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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

My veteran friend emailed me about having a bad time

I got an email from an old friend who flew with Bob and his unit in the First Cav in Vietnam. He said he was having problems again and didn't like it, so he had been reading through his old copies of The Post-Traumatic Gazette and they helped a lot. I suggested he might be having an anniversary reaction to New Year's Day, since people were killed in the Cav because troops were shooting at the troops on "Hong Kong" hill and they shot back. Then he remembered we are coming up on the anniversary of one of the pilots being killed, the first one in their tour. Good insight.
One of the most interesting things to me about PTSD is that the reptile brain, where it resides, can't speak English and can't tell time. It never knows you have been home for years and are safe, yet it does know what time of year it is, so you get anniversary reactions.
For those of you who don't know, I wrote The Post-Traumatic Gazette for 7 years, and all the newsletters are free online at

The Uh huh method

I posted about the problem of endless rages earlier and got a comment to my latest post on the email from my friend.
She used my Uh huh method, so here it is
The Uh huh Method.
Vets with chronic PTSD can't calm down after they get mad because they have depleted cortisol. I used to keep the fight going by trying to get him to see my point and it would go on and on, him yelling and me trying to make him see "reason", i.e. my point of view. When I found out about depleted cortisol, I stopped trying to get my point across and started saying "Uh huh" or even "You may be right" (notice not are right but may be right, and often adding the thought in my mind, 'on Mars') and letting it go. As a result our fighting stopped for the most part.
Veterans are not raging sh*ts on purpose because they are selfish jerks. They literally do not have the chemical that calms regular people down. I would not be lighting matches around someone on oxygen, so that is the image I use when I am mad at him. He did not choose to have PTSD. He served his country and this is the result. It is invisible, sometimes unpleasant and he is worth it.
I no longer have to be right. I would much rather be happy.