#00008: PTSD Has Been Brought Up In My Life On More Than One Occasion


From everything I’ve read about Soldier’s Best Friend, it is a terrific organization. 

Here’s their mission:

Soldier’s Best Friend provides U.S. military veterans living with combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with Service or Therapeutic Companion Dogs, most of which are rescued from local shelters. The veteran and dog train together to build a trusting relationship that saves two lives at once and inspires countless others.

We are devoted to helping our veterans living with combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). We also want to help the pet overpopulation problem.

One of my biggest dreams is to become financially sophisticated enough to consistently donate a yet-to-be-determined percentage of my revenues to five awesome non-profits. This will be one of those non-profits.

While both of our pups (Raja and Loki) are and were rescues from the local humane society, I cannot honestly say I have any sort of military background. Growing up in a small town of less than 2,500, a number of people from my area served and two of the best died – one in 2012 and another in 2017.

The primary reason I want to support this organization though – aside from the always obvious supporting of the troops and saving dogs – is that PTSD has been brought up in my personal life on more than one occasion.

Now, it never crossed my own mind that I had ever experienced any sort of event that would result in the phrase PTSD being used to describe my state. I’m the one in my childhood family who is always “fine” and “okay”.

However, I did once have a boyfriend intimidate the hell out of me with a hunting rifle (I believe it was a hunting rifle – I still don’t know what I should about guns).

And, I did, as a child, watch my maternal grandmother (Grandma Hill) battle, to the death, with breast cancer. I legit wrote a book about this in the fifth grade. The book was titled “Sisu: Strong-Willed One”.

Apparently these experiences left some diagnosable damages. Or at least one of them did, according to a psychologist I saw several times. Surprised the daylights out of me — I didn’t know PTSD existed outside of war and other “stereotypical” PTSD-causing hideousness.

Maybe I read too much into my conversation with said psychologist. I’ve never seen our official session notes. But she did say that my breaking down in crocodile tears and being too choked up to talk in her office 20+ years following my Grandma Hill’s death was not a “normal reaction”. And, “Had I heard of PTSD?”

Yes, of course I had heard of PTSD. But wasn’t it normal to deeply mourn a person for the rest of your life when someone you love dies tragically?

Turns out, it’s not Dad.

And then she wanted to rewire my brain using noninvasive electrical stimulation. And then I tried to keep an open mind, read through some flyers and online sites, managed two more talk-only sessions, and then stopped seeing her because I couldn’t shake the idea that what she was suggesting was old school shock therapy via modern technology. To be honest, I don’t even like taking headache medicine. So this proposed course of treatment was just way too much and way too fast for me.

So, between that whole haunting bag to unpack and then me turning into a totally different and shut-down person anytime I perceived any male even remotely behaving aggressively towards me… I knew I had some inner work to do.

And that is really one of the main reasons I find value in working on the front-lines (a.k.a. directly with customers) at a bank. Most days, I’ll talk to at least 35 customers, of all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic status from everywhere around the United States. And because I now no longer have any type of aggressive males in my life, the only place I encounter that type of personality is over the phone at work. Which is where I first became conscious of my own behavior – because all of those calls are recorded – and some of those calls get listened to in coaching sessions with one’s manager – and sometimes you get to listen to yourself become a totally different person – and then you spend a good several nights figuring out and obsessing over WHAT in the WORLD is the root cause of MY weirdo behavior. My Dad was never aggressive towards us, my husband has never been in a physical fight or shown any signs of aggression, I don’t have any brothers and my brothers-in-law and cousins are harmless. So who in the WORLD was the aggressive guy in my life?

And then it dawned on me.

That day on the back porch.

And then so many other experiences in my life started making so much more sense.

Reflection,

recollection,

retrospection,

release,

relief.

And then…

… gratitude.

Then…

… sweet forgiveness.

And finally:

Freedom.

Sara Hefty, Ages 10 – 36

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