OK, when I said I was committed to doing everything in my power to learn to cope with my PTSD, I did mean everything. I went to the OIF/OEF support group last night at the VA Outpatient Clinic near my house. It was me, the Doc, and one other vet. None of the other regular guys showed up. Curious, the other vet asked me about myself and I told him the basics. He asked me why I hadn't come to group before if I had been home for so long. I told him the honest truth: "Because last time I came, everyone pulled out their dicks and compared trauma. I don't care to compete and I don't want to corner the market on suffering."
The other vet laughed. He said most of those guys know they aren't welcome. He said the group is a bunch of serious guys that want to make lives for themselves.
You have no idea how happy I was to hear that. I had been looking for people like me to connect with in the flesh. I needed the real life contact with others and I got it. I didn't realize how much I missed the connection with other vets until I went yesterday. I look at all that I have accomplished and all that I need to learn and I don't feel so overwhelmed, knowing that there are other guys, in my area, that are struggling with the same hurdles I am.
So here's my message: Even if you aren't ready to share, go to group meetings if you have them in your area. Just listening to what other vets have to say and how they react in situations similar to yours can be very educational and provide you with a very important connection other vets. You may not feel like you want the connection, but I would wager you need it. Loneliness and isolation is what really sends us down the rabbit hole, so hold on tight and trust yourself enough to make new friends - friends who know EXACTLY what you are going through.
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.