She's in her pajamas. Her eye is swollen. There is blood on her night shirt from a nose bleed.
Three children are sitting on the floor, all of them crying.
Husband sits on the sofa, hands over his face as he rocks back and forth. He appears to be in shock.
As you look across the living room, it appears to be a very nice house with pictures hanging on the wall.
The wife says "He kept bunching me!" She wants him arrested.
What do you do?

You are on patrol on a street and notice a car weaving, slowing down without a clear reason.
You follow the car for several minute as the driving becomes more erratic.
Trash barrels line the street and he hits one of them.
You pull the car over.
The driver seems as if he is disorientated.
You do not smell alcohol on his breath.
You suspect drugs because his eyes are glazed.
You ask him if he's on drugs and he says no. He will not look you in the eye.
He opens his wallet to hand you his drivers licence.
You see other cards in his wallet as he fumbles to select the licence.
When you call to see if there are any warrants on the vehicle, you return to the car and he is shaking.
What do you do?

In the first case, the husband is a National Guardsman. There was a picture of him in uniform taken in Iraq. He served in Iraq in some of the worst fighting. He has been dealing with PTSD but does not know what it is. It was one more night of a violent nightmare. The wife was getting aggravated because of the frequency of being woken up in the middle of the night by her husband. Her patience was gone. She yelled at him to wake up and he responded by hitting her three times in the face before he realized where he was and what he was doing. The wife didn't know what PTSD was. She had no clue what was going on with her husband after he got home several months before.

In the second case, it is a Marine veteran who became a civilian. He was having a flashback with the trash barrels lining the street and was trying to avoid being near them. He was re-experiencing a road in Iraq where a bomb had blown up some of his friends. As he opened his wallet, there was a VA hospital identification card he almost handed you instead of his drivers license.

When people make assumptions, they tend to leave it at what they are thinking. A lot of veterans have ended up in jail because no one knew what the veteran was going through. These men and women were willing to give up their lives for the sake of the nation but ended up in jail because of what they went through doing so.

If you, as a police officer are aware of PTSD and what comes with it, you would have known to ask the wife more questions. Use your skills of observations to access the situation. You don't have to make a diagnosis but you should be aware that there is more there than seems obvious.

The wife and the veteran are dealing with what comes after war all too often. Even police officers and firefighters exposed to horrific situations can develop PTSD. Knowing what it is saves lives. If you simply arrest someone and no one asks what was behind the attack in the case of the domestic violence call, there could be a combat veteran put into jail instead of helped to heal. Take your suspicions and have the veteran diagnosed so that if it is PTSD, he is helped and not arrested. The same thing with the driver you suspect of being on drugs, when clearly he is not. It won't be clear to you unless you again use your skills.

There are older veterans suddenly experiencing PTSD because of changes in their lives. Most of them have lived out their days with mild PTSD but as they get older, other traumatic events occur in their lives, it comes on them with a vengeance. It's PTSD on steroids.

There are regular civilians who develop PTSD from traffic accidents, natural disasters, violence and crimes. If you are aware of what you're dealing with, you will not only keep a wounded person out of jail, you will be of great service to the community.

As time goes by, more and more people are becoming aware of what PTSD is but it takes years before people understand what it is. All too often the veteran finds himself in jail, loosing their license to drive or having an arrest on their record when they were suffering instead of just being guilty.

The more the law enforcement community becomes aware of what comes home after trauma, the better the veteran will be served.

Senior Chaplain Kathie Costos
International Fellowship of Chaplains
"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington

Monday, August 4, 2008

Home from Iraq, sleep is now the enemy for veterans

Home from Iraq, sleep is now the enemy for veterans

In Mira Mesa, a former Marine fights nightmares by struggling to stay awake. He finds compassion from fellow veterans but little relief.
By Jia-Rui Chong, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 5, 2008
SAN DIEGO -- By the time the sun began to rise one recent Friday over his Mira Mesa neighborhood, Mitch Hood had been up for about 18 hours.

He punched a caffeine tablet out of a blister pack and washed it down with two cans of Red Bull. He finished it off with a gulp of Pepsi.

He figured this would keep him awake four more hours. Then, he jumped back into his video game.

Hood, 25, spent two tours with the Marines in Iraq. Now, like many other veterans and millions of civilians, he faces a new enemy: sleep.

"I'm afraid I'm going to have nightmares and I'm going to get stuck there," he said. "I try with all my strength not to sleep."

When he eventually crashes and sleep overtakes him, Hood relives combat, or sometimes his mind creates new horror-filled scenarios. Once, he punched his fiancee, Natalya Gibson, while having a nightmare. She insisted it didn't hurt, but Hood has not stopped apologizing.

Sleep and wakefulness issues were the most common health problems described by recently returned soldiers, researchers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center found in a study published last year.
go here for more,0,5736012.story

Just ask the wife of a Vietnam veteran and they will tell you about nightmares. Never, ever try to wake them up while in striking distance. A lot of us ended up with bloody noses and bruises. Some wives were knocked out because the bunch was so hard. They have no clue where they are when you wake them up. Go to the foot of the bed, say their name calmly and if you have to touch them, shake their foot gently. Any other body part you touch is something they may be "protecting from the enemy" but the enemy never really went after feet. It's the safest place to touch.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Two months between deployments PTSD followed him home

When war again found Iraq, Hill was deployed from August 2005 to November 2006. He deployed again in January 2007 with the 731st Transportation Company out of Larned.

Switching to convoy gunner a fateful choice

By James Carlson - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Dec 28, 2007 7:12:22 EST

OTTAWA, Kan. — Spc. Allen Hill wakes in the middle of the night with a real-life movie playing on repeat.

Gunner position. Night-vision goggles. A man fidgeting with something. A white light, then nothing. Over and over the scene plays, and the 39-year-old Hill can’t seem to dislodge it from his mind.

He is in Kansas for the holidays with his family before returning in early January to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he will continue treatment and finish paperwork to receive at-home care when he returns to Kansas.

The physical signs of that day one month ago are waning, but even in the security of his Ottawa home, the mental pain continues.

Hill joined the Army in Texas in 1986 at age 18. He was placed at Fort Riley in 1990 and has lived in Kansas since. He fought in the 1991 Persian Gulf War before joining the Army National Guard.

When war again found Iraq, Hill was deployed from August 2005 to November 2006. He deployed again in January 2007 with the 731st Transportation Company out of Larned.

Hill’s unit served as convoy security, where he most often drove the Humvees. That was until Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving.

“I had driven and driven and driven and the monotony ...” he trails off.
go here for the rest

He was home two months before going back. This is how they do it to our soldiers. They stick them into another unit that is heading back, and off they go. Yet they get to say the troops have rest between deployments because the unit they left does not go back that quick. Nice trick. Too bad the media let them get away with this over and over again. It happens all the time. Yet they act as if they are surprised by how many end up with PTSD?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pain from a roadside bomb pierces soldier's life

Pain from a roadside bomb pierces soldier's life
He and his wife endure long recovery at Wright-Pat and Georgia base that takes two years, 40 surgeries.

By Margo Rutledge Kissell

Staff Writer

Sunday, November 25, 2007

For two years Elizabeth Bowen watched her husband, Ryan, endure more than 40 surgeries, frequent nightmares and the devastating effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Two years of a recovery that never seemed to follow a straight line.

So when her husband called distraught from a hotel room near Fort Stewart, Ga., she knew what to tell him: Go to the base hospital.

It was Oct. 26 and Ryan already had been in Georgia for six weeks, much of it spent waiting for word from the Army medical board that would determine his level of disability for injuries he received when a roadside bomb exploded under his tank in Baghdad during his second tour.

The 24-year-old Army specialist had just said goodbye to friends heading to Iraq for a third tour. "Some of these guys I've known since the first time," he said.

Back in his hotel room, his mind began racing. He started pacing, hyperventilating. Then he began to cry.

After talking to Elizabeth, he called a friend. The soldier, just days away from leaving the Army, gave him a choice. He could go to the hospital — or go to the bar.

There were countless nights over the past two years when that choice was no choice at all. Alcohol was his great escape.

But this time was different. This time Ryan Bowen chose the hospital.

"I didn't want one of those nights where I broke everything in the hotel or hurt myself," he said.
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You really need to read the rest especially if your spouse is going through any of these kind of nights. The nights are the worst for them.

In the 23 years we've been married, my husband and I have never slept in the same bed all night together. It was either he was on the couch, or I was. A couple of hours was just about all we could take before the tension made both of us uneasy. He couldn't stand anyone near him at night. This, I discovered on our honeymoon, would be a problem in our marriage unless we found a happy medium. We did. As a result there were many nights when I would hear more than the TV on all night long. I would wake to a loud noise, only to find something else had been broken. A remote control was usually the fatality. I eventually learned to not place any real attachment to things in our house. Jack would always try to go out and replace whatever it was or come close to it,but it was never the same.

Nightmares are just a part of all this. One of my first lessons in waking him up from a nightmare came from a fist clinched and another hand reaching out for my throat. He stopped himself in time and figured out where he was as it dawned on him who I was. (Not the enemy.) We all learn to adjust to things that are just not possible to have in this kind of marriage. Some have it a little better. They get to sleep in the same bed as their spouse. To them I strongly suggest you do not touch them if they are in the middle of a nightmare, because they are not really next to you. They are back there. Get out of bed so that they can't reach you. Go to the foot of the bed and gently call out their name. If that fails, gently touch their foot as you say their name. Do not shout. Black eyes happen too often and there have also been many broken noses.

When their nerves are on edge, so are your's. If you know where all of this is coming from, it's easier to get out of the way of it and not blame yourself. You have absolutely nothing to do with what they are going through but you have everything to do with how well they heal from it. Until they are ready, it is a daily prayer and finding the patience and strength to get through it all. I had to keep reminding myself what he was like in the beginning when PTSD was mild. Keep reassuring yourself that he or she, is still in there beneath the pain.

One other thing is that no matter how much you know, no matter how much knowledge you have on this subject, you will not be perfect in any of this. I still blow up as if I'm dealing with a person who is "normal" even though I know there is absolutely nothing "normal" about a combat veteran. Even the ones who come home seemingly fine without PTSD have their share of issues to overcome. We are a nation of over 300 million people yet we only have about 17 million combat veterans. They are in now way "normal" because war is not part of normal life. You will never understand them totally. After 25 years, I'm still learning things about them and there is still much more I will never know. When you put yourself in their place, you understand that what they are going through is a normal reaction to a series of very abnormal events. We can understand people dealing with PTSD when it is a one shot deal like a tornado or hurricane but we fail to understand when it happens to them day in and day out.

It still amazes me when Jack finally notices something that is obviously different. I've cut my hair a hundred times and drastically changed the style. Usually he notices about a month later when he looks at me and wonders when I did it. I've lost and gained a lot of weight only to lose it again and he never notices. At least he doesn't until I have to go out and buy new clothes.

I'm still not quite sure if it's mostly anger or defense that makes him crash things in the middle of the night. Sometimes it's both. It gets very frustrating for them to not be able to sleep all the way through the night peacefully. Even medications have Jack waking up every night but he is glad he can at least go back to sleep a lot sooner now with them.

If your husband or wife is going through this, it is extremely important that you are able to talk about it with someone who will understand. Holding it in isn't good for you because you begin to think there is something wrong with you. Find groups or a trusted friend to talk about it with. They don't need to give you advice because as much as they care about you, unless they are going through it, their advice is usually wrong. They tend to blame them instead of trying to understand. That's people in general. You're much better off with some with an open mind or experience. As the DOD and the VA ramp up help for them, they should also be setting up support groups and counseling for spouses. We need it as badly as they do.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

When nightmares followed him home from Iraq

Nightmares, horrors of war follow Bryan man home from Iraq
Nightmares, horrors of war follow Bryan man home from Iraq

BRYAN, TX. (AP) - For six days, Sgt. Byron Hancock hunched on his belly, motionless in the shallow, soggy trench he and his partner spent eight hours digging under the cover of night - surviving with little food and almost no sleep as he directed his focus through the high-powered scope of his M40A3 sniper rifle.
He tried not to think about the surprisingly cold winter that had hit Iraq's Al Anbar province - a dangerous region teeming with insurgents who had fled the hellish urban warfare of Fallujah a month earlier. At night, it would be cold enough to freeze the rain that seeped into his hole. Go figure, the lifelong hunter thought when he allowed his mind to wander: Stuck in the middle of a desert with water up to my neck and experiencing the most bone-chilling weather of my life.
The decorated police officer had fought in Fallujah, too, scared out of his mind but earning a war hero's reputation when he made a 1,050-yard kill - touted by the military as the longest successful sniper shot of the Iraq war. Now it was the Marine reservist's duty to patrol the countryside, finding suspected insurgents and gathering probable cause just like his days back home on the Bryan police force.
But this was different. It wasn't Texas. The stakes were higher and the judgment - whether someone deserved to live or die - needed to be lightning quick. If he didn't strike, it could mean his own life or the lives of other troops. He'd seen it happen before. It gets to the point where, faced with constant danger, you accept your own potential death. But you never accept letting your fellow troops down. In this case, the suspect was a teenager - 14, 15, 16 ... who knows - who had ridden his motorcycle day after day down a road commonly used by U.S. forces, always pausing suspiciously for a moment at the same spot before moving on.........................

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wounded Wives veterans care lacking, wives care missing

Name: Josie Salzman
Posting date: 8/13/07
Husband: returned from Iraq
Hometown: Menomenie, WI
Milblog url:

I sit tonight in the kitchen of the Fisher House just staring at the TV while trying to collect my thoughts. The country has been informed that the Army has realized there is a need for more mental health professionals to aid soldiers returning from war with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). They claim to be adding two hundred new employees to help combat the never-ending war that remains in our loved ones' minds. I wish more than anything that tonight I could take a deep breath, relax, and fall asleep with the confidence that our military is taking the proper steps to ensure my family is able to heal from the violence we have encountered.

Unfortunately, that's not an option.

One of the first nights I had with my husband after his injury will forever be burned into my mind. He had been in an excruciating amount of pain the entire evening. It was still early in his hospital stay so the doctors had yet to find a pain cocktail that his body responded to. Just like the evening before, the nurse entered the room and handed J.R. a cup filled to the top with pills. Desperate to make the pain subside for a few hours, J.R. swallowed them in one giant mouthful. An hour later he was drifting off to sleep.

I started making my bed for the night after I was sure he was sleeping. This would be my second night of sleeping in the foldout chair that I would soon learn to hate. I had no more than crawled under the covers when J.R. sat bolt upright in bed. "Get them off me. Get them off me now. The bugs, they're all over me, get them off. They're in the bed. Make them go away."

Unsure of what he was talking about, I jumped out of bed and rushed to calm him down. After a grueling twenty minutes he was able to once again close his eyes. It didn't last. Again his mind took over in his sleep. This time he felt as if someone was in the room and he was under attack. He awoke panicked and sweat-soaked. I sat on his bed and held him in my arms. I promised him that if he just closed his eyes he would be able to sleep and that everything would be fine. I was in the room and I was going nowhere. But everything wasn't fine. No more than an hour after he closed his eyes the terror began. On this night J.R. would relive the entire accident.

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