Thursday, March 15, 2012

Veteran with PTSD and Depression. A Treatment Diary.

So today has been a big day for me. I finally decided to act upon getting medical treatment for my PTSD, panic and depression. This is not to say that I have not been in treatment during the past. I have actually tried many different therapies and medications in an attempt to combat my problems. My problem has been sticking with medicine and therapy over the past several years. When I start to feel better, sometimes I will discontinue medication and therapy all together. I do realize the problem in this. The problem is the symptoms usually come back or are triggered by an event or difficulty.

I called my mother last week. Well not exactly called because we just facebook each other nowadays. I told her that I think I have hit rock bottom. I said something to her that I have had to say to my loved ones in the past. I said "Mom, I think I need to check in to the hospital." I have reached that very moment about 6 times since being discharged from the military. That's right. If I remember correctly, I have been hospitalized for PTSD, depression or panic six times in maybe eight years. This makes me a veteran in more ways than one.

For me reaching that point where it feels all hope is lost is a very scary ordeal. I fear the hospital. I fear being confined to a room or building for an undetermined amount of time. The fear usually comes from the other patients, some of which might be more disturbed than me. I can trace the origin of this fear to my first hospitalization for PTSD. On my first night in the veteran's hospital in los angeles, I was attacked in the middle of the night by another patient. I made quick work of him using my Marine Corps Martial Arts. Yet the situation, really troubled me. It was my first night there and my nerves were rather raw to begin with. The attacker was a vietnam era veteran who was suffering from psychosis. He lunged at me while i was laying in my bed as if to attack me. I was able to redirect his flight path using my foot and arms....and I swung him onto the floor and promptly put him in a head lock. Since that night I have been very weary of hospitals.

So last Monday, I took a big step and followed through with a social worker that has been trying to get me to come back to the VA. He and I talked for a bit and agreed that I was kind of on an upswing in regards to my symptoms. Meaning, my situation was starting to improve that week and I did start to feel better. A psychiatrist prescribed Zoloft, 25mg to start my medical therapy. We will gradually increase the dosage. I have a therapist appointment and another psych appointment within the next few weeks. I am motivated to change myself and my mind but I was fearful of starting medication again after struggling so long without it.

I fear the side effects of the SSRI medicine. I'm worried about the effect on libido and a number of things. So it actually took me a few days to take the meds that were prescribed. In fact, it's only been an hour. I thought I would take a moment though and share this first step that I took with my readers. Maybe there is someone out there that is feeling the same things that I felt. If there is, let me tell you that I already feel better. Not from the medicine but from knowing that there is a plan to make me healthy and happy again. This plan is allot better than my plans of isolation, drinking and pot smoking.

I have been lifting weights at the gym and I am about to quit cigarettes. I need to make 2012, my year for change and growth. I know I can be better and do better.


  1. I, too, am a veteran. For five years, I experienced the debilitating symptoms of fear, anxiety, and depression. Often these symptoms are diagnosed by physicians as panic attack disorder or anxiety disorder. In a constant state of anxiety and panic, I searched desperately for a way out of my forest of despair. Following what seemed to be an almost insurmountable degree of frustration and disappointment, I found the way to permanent recovery from my severe anxiety symptoms. I have created a website to help others, including fellow veterans. Please visit my website @ for more information.

  2. Dear John,

    My name is Jenny, and I'm a grad student at Columbia University's journalism school. Firstly, let me say how brave you are for speaking about these issues. I'm writing my thesis - a long-form article - about the administration's mishandling of the veteran mental-health crisis, and the grass-roots organizations that have sprung up to deal with it (veterans' treatment courts, for example). I was wondering if it might be possible to speak to you about your experiences: I've read several of your blog posts, and you seem articulate and self-aware about your experiences, which is exactly the kind of person I'm hoping to learn about these issues from. If you think that might be OK, please e-mail me at Thanks, and I hope everything works out for you, either way.


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