What do you see when you look at me?
Do you see a self-motivated man with a strong character? Do you see a Soldier that is dedicated to his work and that succeeds even when he fails? A Soldier that lets no obstacle phase him – every challenge he faces he overcomes?
What do you see when you look at me?
Do you see me always smiling, always happy? Someone that views life from a positive point of view? Someone that is goofy and always the clown of the party? Someone that has no troubles and that has everything figured out? Someone whose family is the most important thing after God?
Let me tell you that we are the greatest actors of our lives. Even though I would probably never be a great actor on the big screen, I’ve been a fantastic actor on the smaller screens of Facebook and IG because what many see in me is what I want them to see. The only reason people don’t see what I see is because they assume I am doing great based on my pictures or how I carry myself in public.
But let me tell you what I see…
I see a Soldier that has been hurt mentally and emotionally by life and combat (war in Afghanistan). A Soldier who is showing progress on his outer shell but deep inside is stuck in the past; one who feels that every step he takes only ends him exactly where he started.
A Soldier who’s convinced himself that if he takes off his outer shell and exposes his soul to the world, they will see his scars – scars that happened way back when he was a child. Scars that today have not yet healed.
A Soldier who doesn’t deserve to be called a man; you fail to see his low self-esteem.
A Soldier that hides behind his goofiness and his role of a “man” so that people don’t see him doubting himself or wanting to say to hell with it all when he fails.
You don’t see that.
Just like you don’t see him question God about why he had to go through what he went through because the pain of his past is slowly killing him.
A man that is easily angered deep inside when something trriggers a past memory. But you don’t see that because to him, it’s no one’s fault but his own!
A man that can’t forgive himself for what life has given him. It’s a daily battle because through God, I have received my purpose but there is a constant fight between who I was and who God has made me to be.
But I’m weak.
I’m weak because there are moments when I want to cry, moments when I want to give up. Even writing this I’m crying – crying because I’m exhausted. I’m tired of doing, doing, doing and my mental state doesn’t change.
I am supposed to be a Non-Commissioned Officer in the United States Army, a leader of Sooldiers. Better yet, I am supposed to be a husband, a father, the head of my home. How can I be that when deep inside I am screaming for help but it’s like no one can hear me?
For many years, I would talk down to myself and from time to time I still catch myself doing it. Everything was amplified when I came back from the war in 2012. I lost two brothers in an IED attack but the mission had to keep going. So we pushed that to the side and finished our mission there strong.
For many years, I sucked it up until I started looking for help because I knew what I wanted to overcome and that I couldn’t do it alone,
I was weak.
I’m not writing this so that you could feel sorry for me or ask me if I’m okay because through God, I have the strength to overome and through the help of Army programs, I can better understand myself now.
I’m writing this because I have realized that depression is real – that my emotional instability was not because I was weak but because I had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Growing up the way I did, that didn’t exist bcause it made you weak. I would suck it up to the point when I would have anger outbursts. It go to the point when I almost committed suicide because Ithought the world was better without me.
That is what PTSD does to you. It takes you to the point where you are restless – a point where you can’t sleep. A point so dark that it’s had to see the light. But no one ever knew because I would smile, joke, and keep pushing forward. Every day I was giving what was wanted from me; I was leading my Soldiers, being a husband, a father, and serving God.
But I was drowning in my own world and no one was noticing,
But… I overcame! I finally got the help I needed.
I want to raise PTSD awareness so that we can do a better job of showing those around us that we are truly here for them and not assume that they are okay because they seem so on social media or in person.
We must learn to ask the hard questions:
Are you okay?
Do you want to hurt yourself?
We must understand that PTSD is not only combat-related but can be caused by anything that happened to you in life.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SEEK FOR PROFESSIONAL HELP. That coupled with prayer can help you overcome.
Share this with someone that is depressed or needs support.