Trigger Warning: This post discusses negative self-talk and feelings of abandonment.
I would like to re-examine what I have already stated but with a little more emphasis on my feelings so that everyone can gain a better understanding. Even before this, I would like everyone to also understand that just because people in the CAF experience different traumatic events, that we aren’t ranking traumatic experience levels; everyone should receive the same level of support. For instance, a clerk who worked at the Kandahar Airfield (KAF) and who has PTSD from their time, but who may not have seen direct combat or experienced anything similar to what I have described, doesn’t mean that their experience was any less traumatic, or more traumatic. And they should still get the same level of care and empathy from everyone as someone else with a different set of traumas. Walk a mile in their shoes. It could have been anything that caused their very own personal hell. Whether it was getting yelled at or man-handled in an aggressive manner, in Canada or overseas, a car accident, a death of a family member or friend, a scare from something they did, something their kid did, something that was done to them. Trauma can be caused by anything. By judging them, we diminish them as though they don’t deserve the same treatment as us. Who’s to say that Karen or Pat or I don’t deserve the same consideration because they deem my trauma to be less. This is a sign that we are still operating on a military type hierarchy which means that we treat others with exclusivity. We exclude them when we think they haven’t met the correct criteria. I think this happens to some extent in the civilian workplace as well.
Okay, so here I am in 2016. I believe my life is in shambles. I’ve just gone to the Mental Health (MH) Intake at 42 Health Services at CFB Gagetown. I have a bunch of people looking after me – a doctor, two psychiatrists (one of them was overall in charge and the other conducted an assessment on me and a third came on board later), 2 MH nurses, physiotherapy on and off base for a shoulder and a knee. Eventually I was also set up with a marriage counsellor. As for work, I was posted to JPSU (Joint Personnel Selection Unit) and within JPSU I was employed at Base Hazmat, a job with very relaxed civilians. I no longer worked as an Infantry Warrant Officer. I was a nobody now. I was of the mindset that my existence and everything that I was, was over. I was what my career was and without that, I was nobody.
As far as I can recall, no one from the Infantry School CoC (Chain of Command) ever talked to me to see how I was getting on. So much for family, eh? I was just fine with that because I didn’t want to talk to or see anyone, except friends. No one kept in touch with me per se. I already knew that this kind of thing happens, this… idea or method, of moving ahead when someone leaves your unit. After they leave, you never give them a second thought. I’ve done it myself. Someone you know and maybe even liked or at least respected, leaves your unit and you never keep in touch with them unless they were good friends and even then sometimes never. There is this thing in the infantry where people leave and are forgotten or somehow become not part of the gang anymore. There is a great example of this in the series Band of Brothers where one of the guys had gone through with everyone else since the beginning, jumped on D-day, fought for a couple of months, got wounded and shipped off to a hospital. Recovers and is sent back to his gang, but the gang has changed because of wounds and deaths. This guy comes back and has to prove himself all over again but in the meantime, he’s treated like he doesn’t know anything. He’s treated with very little or no respect. It’s like this, no one cares because you aren’t in the circle any longer; ostracized, excluded, or unwanted is what I felt.
I was already angry, hostile, aggressive, abusive, and burned out. I was still in “war mode.” It just never went away. Hypervigilance 24/7. I had no idea how to deal with any of these feelings; No method of how to de-escalate or de-program. Or even just think clearly. It was like I was flying an aircraft with blacked-out windows, I’m losing altitude and pieces of my aircraft are coming off. I seem to be gathering speed as well. Alarms keep going on and off. At this point, I still think I’m flying, I know something is wrong but I can’t quite grasp my reality. Then I thought, “Hey, you’re fucking going down man!” I was crashing in slow motion and there seemed like there was nothing I could do about it. This is how I felt as I merged with the mental health system. As long as I was still in the military I could not trust that everything was going to be okay. All of the unknowns worried me sick night and day.