Hi there. I served in the Army National Guard in Iraq from 03' - 04'. We were a transportation company. We got there right after the shock and awe and were the only unit that had the tactical tractor trailers that were capable of handling the unimproved roads over there. We pretty much built half of the camps over there and we kind of considered ourselves the "tourists" of Iraq , being as tho we were almost always going somewhere different. Thru the grace of God and our extensive training , we suffered no combat casualties, altho in our trucks with full loads (we drove korean war era M818s') we were so slow we were pretty much sitting ducks on the roadways. We were extended twice while in country, the last time being on the day that we were suppossed to ship back home. At the time , i was a single Father of two with the mother (i use that word lightly) of my children having abandonded us some years prior and the children were left in the care of my parents. I was finally sent home shortly after that last extension due to my mother having heart problems upon hearing the news. I'm not sure where to begin , so i will just do my best. After the elation of being home "wore off" and i started the integration back to civilian life , my family and my now wife starting noticing a lot of aggressiveness on my part. They said i was always comparing things at home to how they were in Iraq. I'm also a former Marine and especially my wife can tell how rigid i am and how everything has to be my way. I get flashbacks alot , have frequent nightmares about being redeployed and very vivid dreams about life over there. When my wife wants to discuss Iraq , i tend to close off a bit maybe cause i don't think she would understand anyway, and when i do , it's usually after we're out having some drinks and i let my guard down. I have gone to the VA in my area and have been seeing the doctors there and have been diagnosed with PTSD and i was prescribed venlafaxine which i have been on for about a month now. They declared me at 30% disability. The one thing that has bothered me however , is that thru all the times that i have gone to the VA , i have yet to see any other OIF / OEF vets there and i have pretty much noone that can relate to me. It has gotten to the point of straining our still pretty new marriage , which is why i decided, and was TOLD to go to the VA to start getting help. Right now , i'm seeing the counseler at both the VA for my meds as well as seeing a private one for counseling. I'm also trying to deal with the side affect of the medication , including extreme fatigue and lack of sex drive , both of which i am really fighting due to the fact that i'm a bodybulder and my wife and i were enjoying a healthy sex life. I know this is has been very long , but i just wanted to give a good history of what i am going thru so that maybe others can relate and maybe we can help each other out. I could really use it because i have also recently been out of work and lately now have way too much idle time on my hand to think , daydream and worry some more.
Thanks for the time
-------------------- Failure is NOT an option Posts: 1 | From: Illinois | Registered: Oct 2007
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I agree that some of those psych drugs can cause some very ill side effects. I couldn't drive for 6 years while I was taking them. I received some very good spiritual councelling during that time which allowed me to wean off the drugs, putting all my faith and trust in God (which I think I should have done all along!). So now, even though I still have twinges of emotional pain and sleepless nights, I am at least coherent and able to take care of my own affairs again.
You might also consider being more careful when you drink alcohol now. I think a lot of us use it to escape our pain, however, it IS a depressant and can ADD to our problems, instead of escaping them. I took to alcohol a LOT when I first came back, but fortunately I was able to leave it alone when I saw it was hurting me and those around me.
I think it just takes time and going through trial and error with medications, and having a good support system around you to find the happy medium that you can live with. I'm not sure your memories will ever go away, but you'll find effective ways to cope in time. I want to personally thank you for your service and I hope you will find some comfort and fellowship here. We have several folks who have been down the road you have and are good at helping you with any other questions or concerns you may want to talk about.
-------------------- HONOR OUR VETERANS WITH BETTER CARE AND BENEFITS Posts: 3482 | Registered: Jul 2005
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Hey Long Haul. CAN TOTALLY RELATE TO FEELING "ALONE" AT THE VA!!! I am so glad you found this site. It is going to help. I was without connectivity for a couple of months and really missed having this site at hand for support. I'M BACK!!!! This site is a LIFELINE. I am also an OIF Vet. I am trying my best to stick with the VA. Please stick with it even when you come home ripped out of the frame. Why? - well because my sticking with it and attempting to attend some of the different offerings helped me to recently be determined at 100%. I was astonished when I got this rating after an appeal - with no further exams. They based this on my attempts to stick it out with PTSD therapy, clinical notes describing my struggles, and even citing when I had to "call in sick" because my physical issues prevented me from making the trip. These things helped me. I do need the 100% because I can't work - that is kind of a wierd thing too - because it will rip at you when you read/see/hear about other Veterans from our conflicts that are in very bad shape and haven't even rated a 30% yet. I have to remind myself - not to feel guilty I need this compensation until I get better. You will feel alone, and wierd sometimes. Especially when you relize some of the "Vets" around you at the VA were dropped during bootcamp. These will usually be the wierd ones who approach you right off and get in your business. I have found most Vets that really need the VA find it hard to go there, and will talk to you but not get right in your face. You will understand this after you trudge the hallways at your local VA a while - try not to be too disturbed. Stick with it - our numbers will grow - This site and the support you recieve here will carry you over some of the difficult times.
I second the advice on being careful with the meds. They can save you - or make you worse. You have to be aware of yourself, aware of side effects. I tried 3 SSRI's, prozac made me sucidal. I found it frustrating to recieve antidepresants for anxiety. My primary care doc has recommended I stay away from SSRI's. I have made some interesting discoveries by trying some meds that were sort of used "off-shelf" meaning they might be an old drug for High blood pressure, but they have found that it may actually help with anxiety. Doc's that have been around a while and have listened to feedback from their patients will make recommendations based on experience. A few examples: I take Propranolol this helps my blood pressure AND my anxiety. I was given Prazosin for nightmares (some folks take up to 8 of these!) you have to play with the dosage. I found ONE was helpful when the dreams started up and only take them during times I'm having dreams. I dream about being redeployed, or deployed without being prepared. Thankfully this happens in clusters only a few times a year. I finally found some relief from my physical pain by taking amitriptyline an old antidepressant that when used at a much lower dose helps for nerve pain. Why I am sharing this? To let you know that it took a while to find things that work. DO discuss your sex life/drive with your doctor in regard to your meds. My doc discusses this openly and easily. Some drugs, especially some antidepressants can really affect men. Do some research and make the best choice you can for yourself. It is very hard to try mental health medications, because you have to give them some time, play with the dosage - and be weaned off them if they don't work. Never go cold turkey on a mental health med!!! Also do be aware the VA does not have all the meds avaliable - so it is helpful that you also see a civilian. For example the VA does not have Cymbalta at this time. This is a new depression medication. (Please do not be offended, but you mentioned you are a body builder - please be careful about taking supplements to support your interest in this sport . . . please stay natural . . . mixing supplements with antidepressants could be very dangerous)
I want to say this, I am glad you are being brave and open to help. I mean it. I hate to sterotype - but I have seen some of my male buddies I deployed with really have a hard time because it is so hard to face the "weakness" and go for help, and then when you are brave . . . you still have to be a good consumer of the mental health product, and the mental health drugs, and find a "good fit" in these areas to help you heal. All of which can be so very, very hard when you are already feeling isolated.
(meditation, yoga, ti-chi(sp) may also offer you a way to channel some of the aggression you say you feel. I wish I could find more of this in my area but I live in the willy-whacks)
Welcome back. Welcome to this site, I assure you this will be a valuable asset. We are here, you are not alone.
longhaul Bodybuilding now thats a great stress reliever and should help on your idled times.I have notice that alot do not like talking about what we are going through as men.We tend to hold to things in and bair the pain or whatever.Like for me my stress reliever is bow hunting I love doing it every year but as it seems now days my health has limited my time in the woods and it has become harder.But I refuse to give it up even thoe the My va doctor say I should I refuse.I am not sure where I am going with this but I think what I am trying to say is that Our lives have changed and learning how to deal with this change is some thing that we are going to have to learn together.You have come to a great Board with a great bunch of folks all willing to help.As Veterans we need to stick together and help each other out.Is this not what we were taught?Well anyhow Wellcome to the Board Chief & longhaul. Mark A USN
Posts: 145 | From: Detroit ,Mi | Registered: Jul 2005
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