A sense of a foreshortened future is also realistic. Live in the now! You see other guys or women your age blown up by IED's or whatever was common in your war, why would you expect to have a long life? People die all the time in your experience, suddenly and in ugly ways.
It is also self-protective. Why plan and hope when you could be dead tomorrow? This can lead to a lot of behavior which looks irresponsible,
and often is. It ties back to emotional numbing, because often people
are so numb the only time they feel alive is when adrenaline is pumping
through their bodies. Everything from screwing around to getting into
bar fights or driving fast motorcycles, jumping out of airplanes,
becoming a cop or firefighter can be a way to get the adrenaline going.
I forgot to mention yesterday that emotional numbing to deal with war
also numbs your ability to feel good emotions. Feeling nothing is common
with vets, and when you feel nothing about your wife or husband or if
your mother dies, that is a symptom, not proof that you are a bad
person. You wouldn't have to feel nothing if you didn't care...
Anyhow, back to symptoms: "Efforts to avoid thoughts or feelings
associated with the trauma," means that if you think you were at fault,
you may spend the rest of your life having to be right. If you lost
people you loved (and no one is closer than buddies in combat) you may
try never to love anyone again, If you trusted the government or your
branch of the military and were hung out to dry or betrayed, you may
never trust anyone again.
You may live in denial (It's not just a
river in Egypt, haha) and believe that the war didn't affect you.
Everyone else is screwed up, but you are fine (f*cked up, insecure,
neurotic and egotistical is how I see it...for me.)
most common way to avoid thoughts or feelings associated with the trauma
is to stay drunk or drugged. This used to be considered "willful
misconduct" by the VA, but now is considered secondary to this symptom
of PTSD. There are other addictions too: food, sex or relationships,
gambling, internet gaming or porn, religion, adrenaline, anything you
can think of.
The reason for this symptom is self-protection. The
pain of what you saw or did can be so great that it is overwhelming. It
is illegal to be in pain in America. People want you to be over it now,
or at least by tomorrow... And when thinking or remembering or being
reminded of what happened, you can be triggered into rages, startle
responses, and other disturbing behaviors that cause you a lot of
trouble, so avoiding triggers becomes a priority.
Stay numb. Avoid everything. Seems logical, but it is usually pretty ineffective.
Tomorrow: efforts to avoid activities and situations that remind you of the trauma.
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