Ever since I have been out of the Army, I have dealing with my PTSD in my own way. The sub-contractors that the VA send me to, tell me that I do have a severe PTSD but like the others that you hear about with veterans losing control and bottling up their emotions of what they had to see and deal with. Mine, on the hand is the exact opposite with the exception on anger issues but very rare. The reason for I believe is that I talk about my experiences not to bloat or make myself look like a “tough guy” but relieve the pressure of my emotions. That something I have figured out throughout my employment with “rent to own” businesses due to having many interactions with other veterans. I have refused and denied any PTSD medication for the simple that I have lost an Army brother on a overdose of the medication. I have been blown up three times when I was in Iraq where my second IED blast was the worse out of all of them.
When I came into the Army, I had aspirations to serve 20 years then retire, then becoming a police officer with possibly of being SWAT team member. From there become a probation officer and on the side a being football coach at a local high school to mentor those young lives that were pretty getting into the real world. I got out of the military I had no idea what to do with my life, which very hard on me to cope with. I cannot pursuit all of my goals that I had planned out for, like being police officer and everything that follows that path. The only I can do now is become a football coach out of all my aspirations.
In the Army, I had a few nicknames that my “brothers” have given me like, “Ponch”, “Poncherello”, “Chips” from the TV show “CHiPs” with Erik Estrada but my favorite one is “Sapper Workhorse”. That nickname was given to me for my ability to carry my own weight out in the field or when we do buddy carries with someone to the same weight and still go on a full sprint. Now I can’t do anymore for my injuries to my back and neck, which is depressing to me. My injuries, depression and to top it off with a dash PTSD has taken a toll on me mentally and physical, I have gained weight because of it. It is almost like a snowball that you roll down on the top a snowy mountain and gets bigger and bigger as it rolls over snow but for me though it seems like that never reaches the bottom.
I have been married and it will be 10 years in January 2017. My wife and I have had some really rough patches in our marriage with my lack of interests on what we use to do. A lot of it has to do with my physical body but the rest is just more mental than anything else. I can say that we fought through or went around the issues but still exist in our marriage. With our almost 10 years we have brought to life our son and he is a Junior and I have great pride in him now that he is 6 years old. I only hope that he has pride in me and his name being Richard Estrada Jr. The thing is that I feel that I degrade that pride with my PTSD. Even though I have a decent coping mechanism to overcome it or to push forward but it is always will be in the back of my mind that I can’t help think that pride would soon diminish over time with my son. Every night that I step out onto my back porch to have a cigarette I would ask myself “Did serve my country well?” and repeat it again and again with the affirmation of telling myself “yes you did” but then I return to doubt.
PTSD is always being lifelong back and forth battle with yourself to reach no end, well that is what I believe. The one thing I can say and tried to apply into my own experiences is to embrace it, honor it, respect it and hope to overcome it but do not succumb to it.