I have never been in the military or seen combat. That honor goes to my husband who proudly served his country for 6 years.
However I do suffer from a condition known as post traumatic stress disorder. So many people, including my own family members, have told me that I can’t possibly have PTSD because I’ve never been in the military. But they’re wrong. Anyone can suffer from it at any point in time in their lives.
Mine stems from two seperate occassions. The first being in an extremely abusive relationship as a teenager. The other from the summer of 2012.
There was a fire raging to the west of where I was living, with a friend on the USAFA. I remember so clearly us joking about it. Oh how quickly we realized it was no joke.
I remember as if it were yesterday. Standing in the backyard watching the flames come over our side of the mountain. Realizing the true danger of it.
Then came absolute chaos. Sirens going off, police coming door to door to evacuate us. Throwing anything that touched our hands into our vehicles (after first securing the children in one car and the animals in another) before we were ushered out of the house by Security Forces. The white smoke surrounding us making it difficult to see.
I will never forget this next moment for as long as I live. I was sitting in heavy traffic on Academy waiting for the light to change. Suddenly everything went black and orange as the smoke enveloped us. The screams are permanently embedded in my mind. I still don’t know to this day if it was the people in the vehicles around me screaming too or just me.
Even almost 12 miles away, sitting at another traffic light, ash from the fire fell on my vehicle like some sort of horrible snow.
Luckily our home didn’t burn down, but the community right next to us off base did 😦 But it never felt like home again. Neither of us could stand being there afterwards.
For almost a year after that, I feared sleeping. Sleep brought nightmares of fire. And then the summer of this year, almost a year to the day, the Black Forest fire was started. I wasn’t even close enough for that one to endager me physically, but it shook me mentally to the core. And brought the nightmares back front and center.
I will always have a fear of fire I believe. Just the smell of smoke is enough to send me into a panic.
PTSD is a crippling mental disease. Anything and everything can trigger you into an attack. Most of the time it’s something you wouldn’t suspect or even think of being a trigger. Some days I can’t even get out of bed the fear is so strong. Most days I feel as though I am a prisoner in my own head. On good days I can feel almost ‘normal’ but good days are few and far in between. Medicatiom amd therapy does little to help. The help of my service dog Sasha is one of the very few things that can snap me out of it.
Sorry for one of my first few posts being so dark but I had to get that out there. The nightmares have been almost constant the past few nights and I have no idea why 😦