War is hell. A soldier in every war in history must have uttered these words or soemthing similar. I've said it more often than not. When I was in Afghanistan I made a mural on the wall of my straw mud hooch and it included a peace sign with horns on it, and around the ouside of the ring it said L'WAR'A IS HELL. People are too ignorant to have peace, at least thats what I believed then. I can't say I'm sure about anything anymore. I know it's been a strange road back to life in this country. I've been coming to terms with what they call "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder". Why the name as softened over time I don't understand. I actually prefer "Shell Shock" but I'll save that argument for another time.
Since I came home I've been divorced, but the marriage was over while I was in Afghanistan. I came home and it wasn't there anymore. I did not and could not feel the same way I did before. I was changed forever by war. I lost my youth and a big part of my personality. I had talked to behavioral health while in the Army, hell while I was in Afghanistan. I don't like pills. I do not like the way I feel or think when taking pills. This makes it difficult considering I don't really like being analyzed or sitting in groups talking about my problems either. Breaking away from the friendships I had in the army and a divorce that hurt took me even more away from the world. I was depressed, anxious, happy and sad all at the same time. Loneliness led to depression, which led to alcohol. One thing about booze is that it may smolder your emotions temporarily, but as soon as your done consuming it's even worse than when you start.
I started working harder at my job in a hotel restaurant. I started playing more guitar and eventually going to more and more open mics. I met a girl and finally had someone not affiliated with the military to tell my stories to. After a deep crying session, I think I started feeling a little better. I applied to art school, and I got accepted. I got scholarships and some hope. If war is hell then anxiety is a bitch. It hits you anywhere any time and hits you from all sides. Things may be going good but all you can focus on is the negative. I battled doubt in myself for months and finally decided to pack up and go regardless of the consequences. I needed a change.
Here I am in Chicago. I'm doing good in school and I've proudly been a part of the Veterans Art Project. I've found a community of people who care that I didn't have or even know existed before moving here. I've been putting out endless amounts of music, words, drawings and sculpture. These may consciously or unconsciously conveying my experience, but I know it helps. It all helps, and this helps too. I think more vets should open up to art and educating their community about the views and experiences of war. I am not a man who sugarcoats anything and I don't think any soldier should. People should see the blood and destruction waged by war if they will ever understand what it is truly about.
I don't look for help from God, psychiatrists, or prescription drugs. I try to balance myself. One thing that I noticed is really helping me is this stuff called 5HTP. I read about it replenishing seratonin in the brain. It does not directly tell your body to produce more, instead it gives the means for your body to create more itself. I feel the depression setting in if I stop taking it, but otherwise I feel a lot better and more confident than before. I mix this with St. Johns Wort and multivitamins to keep my body and mind in balance more naturally.
I hope to use this blog for many things and one of the most promising is as a natural guide to healing for veterans like me. So if your reading this and you feel hopeless, and you think like I think then try some of what I have said. I'm hoping to start a section of the Veterans Art Foundation here in Chicago and work hand in hand with the Vet Art Project spreading across the country. I want to make a real change, unlike the VA who can't even file medical records because they are busy shredding them.